Debunking the latest fake news about polar bears

Summary: After decades of building their power, now climate activists rule the news. They are bombarding the US public with exaggerations, misinformation, and even fabrications on a scale beyond review, let alone rebuttal. But a few people pluck examples from the news stream and debunk them, reminding any who are listening that it is raining propaganda.

He is happy about the good hunting!

Polar bear hunting Beluga whales at the Seal River.
Polar bear hunting Beluga whales at the Seal River, Summer 2017. Quent Plett photo.

Polar bears are hunting whales from shore.

BBC’s One Planet blames climate change.

By Susan Crockford at Polar Bear Science, 30 November 2019.
Reposted with her generous permission.

Polar bears leaping on the backs of belugas off Seal River, in western Hudson Bay, is being falsely promoted by the BBC’s new “Seven Worlds: One Planet” TV special as an unprecedented effect of climate change. The Daily Mail quoted the narrator, Sir David Attenborough …

“This extraordinary behaviour has only been recorded here, in this remote corner of North America, and only in the last few years.”

Poppycock. More climate change hyperbole from Attenborough’s seemingly never-ending litany of nonsense that’s easily refuted. There is scientific literature documenting such behaviour in Canada’s far north in the 1980s, which I included in the blog post I wrote about this phenomenon a few months ago (after National Geographic published a similar scare-story). See it below.

From the sounds of it, there was no mention in the BBC special that freeze-up along western Hudson Bay was early again this year: for the third year in a row. So if the footage was filmed any time since 2017, the claim of accelerating sea ice loss in this region and bears on land for longer than ever is pure fantasy.

PS. Fat bears are not “starving.”

More starving polar bear nonsense
from National Geographic.

By Susan Crockford at her website, 6 May 2019.

This time National Geographic’s ‘Hostile Planet’ series {see Amazon Prime} laughably claims a fat polar bear that’s caught a beluga calf off the coast of Western Hudson Bay has been saved from starvation! The message: here is a prime example of climate change pushing a species to its limit. This is nonsense, of course: polar bears hunting beluga whales from rocks has nothing to do with climate change or desperately hungry bears. More importantly, there is a much better video of the action that is both more informative and truthful.

See both below and decide which you’d prefer your kids or grandkids to watch.

The footage on National Geographic.

First, here is the polar bear sequence from the 6 May 2019 episode of the ‘Hostile Planet’ series, which it has released for distribution on YouTube.

Applying standard media hyperbole, Rolling Stone Magazine rephrased this to read “See a Starving Polar Bear Hunt for Beluga Whales” as if viewers can’t see the rolls of fat on this bear with their own eyes. See this except, links in the original, my bold.

“Some scientists fear a third of the polar bears in the world may be gone by 2030 due to climate change and how it will affect future sea conditions. To show how the species is struggling to survive as they search for food, National Geographic captured a moment where a starving polar bear hunts a pod of beluga whales in open water in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Featured in Hostile Planet‘s finale on Monday, it’s a chilling a reminder of how the Arctic predators are desperate to find prey to meet their needs.

“The six-part nature docuseries, hosted and narrated by Bear Grylls, zooms in on the world’s most extreme habitats to reveal the animal kingdom’s most dramatic stories of survival on our changing planet.”

WILDLIFE GUIDES ON THE GROUND.

However, we know from reports from guides at the Seal River Heritage Lodge that polar bears hunting beluga from rocks were observed in late summer (August/September) 2017 at the mouth of the Seal River, which is north of Churchill on Western Hudson Bay (see map below). This was the same summer a litter of triplet cubs were spotted in the area, discussed in the same report.

Map of Churchill Wild Lodges

See the photo {at the top of this post} of a Seal River polar bear hunting beluga from a rock, late summer 2017.

CBC Nature Film Footage.

As the video below, from CBC’s “The Wild Canadian Year: Summer” narrated by David Suzuki of “The Nature of Things.” I’m no fan of Sukuki’s stance on climate change but am happy to report it does not enter the narrative here, at least in the polar bear clip (I haven’t listened to the rest).

The polar bear hunting beluga sequence starts at 36:50 with the catch at about 42:00. {The video is no longer available.}

The Wild Canadian Year - Summer - S01E02
The Wild Canadian Year – Summer – S01E02.

Clearly, dozens of bears have learned this hunting strategy – probably after watching one local individual give it a try. Polar bear cubs learn hunting skills by watching their mothers, so they are primed to learn a new skill by watching other adults do it. These bears are very smart and learn quickly.

This new hunting strategy had nothing to do with being ‘desperate’ for food, since the bears shown in this video are in excellent condition, as were most bears that summerFall freeze-up came early in 2017 (and again in 2018), so they had a shorter wait than usual before they could hunt seals from the ice again.

However, polar bears hunting beluga whale calves in open water is not unheard-of behaviour that has only emerged recently due to climate change: researchers in the 1980s saw bears in the Canadian Arctic hunt beluga calves close to the shore of Somerset Island in a similar if not identical manner (ironically, this is the same island where NG’s equally misleading ‘starving’ polar bear was filmed in 2017). In one case, rather than a rock, a big male bear in 1985 used an isolated pan of ice as a platform from which to leap onto beluga calves swimming in the water (Smith and Sjare 1990:100).

Reference

Predation of belugas and narwhals by polar bears in nearshore areas of the Canadian High Arctic” by Thomas G. Smith and Becky Sjare in Arctic, June 1990.

——————————

Editor’s afterword

This article mentions just one of the many falsehoods in David Attenborough’s BBC series “Seven Worlds, One Planet.” I recommend reading Paul Homewood’s systemic debunking of this propaganda.

Polar bears have become the poster animals for Castastrophic Climate Change. As such, they are a test case for these claims and deserve to be closely followed. Dr. Crockford says that the increasing number of polar bears has already falsified these claims (see posts below), but those in that small specialty are unwilling to admit that their theories were wrong. Eventually the facts will win this debate, along with the many similar claims being made about imminent climate doom.

More good news for polar bears

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. From 2004 – 2019 she was an adjunct professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia (a “non-remunerated professional zooarcheologist associate”) – until the “purge the heretics from academia” mob caught her. She is 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. Her most recent book is The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. See my review.

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

For More Information

My favorite example of bogus 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 region, and polar sea ice, and especially these with good news about the climate…

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See the good news about the Polar Bears

The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened
Available at Amazon.

The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

By Susan Crockford (2019).

A fact-rich, logical, and dispassionate book that upsets a key climate change narrative.

See my review! And this from the publisher …

The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened explains why the catastrophic decline in polar bear numbers we were promised in 2007 failed to materialize. It’s the story of how and why the polar bear came to be considered ‘Threatened’ with extinction, and tracks its rise and fall as an icon of the global warming movement.

“The book also tells the story of Crockford’s role in bringing that failure to public attention and the backlash against her that ensued – and why, among all others who have attempted to do so previously, she was uniquely positioned to do so. In general, this is a cautionary tale of scientific hubris and of scientific failure, of researchers staking their careers on untested computer simulations and later obfuscating inconvenient facts.

“For the first time, you’ll see a frank and detailed account of attempts by scientists to conceal population growth as numbers rose from a historical low in the 1960s to the astonishing highs that surely must exist after almost 50 years of protection from overhunting. There is also a blunt account of what truly abundant populations of bears mean for the millions of people who live and work in areas of the Arctic inhabited by polar bears.”

12 thoughts on “Debunking the latest fake news about polar bears”

    1. I realy admire and trust Susan Crockford. But i would feel much more at ease if someone could refer one or two others biologists in the same field and the same ecpertise who agree with her conclusions.

      1. Francois,

        That would be nice. But the history of science shows the power of, to use Thomas Kuhn’s schema, paradigms. They are a powerful mechanism making science effective. But everything has undesirable side effects, and paradigms’ focusing action creates high barriers to new theories – so that innovators are usually lonely (almost irrespective of the evidence supporting them). Perhaps that is for the best, a good trade-off. Who can say?

      2. Sven,

        I too have wondered about that, so I looked that up using Google. It’s a common question. Penguins and seals have no land predators, and have a precarious natural balance in that harsh land. Polar bears might multiply (think of rabbits in Australia) and exterminate them – then they too die.

        The long history of well-meaning but disastrous introductions of foreign animals and plants makes biologists recoil in horror at the idea.

  1. Raymond Reichelt

    Good article Larry. The role of scientists should be to document empirically verifiable reality and Ms. Crockford is doing precisely that. Unfortunately, many others have chosen to follow the siren song of current political and social fads, consequently discrediting Science in general.

    Just a small nitpick, you will need to update Ms. Crockford’s biography, I think that the University of Victoria dismissed her in October

    https://www.martlet.ca/assistant-adjunct-uvic-professor-allegedly-fired-for-politically-incorrect-views-on-polar-bears/

    1. Raymond,

      Thank you for catching that! I’ve updated the bio.

      “discrediting Science in general.”

      I understand why people say that. But dismissing those who challenge the paradigm (irrespective of the evidence) is science-as-usual. There are examples beyond count. Those in medicine are the saddest, as people died for years or decades because the pros would not admit their theories or practices were wrong.

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
      — The great physicist Max Planck.

      Science is a social system, and all social systems have trade-offs. The current system, which Thomas Kuhn described as ordinary science organized around paradigms, provides focus and coordination – at the cost of high barriers to acceptance of new theories. We laugh at the valid theories that were slow to be accepted, but don’t see all the bogus theories that lower barriers would have allowed in – and the fantastic waste of resources chasing them.

  2. Susan Crockford was indeed dismissed by UVic, as Raymond points out.

    Dr. Crockford was criticized for her studies that showed polar bear populations were thriving while climate change activists were citing declining polar bear populations as the indicators of collapsing ecosystems.

    From the Washington Times article:

    Her dismissal, which she announced Wednesday in a post on her Polar Bear Science blog, has spurred alarm over the implications for academic freedom and the rise of the “cancel culture” for professors and scientists who challenge climate catastrophe predictions.

    “When push came to shove, UVic threw me under the bus rather than stand up for my academic freedom,” said Ms. Crockford, who earned a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies, specifically biology and anthropology, in 2004.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/oct/20/susan-crockford-fired-after-finding-polar-bears-th/

  3. Pingback: Word from the Dark Side – Taiwan vs China, Ghislaine Maxwell vs the CIA, and TV ads vs you. | SovietMen

    1. Tom,

      Since pretty much nobody who has actual knowledge of these matters expects an ice age to arrive during any relevant future, we can safely file this under “crackpot science.” That is, musing about science in a way that seems knowledgable but misinforms people.

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