Stuck in the Ice

sunshine hours

Stuck in the Ice

It was a chilly night aboard the Qajaq ferry for passengers, after the vessel got stuck in ice in the Strait of Belle Isle on Sunday night.

The Qajaq, operated by Labrador Marine, left Blanc Sablon around 5 p.m. Sunday before getting stuck.

Hedley Ryland, one of the passengers who spent the night on the ferry, said it was a cold night, but otherwise “it was OK.”

I’ve not seen nothing like this at all. It’s crazy.- Dave Leyden
“It was very cold aboard the boat, no bunks.… We had to try to sleep in chairs,” he said.

“People were walking around and trying to keep themselves warm.”

Ryland said he and other passengers were frustrated that the ferry wasn’t able to get through the ice, even though the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen was alongside it for much of the day.

“Believe you me, there was times I…

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We’re battling ice conditions that we haven’t seen in 30 years

[HiFast Note:  The Strait of Belle Isle is marked with the red pin below.]

Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 3.11.20 PM

sunshine hours

Solar minimum anyone? Or an energy efficiency screwup where they bought a vessel with better fuel mileage to cut back on the carbon footprint? I vote for both.

The new ferry in the Strait of Belle Isle doesn’t have the same horsepower as the old Apollo, so even with an ice breaker, it’s risky to travel in this year’s ice conditions, says the Canadian Coast Guard.

But the province says this year’s severe ice conditions are unprecedented, and even an icebreaker got stuck in the thick ice.

The Qajaq W has spent numerous days tied up in the dock, with passengers waiting on either side of the strait for clear conditions to sail.

Coast guard’s Henry Larsen is en route to the area and, assuming weather conditions are suitable, will be able to break ice Friday morning.

But even with an ice breaker, it’s no guarantee the Qajaq will sail, says…

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Podcast of interview with Glenn Beck talking about polar bear numbers

“Both of those [summer 2018 Western Hudson Bay fatal] attacks were purely predatory attacks where the bears came after those people with the intent to eat them.”


Yesterday (19 March 2019) I joined talk show host Glenn Beck to discuss polar bear numbers and my new book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

Here is their edited podcast of it that was posted on YouTube (about 4:30 minutes):

You can also just listen to the whole thing here.


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A new book with unexpected good news about polar bears

From FabiusMaximus:

A new book with unexpected good news about polar bears

Summary: This is a fascinating book about science, about the making of public policy, about climate change, and above all – about nature. They all intersect in the debate about the future of polar bears.

The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened
Available at Amazon.


Review of a fact-rich, logical, and dispassionate book that upsets a key climate change narrative …

The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

By Susan Crockford (2019).


Zoologist Crockford crisply tells the history of the rise and fall of polar bears as climate change icons. It is an engrossing story of a small niche group of dedicated biologists, the apex predator of the polar regions, and the American public.

“Researchers have learned a lot over the last two decades about bears’ ability to thrive in the Arctic and to take dramatic changes in that hostile environment in their stride – in particular changes in sea ice levels. Unfortunately, that understanding came too late to prevent the polar bear becoming listed as a species threatened with extinction because of future climate changes. …

“Stirling’s paper therefore came at just the right time. Apparently showing a link between manmade global warming and harm to a charismatic beast like the polar bear, it became the basis of a frenzy of global warming agitation. Soon the polar bear had been hoisted to the top of the climate change flagpole, making it the most easily-recognizable symbol of all that mankind was doing wrong in the world. …

“It is a story of scientific hubris and of scientific failure, of researchers staking their careers on untested computer simulations and the attempts to obfuscate inconvenient facts. Polar bear scientists were responsible for elevating the polar bear to climate  change icon status in the first place, actively promoting the idea of a catastrophic future due to man-made global warming. The failure of their predictions has resulted in a loss of public trust that they entirely deserve.”

A sad polar bear resting in the water
ID 1296017 © Stephen Coburn | Dreamstime.

Crockford documents in this tiny scientific community the same behaviors that have become common in climate science, and helped catapult it to fame – and prominence in global public policy debates. Perhaps these dynamics form a contagion that is spreading through the sciences?

  • Natural and non-climate anthropogenic factors are downplayed or outright ignored. For example, polar bear papers ignore the slaughter of polar bears by whalers and other hunters in the 19th and early 20th century (much like Jared Diamond’s theory of eco-cide on Easter Island ignored disease and predication by slavers).
  • Effects are attributed to anthropogenic factors before natural variation is explained.
  • Key aspects of the new paradigm are often based on the expert judgement of activist scientists, but its results are presented to the public as equivalent to Newton’s Law of Gravity.
  • Bold confident predictions are presented as a basis for public policy action before their underlying models are validated.
  • Worst of all, the new paradigm is defended by unprofessional methods against new data and insights (e.g., see the largely bogus attack on her and her work in Harvey et al. (Bioscience, 2017).

Crockford tells a story of science’s weakness and strength. The weakness comes when a small community of scientists adopts a paradigm that boosts their careers. Replication and peer-review might not work well under these conditions. Especially when powerful political interests support the paradigm for their own gain. Under these conditions the paradigm can be defended despite large body of contrary evidence. This is example of the replication crisis gripping so many areas of science.

But the inherent strength of the scientific method wins eventually. Karl Popper said that science begins with clear and testable predictions, such as that made in 2005 by scientists of the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Nature). The Arctic Ocean was warming, and the disappearance of sea ice would destroy the bears.

“The PBSG recommended that the IUCN Red List committee accept their collective opinion that the polar bear be listed as ‘Vulnerable’; and they told the IUCN that the global population was likely to decline by ‘more than 30% within the next 35 – 50 years’. The following year, the IUCN added polar bears to its Red List, categorising them as being of ‘Threatened’ status …. And this is how the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) became the first species ever to be classified as threatened with extinction based on predictions of future climate change rather than current population status.”

There were other predictions of collapses in bear populations of up to 67%. But Nature did not make us wait so long for the results.

“In summary, despite the fact that sea ice coverage since 2007 has repeatedly reached levels not predicted until 2050 or later, not only has the estimated global population size of polar bears not declined by 67% (i.e. to 8100) – or even just over 30% – it has increased by approximately 20% above the estimate used by the USGS analysts who made the predictions. Such ‘a modest upward trend’ was predicted by critics of the USGS forecasts, based on upward trends in previous decades due to hunting restrictions that are still in place.”

The bears were more adaptable than expected. The birds and seals (bear’s fav foods) loved the climate change, and multiplied. Good news for everybody, except the locals who have to once again cope with thriving polar bear populations.

Tasty! Life is good.

Two Polar Bears Share a meal.
ID 823042 © Digitalphotonut | Dreamstime.

This is a wonderful story, and she tells it well in the first third of the book. Powerful personalities are vividly described, science and politics are clearly explained. The graphics are excellent. She does an equally good job with the rest of the book, which describes scientists’ reaction to the good news about bears. Too much is at stake in the climate wars – both careers and politics – to let data determine the winner. It is an equally gripping story, but in a different way. For example, see her account of how Mitchell Taylor was “booted out” of the PBSG for questioning the paradigm (details here).

To see how the public is told about the unexpected prosperity of polar bears, read “The polar bears are fine” by Tristin Hopper in the National Post, March 2017.

“‘There’s no doubt about what’s happening to Arctic sea ice …but their populations aren’t declining as was once expected,’ said Douglas Clark, a University of Saskatchewan researcher …To be sure, polar bear biologists remain convinced that the forecast for the world’s polar bears remains grim. …What scientists can be sure of is that the Arctic is going to keep melting. And whichever way they plot it for ice-dependent polar bears, the result is an Arctic littered with bear bones. …Warming is not universal, and is having a unique effect on every region and every polar bear population. But, says Stirling, ‘warming will eventually reach them all unless we are able to slow or stop it in time.’”

A more pointed observation, graphic but accurately capturing the games being played with science.

“Other areas of science are taking on board the Replication Crisis and trying to do something about it. Contrast this with Harvey et al. {their rebuttal to Crockford} who do not accept any of their work is wrong and leave a horse’s head in Susan Crockford’s bed.
— Australian physicist Peter Ridd, quoted in chapter 7.

Crockford concludes with some speculative and, if correct, awesome news: polar bear populations are expensive to measure (and so poorly measured), but might be far larger than the consensus believes.

This is a book about good news. Science works, in its usual slow sloppy way. The recovery of polar bear populations is a major public policy success, showing that our political machinery can still work. Last, and most important, nature is more resilient than doomsters believe. I found it well worth reading.

Susan Crockford

About the author

Susan Crockford is a zoologist with more than 35 years experience, including published work on the Holocene history of Arctic animals. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia (a “non-remunerated professional zooarcheologist associate”) and co-owner of a private consulting company, Pacific Identifications Inc.

See her publications and her website Polar Bear Science. See her first book about polar bears: Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change. See my review of it.

She has also written a novel, Eaten – a polar bear attack thriller.

For More Information

An example of fear-mongering about polar bears: Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole. Exploiting the polar bear story for political gain!

To understand better how science works, see Thomas Kuhn tells us what we need to know about climate science.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change and my posts about climate change. Also see all posts about polar bears, the arctic area, and polar sea ice, and especially these with good news about the climate…

  1. More good news about climate change from the IPCC: no sign yet of the methane apocalypse.
  2. Prof Botkin gives us good news about our changing climate.
  3. More good news about the climate, giving us a priceless gift.
  4. Twenty stories of good news about polar bears!
  5. Are 30 thousand species going extinct every year?
  6. Good news about polar bears, thriving as the arctic warms!
  7. The IPCC gives us good news about climate change, but we don’t listen.
  8. Good news about CO2 emissions. Progress to a better world.
  9. Good news about polar bears, exemplars of climate change.

Arctic Ice Marching 2019

Science Matters

A previous post discussed 15M km2 as the average maximum threshold for March arctic ice extents.The graph shows 2019 exceeded the previous two years, but now it appears to fall just short.  On day 61, March 2, 2016 peaked well above 15M, and did not reach that level again. The graph shows 2017 peaked early and then descended into the Spring melt.  2018 started much lower, gained steadily before peaking on day 74, 250k km2 below average. 2019 has been exceptional, surging early to surpass average on day 54, then declined for a week, before re-surging to virtually tie the average extent on day 70.  Day 71 extent matched the earlier peak, then retreated and is now unlikely to go higher after day 75.

Presently, on day 75 2019 is 1% below the 12 year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive) and slightly higher than the preceding three years.

As reported…

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Polar bear habitat update: abundant sea ice across the Arctic, even in the Barents Sea


Abundant ice in Svalbard, East Greenland and the Labrador Sea is excellent news for the spring feeding season ahead because this is when bears truly need the presence of ice for hunting and mating. As far as I can tell, sea ice has not reached Bear Island, Norway at this time of year since 2010 but this year ice moved down to the island on 3 March and has been there ever since. This may mean we’ll be getting reports of polar bear sightings from the meteorological station there, so stay tuned.

Walking bear shutterstock_329214941_web size

Sea ice extent as of 11 March 2019, from NSIDC Masie:

masie_all_zoom_4km 2019 March 11

Much of the ice that was blown out of the Bering Sea early in the month has returned and ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the East Coast of Canada is the highest its been in years, threatening to impede ferry traffic between Nova…

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