Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?


Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Suggesting impending climate doom, headlines have been trumpeting polar bears are “barely surviving” and “bears are disappearing” prompted by a press release hyping the paper Polar bear population dynamics in the southern Beaufort Sea during a period of sea ice decline (hereafter Bromaghin 2014), which based on an ongoing US Geological Survey (USGS) study. Dr. Susan Crockford rightfully criticized the media’s fear mongering and failure to mention increasing bear abundance since 2008 here. She also pointed out that modelers have consistently failed to account for the negative impacts of heavy springtime ice here.

I want to reinforce Crockford’s posts, plus argue the problem is much worse than she suggested. Bromaghin 2014’s purported 25 to 50% population decline is simply not real. The unprecedented decline is a statistical illusion generated by the unrealistic modeling of polar bear survival from 2003 to 2007. The highly unlikely estimates of low survival were made possible only by ignoring the documented effect of cycles of heavy springtime sea ice which forces bears to hunt outside the researchers’ study area. Although several of Bromaghin’s co-authors had previously published about negative impacts of heavy springtime ice, they oddly chose to never incorporate that evidence into the USGS models. The following demonstrates how the statistical illusion of “disappearing polar bears” was generated and I urge you to forward your concerns about USGS fear-mongering via subjective modeling to your congressmen and push them to fully investigate these USGS’ polar bear studies.

Perhaps polar bear researchers are just victims of confirmation bias. Co-authors of Bromaghin 2014 have long tied their authority, fame and fortune to predictions of impending polar bear extinctions due to lost summer sea ice. In a 2008 Dr. Andrew Derocher predicted, “It’s clear from the research that’s been done by myself and colleagues around the world that we’re projecting that, by the middle of this century, two-thirds of the polar bears will be gone from their current populations”. Dr Steve Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bear International and the USGS researcher that initiated the Beaufort Sea studies, previously published “Declines in ice habitat were the overriding factors determining all model outcomes. Our modeling suggests that realization of the sea ice future which is currently projected, would mean loss of ≈ 2/3 of the world’s current polar bear population by mid-century.”1 Furthermore the USGS’ political reputation is on the line because their studies led to the listing of polar bears as “threatened” due to decreasing summer ice they attributed to CO2 warming. But why do USGS model estimates differ from Inuit experts and the Nunavut government who have steadfastly claimed it is the time of the most polar bears. And why does the USGS’ models differ from numerous surveys (i.e here and here) that support the Inuit claims?

There are 2 major flaws in USGS models:

1) USGS Polar bear researchers tirelessly point to hypothesized stress due to lost summer sea ice, yet they completely ignore much more critical cycles of heavy springtime ice. As previously documented by Bromaghin’s co-authors, the condition of springtime sea ice determines the abundance and/or accessibility of ringed seal pups. Eighty percent or more of the bears’ annual stored fat is accumulated during the ringed seal pupping season that stretches from late March to the first week of May. At that time female bears emerge from their maternity dens to feast on ringed seal pups, and accordingly USGS mark and recapture studies focus virtually all their efforts during the month of April. Yet not one model has incorporated known changes sea ice during that same period. Is that data purposefully omitted because heavy spring time ice does not support their CO2-driven extinction scenarios?

2) Furthermore heavy springtime ice forces movement outside the study area because it prevents local access to seal pups. Any movement outside the study area prevents subsequent recapture and can erroneously cause models to assume emigrant bears are dead. That false assumption creates lower survival estimates which then dramatically lower population estimates. Misinterpreting a temporary or permanent exodus away from a stressful local environment was the same critical error that led to bogus extinction claims for the Emperor Penguins. Coincidently one modeler, Hal Caswell, created both models falsely suggesting Emperor Penguins and Polar Bears are both on the verge of extinction.

1) Why Spring Ice Conditions Are More Critical than Summer Ice.

South Beaufort Sea bears increase their body weight primarily by binging on ringed seal pups, and the bears’ springtime weight gains are huge. Researchers reported capturing a 17-year-old female, with three cubs-of-the-year, in November 1983 when she weighed just 218 lbs. Her weight would have continued to drop, as it does for all bears, throughout the icy winter. Weights do not increase until seal pups become available in late March and April. But after gorging on seal pups, she was recaptured in July and weighed 903 lbs, a four-fold weight change in just 4 months. 2 (her picture is below). The ability to rapidly gain weight, hyperphagia, evolved as a crucial survival strategy to take advantage of abundant but temporary food sources. Springtime ice conditions govern their access to the fleeting availability of ringed seal pups.


In 2001, Bromaghin 2014 co-author Stirling described the negative impacts of heavy rafted springtime ice. “In the eastern Beaufort Sea, in years during and following heavy ice conditions in spring, we found a marked reduction in production of ringed seal pups and consequently in the natality of polar bears.” Stirling noted it took about 3 years for both seal and bear populations to rebound. Stirling also reported the South Beaufort Sea undergoes ~10-year cycles of such heavy ice, and those stressful cycle had been observed in the 70s, 80s and 90s. 5 The most recent cycle of heavy ice is well documented and occurred precisely when bears increasingly exited the study area from 2003 to 2007.

In 2008, Bromaghin 2014 co-authors Stirling, Richardson, Thiemann, and Derocher published Unusual Predation Attempts of Polar Bears on Ringed Seals in the Southern Beaufort Sea: Possible Significance of Changing Spring Ice Conditions. 10 Those researchers had observed that “unusually rough and rafted sea ice extended for several tens of kilometers offshore in the southeastern Beaufort Sea from about Atkinson Point to the Alaska border during the seals’ breeding season from 2003 through 2006”, precisely when their models calculated low survival and a rapid decline in the polar bear population.

Those researchers reported “heavy ice reduces the availability of low consolidated ridges and refrozen leads with accompanying snowdrifts typically used by ringed seals for birth and haul-out lairs.” And they observed, “Hunting success of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) seeking seals was low despite extensive searching for prey. It is unknown whether seals were less abundant in comparison to other years or less accessible because they maintained breathing holes below rafted ice rather than snowdrifts, or whether some other factor was involved.“ (Forcing bears to claw through rafted ice gives the seals ample time to escape.) Polar bears never defend territories. Instead polar bears are highly mobile. Dependent upon seal pups for most of their annual energy supply, a supply that varies annually, bears simply migrate to regions with greater seal abundance.


After giving birth and completing their annual molt by late June, most ringed seals migrate out to sea to fatten and are no longer available to the bears. After late June the amount of sea ice is no longer important habitat for ringed seals. So any correlations with summer sea ice extent from August to November have a relatively insignificant impact on survival. In fact, more open water benefits seals. In a previous essay, Why Less Summer Ice Increases Polar Bear Populations, I explained why ringed seals avoid thick multi-year ice, and why more open water later in the season benefits the whole food web. Bromaghin 2014’s co-author Stirling previously co-authored a paper reporting ringed seals must feed intensively in the open waters of summer in order to store the fat needed to survive the winter, and that seals suffer when sea ice is slow to break up. 4 He pointed out that in 1992 when breakup of sea ice was delayed by 25 days, the body condition of all ringed seals declined resulting in declining body condition of bears. To supplement their diet, bears will feed on a wide array of alternative items from whale carcasses, walruses to geese eggs. Despite the 2nd lowest extent of Arctic summer ice in 2007, researchers on Wrangel Island reported fatter bears than they had previously documented.6 All the evidence suggests summer ice is far less critical than the condition of springtime ice. So is the erroneous focus on summer ice conditions merely driven by researchers predictions that rising CO2 will cause widespread polar bear extinctions in 30 years?

2) Movement Lowers Survival Estimates which Lowers Population Estimates

Bromaghin 2014 authors acknowledged that the observed movement could bias model results, but simply dismissed the observed transiency of wandering bears writing, “The analyses of movement data suggested that Markovian dependency in the probability of being available for capture between consecutive years remains a potential source of bias. However, we view these results with some caution because of the small sample sizes and prior evidence that bears prefer ice in waters over the narrow continental shelf. Further, there is no reason to suspect behavior leading to non-random movement during the spring capture season changed during the investigation.” But their dismissal is nothing less than dishonest. Bromaghin 2014 authors had indeed observed that heavy springtime ice resulted in reduced hunting success and reduced body condition and would force bears to hunt elsewhere.

Bromaghin 2014 authors were denying their own evidence. A subset of bears had been radio-collared in order to track their movements. Between 2001-2003 when their study area experienced normal springtime ice conditions, researchers estimated high survival probability and high abundance, and only 24% of the radio-collared females had wandered outside their study area making them unavailable for recapture. In contrast during the years of heavy springtime ice between 2004 and 2006 researchers estimated unprecedented low survival, low abundance and observed an increased number of collared females outside the study area doubling to 47% in 2005 and 36% in 2006. 7,9 Yet Bromaghin 2014 argue “there is no reason to suspect behavior leading to non-random movement during the spring capture season changed during the investigation.”

A previous study by Amstrup had mapped the range over which radio-collared bears travelled each year. From his 3 examples illustrated below it is clear that polar bears are not always found in the same place each year. Furthermore in accordance with the changing availability of seal pups due to cycles of heavy springtime ice, he reported polar bears exhibited their lowest fidelity to any given area during the spring pupping season. Finally Amstrup’s map shows bears naturally wander outside the boundaries of the study areas searching for food. Because researchers restricted their search efforts to the east of Barrow Alaska, bears moving in and out of the Chukchi sea area have a far less recapture probabilities. Likewise bears that wander between Alaska and Canada will have different recapture probabilities because different amounts of effort were expended in each country.

Due to movement of bears in and out of the Chukchi Sea region, Amstrup had determined those movements heavily biased previous survival and abundance estimates. 8, 12 Bromaghin 2014 also report that the Chukchi Sea region is more productive than the Beaufort Sea. So it is highly likely that bears migrate between the Beaufort Sea study area and the Chukchi Sea in response to varying periods of localized heavy springtime ice and seal pup availability. So why does Bromaghin 2014 dismiss observed movement bias by arguing “there is no reason to suspect behavior leading to non-random movement during the spring capture season changed during the investigation” and contrary to their own evidence suggest bears would remain in the more productive Chukchi Sea region.


In 2001 Amstrup had previously estimated survival rates of South Beaufort bears as 96.2% and natural survival rates were 99.6% and a population could be more than 2500 bears in 1998. 3 Amstrup reported “polar bears compensate for a low reproductive rate with the potential for long life” (i.e high survival). Because movements of bears into and out of his study area had greatly biased his results he warned, “models that predict rapid increases or decreases in population size would not mirror reality.” Curiouser and curiouser he no longer heeds his own advice. Amstrup and his colleagues suddenly embraced the unprecedented low survival rates of 77%, and a rapid 25 to 50% decline in the population between 2004 and 2008 as seen in their graph of estimated abundance.


In order for their model to generate that unprecedented low survival rate of 77%, (despite no observed change in the trend of body condition for 95% of Beaufort Sea bears) 11 modelers had to dismiss the observed movements outside their study area. Once Bromaghin’s authors had dismissed the significance of springtime movement, their models would interpret a lack of recaptures as an indicator of dead bears which then produced the illusion of a rapidly declining polar bear population.

Below is a table illustrating the simplified effects of historical survival estimates on abundance calculations (assuming no additions from new births and immigration). The numbers listed in the gray columns on the left are the USGS study’s actual number of bears captured annually, and the number of that total capture that were previously marked bears. As the study progressed and newly captured bears are marked, the pool of marked bears increases. If the study area was a closed system, we would expect each year’s total number of captures to consist of an increasingly higher percentage of marked bears once the pool of marked bears was large enough. But each year the number of previously marked bears made up only ~50% of the total captures, suggesting a larger population was more likely than what was currently estimated, and that the length of this study was not yet long enough.

In the simplest models, abundance is determined by dividing the total number of bears captured each year by the percentage of captured marked bears from the pool of previously marked bears. (Read How science Counts Bears for a further discussion of mark and recapture studies) However the size of the pool of marked bears depends upon the bears’ survival probability. To illustrate, for each year I generated 3 different pools according to different historical survival estimates. The resulting change in abundance calculated from those 3 different survival probabilities are highlighted in yellow.

If researchers assumed 100% survival, which is close to Amstrup’s 99.6% in his original study, (but with no additions from birth or immigration) then Bromaghin’s data would estimate a 2010 growing population of 2,255 bears. An estimate that is remarkably similar to Amstrup’s 1998 estimate of ~2500 bears.


If the researchers assumed Amstrup’s 96% survival, a lower survival estimate due to the impact of hunting, then the 2010 abundance would be calculated at 1865 bears. Again remarkably close to Amstrup’s suggested abundance of 1800 for a hunted population.

In the 2006 USGS analyses, 7 the authors interpreted fewer recaptures as an averaged lower survival rate of 92%. A 92% survival rate would produce a stable 2010 population estimate of 1664 bears, which is also 70% higher than Bromaghin’s results.

The only way to generate a tragically declining bear population was to employ much lower survival estimates. And as evidenced by their graph below, that is just what they did for the period of heavy springtime ice with low seal availability and much greater movement out of the study area. When the springtime ice returned to normal so did the bears, and their estimated survival rates likewise returned to the expected high ~95%. The huge error bars in Bromaghin’s survival probabilities (see graph below) during those heavy ice years, illustrates the great uncertainty regards the actual fate of marked bears that were never recaptured.



So we must question why these polar bear researchers ignored their co-author’s earlier warning, “models that predict rapid increases or decreases in population size would not mirror reality.”

Were polar bear researchers blinded by climate change beliefs, or acting dishonestly?

Literature Cited



1. Amstrup (2007) Forecasting the Range-wide Status of Polar Bears at Selected Times in the

21st Century USGS Science Strategy to Support U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Polar Bear

Listing Decision

2. Ramsay, M, and Stirling, I. (1988) Reproductive biology and ecology of female polar

bears (Ursus maritimus). Journal of Zoology (London) Series A 214:601–634.

3. Amstrup, S. et al. (2001) Polar Bears in the Beaufort Sea: A 30-YearMark–Recapture

Case History. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics, Volume

6, Number 2, Pages 221–234

4. Chambellant, M. et al. (2012) Temporal variations in Hudson Bay ringed seal (Phoca

hispida) life-history parameters in relation to environment. Journal of Mammalogy,

vol. 93, p.267-281

5. Stirling, I. (2002)Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen

Gulf: A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three

Decades. Arctic, vol. 55, p. 59-76

6. Ovsyanikov N.G., and Menyushina I.E. (2008) Specifics of Polar Bears Surviving an Ice

Free Season on Wrangel Island in 2007. Marine Mammals of the Holarctic. Odessa, pp.


7. Regehr et al 2006, Polar bear population status in the southern Beaufort Sea: U.S.

Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006

8. Amstrup et al (2000) Movements and distribution of polar bears in the Beaufort Sea

Can. J. Zool. Vol. 78, 2000

9. Regehr, E., et al. (2010) Survival and breeding of polar bears in the southern Beaufort

Sea in relation to sea ice. Journal of Animal Ecology 2010, 79, 117–127

10. Stirling, I. et al. (2008) Unusual Predation Attempts of Polar Bears on Ringed Seals in

the Southern Beaufort Sea: Possible Significance of Changing Spring Ice Conditions.

Arctic, vol 61, p. 14-22.

11. Rode, K. et al. (2007) Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea III: Stature, Mass, and

Cub Recruitment in Relationship to Time and Sea Ice Extent Between 1982 and 2006.

USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, Administrative Report.

12. Amstrup, S. and Durner, G. (1995) Survival rates of radio-collared female polar bears

and their dependent young. Canadian Journal of Zoology, vol. 73. P. 1312‑1322.


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Yes, and it worked because they were published.

Thanks so much Jim. That helps a lot.
My answer to your final question, I think, is here:
By 2012, USFWS data indicates the population DID recover completely.
So why did they stop collecting data in 2010?
They’ve got a IUCN polar bear assessment due in June 2015 that demands them showing a decline of at least 30% within 30-36 years – they need at least one population that shows such a decline. Now they have it.
And we know that this is what they intend to use because the press release said that the 2010 estimate of ~900 bears (range 606-1,212) [from the Bromaghin et al. 2014 paper] will be included in the next Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) for the Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) assessment.
The PBSG have been told, in no uncertain terms, that the models used by Amstrup to get polar bears listed as ‘threatened’ in 2008 by the US FWS won’t cut it for this assessment.
See here:
They are doing what they have to do to keep polar bears listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN – anything else would be a huge embarrassment.
I would say “desperate” is the appropriate word.
Dr. Susan Crockford, PolarBearScience



Jim and Susan,
Your contributions to my understanding of polar bears and arctic life in general is greatly appreciated.
It is absolutely sad that seemingly everything in modern times has become politicized to the point that the truth is a much revered nugget in a sea of deceit.
Now to be just a bit sarcastic, when will the polar bears be dropped as an icon to global warming and the baby ringed seals take their place. Baby seals look really cute and cuddly and are less vicious and dangerous.
I mean no disparaging remarks for a polar bear as it is truly the monarch of the arctic.
Thanks again.

Thanks for your clear words, Dr. Crockford.
I have placed links to in my climate and meteorology pages.

nest time someone says that global warming is bad for polar bears, ask them why polar bears hibernate in the winter and not in the summer.
if polar bears prefer cold, why do they not hibernate in the summer when ice is at a minimum and remain active in the winter when ice is at a maximum?
the simple facts is that the hibernation pattern of polar bears tells that they prefer warmth to cold.

Jeff Mitchell

I don’t think you can tie temperature to their hibernation period. I think the period would reflect availability of food. I can’t imagine them hibernating during the period of most available food.


You sort of make Ferd’s point.


I thought that they don’t actually hibernate. As I understand it, the pregnant females will den for several months while giving birth (but not true hibernation), while males and non-pregnant females stay active throughout the whole year.

Reblogged this on Bob's Opinion and commented:
This is a great post, ….
Just stumbled upon this site, and wish it could of been earlier …


To do what the perps did in this case would require dishonesty aforethought, but it’s possible that some other “researchers” might merely be blinded by their beliefs.


“Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?”


I agree–I don’t see any difference in the options. Gruberization comes to mind, too.


Excellent post, thank you! You have reminded me why I was attracted to the field of biology 40 years ago. Nature is remarkably resilient.

The belief of polar bear “researchers” is a Faith not an Empiric study or a Therory of Science thesis analyzed,,,
Personally I am still asking the same question I have done for many years: Where have all the money gone….


Question: Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?
Answer: Noble Lie – done for the better good.
1. Even If Polar Bears are not threatened (.e. threatened status), the limit on resource extraction in the Arctic that will come from a Public’s false belief in threatened status will be the end that justifies the means.
2. A current example of a “Gruberism.” The People are too dumb to know what is best for them. They must be lied to in order to achieve what is in the their interest even if they would conclude otherwise if they knew all the facts. Hiding of facts and costs are thus necessary.

Jeff Mitchell

Or ignoble lie, to preserver their funding from big government.

Excellent take-down. How does such crap get through review? You should send your post to the editors.

Thomas I intend to submit an official rebuttal to Ecological Applications but I am not optimistic that the politics will allow it to get published. I sought an retraction from a blatantly deceptive article( ) but to no avail.

It gets through “review” because “review” has been so hopelessly and politically corrupted that in almost every mainstream journal, it is little more than a sick joke. If anyone gives a “bad” review to a Politically Correct article, the only response is that this reviewers comments are tossed, and he (or she) will be blacklisted from performing any more “reviews”.
What happens out here, on the net, is the only Review that means anything anymore. The journals are nothing but highbrow tabloid trash, and should be treated as such.


And that’s why I have cancelled those journals

Janice Moore

Belief against demonstrated evidence is not rational.
Thus, it is clear, such “scientists” are:
1. Irrational to the point of insanity.
2. Lying.
(a third option, a pitiably low IQ, is impossible (unless senility is the cause) given their academic achievements).
That is, to answer your question, Professor Steele, they are NOT blinded by sincerely held, rational, beliefs. They are simply either psychotic or cynical l1ars in the pay (ultimately) of windmill and or solar panel promoters.


And, since it is December 1st…. and we are near the North Pole here….
In the spirit of Christmas…
even those rotten l1ars can change!
Come on, you corrupt ol’ money-grubbers, you! #(:))
Put One Foot in Front of the Other (sung by Mickey Rooney)

Yes! The Virtual Advent Calendar is back!
(and NO, not by popular demand…. not by minority demand…. not by …. any…. demand……. at all….
just me, sua sponte… hope you can stand it….)
Love you guys!

Joe Crawford

“(a third option, a pitiably low IQ, is impossible (unless senility is the cause) given their academic achievements).”
I wouldn’t jump too fast to that conclusion considering the current output of the climate science and related communities. It apparently no longer takes intelligence, just being a ‘true believer’, to dream up and publish most of the drivel that comes out of government funded climate related research, just using proper buzz words with the right catch-phrasing earns passing ‘reviews’ and fast publication. And, when the professors get away with it they can’t exactly dock their grad students for doing the same. Thus, year by year, it has all slowly evolved from what might have at one time been a budding science into nothing more than the ‘junk science’ of today.

Jeff Mitchell

Are you a judge? I’ve only seen sua sponte (on the court’s own initiative), in legal cases.

Janice Moore

No, dear Mr. Mitchell. I have sat on many benches, but not that one. While sua sponte is, indeed, used almost exclusively in the U.S. in court pleadings, as you no doubt know, the phrase is much older than either English or American or any Western jurisprudence… and judges are not the only ones who many use it… .
Are you in Quality Control… you remind me of someone….
or, perhaps, you are just a jester about the court?


The fact is scientists like everyone else are human. When one’s pet theory is in jeopardy it’s natural to resist counterfactuals especially when said theory that has been years in the making is threatened. Science has always operated like this. Nobody pours their life into something then says “well I guess I was wrong” and walks away.
So to answer your question I’d say both.


My perception is that Science hasn’t always been this obviously venal. I think there has been a gradual change contemporaneous with the flooding of academia with egotistical pseudoliberals. The first things these liberals liberate themselves from are truth and logic.

Old England

“The first things these liberals liberate themselves from are truth and logic”
To which could be added:
“And the first thing they liberate for themselves is taxpayers money .”


I agree. There’s definitely been a change over the past 3-5 decades.

M Courtney

I’d say you’re right but neither.
Nobody pours (very few people would pour) their life into something then says “well I guess I was wrong” and walks away. But that is OK.
Fighting for ones viewpoint makes the corrections more certain. The corrections need to be good to overcome the entrenched position. It is the duty of the scientist to stand by their position until it becomes completely untenable – and few things are that. Exceptional results happen all the time but then they don’t pan out. Polar Bears aren’t robots. They can’t be excepted to be 100% predictable.
The model still may be right most of the time.
Admittedly having been caught put with the Emperor Penguins in the past is a trifle embarrassing but…

Yes.But mainly the latter.
The ones up here, NWT Canada are on par with the bureaucrats who hire and protect them.
Donna Laframboise has described them in the past.
Proudly activists first and biologists never.
Policy based data manufacturing being the required skill set.
Retributive justice may be served by releasing these leeches into the wild.
Could be the reason they never seem to do field research… be a real shame if the plane never returned.

“Could be the reason they never seem to do field research” ? ???
I seem to remember some ship – or other – freezing in – in Antarctica some Southern summertime ago.

Rob Ricket

Nice work Jim. Three weeks ago, a show aired on one of the “outdoor” channels featuring an Alaskan Polar Bear hunt, Adventure hunter Jim Shocky is always deferential to aboriginal populations that assist him on his hunts. Long story short; the native elders were complaining that the increasing Polar Bear population made for hard luck when it came to killing seals.
Perhaps an enterprising scholar might consider qualitative research based on indigenous reports of bear and seal sightings?

The poley bear fable was repeated Saturday on the CBC “science” show Quirks and Quarks. You can treat yourself to this story by clicking on
Ian M

And listen to how Andrew Derocher skillfully implies, for all the CBC listeners, that the population “crash” was caused by summer sea ice declines.
In what universe is that scientific integrity?
I am a biologist and I am appalled. I’ve been on that show – I am a peer of Derocher.
And this morning, I wrote to Bob McDonald at Quirks and Quarks and told him so.
Susan Crockford, PolarBearScience

Janice Moore

Dear Dr. Crockford,
Good for YOU. Thank you for all that you, a genuine scientist, are doing for the truth. Don’t give up. Truth wins out in the end. Always. Whether we will live to see the end of the war really doesn’t matter, just so we do our part, in the roles we are handed, in the battles to which we are assigned. What matters is that we aid the side of Right to the best of our ability with whatever weapons we are given. You are doing MAGNIFICENTLY.


Quirks and Quarks used to be one of my favourite shows but their repeated failure to look critically at anything to do with global warming has turned me away forever. If they are so obviously biased on this topic, on what else are they biased? They used to respond to my letters with a standard party line but now they don’t even do that. I fear I may be blacklisted. Would be happy to hear what sort of response you get. I’m afraid CBC ain’t what she used to be.

Steve in Seattle

+ 100

stan stendera

Wow, just wow. Two if my favorite posters on WUWT commenting in the same thread. Double WOW!!!!!

Janice Moore

@ Stan Stendera — you are so cool. Whether or not I’m one of those two, your greathearted praise is A JOY TO READ. You do much, month after month, to brighten the pages of WUWT, dear Stan. And that is very much needed around here… . Your sweetness and light does much to dispel the arrogant, truth-choking, smoke of the occasional self-satisfied, gloweringly gloomy (and unfairly inaccurate, to boot) writer… (both in my personal In Box and on WUWT) .
Your grateful WUWT pal,
P.S. Please say “Hi” to Libby, sing a cheery note or two to the little birds on the rail, and tell Schmidt “Merry Christmas” (shudder) :).

Joe Hill

Ole McDonald is still good for a laugh even though he is a shameless Global Warming promoter. A few years ago he walked across the shot right in front of His Highness Peter Mansbridge, the anchor of CBC TV’s The National. What a Dufus!
Dr Crockford, I look forward to your next Quirks and Quarks interview. I hope you haven’t been blacklisted.

I don’t think I have ever listened to a Quirks and Quarks episode in my life, and I’m a Canadian. Then again, I have never watched a professional hockey game in my life either, except on TV and two games between “amateur” teams at the winter Olympics in Calgary (when pros were still not allowed to participate), one of them being the East German team.


Of course you can tell a lot about skill in science by studying skill (or otherwise) with language:
“In a 2008 Dr. Andrew Derocher predicted, “It’s clear from the research that’s been done by myself and colleagues around the world that we’re projecting that, by the middle of this century, two-thirds of the polar bears will be gone from their current populations”.”
With the animal’s expected life span of a little more than 30 years in the wild it would be quite true to predict that ALL the polar bears will be gone from their current populations 40-years on.

michael hart

Yes, the borderline between duplicity and lying can be a very narrow one.


1. Again, good work Jim.
2. I am waiting for the wizards to model the Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox relationship. They will either come up with the foxes going extinct or the rabbits going extinct.
3. It would not surprise me if the Polar Bear, Ringed Seal relationship, has some similar cyclicity to to the fox, rabbit relationship.

They are dishonest and should go to jail.

Cold in Wisconsin

Don’t they have to sign some paperwork to get the grants that they won’t lie and they will do quality work? Is this a fraud perpetrated on the Federal Government? Perhaps someone should file a Whistleblower lawsuit.

John F. Hultquist

won’t lie and they will do quality work
Not that I’ve seen. Mostly they just promise to produce a report.
If the funding is private, perhaps they do promise to lie.

“ won’t lie and they will do quality work”
Dang, if that was the requirement every government employee in the northern hemisphere would be tossed!!!

M Courtney

wws, most people don’t lie. If only because it is too high risk if they are caught.
And most people do work of the quality that is required. If only because they want to be employed again.
The problem comes when the quality that is required is not high enough to distinguish sloppiness from deception.
In this case the quality that is required is obviously low. Why wouldn’t it be?
If the polar bears aren’t all dead or endangering anyone – well, that’s all that any Government really needs to know.


I would like to do something meaningful to counter this. I would like to vote for someone who will work against CAGW waste. Can you identify any prospective candidates in any upcoming elections I and others can support and vote for to reverse this continuing problem? Anyone? It is in the voter’s booth that this problem will be reversed yet it is so very difficult to know who our leaders should be. After 40 years of climate debate I don’t understand why this should be so. We are not working on the solution.

Willis Eschenbach

Jim, my rule of thumb is, never ascribe to dishonesty what is adequately explained by noble cause corruption. The problem is well expressed in the song that says;

I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

Noble cause corruption is one of the most seductive things I can think of. You see, if you truly and fervently believe that you are acting in the best interest of the [pick one ] polar bears / the environment / future generations / bonobo chimpanzees / whatever floats your boat, then minor transgressions are perfectly acceptable. You hear what you want to hear and disregard the rest. It starts with something small, like not mentioning some fairly insignificant adverse result … but one step over the line leads to a larger one, and before long, the noble corruptee is up to their ears in Climategate—lying, and subverting the IPCC, and packing the peer-review boxes, and destroying evidence sought by a Freedom of Information act, and committing mail fraud, and the like.
Heck, it’s so common that we have a folk saying about it:

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

In other words, the fact that our adversaries are trying to lead us down the totally wrong road is NOT evidence that they have bad intentions.
Unfortunately, far too much of the climate science establishment thinks that’s all just fine. Peter Gleick was feted for committing mail fraud, because you see, he was Saving The World™.
So I would be very cautious about claiming that the polar bear researchers are dishonest. I’m sure that they would strenuously, and likely correctly, say that was not true.
Unfortunately, however, some of them are very clearly the victims of noble cause corruption.
Next, your headline sucks. You can’t accuse an entire group of people of wrongdoing, even in a headline. You can accuse the authors of a certain paper, or you can accuse certain people by name, IF you have damn good evidence. But not “polar bear researchers”, that’s far too broad.
Next, in my world an accusation of dishonesty is one of the very worst accusations you can make. I grew up with cowboys who had little but their pride. If you accused a man of lying, as my momma used to say, “Them’s fightin’ words”.
So if you made that accusation, you damn well better have indisputable proof of the person lying. And it was certainly not something to get all coy about. Saying “Either you are mistaken or you are lying.” is the same as accusing a man of lying. That’s the “lie with circumstance”.
Nor is mine an unusual view, just an anachronistic one. Giving a man the “lie direct” was the worst offense back in the day. Here’s Shakespeare on the subject:

I will name you the degrees: the first, “the retort courteous”; the second, “the quip modest”; the third, “the reply churlish”; the fourth, “the reproof valiant”; the fifth, “the countercheque quarrelsome”; the sixth, “the lie with circumstance”; the seventh, “the lie direct.”

And in the day, the “lie direct” was grounds for a duel. I learned this from my grandmother, who used to quote her own father, “The Captain”. He said it, and us grandkids believed it:

“If there is a man who can call you a liar, kill him. If you are one, kill yourself. There is no room for either of you.”

Now, I’m not that radical, he was a man of the 1800’s … but truly, Jim, accusing an entire group of people of dishonesty doesn’t advance your arguments in the slightest.
In fact, almost all speculation about your adversaries’ motives is counterproductive. I often don’t understand my own motives until well after the fact, if at all … so I’m reluctant to speculate on the motives of others.
Finally, attacking your adversaries’ motives just makes you look weak. The assumption has to be that if you start attacking motives, you’re out of scientific arguments … and while that may not be the case, it sure does look like the case to anyone looking in from the outside.
Best regards,



Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.


You ignore the politicization of science. The USGS has been heavily politicized under the present administration, and indeed been turned into a tool of the alarmists. Dr. Steele and Dr. Crawford are to be commended for exposing this politicized science for what it is. Politicized science leads to impure motives.
What on earth do you imagine is meant by “Noble Cause Corruption?
Your censorous, sermonizing condemnation of Dr. Jim Steele, Dr. Susan Crawford is wrong, and has sullied the motives of those two.
So climb down off of your high horse.
You might wish to consider an apology for your comment because as Shakespeare also says:
“It is a long worm that has no turning.”


Where did Shakespeare say that?


Not attributed to Shakespear but possibly what you meant: “It is a long road that has no turning”

Catherine Ronconi

Shakespeare didn’t write that, but in Henry VI, Part 3, Lord Clifford says, “The smallest worm will turn being trodden on”.

M Courtney

Exactly right.
And also consider this – if you attack motives you attack the psychology of another person.
You can’t know as much about their motives as they do – they know themselves inside out.
Plus you are limited by the uncertainty in the science of psychology.
Better to stick to the polar bear numbers. Make the science your home ground.


“Make science your home ground.”
Show us where Dr. Jim Steele did otherwise, I pray you.

M Courtney

Lots of science there. That’s why I urged him to stay on that ground. But this conclusion:

Were polar bear researchers blinded by climate change beliefs, or acting dishonestly?

This conclusion is not science.
Apart from the excluded middle it relates to motivations – not observations.
Perhaps you think more highly of psychology than me?
But even if you do – would you analyse an individual from their papers published in collaboration?

M Courtney I did not come to a “conclusion” . I asked a purposefully provocative question seeking an explanation to why some polar bear researchers are ignoring their own evidence, so I asked “Were polar bear researchers blinded by climate change beliefs, or acting dishonestly?” I can certainly accept most researchers are simply blinded by their beliefs. Yet there is ample evidence of dishonest comments, Call it noble cause corruption but the point is we must call into question headlines those researchers are promoting that claim the polar bear is going extinct because the science does not support it.
So do you think think the researchers faithfully represented the evidence i presented?

M Courtney

jim Steele, I think you have a good point on the science.
I think they have made a right poop of the evidence. Not proving that the polar bears don’t roam away when the food gets scarce is a bit of a faux pas.
The evidence – the science – I like that. Repeatedly I have said “stick to the science”.
But is it dishonesty or self-deception? It may not be either.
So why raise such a purposefully provocative question that sounds like “have you stopped beating your wife”?
Help the beaten wife, yes. Prove who beat the wife, sure. But don’t start making accusations because she could have just tripped over the cat.
As I said elsewhere, most people try not to lie because it’s too risky and wrong.
Most people try to do work that’s good enough because they want more work.
But in this case, what level of work was good enough? They got published. They hit their deadlines. They haven’t been proven wrong yet (keep going – you soon will). They have done good enough work.
And if you don’t keep going – instead diverting onto shame before forcing acknowledgment of the blame – their work will always be “good enough”.


If they make statements or research decisions (what to include or exclude in the studies) which they should know are false or misleading, even if it is due to willis’ noble cause corruption, it is still dishonest. It is impossible for a reasonable person to believe that they can publish research conclusions at one point in time and then ignore them without explanation in follow on research, and not be aware of the contradictions. The only other possibility is that they are of exceptionally poor intellect. I would think the odds of the latter being quite low.


Willis, normally I agree with you in such spats, but i don’t think your problem with the title is correct in this case. The logic of the title is A or B? Therefore Not B implies A. Since you’re asserting A then it doesn’t matter the value of B. Of course if this is intended as an exclusive or, then we can say if A then Not B. In either case, there’s no definitive claim of dishonesty. Finally the question format of the title can simply be considered as a whole and answered with a “yes” or “no”, though the comma in the middle may obviate that possibility.

Willis, you are correct of course, he painted with too broad of a brush, not all of the climatologists are lying and making fraudulent claims. I have actually read a few who didn’t, of course they were either fired or lost their funding. I suppose though that the exception proves the rule.

David Norman

Willis, your notion of victimization through noble cause corruption as you state it is interesting;
“In other words, the fact that our adversaries are trying to lead us down the totally wrong road is NOT evidence that they have bad intentions.”
“So I would be very cautious about claiming that the polar bear researchers are dishonest. I’m sure that they would strenuously, and likely correctly, say that was not true.
Unfortunately, however, some of them are very clearly the victims of noble cause corruption.”
From position of “looking in from the outside” it seems as though your vision of polar bear researchers as a “victim of this or a victim of that” (Eagles) is an attempt to excuse biased behaviour, whatever the motivation may be for it, by modifying Jim’s attributions. However, noble cause corruption, the flaming juggernaut of anthropogenic climate change, is not a statutory category as suggested by your cautionary statement “Peter Gleick was feted for committing mail fraud, because you see, he was Saving The World™”, it is merely an idea, and therefore subject to the the suggestion and evaluation of motives by all of those who are skeptical of its’ premise.
Might I suggest in active contrast to your Simon and Garfunkel ditty, that in regards to your noble corruption notion;
“You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin’ everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass
Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin’ and moanin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it ” (Eagles: Get over it)
If there is any issue I have presented which causes you concern please list it and “I’ll give it a shot” at clarification.

Well said, Willis, thanks. Noble cause corruption is most probably a better description of the cause of this problem.
But your “Next, your headline sucks. You can’t accuse an entire group of people of wrongdoing, even in a headline. You can accuse the authors of a certain paper, or you can accuse certain people by name, IF you have damn good evidence. But not “polar bear researchers”, that’s far too broad.” goes right overboard and was lost to me.
Dr. Steele does name names and shows evidence. The headline is just a headline, details follow.


Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?

An improved headline might read

Are Some Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?

Otherwise we would include Susan Crockford!
Some polar bear researchers are not blinded by belief. They are aware of what thick springtime ice does to polar bear feeding. If they make a conscious decision not to input this information into their models then they are being dishonest. If they are not aware of the effects of thick spring ice then they should get out of polar bear research, but we know that they are aware which makes them dishonest.


How’s about a bit of good old Ockham real-life simplicity:
‘Polar Bears migrate when ice levels become too thick for feeding holes.’
Why go any further to inflate wordy science-egos?


Willis, some of your comments tend to baffle me. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to follow them. But allow me to quote from your above comments and explain why they perplex me. Feel free to correct me if I have misunderstood your intent.
“So I would be very cautious about claiming that the polar bear researchers are dishonest. I’m sure that they would strenuously, and likely correctly, say that was not true. Unfortunately, however, some of them are very clearly the victims of noble cause corruption.”
Would you rather be accused of being “corrupt” or “dishonest”? I fail to see much difference. Corruption is a form of dishonesty. “Noble cause” is simply the motive for the corruption. But isn’t it pretty much the same thing as being “blinded by belief”? It is “belief” in a noble cause that blinds someone to their own corruption over time. So I fail to see a real difference between your accusation of “noble cause corruption” and Jim’s suggestion that they may be “blinded by belief.”
“Next, your headline sucks. You can’t accuse an entire group of people of wrongdoing, even in a headline. You can accuse the authors of a certain paper, or you can accuse certain people by name, IF you have damn good evidence. But not “polar bear researchers”, that’s far too broad.”
Perhaps he should have written, “Are ‘These’ Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?” to avoid painting all researchers with a broad brush. But it is clear from the context of the article who he is referring to.
If you had quoted the headline, you would have noticed that it contained an “or” and ended in a “?”. Jim was not making a direct accusation, he was asking a question. Anyone, including the researchers themselves, is free to answer the question. You gave your own answer, Willis, which was “noble cause corruption.” But to me, that is just a form of being “blinded by belief.” So I fail to see what the disagreement is.
‘Saying “Either you are mistaken or you are lying.” is the same as accusing a man of lying. That’s the “lie with circumstance”.’
I find it interesting that when you finally get around to quoting something Jim said, it isn’t something he actually said. I’ve seen you get very upset with people who do that to you, Willis. You always insist that they quote you exactly. But be that as it may, accusing someone of making a mistake is not the same as accusing them of lying. Mistakes can be inadvertent. Lies are deliberate. People make mistakes all the time, even scientists with advanced degrees. But honest people want to be told when they have made a mistake so they can correct it. Jim presented the evidence for two possibilities. Either they made an inadvertent mistake that they should correct, or they did it deliberately to support a cause. The reader can decide for themselves.
Yes, Jim could have worded the headline better, but why not point it out in a friendly manner instead of being so caustic? Trying to organize a circular firing squad is not productive.

Jeff Mitchell

I like the articulation of distinguishing between falsehood (simply untrue) and a lie (a falsehood intended to deceive). Being wrong isn’t necessarily a lie. Also, determining motive is not necessary to prove a statement is a lie. The proof or answer to the headline question is shown when the researchers named do or do not correct their error.
I feel it is important to know if they are lying or not. If they are lying on the polar bear issue, they can’t possibly be doing it for our own good. They have stated that polar bear populations are in trouble. If that is not true, there is no point to lying since no harm will come to the animals, and no behavior of ours will change that unless we start over hunting them.
I believe that knowing what the motive is, is also important. With the climate change alarmists, it seems that as each of their premises’ are destroyed, they make up new even more irrational claims which are inconsistent with the science, so I think it is clear that something other than our own good is motivating these people. As Willis has pointed out, motivations are a bit tricky In Tim Ball’s essay on the big lie and how it is propagated, he might have pointed out that motivations for various groups may differ. In differing they still can be united under a single policy if it appears to accomplish their objectives. Thus a coalition can be formed, get the policy instituted, then be split up and discarded after the damage is done.


IF it was clear that polar bears were not in trouble at the moment and they are OK, what do you think would happen to polar bear research funding? ONE of the motives in CAGW research is MONEY. We don’t say ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY‘ for nothing. PS is following money Ignoble Cause Corruption or Noble Cause Corruption?

WUWT – November 10, 2014
Climate change – follow the money
WUWT – May 19, 2012
The “well funded” climate business – follow the money


Well put Louis.
Willis does tend to think his world is the one we all should live in.
Doesn’t your cowboy upbringing tell you that corruption is corruption, no matter the cause? My upbringing was of a son of an immigrant coal miner. My dad passed on the advice from grandpa that there are three things you never want to give people cause to call you. A liar, a cheat or a thief. And in the case of the researchers named by Dr Steele, there is evidence they are either lying or cheating. Which one doesn’t really matter.


Definition of dishonest.

Merriam Webster…
1 obsolete: shameful, unchaste
2: characterized by lack of truth, honesty, or trustworthiness
Examples of DISHONEST
She gave dishonest answers to our questions.

Omitting information which you know has bearing on your research is being dishonest. An honest person would include it. A liar is being dishonest. A person who omits known relevant data is being dishonest. Some polar bear scientists are NOT lying, but are being dishonest. Papers have been retracted for such kinds of behaviour.

Takuan Soho

An important requirement of “noble cause corruption” argument is the lack of monetary interest; because “noble” like the gases, requires a certain detachment from base causes.
The capture of Science by the Government, a threat Eisenhower warned about in his Farewell Address (in addition to the more famous Military Industrial Complex) through becoming predominant providers of grant money has had many negative effects on Science, foremost though is that it automatically brings Venal Corruption into the equation of any outcome. The Government’s near monopoly on these grants (particularly for discipline’s that do not have commercial application), because they become the main requirement for publication, and publication is necessary to receive tenure, and tenure leads to lifetime employment and fiscal security (a benefit in its own right worth millions of dollars (as well as freedom from anxiety), automatically raises questions about corruption whenever the results closely align to what the government wants them to be.
This may be unfair for the Scientists, however it is a natural outcome of the situation. What is more likely? That they are so naive and pure not to understand where the butter from their bread is coming from, or that they act like most humans and go with where their material interest is flowing?
An argument of “noble causes” would require the person to be detached from this flow, or at least to show some willingness to sacrifice (which again is what made nobles “noble”) themselves to stand against it. When material benefit is so strong, the case of nobility is extremely weakened, and should not be assumed without some independent evidence. Show me a Scientist who has given up tenure or funding because of their adherence to wrong information, and I would conceded that the person may have “noble cause” rather than being dishonest. This isn’t only true of Scientists, but of all occupations, ranks, and people. Scientists like to assume integrity (they only search for the “truth”) but that coin has to be earned not assumed, as such they should not be grant indulgences without reason.
In all honesty the title of this piece should have been “Researchers acting dishonest, or are merely blinded by belief”, because for most people the former is generally more likely than the latter. Why should Scientists be treated differently?
So your attack on the writer is very misplaced, the title was extremely fair, your attack less so, and indeed misplaced. I understand that we “deniers” want to be superior to the fanatics who use such terms, but this desire should never interfere with making simple declarative statements. Researchers who overlook their own evidence, or ignore evidence they should have been aware of, are acting dishonestly, whether for noble causes or not. This dishonesty is heightened because a Scientist (or Historian) generally has implied integrity, which in turn demands a higher form of honesty.
The whole belief in the integrity of Science was summed up by T. Huxley that a Scientist should sit down before a fact like a child and let it take you where it will. When a Scientist allows themselves to be swayed, they are being dishonest, that the cause is “noble” is only a mitigating circumstance.


Your comment was pretty intense. You have my agreement. 😉

Well said Takuan!

Al McEachran

Brilliant post but I am disgusted by the authors of the Bromaghin 2014 study. This appears to me as criminal fraud for personal gain. Thanks also to Dr. Susan Crockford, I am sure challenging the orthodoxy requires substantial professional sacrifice.


Jim Steele and Susan Crockford should not only be commended for their work; they should be featured prominently in the MSM. instead the german news agency, dpa, is spreading the following story, which Gulf Times has picked up in the english version, tho no doubt it’s been published elsewhere in german:
2 Dec: Deutsche Presse-Agentur: UPDATE NEWS FEATURE Polar bear fights to survive, and climate politics do little to help
By Georg Ismar
The polar bear has become the standard bearer for the threat. In 2004, there were still 1,500 polar bears in Alaska and in north-western Canada, but more recently they were down to only about 900.
“The summer pack ice in the sea has been shrinking for years, and without ice, bears lack a platform from which to hunt seals. That makes survival increasingly difficult, especially for young animals,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, of the Global Arctic Programme run by the environmental organization World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)…
Half of the carbon dioxide emissions directly caused by humans since 1750 have been produced since 1970. Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam-based Institute for Climate Research, has a chart that shows the warmest summers in Europe since 1500: 2010, 2003, 2002, 2006, 2007…


Yesterday I caught an ad on a UK TV channel from an organisation apparently linked to the WWF , since an icon for it appeared in the ad. It was a plea, accompanied by pictures of polar bears stranded on shrinking ice floes, for people to “adopt ” a polar bear cub for just £3 / month. I assume that you do not get to take it home, but perhaps they harpoon the poor starving mite with a tag with your name on it – or maybe they “sell” the same cub many times over.
No doubt many thousands of people will donate £36 /year . Nice little earner as they say.

Amos Mclean

I think the ads are from WWF they have been pushing them really hard on several commerical TV channels on the lead up to Christmas (tiz the season to milk the Christmas Spirit).
The video Images in the ads include:
a ‘mother’ bear with 3 cubs all lying down on ice looking ‘forlorn’,
a group of penguins all huddling together on a tiny iceberg.
and another about Snow Lepoards.
For only £3 per month …
What does WWF do with all these £3s, do they go out and feed the bears, penguins?
Or ship in fresh ice for them?

I get weekly emails from Amstrup’s Polar Bear International asking for donations to save the polar bears and WWF made similar TV adds. The “endangered” polar bear has been gold mine.


Get on my back honey.

Jon Aars et al – April 2010
Polar bear cubs may reduce chilling from icy water by sitting on mother’s back
…An important question is thus how female mothers and their cubs may behave to avoid that cubs get chilled, but at the same time making it possible for the families to hunt is those areas. We describe an observation of a polar bear cub on its mother’s back while the mother was swimming among ice floes in Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic….
Polar Biology – Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 557-559

Hoi Polloi

Eschenbach’s willy waving with his cowboy background is quite tedious. Once more, Mr.Eschenbach, it’s not about you but polar bear science…

Willis Eschenbach

Hoi Polloi December 1, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Eschenbach’s willy waving with his cowboy background is quite tedious. Once more, Mr.Eschenbach, it’s not about you but polar bear science…

I do love a man who refuses to deal with the ideas I’ve put forth, and instead simply deals in shabby attempted character assassination … clearly Hoi is an honorable man in the best Shakespearian sense.

Willis I feel you “refused to deal with the ideas I’ve put forth”

Willis Eschenbach

Thanks, Jim. You identified your main issue in your headline, “Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly”. I’ve certainly dealt with that issue in some detail, so I fear I don’t understand your objection.
In any case, what other issues did you want me to deal with? I’m happy to deal with other issues as well as with your main issue, so give me a list and I’ll give it a shot.

If we were dealing with honorable and respectable people, then your advice would be necessary. But the evidence has convinced me, and many others, that we are not, and furthermore, the evidence has convinced me that our enemies trade on their veneer of “respectability” and faux “honor” in order to push their cause among the public. A public which will pay NO attention to anything that takes more than 140 characters to explain – that is the reality of the world we live in today. The public will never hear, or pay attention to, nicely reasoned articles which point out that the methodology is incorrect.
Therefore, it is NOT enough to just show that they are scientifically wrong – that has been done, and done, and done to death. It’s nice, but ineffective under the current circumstances. We have to attack the entire idea and image of these as “respectable” and “honorable” people, which they are not, and we must destroy their public personas and reputations, as they seek to destroy ours. Our enemies are flooding the public with “POLAR BEARS ARE DYING!!!” We have to strike back with “RESEARCHERS ARE LIARS!!!” That’s the state of public discourse today, like it or not. And that is why I find Jim Steele’s headline perfectly appropriate. Never forget, every message to the public today has got to be 140 characters or less, if you want to break through the noise. More words than that and you disapear into the clutter of modern life.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a war to the death, for all of us. Our enemies know it, and we better know it.
And this acknowledgement may cause many people to drop out of the fight altogether – that’s unfortunate, but naming the truth of things doesn’t add or detract from the reality. It Is what It Is.

M Courtney

wws, the problem with that call is that it would apply even if the scientists aren’t lying. It is just a strategy to win the argument. That is a wrong action if they aren’t lying.
But as you say you are convinced that they are lying I’ll run with that fort the sake of argument and think it through.
Is it easier to persuade someone that scientists are dishonest or mistaken?
Pointing out that polar bears wander off and may not actually drown out of sight is quite funny; that is easy to explain.
Suggesting some nefarious collusion to get the chance to publish papers that nobody but the colluders will read (and a few people here but…); that is not an easy sell.
You can’t throw mud without getting muddy. And that isn’t welcome in polite society.
But stick to the science and you will be listened to, if you are heard.


MCourtney uses the words lying three times in his comment at 7:54 am and insinuates that Dr. Steele used this word in his post. In fact, Jim Steele neither used the word lie, liar, lying, nor lied nor any such phrase. Then MCourtney insinuates that Dr. Steele is throwing mud in his post. Now isn’t that something?


Likewise Willis e in his first comment above uses the word lie or lies or lying eight times and insinuates that Dr. Steele used such terms when in fact he did not.
But will Willis apologize for such sleazy tactics? Probably not.

Willis Eschenbach

mpainter December 2, 2014 at 9:18 am

Likewise Willis e in his first comment above uses the word lie or lies or lying eight times and insinuates that Dr. Steele used such terms when in fact he did not.
But will Willis apologize for such sleazy tactics? Probably not.

Look, m, if you say something and I accuse you of dishonesty in the saying of it, that’s accusing you of lying. You can put all the pretty faces on it you want, you can argue all of the shades of meaning you want. But in this context, saying a person’s words are dishonest is the same as saying that they are lying.
That is, unless Jim Steele has a new definition for “dishonesty”, in which case I’ll stand corrected … but I’ll have to hear that from him, not you, along with a cogent explanation of how calling someone’s words dishonest is not accusing them of lying …


You will continue to hear from me on this issue.
If a journalist attributes certain expressions to a person, by insinuation or directly, he has violated the code of decency.
Jim Steele never used the words that you have insinuated to him. He owes you no explanation.
You, however, owe him an apology and a retraction. That you will not do this is your measure.
Jim Steele, thank you for this excellent post and I wish you success in your endeavor to get your study published.
I encourage you in your very worthwhile work and I hope to see more of your thoughts posted here. It is refreshing viewpoint that you present from the life sciences, concerning the dubious alarmist science that we all deplore, or most of us, anyway. Do not worry about the censorious, moralizing types, these are not to be taken seriously.


mpainter, if you accuse someone of “acting dishonestly” then you are accusing them of deliberately trying to mislead. That is an accusation of lying.
You can lie through words.
Or you can lie through actions.
The accusation was made that these scientists were “acting dishonestly”. Acting implies actions. To quibble that he didn’t say that these words were lies is irrelevant. He made the accusation of lying by actions.
Here is a definition of the word dishonest for those who have English as a second or third language.

1 Behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy, deceitful, or insincere way:
1.1 Intended to mislead or cheat:

If you want to claim that an accusation of “acting dishonestly” isn’t an accusation of lying then… well, your welcome to your opinion.
Shakespeare created new words too, after all.

@ Willis
Please detail why arguing “noble cause corruption” is any different from my suspicions of dishonesty.
My choices were 1) blinded by beliefs implying unconscious bias that manipulate data. That blindness is something we all fall victim, and perhaps that is what you prefer “Nobel corruption”. Nonetheless you are implying dishonest results as well. 2) My 2nd choice of “acting dishonestly” implies a more conscious effort to distort the facts. And although most people may not consciously lie, we would be naive to ever argue such things do not happen, and more naive to put scientists on a pedestal of “always honest” as has been done. Simply read the Retraction Watch blog about how many articles, data, images and reviews have been falsifies consciously. I reported substantial evidence that was being withheld and consciously avoided. I would be naive to suggest it was purely an honest mistake, although the newbie lead author may indeed be naive. BUt I do indeed want to cast suspicion on their conclusions, conclusions that have gone viral arguing 40% of bears have been extirpated by global warming.
If you truly take issue with my choices, and it boils down to more of a case of semantics as your terms also imply dishonesty, then discuss the evidence that I presented that raised those suspicions and discuss why my suspicions were unwarranted or justified. You answered my question with “noble corruption”. Done! Although your answer implies motive, and all court cases exaine motive, you take issue with my questioning of the purity of their motives, despite ample evidence that raises such suspicion. You then extend that to give me a sermon that suggests your post is more about promoting Willis’ righteousness than it is about the examining truthfulness of the facts and conclusions being discussed by “some” polar bear researchers.

@M Courrtney “You can’t throw mud without getting muddy.”
True. But sometime we muddy in a knockdown brawl because we must fight for what is right!


M Courtney,Your definition does not include the words lie, or lying, or liar.
It is a mystery how you imagine that you can stretch the meaning and ignore the actual definition.
Your problem is that you cannot admit to overreach. Your credibility suffers.
Do you still say Jim Steele is a mudslinger? This comment of yours stinks.


mpainter. I stand by my comment.
Yes, I think JimSteel is slinging mud. I think he is foolish to do so. But he thinks it is worthwhile. He is responsible for his actions as I am for mine.
I would point out that your semantic objection to the difference between an accusation of dishonesty and an accusation of lying is misplaced, As you point out I used the word lying for dishonesty in my reply to wws who wrote:

We have to strike back with “RESEARCHERS ARE LIARS!!!”

I still don’t think we should.


I hate to say this but you are slinging mud in a most distasteful manner. Steele never used any of those objectionable words that you attribute to him by insinuation. Your refusal to acknowledge this is inexcusable.


How is it you can state that accusing someone of being dishonest is the same as calling them a liar (which I can agree with) yet claim that being guilty of noble cause corruption is not the same as being dishonest?
Living and working in both Oregon and Washington, I am pretty sure a short drive over the mountains will have me finding plenty of “cowboys” who would have little problem seeing the researchers Dr Steele mentions as possibly guilty of dishonest behavior. Care to tell me how the intent to rely on a single study which supports a desired conclusion, while ignoring the large amount of contradictory evidence is not dishonest?


If you are going to pick nits over the meaning of words, you might want to pick a different definition. The one you use makes no mention of the word lie or lying.


How did the peer reviews go ?


“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”
I’d like to put forward a third option; they’re simply incompetent (at least wrt statistics and sampling methodologies, perhaps more).
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen ‘Scientists’ following this agenda demonstrate an abject lack of skill in these areas. Chances are they just don’t know any better. though of course it helps knowing the answer before you start your research too….


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Well ignoring the evidence is one of your best traits.


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Janice Moore

@ icouldnthelpit:
Re: “Summer arctic ice is disappearing.” (you today at 1:16am)
You have been misinformed.
Evidence here:
Ignorance of the facts is something you CAN help.


The actual evidence is that polar bears are flourishing. They have survived & thrived during decades, indeed centuries & millennia, of lower summer sea ice than now. They happily hunt & forage on land, They’re omnivores.
Ringed seal pups help them store up fat, but, if you had ever studied the Arctic, you’d know that the bears hunt the pups in their snow dens in late winter or early spring, not the summer.
“The females give birth to a single pup between March and May, with most pups born in early April, although in Lake Saimaa and in the southern part of the Baltic Sea pups are born earlier, in late February or early March (1). The female moves the pup between a system of usually four to six lairs, to prevent the pup being located by predators. However, ringed seal pups learn to dive when they are very young and are soon able to move between lairs independently (1). The female lactates for about six weeks after birth, when both the mother and the pup are active, and spends considerable time making short feeding dives. The pups are weaned prior to the spring ice breakup in June.”


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Arctic sea ice is not disappearing. It has gotten larger the last two years & is now higher than in over a decade.
Satellites only started viewing Arctic sea ice in 1979, when it was near its high for the century. With the AMO & PDO flips around then, it’s only natural that it would decline, as it did in the 1920s-40s. But when CACA was hatched “climate scientists” didn’t even know that those oceanic oscillations existed. If climatology is in its infancy now, in 1988 it wasn’t even born yet.
But there have been long centuries & millennia when it did practically “disappear”, without causing polar bears to go extinct.
This year, Antarctic sea ice was at an “all-time” (satellite era) high, & Arctic ice was growing, so 2014 was the top ice extent year since satellite records began in 1979. And of course Antarctic ice is of far more importance to the climate than Arctic, due to its much greater affect on albedo.


Your claim is not only not uncontroversial, but plainly false on its face.
The fact is that polar bears survived millennia of effectively no summer sea ice during the Holocene Optimum & Eemian Interglacial, not mention decades or centuries during the Minoan, Roman & Medieval Warm Periods.
They don’t need summer sea ice, as has repeatedly been shown here. The ice that is most important to them is land fast ice in the spring, when ringed sell pups are born & weaned. They can & do swim long distances in summer to find seals on floes, & of course can also get fat on the land. Please read & learn from Dr. C, a real expert whose interest is science, not funding.

Janice Moore

@ ICHI — for the record: you are either lying or badly mistaken. Fortunately, anyone who wants to verify this statement can easily do so… at the link I provided.


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You are mistaken. All you have to do is look. This year was the highest since 2004. The trend is reversing, just as real scientists predicted it would, thanks to the shift in the PDO & especially AMO. Warmer water has a far greater effect on sea ice than warmer air, especially in the Arctic winter night.
Long-term in climate is not 30 years. That’s the shortest possible unit of climate time. The trend in summer maximum sea ice allegedly, ie within reliability of satellite observation, was down from its century high of 1979 until 2012. It has now reversed. Obviously we need more than two years of gains to confirm the new trend, but the AMO argues for it, as does the fact that the build has been enormous both years, such that we’re now at the highest in a decade.
Add that to record high Antarctic (& thicker than imagined) sea ice, & the skeptics’ case is well made. CO2 going from 300 to 400 ppm has no detectable effect on sea ice extent.
Facts are stubborn things. Sorry about that.


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There are various sea ice records from before 1979. That year came at the end of a long cool cycle, from about 1944, which ended the prior warm cycle in which the Arctic in summer looked as it did around 2000. Extent might have been greater early in this century, before the then much-remarked warming of the 1920s to ’40s. So 1979 might have been equaled or exceeded in 1909 or even 1919.
If you go to the Sea Ice pages of this bl*g, you’ll see that indeed 2014 exceeds 2006 for where it is now, if not in every data set for minimum extent. In all sets, it’s back well within the normal range for the satellite era. The trend is reversing, just as skeptics had confidence & predicted it would, when the AMO flipped back. It had just flipped the other way in the late ’70s.
There is no evidence of a CO2 component in polar ice extent. Indeed, the best fit is not correlation, but contrary, given the Antarctic. What excuse will you make in 2015, 2016, et seq? Skeptics make & stand by predictions. CACA advocates make excuses.

@ ucanhelpit Milodonhalani is correct. As illustrated in this graphic Danish Sea Ice record from August 1937 show near identical areas of open water as satellite data from August 2013


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I’m pretty sure from your prior comments that I’m more familiar with polar bears than you are, so no, I don’t suppose that they dine on penguin or Antarctic seals.
I would have thought the relevance of Antarctic ice to be obvious, but for your benefit I’ll spell it out. If CO2-caused global warming of the air were the cause of Arctic sea ice retreat, then why isn’t the Antarctic behaving the same? But if, as all the evidence suggests, ocean currents & oscillations are the main driver of sea ice extent in both hemispheres, then it should come as no surprise that the Antarctic is waxing while, until the past two years, the Arctic was generally waning.
As for 2006 v. 2014, recall that 2013 came off a record low in 2012, caused by the same sort of August storm that produced the prior low in 2007. That the Arctic is now gaining ice more rapidly than it did in 2006 is noteworthy. That is, as I mentioned, while in most data sets the low in 2006 was higher than 2014, the fact that we’ve already caught up with the late Nov/early Dec condition in 2006 is just more evidence that the trend has reversed.
Now maybe another late summer cyclone will hit next year or the next, producing a new low, possibly even a record. But the statistical fact remains that for two years running we’ve been back in the normal zone for the post-1979 period. Time will tell.
To what will you point in support of your faith when the Arctic indubitably swings back to waxing too?


Data before the ’50s is not “very” patchy. You must not be aware that both the Allies & Germans kept weather ships off Greenland in WWII, & that the US, USSR & Japanese had good reason to study conditions in the Bering Sea & northwest Pacific. There are some holes in the Danish record cited by Dr. Steele, but you should study the many surviving maps yourself before jumping to the conclusion that that one is one off.
There are good data for many years besides the cited one. Also whalers’ & explorers’ accounts. Arctic exploration goes back centuries. My 1939 atlas shows winter & summer sea ice extent about the same as recently.
Have you really not the read the famous 1922 article about the disappearing ice in the Arctic? Or accounts of the Soviets’ use of the northern sea route during WWII?


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December 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm
Antarctica and The Arctic are connected by currents and oscillations. Got it. When one waxes the other wanes. Got it. It’s an interesting theory. Is it some kind of Gaia thing?

I think you got it now.

The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism
The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C…..;2
The regime shift of the 1920s and 1930s in the North Atlantic
During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Warmer-than-normal sea temperatures, reduced sea ice conditions and enhanced Atlantic inflow in northern regions continued through to the 1950s and 1960s, with the timing of the decline to colder temperatures varying with location. Ecosystem changes associated with the warm period included a general northward movement of fish……
Early 20th century Arctic warming in upper-air data
Between around 1915 and 1945, Arctic surface air temperatures increased by about 1.8°C. Understanding this rapid warming, its possible feedbacks and underlying causes, is vital in order to better asses the current and future climate changes in the Arctic.
……(a) the Arctic amplification (ratio of the Arctic to global temperature trends) is not a constant but varies in time on a multi-decadal time scale, (b) the Arctic warming from 1910–1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the current 1970–2008 warming, and (c) the Arctic temperature changes are highly correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) suggesting the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation is linked to the Arctic temperature variability on a multi-decadal time scale……
Average arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years. Arctic temperatures have high decadal variability, and a warm period was also observed from 1925 to 1945.
Arctic Warming” During 1920-40:
A Brief Review of Old Russian Publications
Sergey V. Pisarev
1. The idea of Arctic Warming during 1920–40 is supported in Russian publications by the following facts: *retreating of glaciers, melting of sea islands, and retreat of permafrost* decrease of sea ice amounts…..
…..Winter season stable isotope data from ice core records that reach more than 1400 years back in time suggest that the warm period that began in the 1920s raised southern Greenland temperatures to the same level as those that prevailed during the warmest intervals of the Medieval Warm Period some 900–1300 years ago. This observation is supported by a southern Greenland ice core borehole temperature inversion……
Climatic signals in multiple highly resolved stable isotope records from Greenland


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Catherine Ronconi

Jimbo and Jim Steele:
Here’s another interesting observation from the Danish Met Institute, but so recent it’s still going on:
Greenland has gained a record amount of ice so far this Fall. Thanks to “Steve Goddard”.


December 3, 2014 at 8:59 am
Jimbo – What has any of that got to do with what you quoted from my post?

You did say:

Antarctica and The Arctic are connected by currents and oscillations. Got it. When one waxes the other wanes.

I thought you had something there, but maybe you didn’t understand where I was coming from. See these.

Abstract – 22 April 2010
Petr Chylek et al
Twentieth century bipolar seesaw of the Arctic and Antarctic surface air temperatures
Understanding the phase relationship between climate changes in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is essential for our understanding of the dynamics of the Earth’s climate system. In this paper we show that the 20th century de-trended Arctic and Antarctic temperatures vary in anti-phase seesaw pattern – when the Arctic warms the Antarctica cools and visa versa……
Nature News – 26 February 2009
Jeffrey P. Severinghaus1
Climate change: Southern see-saw seen
The bipolar see-saw hypothesis provides an explanation for why temperature shifts in the two hemispheres were out of phase at certain times. The hypothesis has now passed a test of one of its predictions.
Abrupt climate changes during the last glacial period, about 110,000 to 10,000 years ago, have been widely documented in the Northern Hemisphere. But their underlying cause remains enigmatic.

Thursday, 18 September 2014
Arctic & Antarctic sea ice extent demonstrates the bipolar seesaw theory of climate


In your case there is truly a third possibility to blinded by belief and dishonesty – you aren’t intelligent enough to understand what is being written.
Did you miss the part about the bears putting on ~ 80% of their maximum weight during a 1 – 2 month time period? Or maybe you couldn’t grasp the part about April – May occuring before the summer ice melt?
If you truly believe global warming is a grave threat, at least try being smart enough to pick defensable examples of why it is a threat. Choosing polar bears, sinking islands and millions of climate refugees are examples of a poor or stupid thought process.


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I am not saying is that everything is fine now so it will be in the future. In fact i said nothing at all about what condition polar bear populations are in. From what i’ve read, it varies from group to group, with some groups stable, some growing and others diminishing. And this is using the reports of the researchers being called into question. I also understand that researchers lack information on an estimated 50% of all polar bear populations. In other words, one has to be very careful in drawing any conclusions for polar bear viability.
I see you make quite a few assumptions in your response. Some don’t make sense. For example, asking if cubs have enough fat to make through the next winter. You assume less summer sea ice means less food. That is not a proven fact. Then you assume young bears are not putting on enough weight to make it through their first winter. Where is the field data showing this? It is speculation. Then you assume that the bears being forced to move to new territory is problematic, as if they were some roving band of humans and after being provided with information saying they are not particularly territorial and have great variation in roaming territory from year to year. In other words you build a house of cards and expect us to consider you as a master builder.
So, with regard to polar bears and those researchers who claim they are threatened, I am saying the following:
To date insufficient evidence has been provided to indicte any threat exists.
The evidence which has been provided is looking rather suspect.
Given the above two points, the use of polar bears as justification for policy & economic decisions related to climate change is the result of poor thinking or borderline dishonesty.


Give it up my friend. Polar bear numbers are up from 5,000 in the 1950s to over 20,000 now. All this in a warming world and warming Arctic.
They survived the Holocene Hypsithermal’s ‘ice-free’ summers, yet you go on about the importance of summer sea ice and cubs. Think about your position compared to observations and the paleo evidence. Read the links fully before responding please.


December 3, 2014 at 11:48 am
…….No I didn’t. I think the general idea is that polar bears spend summer months hunting on sea ice. Imagine a polar bear cub. Does he have enough fat reserves to last from summer through to spring? If the polar bears are forced to move to land during the summer then there will be territorial pressures. Taken together, higher infant mortality and territorial pressures mean that the polar bear population will diminish. This is the claim…..

Polar bears get fattest fastest in Spring and early summer. Check out the word ‘nursing’. As you can see thick spring ice is not so kind.

Paper – 8 August 2001
Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf:
A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three Decades
…..Heavy ice conditions in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s caused significant declines in productivity of ringed seals, each of which lasted about 3 years and caused similar declines in the natality of polar bears and survival of subadults, after which reproductive success and survival of both species increased again….
…..Polar bears reach their lightest weights in late March, just before the birth of the next cohort of ringed seal pups, which also suggests it is the success of their hunting in spring and early summer that determines whether or not bears are able to accumulate the body reserves necessary for survival, reproduction, and nursing of cubs through the rest of the year. …..
…In the eastern Beaufort Sea, in years during and follow-ing heavy ice conditions in spring, we found a marked reduction in production of ringed seal pups and conse-quently in the natality of polar bears (Stirling and Lunn, 1997). The effect appeared to last for about three years, after which productivity of both seals and bears increased again….

Peter Miller

In ‘climate science’, there is only a very small pot of money for reporting the truth and saying, “not much change here, the usual natural cycles explain just about everything.”
However, there are huge troughs of money for manipulating, or distorting the truth to come to unfounded scary conclusions like, “The polar bears will disappear in our children’s lifetimes, because of rising CO2 levels.”
The problem is grant addiction and those grants not being made available unless the conclusion of the study is previously agreed with the grant provider – and that conclusion has to be scary..


I think noble cause corruption has led them to lie. (Knowingly tell a falsehood.)
I think good rhetorical use could be made of Polar Bear Science as an microcosm of what’s wrong with all of alarmist climate-related science. That’s because it is simple enough to see the falsehoods that have been promoted, and because there is no wiggle room for the falsifiers.
Most importantly, it could illustrate an unspoken “conspiracy” in action among a fairly small number of experts. (E.g., by excluding an expert from their meetings because he was a CAGW heretic a few years ago.)
I urge contrarians to press for a congressional panel to request that the NAS conduct an investigation of this microcosm. I also urge them to harp on what’s going on in this research area as a typical and understandable instance of what’s wrong with climatology.


Noble cause corruption, moral hazard, rent seeking, etc. Who can easily check on their work? Polar bears are very lucrative as symbols. Read Huhne on how the deep thinking of the climate obsessed operates. Not a pretty sight.
Here is some food for thought from a poster, E. Smiff, at Bishop Hill blog:
“It is from his book, quoted here
see also
Hulme extends this treatment to what he calls the “four myths of climate change”, which he links to the “human instincts of nostalgia, fear, pride and justice”. The term ‘myth’ is used in “the very specific anthropological and non-pejorative sense of revealing meanings and assumed truths”, not as a falsehood. (2009 p.340) The four myths are: lamenting Eden, presaging apocalypse, constructing Babel and celebrating Jubilee.
The religious overtones are deliberate (Hulme confesses his Christian faith), but actually the arguments work perfectly well as secular myths too.
In lamenting Eden, “climate is viewed as a symbol of the natural or the wild, a manifestation of Nature that is pure and pristine and (should be) beyond the reach of humans. Climate becomes something that is fragile and needs to be protected or ‘saved’”. On this view, by changing the climate humans believe they are diminishing not just themselves, but also something beyond themselves. (2009 p.342-43, p.344)
from his own website
see also
Presaging apocalypse draws upon categories such as ‘impending disaster’, ‘approaching tipping points’, ‘species wiped out’, billions of humans at risk of devastation, if not death’. This view has widespread purchase, first because of “the enduring human fear of the future which fuels these descriptions of a physical climate on the point of collapse”. Second it “draws strength from the new paradigm of Earth system science with its ideas of complexity, thresholds and tipping elements”. A third reason is “the frustration experienced by some campaigners and policy advocates due to the failure of international measures and agreements to start slowing down the growth in carbon emissions”. However, numerous studies show that fear may change attitudes but not necessarily increase active engagement or behaviour change. (2009 p.345, p.346, p.348)
On the other hand, constructing Babel, “this confident belief in the human ability to control Nature”, is “a dominant, if often subliminal, attribute of the international diplomacy that engages climate change”. This myth of climate mastery and control reaches its apogee with proposals for geo-engineering. Hulme dismisses this approach: “What is therefore proposed is a new, but now deliberate, great geophysical experiment with the planet. The only difference between this purposeful experiment and our ongoing inadvertent one is that we now have the ‘wisdom’ of Earth system models to guide us.” (2009 p.352-53)
Finally, celebrating Jubilee mean that “climate change is an idea around which their concerns for social and environmental justice can be mobilised. Indeed, a new category of justice – climate justice – is demanded, and one that attaches itself easily to other longstanding global justice concerns.” (2009 p.353)
Dec 1, 2014 at 5:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff”
What is a bit of dodgy work on polar bears everyone loves and no one sees in the context of selling a big fat mythos? We are to keep this stuff in context. Just because it is false does not mean it is not true.


……please accept my apology for the spelling typo: my comment is about Mike Hulme


I quote ‘ but one step over the line leads to a larger one, and before long, the noble corruptee is up to their ears in climategate, lying and subverting the IPCC and packing peer-reviewboxes, and destroying evidence sought by a Freedom of Information act, and commiting fraud and the like’.
Isn’t this supporting Jim’s headline?


The headline aside, the rest of Jim’s article is what the beef / blubber is about. Some polar bear researchers are dishonest by omission. They are aware of the omission, yet chose to omit. That is not being honest, is it???
Omitting important information has got a lot of medical researchers into trouble over the years. Some call it scientific fraud.


Ignoring the alternatives, omitting evidence, or any confirmation bias in general is making a mockery out of modern “science”. And it starts with the very act of searching through the literature itself. If you’re only searching for anthropogenic causes, that’s what you will find (as the IPCC shows us again and again).
Jim Steele’s polar bear example as well as the Golden Toad one are excellent examples of how these scientists have been straying from the objective to the subjective. It’s almost as foolish as a high school clique. Their “team” has been preaching a theory for years which is proving again and again to be false.The cognitive dissonance must be difficult to deal with.
The two party system could take a large chunk of the blame for all this. Does anyone have a link to any articles on this at WUWT? It would be appreciated.


How unusual to have a truthful researcher.
Many thanks, but the wrong people will read it unfortunately.

Chris Wright

An excellent article. But very sad, it seems there is no limit that some scientists will descend to. Willis’ quote: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is perfect.
But I think the heading:
“Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?”
is fine. Perhaps the phrase “some Polar Bear Researchers” would be more accurate, but this kind of usage is very common. People have the intelligence to realise that it doesn’t necessarily apply to every single polar bear researcher.


Stupid or dishonest, whats the difference when people are put in a position of authority. Would you rather your finances be in the hands of someone incompetent or someone dishonest. In either case, your finances are screwed.
For climate science, polar bears are an obvious Gruberism to manipulate public sympathy. That’s what politicians do, they tell big lies, little lies, medium lies in order to meet objectives, the primary one being to get themselves elected. Getting people to feel good about saving Polar Bears by electing them is what they do. They could give two squats as to what is really going on with Polar bears. Science however should, it should care about what is really going on with Polar bears.
Politics is not a court of law, there are no standards of evidence, and there are little or no rules, there is no judge to keep the legal discussion in line. Science is similar, an explicitly defined approach to get as close to objective truth as possible. There are numerous scientific disciplines that relate to climate, there is no such thing as climate science, climate science itself is a Gruberism, political activism using science as window dressing.
The issue is not the speculation on the horrific consequences of climate change, but the horrific consequences of science becoming the lapdog of politics.

The answer is yes; to both parts of the question.

John West

“Stirling also reported the South Beaufort Sea undergoes ~10-year cycles of such heavy ice”
Why is there a ~10 year cycle?

likely the researchers were given a political directive. there is a huge problem with US science because the political parties have taken positions on scientific matters, making it a matter of party line as to which theory is correct.
imagine for a moment that one of the political parties in the US made the speed of gravity (instead of climate change) one of their policy planks. Suddenly we would have billions of dollars in funding to prove whatever speed either party was backing, with tons of corruption of science.
this is what has happened to US science. the political parties have turned science into a form of politics and corrupted science in the process. the exact same thing that happened to religion in the past, which is why the US constitution requires the separation of church and state.
what is required in the US is a constitutional amendment that separates science and state.
what we are seeing isn’t noble cause corruption. it is political corruption.

Stevan Reddish

” there is a huge problem with US science because the political parties have taken positions on scientific matters, making it a matter of party line as to which theory is correct.”
Not quite so. There is only one theory.
What I see is one party saying CO2 emissions are causing GW/climate change so we need to shut down coal fired generating plants and subsidize wind and solar electrical generation.
This is of course using a proposed theory to support a course of action.
The other party says that supposed theory is unsupported by the data, and opposes the proposed fixes as unwarranted (CO2 not ruining climate), ineffectual (would not reduce CO2 anyway), and detrimental to society (makes energy less available and more costly).
Only one party has made a (supposed) theory a matter of party line.
The other party has only opposed the proffered cures for it. Opposing costly fixes for an unsupported theory is not offering an alternate theory.
It looks to me like one party has adopted a known faulty scientific premise for purely political gain. This is indeed a problem. That another party opposes their actions is not a problem.
If you object to a political party making a faulty theory a matter of party line, vote for the party that opposes that party.

Danny Thomas

“The other party says that supposed theory is unsupported by the data, and opposes the proposed fixes as unwarranted (CO2 not ruining climate), ineffectual (would not reduce CO2 anyway), and detrimental to society (makes energy less available and more costly).”
I wish to see a real world test. I’ve suggested we offer “renewable energy” like subsides to companies such as Exxon to install carbon scrubbers for the interim years until “renewables” are market competitive. Eventually, our energy sources will have to change so I’m not advocating removing the renewable subsides (yet). If Exxon installs scrubbers, they could then market as “saving the planet”, plus we could then determine the efficacy of mitigation. Exxon, of course, is a proxy for any energy provider.
This thinking should satisfy those who say “follow the money” when referring to the so called behind the curtain funding of “skeptics”, as it would involve the fossil fuel industry. Plus, as the subsidies would be voluntary this makes implementation more palatable. The left gets their scrubbers, the right keeps fossil fuels supported, we get more information and it’s voluntary. This removes some of the vitriol and one can vote for whomever starts thinking for us all instead of against those of opposing parties.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.


What I find sad is that it has apparently gotten as far as the USGS. I recall them being considered as one of the best scientific organizations in the country, by acadamia, industry and other govt agencies. But then I’m a bit biased. I did a 6 month intership there while in grad school. One of the best groups of people I’ve ever worked with.

question: what would happen to polar bear, seal and whale populations in the Arctic if the Arctic was 100 percent iced over year long? Wouldn’t this lead to almost 100% elimination of mammal populations from the Arctic?
Don’t polar bear, seal and whale populations in the Arctic require that some of the Arctic remain ice free, even in the depths of winter, so that marine mammals can breathe? And if these ice free areas are eliminated, the marine mammals would retreat from the Arctic to more southern oceans, and the polar bears would lose most of their food supply, leading to massive die off.
Wouldn’t the polar bears be forced to retreat southward to survive as well, into what is now grizzly bear territory? Isn’t this likely what happened during the Ice Ages, explaining why polar bears and grizzly bears can mate successfully?
So, it seems more likely that heavy ice, not ice free areas are the biggest threat to polar bears. which is consistent with the Arctic being mostly ice free 1000 years during the Holocene Optimum, about 8000 years ago.
How do the polar bear researchers and modellers reconcile this long ice free period with the continued survival of polar bears? If the polar bears didn’t die off then, why should reduced ice cause them to die off now?


Not just polar bears but their favored prey species, the ringed seal, enjoy healthy populations now, under lower summer sea ice extent. They also tolerate well intervals of heavier ice. The seals maintain breathing holes, exploited both by Eskimos and polar bears, who famously cover up their black noses while waiting. The seals also hang out near cracks in the ice. Sea ice is rarely continuous over any very large area. Fifteen percent coverage is usually the standard for ice v. “open water”.
Bowhead whales can surface through thinner ice by breaking it, but rely on polynyas in thicker ice.
Polar bears have survived millennia of much less ice than now, as during the Eemian interglacial & the Holocene Optimum & of much more, as during the Wisconsin glaciation.
Hope Dr. Crockford will correct me if wrong.

Chris Wright

Absolutely right.
As far as I’m aware, polar bears can’t eat ice!

Is there any conclusive evidence that polar bear populations went extinct during the ice free periods of the Holocene Climate Optimum? Why then would models be constructed which assume this to be true? Expect as a matter of political expediency.

Nothing on the Optimum, but there is info on the last Interglacial (the Eemian, ca. 130,000-115,000 years ago).
“Today I’ll discuss the response by Polar Bears International representative Steven Amstrup to a comment submitted during their recent “webchat” at The Guardian (Wednesday, November 6), which had to do with the fact that polar bears survived warm periods in the geological past, particularly interglacials.”
The only data from the Optimum comes from archaeological data from an island north of Siberia, ca. 8,200 years ago


Here is something on the Optimum.

Abstract – 2007
We therefore conclude that for a priod in the Early Holocene, probably for a millenium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for shorter periods in the summer. This may serve as an analogue to the predicted “greenhouse situation” expected to appear within our century.
Abstract – December 2010
The combined sea ice data suggest that the seasonal Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean. This has important consequences for our understanding of the recent trend of declining sea ice, and calls for further research on causal links between Arctic climate and sea ice.
Abstract – 1993
Calcareous nannofossils from approximately the past 7000 yr of the Holocene and from oxygen isotope stage 5 are present at 39 analyzed sites in the central Arctic Ocean. This indicates partly ice-free conditions during at least some summers. The depth of Holocene sediments in the Nansen basin is about 20 cm, or more where influenced by turbidites.


Here is another Susan.

Abstract – July 2010
….Nevertheless, episodes of considerably reduced sea ice or even seasonally ice-free conditions occurred during warmer periods linked to orbital variations. The last low-ice event related to orbital forcing (high insolation) was in the early Holocene,…

Actually, I meant *polar bear* data from the Optimum period – yes, there is climate data but not so much to tell us what polar bears were doing.


ferdberple December 2, 2014 at 6:53 am
Is there any conclusive evidence that polar bear populations went extinct during the ice free periods of the Holocene Climate Optimum? Why then would models be constructed which assume this to be true? Expect as a matter of political expediency.

There is no evidence that they went extinct. Quite the opposite.

The combined sea ice data suggest that the seasonal Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean….
…It has been suggested that if sea ice concentrations continue to decrease, it could seriously threaten the survival of the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) (Derocher et al., 2004). Recent studies by Ingólfsson and Wiig (2009) and Lindqvist et al. (2010) show that polar bears survived the Eemian interglacial and the early Holocene, suggesting they have under natural conditions the ability to survive periods of low sea ice concentrations….

Time and time again this point has been made, and time and again Warmists worry. Don’t worry, be happy.
“Polar bears are one of the biggest conservation success stories in the world,” says Drikus Gissing, wildlife director for the Government of Nunavut. “There are more bears here now than there were in the recent past.”
“Some populations appear to be doing OK now, but what’s frightening is what might happen in the very near future,” says wildlife biologist Lily Peacock, who has worked with polar bears for the Government of Nunavut and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Politics in action. The Climate of Fear preached by US researchers. “what’s frightening is what might happen”. Not what is happening. What might happen.
The Polar bear population has grown from 5,000 in the 1950s to about 25,000, according to testimony submitted in 2008 to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it’s still growing. In other words, the bear population has increased five fold.

the only conclusion that can be drawn from increasing polar bear populations during a time of global warming is that polar bears are like people. they like warm weather better than cold.
which is easy to see. polar bears hibernate during the cold arctic winter, when ice is at a maximum and remain active during the summer, when ice is at a minimum.
if polar bears truly liked cold and ice, they would be active during the winter when ice was at a maximum and hibernate during the summer when ice was at a minimum.
the fact that researchers fail to take this into account shows that they really don’t know very much about polar bears. the hibernation pattern of polar bears is conclusive proof that they prefer warm weather to cold.


[Wasted effort by a banned sockpuppet. Comment DELETED. -mod]

Actually other than the females giving birth in maternity dens, polar bears do not hibernate but remain active all year although will seek shelter dens in bad weather. It is common for Bowhead whales, Narwhal and Beluga to get trapped in ice. Several studies detected significant levels of Beluga fat in the bears suggesting there is reason to hunt in the winter.
Nonetheless the winter is the most stressful time for bears and their weight steadily drops until ringed seal pups arrive. More interesting is the evidence that female bears in the South Beaufort improved their body condition during the same time period these researchers claim they were starving to death. The females begn entering maternity dens in October and November and fast until late March. Despite feeding their cubs, to improve body condition the females must have had adequate food in both the spring and summer. They just had to move to find it.


How can you justify using Markov modeling for something with a memory? I’d love to see the science that backs Polar Bear migration being a random walk.

In their earlier models they argued there was no Markovian bias in an attempt dismiss the radio-collared data. Although the years in question about bears leaving the study area are restricted to 2003 to 2007, they compiled data from 1984 to 2006 to show statistically, although bears temporarily leave the study area they eventually return. But that was a totally meaningless analysis, that only obscured the fact movement outside the study area had indeed biased survival and abundance estimates. One plus of Bromaghin 2014 is at least they now note movement caused “potential bias”, but unfortunately they again dismiss the evidence with “no reason to believe” the bears would move.


Thanks. I thought Polar Bears have an incredible sense of smell. If there were a lot of seals over the horizon, the bears would move in that direction (which is not random movement unless seals exhibit brownian motion). If the seals are moving between their feeding zones, then the bears movement would oscillate as well. It sounds to me like they assumed stochastic behavior to make the mathematics easier.


How can you justify using Markov modeling for something with a memory? I’d love to see the science that backs Polar Bear migration being a random walk.

I don’t know about random but this bear could certainly swim.

George M. Durner et al – July 2011
Consequences of long-distance swimming and travel over deep-water pack ice for a female polar bear during a year of extreme sea ice retreat
…..Between an initial capture in late August and a recapture in late October 2008, a radio-collared adult female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea made a continuous swim of 687 km over 9 days and then intermittently swam and walked on the sea ice surface an additional 1,800 km. Measures of movement rate, hourly activity, and subcutaneous and external temperature revealed distinct profiles of swimming and walking……
Polar Biology – Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 975-984


If you’re a polar bear researcher you follow the money.
If you’re a polar bear you follow the blubber.
If you’re a blubber producer….. (This is getting too deep.)

Gary Pearse

Willis, I’m going to impute a motive. In general, I agree that we can’t really know motives of our complex species but, in specific cases, potential motives are few. Indeed a motive for murder is very highly sought after in an investigation. If you had a strong motive (just took out a million dollar insurance policy on the victim), the means and the opportunity, you are close to being toast in that field.
If Jim’s narrative is basically correct, something changed with the guy who thought bears were fine to start with. He is a civil servant – I tried that and know many issues are more important than the truth when it comes to government work. Not ‘going along’ and not ‘being a team player’ quickly puts a firm ceiling on promotion and makes you vulnerable to the next job cuts. Hmm, not using the official departmental model, eh? This gets into your annual performance review. The change is exactly what one might see if one received the memo. It has been remarked on in numerous posts – the fear of not going along with the herd is fear for your paycheck. He was going along practicing his science properly and suddenly he stopped doing this and waffled over to the official position. Now what would make a fellow do that?


” Now what would make a fellow do that?”
Good question, Gary Pearse. Let’s hope that someone doesn’t insinuate that you are attributing lies to the fellow.

“what is required in the US is a constitutional amendment that separates science and state”
“Presaging apocalypse”. Yes. Western Civilization collapses under the thrall of “science as religion” instead of Christianity. The Victorian clockwork society winds down as the rent-seekers crush all “truth-seekers” under their heel. Humans are hard-wired for religion (Faith). Science will never replace actual Faith, because…. think about it.

more soylent green!

We already have a constitution that provides for limited government and we ignore that. What we need is to elect different people who don’t see politics as a way to power, fame, wealth and influence and an electorate who no longer votes to rob Peter to pay Paul.
Good luck with all that.
BTW: What was the second part of Eisenhower’s famous remarks on the military-industrial complex? You know, the part that’s even more important but ignored?

John West

jim Steele:
Willis I feel you “refused to deal with the ideas I’ve put forth”
Willis Eschenbach :
Thanks, Jim. You identified your main issue in your headline, “Are Polar Bear Researchers Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly”. I’ve certainly dealt with that issue in some detail, so I fear I don’t understand your objection.

Some ideas put forth by Jim:
1) Some polar bear researchers are either blinded by bias or dishonest. (by Title)
2) Some polar bear researchers have focused on summer sea ice.
3) Some polar bear researchers have suggested that less summer sea ice is detrimental to polar bear survival.
4) Some polar bear researchers have suggested massive declines in polar bear survival rates.
5) Evidence suggests that summer sea ice is not nearly as relevant to polar bear survival as spring ice conditions.
6) Evidence suggests that less summer sea ice is actually beneficial to polar bears through being beneficial to a major food source: the ring seals.
7) Evidence suggests that low polar bear counts were due to polar bear movements in response to spring ice conditions rather than low survival rates.
8) Evidence suggests that some polar bear researchers are either blinded by their own belief system or dishonest. (by Conclusion)
While “some” is not explicitly expressed, I took it as understood that Jim was not referring to all polar bear researchers but rather this particular cabal of collaborators.
On the one hand: I agree with Willis. It’s definitely an “idea” put forth by Jim that’s open for criticism and possibly too confrontational for polite discourse.
On the other hand: Jim makes the case. It’s difficult not to conclude that these polar bear researchers are either blinded by their own belief system or dishonest.
Furthermore, Jim doesn’t attribute a motive to the possible dishonesty. One can be dishonest for a noble cause, greed, ego, etc. Therefore the original objection by Willis to “never ascribe to dishonesty what is adequately explained by noble cause corruption” depends upon taking “dishonesty” as a personality trait or motive per se which is not necessarily the case and I think obvious in Jim’s post in context not his intent to imply. Jim has basically made the case that these researchers are either consciously (dishonest) or unconsciously (blind) misrepresenting the evidence to support the CAGW scaremongering campaign. He’s neither ascribing Noble Cause Corruption nor any other motive to these actions.

Exactly. Thank you!

John West

No, Jim, Thank You! It must be incredibly frustrating for you to see your field going down this path of scaremongering with any convenient species like the various frog and butterfly scare stories you’ve torn apart here for our benefit. Having an engineering/chemistry background I have little difficulty with evaluating the physics side of the debate for myself but the biology side is certainly outside of my box. I find your posts to be highly informative and for me much needed. Thank you for your time and effort and if you need to vent a little by calling a misrepresentation a misrepresentation I don’t see the harm in doing it here. Personally, I thought it was rather generous of you to leave out the third option of them being blinded by incompetence.

Thanks again John. Indeed it is incredibly frustrating to see my field going down this path of scaremongering. The virtues of ecology and conservation science can provide great benefits to guide policies that would be a win win for both humans and the environment. When the politics of climate change and other agendas hijack the science, we have missed a tremendous opportunity to educate people about all aspects of climate and ecology. However I remain optimistic as several colleagues who were once global warming believers, have acknowledge the validity of the arguments I published in my book and became skeptics themselves. They admit they simply never examined climate change assertions critically before.
But all scientific hypotheses are mere personal opinion until they are thoroughly vetted and tested. Unlike more readily tested hypotheses, climate change requires many decades before we can truly test predictions from competing theories. I just hope I am still around by 2050 to see the spin when we observe that the predicted “loss of ≈ 2/3 of the world’s current polar bear population by mid-century” was all a statistical fairy tale!


Hey Jim, I know that SOME of these folks could ONLY be acting dishonestly. They know better than most of us about what thick spring ice can do yet they, the experts, made a decision. That is being dishonest.


Excellent summary.

Thanks, Dr. Steele. It’s good to learn about polar bears from a safe distance.
I’d say: Blinded by the light of money and fame.

more soylent green!

Could the problem be as simple as the researchers have no real understanding of polar bears, polar bear behavior, their natural environment, the natural history and climate history of the polar bear environment and how the bears react to changes in their environment? Could be problem be they have no realistic understanding of what they are studying?


flat out lying………


Noble Cause Corruption … is still corruption.
Victim of Noble Cause Corruption …. now I would have to mull that one a bit. Perhaps a victim of circumstance? If that being the case then we need to address the purveyors of this circumstantial victimization.
In a court the said victim, while being charged with corruption, would have the opportunity to testify against the perps. That would make for a reasonable assumption that it would be in the best interest of the said victims to bring them to task to allow them the opportunity to escape future victimization. That would also be good for science as well as the taxpayers.

Will Nelson

It is the case of Self v. Self. I would advise taking the 5th immediately.

Poems of Our Climate

Exactly, corruption is corruption….no matter its style is always based in greed and self interest. The Devil’s corruption is ALWAYS a “noble cause”. That is what gives it the power over others.
If “noble cause corruption” was actual “nobility”, the doer would break down in remorse at the beaconing of truths relent. The fact that this rarely happens shows that there is “noble cause CORRUPTION”, not “NOBLE CAUSE corruption”.

Barbara Skolaut

“Blinded by Belief, or Acting Dishonestly?”
Well, lessee – are the “the polar bears are all gonna die and so are we” clowns breathing? Then they’re lying.
Next question?