Good news about polar bears, exemplars of climate change

Summary: The news media give us almost nothing but bad news about our changing climate and its effects, ignoring the good news. But the good news is out there. For example, about polar bears – the “poster children” for climate change. After a decade of experts’ dire predictions of their doom, they are thriving in many regions. Let’s enjoy the good news.

Polar Bear Science

Chukchi Sea polar bears number almost 3000
according to new survey results

By Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science. Reposted with her generous permission.

The Chukchi Sea finally has a polar bear population estimate! According to survey results from 2016 only recently made public, about 2937 bears (1,522 – 5,944) currently inhabit the region, making this the largest subpopulation in the Arctic. This is exciting news – and a huge accomplishment – but the US Fish and Wildlife Service responsible for the work has been oddly mum on the topic.

Not only that, but an extrapolation of that estimate calculated by USFWS researchers for Chukchi plus Alaska (the US portion of the Southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation) was estimated at 4,437 (2,283 – 9,527), although with “significant uncertainty.” Nevertheless, it means the 2016 estimate for Alaska could be roughly three times what it was in 2010: a whopping 1500 or so, up from about 450 (or about 225-650) for the same area estimated during the last survey (Bromaghin et al. 2015: Fig. 5a).

Even if the real number for Alaska is only twice as large (~1000), that’s still a huge improvement. It would eliminate the Southern Beaufort as the only polar bear subpopulation in the Arctic to have shown a significant decline blamed on human-caused global warming (Crockford 2018). If the recovery is real, it means the 2004 – 2006 decline was a temporary fluctuation after all, just like previous declines in the region. I expect, however, that it will take a dedicated SB population survey for officials to concede that point.

There is now a detailed report to cite (Regehr et al. 2018, see update below), but the numbers were announced at the 10th meeting of the Russian-American Commission on Polar Bears held at the end of July this year (AC SWG 2018) by Eric Regehr (formerly of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, as of 2017 at the University of Washington). [h/t to G.H.] This was the same report that raised the quota for subsistence hunting in the Chukchi from 58 to 85, based on these new figures, as I discussed last week. Regehr was quoted as saying:

“Chukchi bears remain larger and fatter and have not seen downward trends in cub production and survival, according to new preliminary information on the health and numbers of bears.”

Polar bears on Wrangel Island in the Republic of Chukotka. Photo by Alexey Bezrukov.
Wrangel Island, Republic of Chukotka. Photo by Alexey Bezrukov.


The scientific paper describing the entirely new method (yes, yet another one: see Bromaghin et al. 2015) used to estimate the size of the Chukchi Sea population is now available (University of Washington press release here), in an open-access paper: Regher et al. 2018. News reports (see one here) spin the positive outcome as something that researchers expected all along but that’s simply not true. They expected Chukchi Sea bears and Southern Beaufort Sea bears to respond similarly to reduced amounts of summer sea ice, as explained here and in Crockford 2017).

Recent research on polar bears and their prey has been on-going in the Chukchi Sea since 2008 (Crawford et al. 2015; Crawford and Quackenbush 2013; Rode and Regehr 2010; Regehr et al. 2010, Rode et al. 2014, 2015, 2018). Now it’s all coming together to paint a picture of a large population of polar bears in excellent physical condition, with strong reproduction and cub survival (such as triplet litters sighted on numerous occasions), despite a much longer ice-free period in summer than in the 1980s.

Fat bears have been a common summer sight in the Chukchi Sea (see photo below from Sept. 2017 on Wrangel Island) as well as in Alaska. Despite the huge declines in summer sea ice since 2007, Chukchi bears are doing better than OK — they are truly thriving.

See the rest of her article, and references, at her Polar Bear Science website.

Polar Bears on Wrangel Island in Chukotka
At Wrangel Island State Park, in Chukotka. By A. Gruzdev.


About good news

We get little good news from journalists because we prefer stories about disasters, either happening now or predicted in the future. The worst words for a headline are “good news.” That guarantees low traffic. News is a business like any other. Journalists gives us what we want to read, and what we read shapes our minds. Sad, but true. When we become more interested in information than info-tainment, we will be better able to run America. See more about this here.

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.

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!

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

I strongly recommend her book!

Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change.

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 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.

See my review of the book.

17 thoughts on “Good news about polar bears, exemplars of climate change”


    One of the other most wrong headed bad news was the 30,000 species a year claim. It has become like the polar decline story. Just you wait, we were wrong last prediction, but the new and better prediction of species loss shows it is worse than we thought. This has been shifted to food grains decline and pests increasing dramatically. Be scared!

    LOL. Most species either need sun and warmth; or they live off of other life. It is like climate alarmists never studied succession, nor understand stoma in plants.

    Amazingly, one of the real possible pollution stories of our increased nitrate and phosphate use helps offset the expected nutrient imbalance.

    Of course, no good scare is ignored by NY Times or The Guardian.

  2. On 13 Feb 2018: The judge dismissed all charges in the lawsuit brought against Dr Tim Ball by BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. It is a great victory for free speech. See his website.

    Dr. Tim Ball On Climate: Lies Wrapped In Deception Smothered With Delusion

    ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.


    “Human Caused Global Warming”, ‘The Biggest Deception in History’.


    1. The links are just to the typical and tedious claims of AGW as a leftist political plot, Dr. Ball even includes the non sequitur of Kavanaugh, just as the left does its tedious claims of anyone denying AGW will end all life on Earth by (pick a year, or a decade) are a threat to all humanity and should be prosecuted as such. And they hate Kavanaugh.

      “the Earth’s atmosphere does not work like a greenhouse” is just piffle and balderdash because of course it does. Water vapor and clouds, methane, and CO2 all work to keep our planet warmer than it would be if all heat (radiation) that fell on the Earth during the day radiated into space in the night. The greenhouse effect is nothing other than retaining heat through the atmosphere, the issue being how much heat. Need a cite? That very claim should make all wary of what else he says.

      Tim Ball’s expertise is in Geography with a PhD in Climatology. He with all that he can’t understand how Hoover Dam is different from a dam built by beavers.

      He doesn’t add anything to the conversation. He’s a nut weaving a narrative for nuts.

      (Listening to
      And, oh my god, he’s denying the Ozone Hole. He’s saying it’s always been there, and yes it has, but he says it has always been the same. There’s good science about fluorocarbons and their effect on ozone in the upper atmosphere. And he makes it political.

      I’ve read Gish, Tim Ball is using the same playbook.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Ball is certainly on the fringes of climate science. But your rebuttals don’t make sense.

        (1) “the Earth’s atmosphere does not work like a greenhouse” is just piffle”

        The GH effect is a useful metaphor, not a close physical analog. That’s Climate Science 101. GHG and greenhouses work with entirely different dynamics.

        (2) “he’s denying the Ozone Hole. He’s saying it’s always been there and yes it has, …”

        That’s word salad. Look up “denial.” It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        (3) “There’s good science about fluorocarbons and their effect on ozone in the upper atmosphere.”

        Theories, however well-grounded, have to take second place to observations. Especially about such complex phenomena as upper atmosphere chemical dynamics, where there are still many questions – and which current models don’t replicate well. That doesn’t mean he’s right, or wrong. Science takes place mostly on the fringes. Most new ideas prove wrong, but those that prove right change the world.

        (4) “he makes it political.”

        Climate science has been heavily politicized for decades. In current papers they often explicitly frame their results in terms of their policy impact.

        (5) “He with all that he can’t understand how Hoover Dam is different from a dam built by beavers.”

        Now you are just misrepresenting what he said, blowing away your credibility.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Also – this is really off-topic to a post about Polar Bears. Ball got us off-topic. Let’s return to this important subject.

    2. 1) As metaphor it works well because the GHGs work metaphorically like a greenhouse. They keep heat in like a greenhouse, the physics are different, no glass, but the effect is the same. It’s why Climate Science 101 uses the term. It’s why the term was used to describe the Venusian atmosphere.
      2) We can disagree on this one while not calling on “you don’t know the word”. Tim Ball here ( is doing the word salad in order to maintain that there wasn’t an increase in size of the normally occurring ozone hole over the southern hemisphere.
      3) Theories are created from hypothesis that are tested until the theory can’t be avoided. Those hypothesis are tested by observations. This “Theories, however well-grounded, have to take second place to observations.” is placing the horse before the cart, and ignoring both the horse and the cart. Theories aren’t well-grounded if they don’t match observations. Observations, however, aren’t political arguments, nor are they misrepresentations of facts for political argument. Really, Tim Ball is doing the same thing Gish did.
      4) That climate science is heavily politicized by one side, with all their fallacious arguments, doesn’t justify making arguments against the science by way of “it’s leftist politicized so it’s wrong”. That it’s heavily politicized is from both sides.
      5) ““He with all that he can’t understand how Hoover Dam is different from a dam built by beavers.” Now you are just misrepresenting what he said, blowing away your credibility.” No, you simply don’t understand that that comparison is an attempt to make what man does as natural rather than artificial. It’s an attempt to blur the distinctions so that whatever man does is no different than a beaver building a dam. Tim Ball brought it up, am I mistaken in what he meant? He was really saying that what man does isn’t comparable to what a beaver does because he knows, and upholds, the distinction between man and beaver, artificial and natural? Show me that he was…

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        I am unconvinced that you have much knowledge about climate, let alone climate change.

        I a convinced that whatever your reason for reading Ball, cosplaying a climates scientist, it is a waste of time.

        You would be better off reading the Summary of the IPCC’s AR5 or some of NOAAs excellent material about climate change.

    3. The problem is that comments often go off the main topic because words. Your words, the other guy’s words, and mine. So let us do polar bears with the butt monkey of shifting baselines.

      The predominate reason for the increase in Polar Bear population is that we banned hunting them back in the 70s. If we hadn’t, the Polar Bear would be likely be extinct lime the Moa, or on the verge like too may other large mammal species.

      But this is really about the Polar Bear as a proxy for Global Warming and there be dragons, crazy dragons. So from “What is apparent is that the global population of polar bears has not declined over the last 30 years, as the PBSG status tables indicate.”

      So the butt monkey, we can show nothing has changed by selecting the year necessary to show nothing has changed.

      Leaving GW or AGW or simply CC aside, it’s good news that the population of Polar Bears has remained stagnant for almost 50 years.

      Think of this headline: Good News, the Population of the USA in 2018 is the Same as 1970. It’s Been Stagnant All These Years.

    4. “I am unconvinced that you have much knowledge about climate, let alone climate change.” And that would be based on that I was trying to convince you. There’s something there about the world revolving…

      Was there a moment when, especially since all this revolves around the crazy of Ball that you thanked for his skewed version of climate science, you doubted your knowledge of climate and climate science? Nah, we all know that what we know is what should be known, is what is known, and all else is unconvincing.

      You and I should think before we write. But I was being kind.

  3. A very smart man suggested in partial jest, that we should relocate the bears to antartica. It’s cold and they can eat all the penguins they want.

    It was in jest but maybe there is wisdom…

    1. It must be in jest, given that penguins are southern hemisphere animals. Me, I think it was poking fun at people that think bears and penguins are in the same hemisphere. There’s only one bear in the southern hemisphere, and that bear comes no where near penguins.

      So no wisdom just jest.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “There’s only one bear in the southern hemisphere, and that bear comes no where near penguins.”

        That’s why Sven said “we should relocate the bears to antartica.” Italic emphasis added.

    2. Okay, I’ll stand corrected about Sven. Bears and penguins.

      In the meantime, I’m listening to Tim Ball over the exact tilt of the earth and that climate scientists just don’t take that into account. Then he went into Darwinism. He throws everything in like Gish, including science is more dogmatic than religion.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Yep. Common fare of scientists on the fringes. See Newton’s work on Biblical chronology. Yet I hear he also made some valuable contributions. Linus Carl Pauling was one of the West’s greatest scientists, and was a kook about Vitamin C.

        Scientists are people, just like you and me. Their individual theories must be evaluated by other scientists. That takes time.

        The fascination of climate “alarmists” and “skeptics” for the work of individual scientists — BOOOO and CHEEER, as if this was baseball — is pretty nuts. Not one in a hundred I’ve talked to during the past decade can accurately state what the IPCC or NOAA have said about climate change, yet feel free to judge work as if they were Newton and Einstein melded. Sad, really.

  4. Yep, Newton and Ball are the same cuz fringe. So I look at Newton over occultism, and, horrors, his Biblical interpretations, and then his Principia Mathmatica becomes equal to Ball’s incoherence over climate change. And, damn, there’s L. C. Pauling over Vitamin C…
    So the Newton and Pauling examples somehow justify the incoherence of Ball by pushing them into and under that umbrella of “fringe”. Damn, what a tool to use…

    “Scientists are people, just like you and me. Their individual theories must be evaluated by other scientists. That takes time.” And there you illustrate your failing, science isn’t about their “individual theories”, it’s not about individuals whatsoever or the “theories” of individuals. It’s about hypotheses (like that Special Relativity that was first tested by an eclipse in 1921 but wasn’t “proven” by that eclipse, it was just less in doubt, then Fermi). Their hypotheses are tested to become theories. No scientist has a theory first, even if the word is used it’s still an hypothesis. Testing hypotheses does take time. Theories not so much.

    You confuse words like a lay person. But I do agree that scientists are just like you and me. They have egos, they confuse words, and some put their self before anything else. A lot of history there.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      “Newton and Ball are the same cuz fringe. “

      This shows why your talk about science is so inaccurate. I said nothing remotely like that, merely that they had one common aspect.

      Goodbye. Come back when you want to talk about polar bears.

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