Polar Bears: Which Narrative to Believe?

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

clip_image002

Originally published May 1, 2019 in the Pacifica Tribune column What’s Natural by Jim Steele, republished here by request of the author.

When polar bear expert Mitch Taylor modeled populations in the Baffin Bay region (west of Greenland) in the 1980s, he estimated between 300 and 600 bears. Inuit hunters protested his estimates were far too low, and Baffin Bay’s hunting quotas far too small. So, Taylor and Inuit hunters sat together in “kappiananngittuq” to discuss their disagreements. The Inuit pointed out he surveyed during a time and in a place that overlooked a large portion of the population. Naturally, models driven by poor data always fail to model reality.

To Taylor’s credit, he redesigned his surveys based on hunters’ recommendations. The new survey tripled population estimates to over 2000 bears. Although a trend in the bear population could not be determined, it has been universally agreed that since the 1974 International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears, polar bear populations were increasing due to better hunting regulations.

Of the 5 polar bear populations deemed to be declining by Canadian researchers, three declines were due to over hunting. Only two declines, such as western Hudson Bay, were possibly driven by global warming. Models suggested bears of western Hudson Bay were declining because warming was reducing sea ice. In 2013, extremist researchers like Andrew Derocher proclaimed, “All indications are that this population could collapse in the space of a year or two if conditions got bad enough,” and the media echoed ‘bears were on the verge of collapse’. Instead, that bear population has now increased. It is interesting to note the Hudson Bay is totally ice free every summer. So, does less summer sea ice truly hurt polar bears?

The claim that less sea ice will cause polar bears to go extinct is just one narrative, not tested science. From a historical perspective, Derocher’s claim that two-thirds of all polar bears could go extinct by 2030 is laughable. Numerous researchers have reported Arctic temperatures averaged about 3 degrees higher than today between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago and sea ice extent was far less for thousands of years. Clearly, polar bears did not go extinct, and history does not support Derocher’s narrative.

Most importantly, Arctic studies show less sea ice promotes more photosynthesis. After sea ice had recently decreased by 9%, Stanford scientists determined productivity increased by 30%. More photosynthesis provides more food for fish. More fish feed more seals and fatter seals feed more polar bears.

Conversely, there is solid evidence that thick ice is detrimental to seals and bears. Despite plenty of sea ice to hunt from, each winter all polar bears lose weight. Polar bears’ main prey is ringed seals, but bears have a very low success rate when hunting seals at their breathing holes. Polar bears feed most successfully from March to May when ringed seals birth their pups on the ice. Feasting on seal pups, bears can quickly quadruple their weight. After giving birth and molting, ringed seals leave the ice and migrate to the open ocean to feed and become quite inaccessible to bears for the summer. Recent reductions in sea ice from July to September are irrelevant for bears’ summer hunting success. But open waters do benefit seals and fish.

To remain in the Arctic all winter ringed seals must create several breathing holes. When new thin ice first forms, they bust out several breathing holes using their heads. As winter proceeds they gnaw and claw to keep their holes open. Wherever sea ice survives for several years it becomes too thick to create breathing holes. So, across the Arctic, regions of thick ice contain the fewest seals and fewest bears. In contrast, in the Hudson Bay where new ice must form each year seals and bears are abundant!

Researchers report cycles of thick spring-time ice stress ringed seals. Natural cycles change wind directions, trapping ice against various coasts. As layers of ice raft over each other, the new ice thickens. Thicker ice delays seals from reaching open water for summer feeding, resulting in weight loss. Low weights cause seals to forego breeding the next year thus reducing the bears’ food supply.

Because local ice conditions frequently change, polar bears do not defend territories. Instead bears are flexible and move great distances seeking out regions with more seals. One radio-collared bear was tracked moving from Alaska to Greenland during a summer.

When winds shift, thick sea ice can be blown out into the relatively warm Atlantic. This allows new ice to form which then can support more seals and more bears. Based on this basic biology, the Inuits’ narrative, “It is the time of the most polar bears” is best supported by scientific evidence.


Jim Steele is the retired director of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.

Contact: naturalclimatechange@earthlink.net

Fake climate science and scientists

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Alarmists game the system to enrich and empower themselves, and hurt everyone else

by Paul Driessen

The multi-colored placard in front of a $2-million home in North Center Chicago proudly proclaimed, “In this house we believe: No human is illegal” – and “Science is real” (plus a few other liberal mantras).

I knew right away where the owners stood on climate change, and other hot-button political issues. They would likely tolerate no dissension or debate on “settled” climate science or any of the other topics.

But they have it exactly backward on the science issue. Real science is not belief – or consensus, 97% or otherwise. Real science constantly asks questions, expresses skepticism, reexamines hypotheses and evidence. If debate, skepticism and empirical evidence are prohibited – it’s pseudo-science, at best.

Real science – and real scientists – seek to understand natural phenomena and processes. They pose hypotheses that they think best explain what they have witnessed, then test them against actual evidence, observations and experimental data. If the hypotheses (and predictions based on them) are borne out by their subsequent findings, the hypotheses become theories, rules, laws of nature – at least until someone finds new evidence that pokes holes in their assessments, or devises better explanations.

Real science does not involve simply declaring that you “believe” something, It’s not immutable doctrine. It doesn’t claim “science is real” – or demand that a particular scientific explanation be carved in stone. Earth-centric concepts gave way to a sun-centered solar system. Miasma disease beliefs surrendered to the germ theory. The certainty that continents are locked in place was replaced by plate tectonics (and the realization that you can’t stop continental drift, any more than you stop climate change).

Real scientists often employ computers to analyze data more quickly and accurately, depict or model complex natural systems, or forecast future events or conditions. But they test their models against real-world evidence. If the models, observations and predictions don’t match up, real scientists modify or discard the models, and the hypotheses behind them. They engage in robust discussion and debate.

They don’t let models or hypotheses become substitutes for real-world evidence and observations. They don’t alter or “homogenize” raw or historic data to make it look like the models actually work. They don’t hide their data and computer algorithms (AlGoreRythms?), restrict peer review to closed circles of like-minded colleagues who protect one another’s reputations and funding, claim “the debate is over,” or try to silence anyone who dares to ask inconvenient questions or find fault with their claims and models. They don’t concoct hockey stick temperature graphs that can be replicated by plugging in random numbers.

In the realm contemplated by the Chicago yard sign, we ought to be doing all we can to understand Earth’s highly complex, largely chaotic, frequently changing climate system – all we can to figure out how the sun and other powerful forces interact with each other. Only in that way can we accurately predict future climate changes, prepare for them, and not waste money and resources chasing goblins.

But instead, we have people in white lab coats masquerading as real scientists. They’re doing what I just explained true scientists don’t do. They also ignore fluctuations in solar energy output and numerous other powerful, interconnected natural forces that have driven climate change throughout Earth’s history. They look only (or 97% of the time) at carbon dioxide as the principle or sole driving force behind current and future climate changes – and blame every weather event, fire and walrus death on manmade CO2.

Even worse, they let their biases drive their research and use their pseudo-science to justify demands that we eliminate all fossil fuel use, and all carbon dioxide and methane emissions, by little more than a decade from now. Otherwise, they claim, we will bring unprecedented cataclysms to people and planet.

Not surprisingly, their bad behavior is applauded, funded and employed by politicians, environmentalists, journalists, celebrities, corporate executives, billionaires and others who have their own axes to grind, their own egos to inflate – and their intense desire to profit from climate alarmism and pseudo-science.

Worst of all, while they get rich and famous, their immoral actions impoverish billions and kill millions, by depriving them of the affordable, reliable fossil fuel energy that powers modern societies.

And still these slippery characters endlessly repeat the tired trope that they “believe in science” – and anyone who doesn’t agree to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” to stop climate change is a “science denier.”

When these folks and the yard sign crowd brandish the term “science,” political analyst Robert Tracinski suggests, it is primarily to “provide a badge of tribal identity” – while ironically demonstrating that they have no real understanding of or interest in “the guiding principles of actual science.”

Genuine climate scientist (and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) Dr. Judith Curry echoes Tracinski. Politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren use “science” as a way of “declaring belief in a proposition which is outside their knowledge and which they do not understand…. The purpose of the trope is to bypass any meaningful discussion of these separate questions, rolling them all into one package deal – and one political party ticket,” she explains.

The ultimate purpose of all this, of course, is to silence the dissenting voices of evidence- and reality-based climate science, block creation of a Presidential Committee on Climate Science, and ensure that the only debate is over which actions to take first to end fossil fuel use … and upend modern economies.

The last thing fake/alarmist climate scientists want is a full-throated debate with real climate scientists – a debate that forces them to defend their doomsday assertions, methodologies, data manipulation … and claims that solar and other powerful natural forces are minuscule or irrelevant compared to manmade carbon dioxide that constitutes less that 0.02% of Earth’s atmosphere (natural CO2 adds another 0.02%).

Thankfully, there are many reasons for hope. For recognizing that we do not face a climate crisis, much less threats to our very existence. For realizing there is no need to subject ourselves to punitive carbon taxes or the misery, poverty, deprivation, disease and death that banning fossil fuels would cause.

Between the peak of the great global cooling scare in 1975 until around 1998, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperatures did rise in rough conjunction. But then temperatures mostly flat-lined, while CO2 levels kept climbing. Now actual average global temperatures are already 1 degree F below the Garbage In-Garbage Out computer model predictions. Other alarmist forecasts are also out of touch with reality.

Instead of fearing rising CO2, we should thank it for making crop, forest and grassland plants grow faster and better, benefitting nature and humanity – especially in conjunction with slightly warmer temperatures that extend growing seasons, expand arable land and increase crop production.

The rate of sea level rise has not changed for over a century – and much of what alarmists attribute to climate change and rising seas is actually due to land subsidence and other factors.

Weather is not becoming more extreme. In fact, Harvey was the first Category 3-5 hurricane to make US landfall in a record 12 years – and the number of violent F3 to F5 tornadoes has fallen from an average of 56 per year from 1950 to 1985 to only 34 per year since then.

Human ingenuity and adaptability have enabled humans to survive and thrive in all sorts of climates, even during our far more primitive past. Allowed to use our brains, fossil fuels and technologies, we will deal just fine with whatever climate changes might confront us in the future. (Of course, another nature-driven Pleistocene-style glacier pulling 400 feet of water out of our oceans and crushing Northern Hemisphere forests and cities under mile-high walls of ice truly would be an existential threat to life as we know it.)

So if NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and other egotistical grand-standing politicians and fake climate scientists want to ban fossil fuels, glass-and-steel buildings, cows and even hotdogs – in the name of preventing “dangerous manmade climate change” – let them impose their schemes on themselves and their own families. The rest of us are tired of being made guinea pigs in their fake-science experiments.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of articles and books on energy, environmental and human rights issues.

In case you missed it, the text of my Financial Post essay on Netflix false walrus message

polarbearscience

For those who missed it on Wednesday, here is the text of my essay on the walrus fiasco published in the Financial Post section of Canada’s National Post. A map of the region under discussion is here.

Netflix is lying_FP headline 24 April 2019Special to Financial Post

Susan J. Crockford    April 24, 2019   9:46 AM EDT

Now that polar bears have failed to die off in response to a sea-ice decline as promised, climate alarmists are looking hard for a new icon. They think they’ve found it in the walrus. And for their purpose, walruses are more useful dead than alive, and best of all splattered against sharp rocks from a great height.

For instance, a now-famous episode of Netflix’s “Our Planet” documentary series, released this month and narrated by veteran BBC broadcaster David Attenborough, features walruses falling from atop a high cliff and bouncing helplessly over rocks to their deaths. The incident occurs…

View original post 1,254 more words

Emperor Penguins “Wiped Out”

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

image

Thousands of emperor penguin chicks drowned when the sea-ice on which they were being raised was destroyed in severe weather.

The catastrophe occurred in 2016 in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea.

Scientists say the colony at the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf has collapsed with adult birds showing no sign of trying to re-establish the population.

And it would probably be pointless for them to try as a giant iceberg is about to disrupt the site.

The dramatic loss of the young emperor birds is reported by a team from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Drs Peter Fretwell and Phil Trathan noticed the disappearance of the so-called Halley Bay colony in satellite pictures.

It is possible even from 800km up to spot the animals’ excrement, or guano, on the white ice and then to estimate the likely size of any gathering.

But the Brunt population, which had sustained…

View original post 850 more words

My opinion piece in the Financial Post on Netflix splattering walrus film footage

polarbearscience

Netflix is lying about those falling walruses. It’s another ‘tragedy porn’ climate hoax

Opinion: Netflix and the WWF are misleading the public in the name of climate change — just as National Geographic did with the emaciated polar bear  [24 April 2019]

read it here.

Netflix is lying_FP headline 24 April 2019

I’ll post the full text in a few days for those who hit a paywall.

Just a reminder of the geographic locations of the action in the Russian portion of the Chukchi Sea: The cliff where the falling walruses were filmed was at Cape Kozhevnikov and the beach haulout of >100,000 animals was almost certainly Cape Serdtse-Kamen. There is often another haulout at Vankarem, described in the USGS Pacific walrus coastal haulout database.

Chukotka walrus haulouts map with inset

View original post

Even with Inuit lives at stake, polar bear specialists make unsupported claims

polarbearscience

The standoff between Inuit and polar bear specialists regarding the status of polar bears in Canada is not going to end until someone in authority demands to see the data scientists insist contradict Inuit knowledge.

Macleans to kill a polar bear headline 21 April 2019

An article in Maclean’s Magazine (15 April 2019), entitled “To Kill a Polar Bear”, explores some of the feelings and opinions of folks involved but fails to ask whether the data support the rhetoric advanced by scientists. Author Aaron Hutchins takes the scientists at their word, that seeing more bears than 20 years ago is all because of lack of sea ice. However, from what I’ve seen, he might as well trust a fox in a hen house.

Ian Stirling is quoted by Hutchins insisting that polar bears in Western Hudson Bay continue to suffer from the effects of declining sea ice, without mentioning that ice cover has been essentially static on Hudson Bay…

View original post 1,704 more words

Native American Wisdom on Polar bears and Kappiananngittuq

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Jim Steele

Native American Wisdom and Kappiananngittuq:  Polar Bears and Bowhead whales

published Pacifica Tribune April 17, 2019

What’s Natural column

clip_image001

Native American Wisdom and Kappiananngittuq: Part 1

In 2010 Nunavut’s Minister of Environment Daniel Shewchuk wrote, “Inuit hunters have a close relationship with the land and wildlife. They have observed that the overall population of polar bears in Nunavut is not declining as some suggest, but rather is thriving. No known environmental or other factors are currently posing a significant or immediate threat to polar bears overall. Furthermore, Inuit knowledge and science corroborate that the species can and will adapt to changing and severe climatic conditions, as it has done for centuries.”

The Inuit truly practice the concept of “it takes a village”. Hunters sit down in kappiananngittuq and respectfully share their observations of wildlife and their movements. Kappiananngittuq is the Inuit word for a “safe place to discuss”. Based on community discussions, Inuit have steadfastly claimed it is “The Time of the Most Polar Bears”. Overhunting has been one of the world’s greatest threats to wildlife. And the growing number of polar bears is testimony to wise hunting regulations now honored by the Inuit.

In contrast, based on questionable computer models, some western scientists have argued two-thirds of all polar bears will be extinct by the year 2030. Climate scientists like Gavin Schmidt sitting in his New York office, suggested the Inuit are in total denial. Sadly, in climate politics there is no kappiananngittuq where people safely discuss divergent knowledge. If you dare disagree with models of gloom and doom, you are attacked as an ignorant denier.

clip_image003
A well-fed polar bear


In part 2, I will present abundant scientific evidence supporting Inuit claims that it is the “time of the most polar bears”. But first I present an example of the Inuit’s amazing ability to correctly diagnose changes in Arctic wildlife populations. Kappiananngittuq discussions consistently resulted in accurate conclusions, far superior to western science.

Due to overharvesting during the early 20thcentury, Bowhead whales were undeniably on the brink of extinction. In response, commercial hunting of Bowheads along the Canadian Arctic was wisely banned in 1951. Inuit subsistence hunting continued until 1979 but was later prohibited. After extensive debate, a limited licensed subsistence hunt was eventually renewed in Nunavut in 1996.

When the Inuit first petitioned to hunt the Bowhead in the 1980s, scientists argued the Bowhead population had not yet recovered to the sustainable numbers needed to safely permit subsistence hunting. The Inuit insisted scientists grossly underrepresented the whale’s abundance due to faulty surveys. It is not exactly clear how the Inuit counted, but by compiling their community’s observations, they concluded there were three times more Bowhead than scientific models suggested.

Many non-Inuit were suspicious, insinuating Inuit estimates were a self-serving calculation driven by their desire to hunt more whales. Off-hand comments portrayed Inuit estimates as mere hunches lacking written documentation and verifiable observations. Inuit science was not considered on par with hi-tech calculations.

But scientific surveys frequently suffer from a wide range of biases and inaccuracies. Models are often just the best guesses of a small group of scientists that get translated into numbers and equations. The data that feed their models are often limited by scant observations.

In the 1970s, during the Bowhead’s spring migration, scientists perched on hilltops, or pressure ridges in the ice. They counted whales as they migrated north through the open-water “leads” along the north coast of Alaska. They erroneously assumed that when the winds changed and ice temporarily closed those leads, whales stopped migrating. Only after the winds again shifted and the leads reopened, did scientists continue their count. Based on such survey assumptions, scientists modeled that only 2000-3000 Bowhead whales existed. And such small numbers meant the whales were still endangered.

In contrast Inuit hunters had always ventured much further out on the ice. Based on experience, they argued that when open-water leads closed, the whale migration still continued. The swirling pack ice always generated chaotic but sufficient springtime cracks and leads, providing whales enough opportunities to breathe.

clip_image005
Bowhead Whale creating breathing hole

Bowheads also break relatively thin ice to make their own breathing holes. Whales were never restricted to large open-water leads along the coast. Thus, Inuit hunters argued the scientists had been blind to the majority of migrating whales. To their credit, western scientists re-designed their surveys to address the Inuit’s criticisms. The Inuit were proven correct, and amazingly had correctly calculated that Bowhead populations were 3 times higher than scientists had estimated. I suggest we all could benefit by debating kappiananngittuq style.


Jim Steele is the retired director of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.

Bogus Greenpeace claim that lost Russian polar bear is evidence of climate change

polarbearscience

Another day, another bogus starving polar bear claim from an environmental organization. Polar bear starvation is virtually never caused by climate change but apparently, Greenpeace thinks there are still some gullible folks out there who will believe anything they are told. A young male polar bear in poor condition found far south on the Russian coast of the Bering Sea a few days ago is an isolated incident: it is not evidence of anything except the sad fact that the life of a polar bear can sometimes be brutal. In contrast to these reports, Chukchi Sea polar bears are doing extremely well overall.

Exhausted polar bear Kamchatka_Guardian headline_18 April 2019 Headline from The Guardian 18 April 2019

View original post 2,591 more words

Successful Walrus Conservation

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

Environmentalist Jim Steele wrote this historical account of Pacific walrus conservation, that has a lot of relevance to recent events:

The walrus is another example of improving environmental stewardship. Valued for its oil and ivory tusks, the Pacific walrus was subjected to intense commercial slaughter in the mid 1800s, and by the early 1900s, many worried they would soon go the way of the dinosaurs. Although population estimates have always been highly uncertain, as hunting was progressively limited, Pacific Walrus populations “increased from 50,000 to 100,000 animals in the late 1950s to more than 250,000 animals by 1985,” and they are believed to have now reached their maximum carrying capacity.557 As walrus numbers rebounded, they have crowded together at historic coastal haul-outs (Haul-outs are land locations where walruses congregate when not swimming). However some advocates are using the walrus’ recovery as evidence of ecological disruption caused…

View original post 1,661 more words