Starving polar bears: the fake news face of climate change

Summary: Climate activists have made polar bears “the face of climate change.” This week we see how they have done so: with fake news. That they do so instead of relying on science tells us much about them — and why they have achieved so few policy changes after 30 years of these tactics. See news about the next propaganda campaign in the For More Info section, about California’s wildfires and climate change.

Starving polar bear
Starving Polar Bear. By Andreas Weith. Wikimedia Commons.

“‘Soul-crushing’ video of starving polar bear exposes climate crisis, experts say.

In The Guardian on 8 December 2017.

“Video footage captured in Canada’s Arctic has offered a devastating look at the impact climate change is having on polar bears in the region, showing an emaciated bear clinging to life as it scrounged for food on iceless land.

“The scene was recorded by the conservation group Sea Legacy during a late summer expedition in Baffin Island. ‘My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,’ photographer Paul Nicklen wrote on social media after publishing the footage this week.

“The video shows the bear struggling to walk as it searches for food. The bear eventually comes across a trashcan used by Inuit fishermen, rummaging through it with little luck. The bear, which was not old, probably died within hours of being captured on video, said Nicklen. ‘This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death.’

“The film-makers drew a direct line between the bear’s state and climate change. ‘As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, polar bears lose access to the main staple of their diets – seals,’ the video noted. ‘Starving, and running out of energy, they are forced to wander into human settlements for any source of food.'”

The original carefully written story and video by SeaLegacy was picked up by journalists around the world, omitted the qualifications, and turned into propaganda like this. Also see the stories in the Washington Post, National Geographic, the Daily Mail, the Global News (of Canada), Teen Vogue, Business Insider, the Straits Times (of Singapore), and Deutsche Welle.

One starving bear is not evidence of climate change, despite gruesome photos.”

By Susan Crockford at her website, Polar Bear Science.
Posted with her generous permission.

We finally have this year’s example of the new fad of claiming every polar bear that died of starvation (or on its way to starving to death) — and caught on film — is a victim of climate change: a young bear on Somerset Island near Baffin Island, Nunavut filmed in August during its last antagonizing hours by members of an activist conservation organization called SeaLegacy.

This is no different from Ian Stirling’s “bear that died of climate change”back in 2013, or several others since then: herehere, and here (one of these incidents also involved the same photographer as this incident, Paul Nicklen). I’ve called this practice of filming dead or dying bears and splashing the photos across the pages of newspapers and the internet “tragedy porn” — a kind of voyeurism that leaves people open to emotional manipulation. The internet laps it up.

Here Cristina Mittermeier, co-founder of SeaLegacy, tells CBC Radio why they filmed the incident and released the video (bold emphasis added). She admits to using this poor bear as a serendipitous photo op to illustrate the future fate she imagines for all bears. Bold emphasis added.

“’We hear from scientists that in the next 100 to 150 years, we’re going to lose polar bears,’ Mittermeier said. ‘We wanted the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like.’ …

“Though it’s possible that climate change is responsible for the bear’s sickly appearance, some caution that it may be premature to jump to that conclusion based on a video. ‘It is impossible to tell why he was in this state. Maybe it could’ve been because of an injury or disease,’ Mittermeier said.

“But Ian Stirling from the University of Alberta told the U.K.’s Metro News that a bear like this could be sick or simply old. ‘A difficulty hunting could be involved. I don’t think you can tie that one to starvation because of lack of sea ice,’ he continued.

“While Mittermeier said the bear had no obvious injuries and she believes it was too young to die of old age, she contends that’s irrelevant. ‘The point is that it was starving, and …as we lose sea ice in the Arctic, polar bears will starve.'”

This may be how you get gullible people to donate money to a cause but it isn’t science. {As Dr. Stirling said} there is no evidence that this starving bear was a “victim” of sea ice loss caused by global warming.

In August, this bear would have been only recently off the sea ice: since most bears are at their fattest at this time of year, something unusual had to have affected his ability to hunt or feed on the kills he made when other bears around him did not starve and die. It could have been something as simple as being out-competed for food in the spring by older animals.

But if sea ice loss due to man-made global warming had been the culprit, this bear would not have been the only one starving: the landscape would have been littered with carcasses. This was one bear dying a gruesome death as happens in the wild all the time (there is no suggestion that a necropsy was done to determine cause of death, just as with Stirling’s bear that supposedly died of climate change.)

In fact, research done by polar bear specialists that work in the field shows that the most common natural cause of death for polar bears is starvation, resulting from one cause or another (too young, too old, injured, sick). From Amstrup in Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Conservation

“Starvation of independent young as well as very old animals must account for much of the natural mortality among polar bears… Also, age structure data show that subadults aged 2-5 years survive at lower rates than adults (Amstrup 1995), probably because they are still learning hunting and survival skills. …

“I once observed a 3-year-old subadult that weighed only 70 kg in November. This was near the end of the autumn period in which Beaufort Sea bears reach their peak weights (Durner and Amstrup 1996), and his cohorts at that time weighed in excess of 200 kg. This young animal apparently had not learned the skills needed to survive and was starving to death.”

Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

But as Mittermeier has made clear, facts don’t matter in cases like this Somerset Island bear’s death: it’s all about the message.

I’ve asked this question before because it speaks to the present political climate: where were the appeals to help the many starving polar bears back in the spring of 1974 when females with newborn cubs were starving in the Eastern Beaufort Sea because the thick spring ice drove ringed seals away before they gave birth (Stirling 2002)?

Here is what Stirling and Lunn (1997:177) had to say about the mortality event of 1974 that they witnessed.

“…in the spring of 1974, when ringed seal pups first became scarce, we capture two very thin lone adult female polar bears that had nursed recently, from which we deduced they had already lost their litters. A third emaciated female was accompanied by two cubs which were so thin that one could barely walk. We have not seen females with cubs in this condition in the Beaufort Sea, or elsewhere in the Arctic, before or since.”

What Stirling and Lunn witnessed and documented is scientific evidence that natural variation in spring sea ice can have devastating effects on polar bears, including mass mortality events (Crockford 2017). However, we have not seen any similar mass starvation events that have been conclusively shown to be caused by low summer sea ice.

One starving bear is not scientific evidence that man-made global warming has already negatively affected polar bears, but it is evidence that some activists will use any ploy to advance their agenda and increase donations.

The photographer talks about polar bears.

In an interview yesterday, published in the Victoria Times-Colonist (my home town), photographer Nicklen stated…

“Nicklen is careful about drawing conclusions from his pictures, noting that many people look to poke holes in what’s being said about things like the disappearance of sea ice from the North. …’Ice is melting earlier every spring and freezing later every fall,’ Nicklen said. ‘Bears are designed to go as much as two months without ice, but they are not designed to go four or five months without ice. “Well, this [the video] is what it actually looks like when polar bears are stranded on land.'”

Nicklen should do a bit more reading: polar bears in Western Hudson Bay routinely go four to five months without ice. Four months was normal in the good old days (ca. 1980) and almost five months in some recent years (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Cherry et al. 2013; Ramsay and Stirling 1988; Stirling and Lunn 1997). WHB pregnant females spend 8 months or more on land with no ill effects that can conclusively be blamed on a slightly longer time without ice (Crockford 2017). Southern Hudson Bay polar bears spend a similar amount of time without ice (Obbard et al. 2016), see this post (with references).

———————————-

Susan Crockford

About the author

Susan Crockford is a zoologist with more than 35 years of 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.

Her paper describing her theory about polar bears is “Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus)”, posted at Peer J Preprints (not peer reviewed). See her publications here and her website Polar Bear Science.

She has written a book about her work: Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change (described below; review here), a book for young adults, Polar Bear Facts & Myths: A Science Summary for All Ages (review here), and a novel, Eaten — a polar bear attack thriller.

For More Information

Update – At last a debunking of the video in a major newspaper: “What everybody got wrong about that viral video of a starving polar bear” by Tristin Hopper at the National Post.

Debunking the next propaganda campaignIs climate change the culprit causing California’s wildfires?

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see this about the keys to understanding climate change and these posts about polar bears…

  1. Mother Jones sounds the alarm about the warming North Pole — Exploiting the polar bear story for political gain.
  2. Twenty stories of good news about polar bears!
  3. Are 30 thousand species going extinct every year?
  4. Good news about polar bears, thriving as the arctic warms!
  5. Climate scientists strike back! — Misrepresentations and lies about Crockford’s work in a new paper.
Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

I recommend her book!

Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change.

See my review of the book. Here is summary.

This is a fascinating book about one of our fellow top predators in the age of global warming. It describes how we almost exterminated them, their slow recovery — and their new role as poster animals in the debate about global warming. The author briefly and clearly describes how they survive in one of the harshest environments on Earth and how each year the weather determines how many live or die. She brings the perspective of a zoologist to review the forecasts by specialists of these bears’ fate as the Earth warms.

It provides a brief on-the-ground look at the dynamics of one kind of climate change in a warming world. Crockford writes well. The photos of are excellent and the illustrations are clear. It needs better maps, discussing places not mentioned on them. Crockford says more in 50 pages than others in one hundred.

 

42 thoughts on “Starving polar bears: the fake news face of climate change

  1. Tweets by Jeff W. Higdon @jeffwhigdon

    He has a PhD in Biogeography and has published peer-reviewed papers about Canadian wildlife (see ResearchGate). How owns Higdon Wildlife Consulting. See LinkedIn.

    ——————————–

    I try to avoid commenting on stuff like this, at least for the first couple days when emotions are high. But since you asked.  {Source.}

    That bear’s in rough shape, no doubt about that. There have been photos and videos of emaciated PB going back 10 years, at least. And some PB have been starving for as long as PB have existed. I suspect that one has other issues, which I’ll get into below.  {Source.}

    Now, for what I think (“think” being the operative word, because I def don’t know with any certainty) is going on with this particular PB – it has an aggressive form of cancer.  {Source.}

    Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, has been recorded in PB (griz too). Source is “Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human”, a 2012 book by Dr. B.N. Horowitz and K. Bowers (you can see this section via a Google Books preview if interested).  {Source.}

    I can’t find any published lit about it in bears, unfortunately, and I’m certainly no cancer expert. But it’s fairly common in dogs (leading cause of death in golden retrievers, according to that book) and many of the symptoms described are being shown by that PB.  {Source.}

    That bear is starving, but IMO it’s not starving because the ice suddenly disappeared and it could no longer hunt seals. The east Baffin coast is ice free in summer. It’s far more likely that it is starving due to health issues.  {Source.}

    What the Sea Legacy crew should have done was contact the GN Conservation Officer in the nearest community and had this bear put down. And necropsied. The narrative of the story might have turned out quite different if they had.  {Source.}

    Mortality rates/causes will vary by age/sex class and area/pop. Human harvest and DLP kills likely biggest mort source for most stages (in CA and GL at least). Some PB starve, of course. Prob most prev in old PB and/or injured/disease.  {Source.}

    Lot of dodgy stuff happening on this one. They sat on the footage for months obviously. They should have called the nearest damn CO immediately. Bear humanely put down and necropsy done. But the results might not have been so effective at tugging heartstrings. {Source.}

  2. Sorry, Larry, but in my opinion Dr Susan Crockford cannot be considered an independent, credible scientist on the fate of polar bears and here is why.

    1. The Heartland Institute’s Denialgate documents indicate that the spinstitute gives Crockford $750 per month. She is one of three Canadian university professors on the denier dole at Heartland, along with Madhav Knandekar and Mitch Taylor.
    Greenpeace contacted the University of Victoria to raise conflict of interest questions relating to Heartland’s payments to Crockford, who has a history of denying climate science as a speaker for its anti-science International Climate Science Coalition. See Greenpeace’s letter to the University of Victoria.
    […]
    One of Crockford’s colleagues at UVic had plenty to say about the disconnect between the university’s science-based position and the spin emanating from the Heartland Institute.
    “It is regrettable that anyone affiliated with the University of Victoria participated in the activities of an organization like the Heartland Institute,” says Dr. Thomas F. Pederson, Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) at UVic. “The University prides itself on being an institution of higher learning that deals with facts and that is nowhere more true than in the field of science. Those who deny that the planet is warming as a direct result of human activity are denying facts.
    […]
    “The Heartland Institute is one of a collection of so-called think tanks that have been extensively supported by elements within the American fossil fuel industry,” says Pederson. “Their mission is quite clearly not to think, but instead to sow confusion with respect to the global warming issue.”
    source: https://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-payments-university-victoria-professor-susan-crockford-probed

    2. Dr Crockford herself admits to being paid by the Heartland Institute but denies it had any influence on her research:

    “From 2011 to 2013, I was paid $750 a month … These were to be included in the NIPCC report to ensure that a balanced perspective of the literature was available to the public, which the Heartland Institute published. Heartland had no input on what papers I looked at or what I wrote. The monthly payments ended (as did the contract) when my work on the NIPCC report was finished in early 2014.”

    https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/1799261/posts/188418#comment-2689497

    3. This NASA-funded study asserts that climate change is having a negative long-term impact on polar bear populations:

    A new study by University of Washington researchers, funded by NASA and using satellite data from NASA and other agencies, found a trend toward earlier sea ice melt in the spring and later ice growth in the fall across all 19 polar bear subpopulations, which can negatively impact the feeding and breeding capabilities of the bears. The paper, published on Sept. 14 in the journal The Cryosphere, is the first to quantify the sea ice changes in each polar bear subpopulation across the entire Arctic region using metrics that are specifically relevant to polar bear biology.
    “This study shows declining sea ice for all subpopulations of polar bears,” said co-author Harry Stern, a researcher with the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center in Seattle.
    The analysis shows that the critical timing of the sea ice break-up and sea ice freeze-up is changing in all areas in a direction that is harmful for polar bears.

    https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2499/polar-bears-across-the-arctic-face-shorter-sea-ice-season/

    1. Ivan,

      (1) Your comment is gibberish. That you think such small sums taint her work is nuts. Also, many scientists get funding from left-wing organizations.

      (2) The only actual info you post, you misrepresent.

      Your comment: “is having a negative long-term impact on polar bear populations…”

      The NASA study: “The analysis shows that the critical timing of the sea ice break-up and sea ice freeze-up is changing in all areas in a direction that is harmful for polar bears.”

      The study tracks sea ice using satellite data. It does not examine polar bears nor show the impact of sea ice on them. It states the theory, which Crockford disputes, about the effect of sea ice on polar bears. There is zip in it that refutes her theory. This disagreement is called science. The accumulation of evidence over time will decide the debate.

      Most of your comments contain such misinformation (or, to be trendy disinformation). That’s why your comments here are moderated. More like this will go into the trash.

    2. The Real,

      It’s commendable for you to state the price for which you’d sell yourself.

      In my experience in these matters (which is considerable, after 12 years as an arbitrator) most professionals set a higher price.

  3. In contrast you should post the photos of dozens upon dozens of fat healthy polar bears (I think there were well over 100 of them) that was taken recently on some arctic island. They were all gathering at some barren spot to feast upon the carcass of a whale that had washed up on shore. The photos circulated on the Interent a month or so ago.

    1. Dave,

      That was an interesting story. Here is the first mention of that photo: “SHO: An unbelievable experience at Wrangel Island” by Rodney Russ on September 19 at his blog. Russ owns Heritage Expeditions, the New Zealand-based company that co-led the trip. He reported the incident in one paragraph. Being a sensible man, he didn’t draw conclusions.

      Both Left and Right went nuts, drawing elaborate narratives about a single photo about which they knew nothing. The Right declared this to be proof that polar bears were fine. The Left wrote articles like this by hte news service AFP: “Polar bears crowd on Russian island in sign of Arctic change.”

      The incident provides valuable proof about the key aspect of the climate change policy debate: both sides consist largely of gullible people who believe anything their tribe tells them. Our elites must watch us with joy. An ignorant and easily led people are a gift to their rulers.

    2. This is tainted news. This woman is an adjunct professor for a reason, she can’t get a tenured post because she does not have a solid academic reputation, that takes more than a self published book on kindle to achieve.
      Anyway since trading insults is all you seem to understand: I will see your crockford and raise you an Attenborough, sir David Attenborough…70 years’ work in the field and an international reputation. Put that in your fake news pipe and smoke it

    3. Lynn,

      (1) “This is tainted news. ”

      Wow. Do you always read the news from such a medieval perspective?

      (2) “This woman is an adjunct professor for a reason”

      Making stuff up is a poor rebuttal. You appear unclear about the role of an “adjunct.” It does not designate a lesser being, but rather one whose primary work is outside the university — but whom the university believes can contribute to its work. Prominent people are often designated as “adjunct professors.” From Harvard:

      “An adjunct appointment may be proposed for an individual whose primary affiliation is not at Harvard University and who is expected to make or who continues to make a significant contribution to the School’s academic activities.”

      (3) “David Attenborough”

      That’s called “appeal to authority.” It’s a logical fallacy.

      (4) “Anyway since trading insults is all you seem to understand:”

      That describes your comments quite well. Try presenting evidence, instead. Good-bye.

    4. Lynn,

      She’s a ‘non-remunerated adjunct’, so she’s not even paid a salary by the university. I can’t find any public grants she’s received for polar bear research or education either. She also appears to have not published in a peer-reviewed journal in something like 5 years and has never published on polar bears in a peer-reviewed journal ever. So she’s got an-unpaid position in academia that appears to have almost no serious research or teaching duties, receives no grant money and doesn’t conduct original research, and doesn’t publish in scientific journals any longer. She’s the opposite of ‘prominent’, Larry. She’s a part-time blogger who’s written one self-published ebook on polar bears.

    5. Georgie,

      Yes. All that is true. And she has a relevant PhD, and has marshalled considerable evidence supporting her theory. Time will tell if she is correct. That the rebuttal by subject matter experts consists of weak papers like this is, however, significant.

      There is a long history of people with less qualifications than Crockford making valuable contributions to science, and an even longer list of people from outside academia making major contributions.

      The often-cited case is Einstein. He got a teaching certificate in July 1990. He was unable to get a job in academia — or teaching at any level. He gave up and in June 1902 took a job as a low-level patent clerk (class III). In 1904 he was refused promotion to class II; he got it in July 1906. His many publications were ignored.

      He was awarded his PhD in 1905, the annus mirabilis in which he published many breakthrough papers. This brought him a Professor’s chair of theoretical physics at the University of Zurich — in September 1909.

      This fascination with credentials — not evidence — is quite a medieval attitude. As if guilds are the big thing. Pretty sad, but irrelevant. Time will provide evidence to see who is correct. Probably in the next few years, as better population surveys are conducted (resulting from increased funding).

  4. The proximate cause of this bear’s death was its inability to catch enough prey to survive. This could be because it lacked the skill, experience or just luck to do so. Connecting climate change to this one bear’s death ignores the bears that have thrived despite the harsh conditions.

    1. Raymond,

      As you note, we don’t know the cause of this bear’s problem. Perhaps disease, injury, poor hunting skills, bad luck, or something else.

      Using this as an example of climate change is propaganda. They activists resort to this, instead of using science, reveals much about them.

  5. I agree with you Lynn. Just because Larry endorsed Crockford’s book he treats it as gospel and no-one is allowed to dispute her findings.

    I am probably writing this into thin air as I am sure it will not be published…

    1. Ivan,

      I’ve moderated your comments because you lie. A lot. When you are caught in a lie, you move on to another lie. You’re banned. No further comments will be posted.

      “he treats it as gospel”

      Lie.

      “no-one is allowed to dispute her findings”

      False. Nobody here has even attempted to dispute her findings. Just making stuff up and appeals to authority (which is classed as a logical fallacy). This is all from the standard playbook of extremists.

    2. Ivan,

      When triggering our anti-troll defenses, I forgot to provide supporting evidence against the first lie in your last comment.

      “he treats it as gospel”

      In rebuttal to your lie about the NASA paper about satellite data, I said (bold emphasis added):

      “There is zip in it that refutes her theory. This disagreement is called science. The accumulation of evidence over time will decide the debate.”

      In the post I say:

      “Her paper describing her theory about polar bears is …”

      Nowhere do I either assess the accuracy of her theory (I have no subject-matter knowledge or expertise), let alone state it is anything like “gospel”.

    3. Ivan,

      By lying, the editor means ‘disagreeing’ with him, which he can’t stand. You would think someone who loves to performatively talk about their love of free speech so much would not be so opposed to disagreement, but alas it is not so. I guess it’s his right to block though, he’s entitled to his safe space if he needs it.

    4. Jeremy,

      “by lying, the editor means ‘disagreeing’”

      Please read more carefully. I quote Ivan, then I repeated what I said. His statement was false.

  6. The fact that there is still debate about climate change and the effects of it is the best example of people needing denial to justify their behaviours. These people (many of the deniers) are also those that don’t seem to have any problem of believing in God and their chequebooks. The two things that takes a great deal of denial to believe in. When the planet becomes uninhabitable for humans in the slow painful way that it is becoming for polarbears, perhaps then the deniers (and big contributers to the damage) will be willing to look at their ignorance. If there is a God, he would be telling his followers to take care of amd cherish the planet that keeps humans alive. Idiots.

    1. Beth,

      “The fact that there is still debate about climate change and the effects of it is the best example of people needing denial to justify their behaviours.”

      I suggest you read the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) in the most recent report by the IPCC. Being written by scientists, they explicitly assign confidence levels to each finding (old emphasis added):

      “In this Summary for Policymakers, the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result: virtually certain 99–100% probability, very likely 90–100%, likely 66–100%, about as likely as not 33–66%, unlikely 0–33%, very unlikely 0–10%, exceptionally unlikely 0–1%. Additional terms (extremely likely: 95–100%, more likely than not >50–100%, and extremely unlikely 0–5%) may also be used when appropriate. (See Chapter 1 and Box TS.1 for more details).”

      You will find that only 8 of the hundreds of statements are stated as “virtually certain”, and only 23 as “very likely”. The others have lower confidence levels, and the report describes the debate among scientists about them. Some of these uncertain factors are critical to forecasting. Most of the forecasts for the early 21st century — the period of most reliable forecasts — are rated as only “likely”.

      I suggest that you read more science and less from activists. I strongly recommend that you start the the IPCC’s SPM. It is designed for laypeople (e.g., politicians). I suspect you’ll find that you are relying on people who lie to you.

    2. Beth,

      Here’s an example of the many aspects of climate dynamics that the IPCC describes as (to use your word) “debated.” Clouds and aerosols are key factors in the greenhouse effect (a powerful but complex process, quite unlike an actual greenhouse). This is the executive summary to Chapter 7 of the Working Group 1 report of the IPCC’s AR5. Bold emphasis added.

      “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget. This chapter focuses on process understanding and considers observations, theory and models to assess how clouds and aerosols contribute and respond to climate change. The quantification of cloud and convective effects in models, and of aerosol–cloud interactions, continues to be a challenge. Climate models are incorporating more of the relevant processes than at the time of AR4, but confidence in the representation of these processes remains weak.”

    3. Larry,
      I disagree with you about SPM. I believe the Technical Summary is the better document to read as it is more nuanced, though it does need some scientific understanding, so your point to Beth is valid.
      With regards the whole of WG1, I am wary that the whole report was back edited to make it consistent with the SPM, which was a politicians’, not a scientists’ document.
      http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/P36Doc4_WGI-12_Changes-Underlying-Assessment.pdf.
      That revision seems the wrong way to do something. It smacks of writing the body of the report to match the conclusions you want to project,

    4. Chrism,

      “I disagree with you about SPM.”

      I don’t understand the nature of your objection. The odds are high that Beth won’t read the 30 page SPM, although it is written for laypeople. Advising her to read the 1500 page full WGI report is nuts.

      As for the WGI, it is a remarkably fine document — as such things go. There have been hundreds or thousands of such commissions set up advise policy-makers. The IPCC’s results are among the best I’ve seen. You will find better work in Heaven, but you have to die to get there.

    5. Larry,
      I agree with you that Beth is unlikely to read the document and she might as well not read the short SPM than the longer Technical Summary. I haven’t read the full WG1, only some of the Chapters that interested me.
      My concerns about the SPM is that it states at the start:
      “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” and a bit later on “. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
      However, throughout the text, it uses terms like “Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850 ” , ” and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971″ , The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia ”
      So they are stating that it has been getting warmer since the mid 19th Century, but only since the 1950s has it been dominant human influence. They make no mention that I can see of what caused the rise from 1850 to 1950?
      There are other issues with off-message contrary evidence that is in the TS but dropped for the SPM , but that is just complicating things

    6. Chrism,

      “she might as well not read the short SPM than the longer Technical Summary. ”

      No, that’s not my point. First, recommending a 30 page report written for laypeople is good advice. Recommending a highly technical 1500 page report is trolling her — demonstrating that we’re not worth listening to. Second, she might at least glance at the SPM. Any page she reads will teach her more than she knows now. That’s not true of the highly technical full WG1 — most pages of which will mean nothing to the average layperson.

      As for the IPCC —

      If you are waiting for perfection from a process began and designed for political leaders, you have adopted the right approach. Eventually death will bring you to Heaven, where such reports are constructed only with logic and fact.

      Down here everything is flawed. We deal with problems using the tools we have, aware of their limitations. Given the complexity and scale of the problem, we are fortunate that the IPCC’s work turned out so well.

    7. Larry’
      A point of correction. I never said read the whole of WG1. I recommended reading the Technical Summary (of WG1) which is 84 pages in my version, though the font sizes and formatting make it more wordy.

    8. Chris,

      I know you didn’t tell her to read the whole thing. The relevant point is that it is 1500 pages, and reading any specific page will mean little to the layperson. Recommending the technical summary — both long and nearly incomprehensible to most laypeople — is imo silly.

      Enough on this. You’ve made your point clear.

  7. She is known global warming denier associated with the Heartland Institute. Shame on you. University of Victoria adjunct professor Susan Crockford doesn’t seem interested in discussing the monthly payments she appears to receive from the climate denying Heartland Spinstitute.

    “Crockford would not respond to emails, and refused to speak with the Martlet,” reports a UVic student newspaper attempting to probe the payments.

    The Heartland Institute’s Denialgate documents indicate that the spinstitute gives Crockford $750 per month. She is one of three Canadian university professors on the denier dole at Heartland, along with Madhav Knandekar and Mitch Taylor.

    1. John,

      (1) “She is known global warming denier associated”

      Got to love how people resort to McCarthy-like language. She is a “known communist” — so guilty! Off with her head!

      (2) “Shame on you.”

      I was thinking the same thing about you. But we’ll know more from the evidence you provide in your reply.

      So please provide some evidence supporting that claim. She says hasn’t written about global warming — or even projections of future sea ice trends. Let alone “denied” them. This paper and the supplemental provided zero evidence for your claim.

      (3) In my considerable experience, extremists (left and right) lie like rugs when giving smears. It’s probably one reason for climate activists’ failure to get policy action in the US. I am a dogmatic supporter of the IPCC and major climate agencies — and activists often call me a denier. When called on their lies they fume and lie some more.

      (4) “Crockford would not respond to emails, and refused to speak with the Martlet”

      That’s smart. I wouldn’t speak with the wild leftists who staff student newspapers at most US universities.

      (5) As for the rest, it is amazing how far extremists — left and right — will go to avoid talking about evidence. It’s one of their defining characteristics.

  8. I had the opportunity to read Crockford’s book a couple of weeks ago. At that time it was freely available on her blog as a pdf. It was clear from the content and style of the book that very little time or energy had been put in to it. It’s basically a long blog post, padded with stock images for length, and containing very little reference to current polar bear research or her own original research. It was painfully obvious from the sloppy, amateurish formatting that Crockford had made the book in something like Microsoft Word and bought an ISBN for it. There’s no publisher’s imprimatur to suggest the book has undergone even a basic editing or fact-checking process.

    Which begs the question, why can’t Crockford get this book published? Tons of dreck gets published by scientific publishers all the time and Crockford’s credentials are probably enough to at least get her manuscript read by someone. Besides, there’s tons of non-scientific publishers that would happily pick up someone like Crockford to market her book to the climate skeptic crowd.

    And why was she offering her book for free until a week or two ago? My guess is that she’s trying to cash in the newfound attention she’s been receiving…

    1. Jim,

      (1) If you want to see the substance of her work, read her paper (see the link in this post, my other posts about her, and at her website).

      (2) As for her book.

      You paid nothing for it. What’s the basis for your complaints about “formating”? You demand a lot for free stuff. I have the actual book, It is nicely formatted. Quite professional. Lots of pretty pictures. It makes her case quite clearly, albeit with little supporting evidence. Suitable for a general audience.

      (3) “Which begs the question, why can’t Crockford get this book published?”

      There speaks someone who has neither written a book nor tried to get it published. It’s a lot of work, and the odds of success at each step are microscopic. I review books for authors and publishers, and here their stories. Even major celebrities sometimes have to self-publish (e.g., the great Martin van Creveld).

      Try writing and getting published — and report back to us.

      (4) “My guess is that she’s trying to cash in the newfound attention she’s been receiving…”

      Do you have an objection to that? I say “good for her.” Running a website takes many hours of work. Anyone with a large audience deserves compensation.

  9. What a fascinating phenomenon. I’m not referring to the polar bear. Bears get old and die, just like any other animal that isn’t killed before it reaches old age.

    I’m referring to the comments here. For all the vitriol, I haven’t seen a single person take issue with anything Dr. Crockford has actually written about polar bears, nor about the fact that this image has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with propaganda. It’s almost like the commenters’ minds were made up before they arrived.

    The much higher than usual number of comments in response to this article is pure coincidence, I’m sure.

    1. Voiceless,

      “For all the vitriol, I haven’t seen a single person take issue with anything Dr. Crockford has actually written about polar bears, nor about the fact that this image has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with propaganda”

      There are over 4600 posts and 50 thousand comments on the FM website, posted since we opened in 2007. What you describe is the rule in threads dominated by extremists. I have little experience with other people’s, but American extremists are indoctrinated into robots — immune to fact and logic.

      I used to have discussions — often dozens of rounds, thousands of words. Rebuttal of fact and logica, round by round — with them never admitting even the slightest error of fact (you’ll see lots of such admissions by me in these threads, some of the more notable in the “smackdown page” seen on the front top menu). Eventually they’ll return to their very first point. Talking with them is shadow-boxing; in effect there is nobody on the other side.

      I used to wonder why so many extremists are trolls. Not I suspect that they’re all trolls. It’s a common insight by those running active websites (see these collected comments of website proprietors about comments).

    1. Medio,

      Yes, I think everybody is aware of that. Her articles discuss the consensus theory and give rebuttal evidence. This process is called “science.”

  10. Just to follow up, wonder why this story doesn’t have the same resonance as the original (kidding, we all know why…)

    Obviously, this Inuit guy can’t be a real expert as he’s never published a peer reviewed paper on polar bears, but hey, I tend to believe him anyway:

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4442887/viral-video-of-emaciated-polar-bear-may-not-be-what-it-seems-nunavut-bear-monitor-says-1.4442892

    1. Caligula,

      One reason is that this kind of annec-data is so often wrong. That’s why scientists — in both hard and soft sciences — use surveys.

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