"As long as journalists are advocates rather than reporters the true story will not emerge."

Telling Bear-Faced Lies

By —— Bio and Archives--March 7, 2019

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Telling Bear-Faced LiesA number of alarmist articles have been written about the demise of polar bears because of (imagined) global warming and the (imagined) disappearance of Arctic sea ice.

A classic example is the recent article by Niki Rust, who claims to be “an environmental social scientist and a science communicator” and serves up the usual diet of polar bear doom and gloom in her article:


“Polar bear ‘invasion’: How climate change is making human-wildlife conflicts worse.”

She breathlessly tells us that:

“The polar bear—something of a poster child for climate change—is just one of countless victims in this warming world. It’s thought that if global temperatures continue to rise by an average of 4.5¬∞C since pre-industrial times,which is likely to happen if we do nothing to reduce our carbon emissions,half of the world’s wildlifecould be lost.”


“As ocean temperatures melt ice sheets—the hunting grounds of polar bears—these large carnivores have to search new areas for food, which is why52 polar bears“invaded” a Russian town in February 2019, looking for their next meal. Locals were frightened to go outside—with good reason:polar bears can, and do, hunt people.”

Readers can always spot a baseless, alarmist article by the number of times we see words (my emphasis) such as:

It’s thought that
IF global temperatures continue to rise
which is LIKELY to happen
half of the world’s wildlifeCOULD be lost.”

We are told that: “As ocean temperatures melt ice sheets—the hunting grounds of polar bears—these large carnivores have to search new areas for food ...”

It’s a pity that polar bear alarmists don’t look up the many peer-reviewed, published papers that look at the past climate in this region and how it changes. See for instance Makeyev et al. (2003):

“Vegetation and climate of the New Siberian Islands for the Past 15,000 Years.” This paper shows that the Arctic was 5-6oC warmer 9,000 years ago and polar bears appeared to have survived that period with no problems.

It’s a pity that global warming and polar bear alarmists don’t look up Hanhijarvi et al. (2013). They showed that Greenland was much warmer during the 1920s and 1930s.

There are many papers showing Arctic climate change at No Tricks Zone.

For those doomsters who think the sea ice hunting grounds of polar bears are disappearing. The following plots suggest otherwise:

Sea Ice

A little more diligence and less exaggeration on the part of climate alarmists would reveal that Arctic sea ice is controlled not simply by air temperature but essentially by katabatic winds and changing ocean currents.

Let’s look at a few hard facts about polar bears that appear to have escaped (or been ignored by) the alarmists.

Polar bears were an endangered species in the 1950s and 1960s when there were no restrictions on hunting. Their numbers were down to about 5,000. (U.S.Fish & Wildlife).

Fortunately, help came in the form of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and the 1974 International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears. The five countries sharing polar bear territories—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States—signed the Oslo Agreement, putting restrictions on the commercial hunting of bears.

Polar Bears live throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic and they evolved from brown bears over a period of more than 100,000 years. During this time global climate changed, usually slowly but sometimes dramatically. Arctic sea ice has advanced and retreated many times during this time (as it does now) without threatening polar bears. After all, they are superbly adapted to changing climatic conditions.

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Dr. Josef Reicholf, Head of the Vertebrates Department at the National Zoological Collection in Munich, Germany. He says:

“How did the polar bear survive the last warm period? ... Look at the polar bear’s close relative, the brown bear. It is found across a broad geographic region, ranging from Europe across the Near East and North Asia, to Canada and the United States. Whether bears survive will depend on human beings, not the climate.”


It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in the capital of Iqaluit. He would have pointed out that the polar bear population in the region, along the Davis Strait, has doubled during the past 10 years.

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Gabriel Nirlungayuk, director of wildlife for Nunavut Tuungavik. He says that 40 years ago, people living around Hudson Bay were lucky to see a polar bear:

“Now there are bears living as far south as James Bay” and the growing population has become “a real problem” especially over the last 10 years.

Nirlungayuk points out that, during the summer and fall, families enjoying outdoor activities must be on the lookout for bears. In fact many locals take hunters with them for protection since there are now so many bears.

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Alex Ishalook. He would have pointed out that there are far more bears around Arviat than ever before, and considers the coast south of Churchill, Manitoba to be unsafe for camping:

“It’s too dangerous, much too dangerous. There are bears everywhere. We used to camp at Sentry Island, for example, and we never saw bears. Now there are from three to five bears there, all the time.”

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Nigel Marven, naturalist, zoologist, botanist, and UK wildlife documentary maker. He spent 3 months studying and filming polar bears in Canada’s arctic in 2007. He said:

“I think climate change is happening, but as far as the polar bear disappearing is concerned, I have never been more convinced that this is just scaremongering. People are deliberately seeking out skinny bears and filming them to show they are dying out. That’s not right.”


It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Dr. Matthew Cronin, research professor at the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He says:

“Polar bear populations are generally healthy and have increased worldwide over the last few decades.”

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Dr. David Legates, Director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Climatic Research. He examined the claim that global warming will lead to polar bear extinction and found little basis for such a claim, with polar bear populations showing no decline.

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Dr. Dennis Compayre a polar bear expert*. He has studied polar bears for about 30 years and says:

“They (climate alarmists) come here preaching doom, but I question whether some of them really have the bears’ best interests at heart.”

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Dr. Matthew Cronin of the University of Alaska. He said:

“The constant chorus declaring crises for high-profile wildlife is dangerous, not only to science and economics, but because we might not pay attention when real threats arise.”

In 2008, a group led by Professor Scott Armstrong undertook an audit of bears at the request of the State of Alaska. The subsequent study, “Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public Policy Forecasting Audit” provided evidence from the best available science showing numbers increasing with no need to list polar bears as a threatened or endangered species.

In some areas, polar bear numbers have grown to the extent where there is now real concern. For instance, in Eastern Canadian Arctic and Greenland (Peacock et al. 2013) concluded that polar bear numbers in Davis Strait have not only increased to a greater density (bears per 1,000 km2) than other seasonal-ice sub-populations, such as Western Hudson Bay, but it may now have reached its ‘carrying capacity.’

In 2012, the Nunavut government conducted a census of western Hudson Bay polar bears. They estimated a total of more than 1,000 bears. This was the number estimated by the Inuit people and twice the number predicted by Environment Canada.

There are now an estimated 25-35,000 polar bears in the Arctic with a sharp increase from the 2005 census that estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 bears.

Professor Susan Crockford is a world expert on polar bears. She sees the recovery of polar bear numbers as one of the great conservation success stories of our time. She says:

“Why is it so hard for environmental advocates and advocate scientists to accept that the unbridled slaughter [of polar bears] that went on in the past has been successfully halted? Why can’t they move on? The 1973 agreement that gave protection to polar bears worldwide is one of the great conservation success stories.”


“We tend to hear nothing but alarming messages about the current status & welfare of polar bears from animal advocates including lobby groups and activist scientists.”

She was probably referring to activist scientists such as Dr. Lara Hansen from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In 2004 Hansen foolishly said that bears in the Hudson Bay region could become so thin by 2012 they may no longer be able to reproduce.

She might also have been referring to Australia’s serial climate alarmist Dr. Tim Flannery who said:

“Climate change is driving polar bears into extinction.”

To find out what is really happening with polar bears Dr. Crockford has a website at: http://polarbearscience.com

Dr. Crockford has no vested interest in promoting the demise of polar bears and she has written this book:

She has also produced this 2018 Polar Bear Report:

Arviat is a small peninsular town of around 3,000 people on the western shore of Hudson Bay, in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.

More than 1,000 polar bears now pass close to Arviat in Autumn as they migrate up Hudson Bay’s west coast on their way to the high Arctic. The local wildlife officer Joe Savikataaq noted that nowadays more than 50 bears actually pass through the town every year but not because they are starving.

Polar bears are definitely not cute! The residents of Arviat have had to shoot numerous intruding bears in self-defense since they are opportunistic stealth hunters and they will kill and eat humans and sled-dogs if given half a chance.

Many people living in Arviat don’t go outside at night and children rarely play outdoors. If they do, they stay within running distance of their home.

It’s a pity that alarmists don’t contact Darryl Baker. He scoffs at the stories about starving bears, saying:

“Most of the bears coming into Arviat are fat and healthy. I skinned the bear that stalked my daughter last spring, and it had lots of fat on it.”

Arviat’s Leo Ikakhik monitors bear numbers and movements, working for three months a year, starting at the beginning of October. He says:

“There are far more bears in the region than when I was growing up and camping out on the land with my father. The population has increased, big time.”

Many people in Arviat blame activist groups for the polar bear problem saying that green activists have done more harm than good, lobbying politicians to get a hunting ban on polar bears, placing the people of Arviat and other Arctic settlements in danger because of increasing bear numbers.


Change is now happening with about 800 bears being shot legally each year. In fact, Inuit communities depend on the lucrative polar bear hunting season. Polar bear scientists in Russia and even the World Wildlife Fund are now inclined to support re-instating the limited hunting law. Even Viktor Nikiforov, director of WWF regional programs in Russia said:

“We support effective management and if hunting is a small part of this, then we accept it.”

Polar bears are not the fragile, threatened animals as portrayed by environmental activists and Gung-ho reporters. They are resilient, adaptable, aggressive predators that show a remarkable ability to survive in an ever-changing environment.

Environmental activists, willingly assisted by a sensationalist media promoting fatuous stories about global warming and Arctic sea ice disappearance have argued, without empirical evidence, that human-induced global warming is melting sea ice in the Arctic, threatening the polar bear’s seal-hunting grounds. Such media-promoted alarmism is unsupported by the scientific evidence.

Perhaps Dr. Dave Summers best sums up the situation:

“As long as journalists are advocates rather than reporters the true story will not emerge.”

• Update: Edited to make a correction


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Dr. John Happs -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dr. John Happs has an academic background in the geosciences. Now retired, he has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and the USA.

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