Flashback: The Politics of Polar Bears CBC documentary from 2014

From Polar Bear Science

Worth watching if you haven’t seen it – and a second look if you have – a rare balanced documentary produced by the CBC in 2014 on polar bear conservation, with interviews with biologists Mitch Taylor and Andrew Derocher.

Politics of polar bears title

“In The Politics of Polar Bears, Reg Sherren will pick his way through the message track to help you decide what is really happening with the largest land carnivore on the planet.”

Short version here (about 18 minutes):

Entire version (45:30):


Online summary by the producer of the film, Reg Sherren (see excerpt below).

The most up-to-date discussion of polar bear numbers and the politics of polar bears are in my popular new book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

From Reg Sherren’s (2 September 2014) summary article:

“For some time now the suggestion has been that polar bears are in trouble and that many sub-populations of Ursus maritimus are decreasing, making them an iconic symbol in the fight against global climate change.

But there remains an ongoing debate within the scientific community that studies polar bears and their populations about whether the narrative of declining numbers is a stark reality or convenient myth.

Andrew Derocher, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta, has spent his decades-long career studying polar bears, and has been more outspoken than most about the peril the big bear may face in the coming years.

“Our estimation is that we probably won’t have polar bears in Churchill once we get out to mid-century … They could be gone in a couple of years.”

“Our estimations are, if we had a very early melt, and a very late freeze, we could see up to 50 per cent mortality in a single year. You put a couple of years like that back-to-back, and things could happen very quickly,” says Derocher, in reference to a worst-case scenario about certain sub-populations he has studied. [SJC – see my post here on that issue]

But not everyone agrees polar bears are in trouble. Biologist Mitchell Taylor has studied polar bears and advised governments for more than thirty years, living in the high Arctic for much of that time.

“They’ve certainly been around through the last interglacial period,” says Taylor. “During that interglacial it was warmer than it is now: we had pine trees on Baffin Island, deciduous forests north of the Arctic Circle. Polar bears had to have survived that or we wouldn’t be seeing polar bears now,” he says.

Taylor asserts that polar bear populations “don’t appear to be declining” in any group that he is “aware of so far,” and that the science of estimating polar bear numbers has never been precise. He says that many of the current estimates are based upon a lacking methodology, admitting that some of his previous work incorporated the allegedly faulty technique as well.

Taylor says the problem lies in the way population estimates are extrapolated from samples.

“When you don’t sample the whole area you underestimate survival, you underestimate population numbers, and in fact the culmination of those biases can result in a scientific estimate that suggests a decline when none exists.” [SJC – See my post here about that issue]

It was just over a decade ago, says Taylor, that the notion that polar bears could be threatened by climate change gained traction. But he takes issue with the IPCC’s projection models for sea ice changes in the Arctic.

In 2008, he signed the controversial Manhattan Declaration on climate change, which argued that there was no conclusive evidence that carbon dioxide emissions from modern industrial activity was causing catastrophic changes in global climate.

“There was only one perspective, and that was what was provided by the IPCC,” says Taylor.

Taylor says that because he lived in the north he had direct contact with the people in the area, giving him a unique perspective on what was really happening on the ground.

“What they were describing was quite simply inconsistent with what I was hearing from local people, what I was seeing myself.”

Related posts for background and follow-up

Sea ice experts make astonishing admissions to polar bear specialists July 29, 2014

Dodgy new clarification of global polar bear population estimate (yes, another) July 5, 2014

Polar bear population numbers are for kids, says specialist Andrew Derocher [April 9, 2018]

Southern Beaufort polar bear ‘decline’ & reduced cub survival touted in 2008 was invalid, PBSG now admits March 24, 2014

Polar bears and melting ice_three facts that shouldn’t surprise you July 20, 2014

Even with Inuit lives at stake, polar bear specialists make unsupported claims April 23, 2019

Western Hudson Bay polar bears in great shape after five good sea ice seasons September 5, 2019

People go to Churchill to see polar bears in the wild and PBI controls the info they get September 18, 2019

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Ron Long
February 23, 2020 6:13 am

“during the last interglacial we had pine trees on Baffin Island and deciduous forests north of the Arctic Circle” is a real money quote, because it puts a lie to the “we only have 10 years left to save the planet” spin. Awesome! I like polar bears, but from a distance, thank you.

Reply to  Ron Long
February 23, 2020 6:41 am

Polar bears are big fat bullies 🙂

Ron Long
Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 6:46 am

That’s why I like them.

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 7:49 am

Clever, too. Plummeting walruses for dinner.

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 9:12 am

Polar bears are big fat bullies….

or big fat teddy bears https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7rZTZBOrqQ

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 12:09 pm

Polar Bears also don’t like Census Takers.

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 3:21 pm

Next you’ll point out that they are thin skinned, bad tempered and quick to blame others.
It’s a good thing they do not have access to courts.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 23, 2020 5:56 pm

Deplorable old white guys.

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 6:28 pm

Why worry how many Polar Bears there are in 2050? We are all supposed to be dead by then anyway.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Ron Long
February 23, 2020 12:38 pm

Ron you are sure to be interested in the finding of redwood chunks, perfectly preserved and with sugary sap seams intact from a 300 metre depth in the Ekati Diamond mine at the Arctic Circle. It’s dated at 53 million years – Eocene. The position of the mine in the Eocene is not greatly different from today. How nice to have a California climate in the Canadian barrens.


Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 23, 2020 1:16 pm

My younger offspring spent a week in December (2018) about 100 ml away at Gahcho Kué.

February 23, 2020 6:22 am

Many thanks to wuwt for the excellent and thorough coverage of the polar bear issue. But not much has been said here about the poor porcupine caribou or maybe it has and i just missed it.


Reply to  chaamjamal
February 23, 2020 6:29 am

In contrast to polarbears and their cuddly cubs, they are no icons

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 23, 2020 6:43 am

Male polar bears have been known to kill young bear cubs and eat them.

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 23, 2020 7:26 am

I do like the polar bears and black holes and all, but I’d really like to see more Extinction Rebellion folks glue themselves to revolving doors, being arrested and getting pulled off the tops of trains by working folks, etc.

Brook HURD
Reply to  Scissor
February 23, 2020 8:33 am

I would like to see a large number of Extinction Rebellion activists travel to the far north to hug polar bears.

Reply to  Scissor
February 23, 2020 8:38 am

They should glue their feet to escalator steps….

Reply to  Scissor
February 24, 2020 12:16 am

“I do like the polar bears and black holes and all, but I’d really like to see more Extinction Rebellion folks glue themselves to revolving doors, being arrested and getting pulled off the tops of trains by working folks, etc.”
But only if those working folks then glue them to the tracks in front of the train.
PS don’t tell the driver

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 23, 2020 7:43 am

Caribou herds over much of BC are in precipitous decline. The indirect causes may be wolves which benefit from resource road construction and a completely insensible Provincial management strategy for large ungulates. Thank goodness we can blame AGW. The Porcupine herd is in decline but in BC so are porcupines, wolverines, fishers, most salmonid stocks, most mule deer populations, most moose populations, most big horn sheep populations. This is the result of decades of mismanagement caused by global warming I contend, as the only environmental issue ever discussed in the centres of power is AGW. Black bears and white tailed dear seem to be doing fine, as are coyotes and wolves. Species that like people and which can take advantage of a massive network of abandoned resource roads are doing well.

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 23, 2020 7:50 am

Caribou populations, particularly those that survive mostly on the tundra, go through wild population swings. This is largely owing to their food source, mostly ground lichens. Lichens are slow growing and can and do become over-grazed. When this happens, caribou populations decline, even collapse, providing a chance for the lichens to recover. Which allows caribou to recover. Rinse and repeat.

Reply to  Bruce Ranta
February 24, 2020 11:26 am

It’s too bad the Caribou didn’t evolve quicker to eat a much more variable diet than just lichens. They evolved in close proximity to the glacial tundra throughout the ice ages where lichen was the only thing to eat. The Mule Deer are doing just fine, because they can eat a lot of variety of vegetation. The Caribou are dying to go extinct. No pun intended. And so is the Spotted Owl, because they can’t adapt fast enough to compete with the Barred Owl. Evolution is filled with many such cases, including dozens of large land mammal megafaunal extinctions that were probably finished off by humans after suffering set backs over thens of thousands of years of ice ages when CO2 levels were barely above extinction levels for many plants species which was also a major stressor in their decline over time. Extinction is a normal process, and while humans have certainly sped things up in many instances the last 20,000+ years, it is survival of the fittest and no amount of protection of habitat is going to save either the Caribou or the Spotted Owl. Especially if you protect the Wolf, so they can finish off the Caribou.

February 23, 2020 6:56 am

ALL publically funded “science” must be transparent (all data and analysis available) and replicated before it is accepted for policy-making.

February 23, 2020 7:36 am

The video did not mention Susan Crockford.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
February 23, 2020 9:47 am

Susan didn’t live out in the boonies for years like Taylor….

February 23, 2020 7:44 am

In my area, WWF has started running ads that claim the polar bear’s population is plummeting because the sea ice is all melting.
(Being a child of the 70’s, WWF will always be the World Wrestling Federation. That’s what I think of as soon as I see it.)

Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2020 7:51 am

Do you have false advertising laws? Use them.

Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2020 9:07 am

I liked the Sheik, the only one that comes to mind from back then.

Reply to  Scissor
February 23, 2020 9:18 am

I liked Big John Studd. And Superfly Jimmie Snuka, Rowdy Roddy Pipper and Sgt Slaughter and…

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2020 9:24 am

“the World Wrestling Federation”

That’s what I think of too, when I see those initials.

I’ve seen WWF ads like you descirbe lately. They want us to adopt a polar bear by sending them $12 a month. I think that is the amount they were quoting. Their tv ad showed a polar bear and her two cubs seemingly wandering aimlessly on ice with lots of melted areas visible.

It’s all a scam. The WWF is cashing in on the biggest hoax in scientific history. They are not alone.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 23, 2020 11:12 am

Someone should get the wrestlers to take a position on climate change. Can’t lose.

February 23, 2020 8:01 am

What?? CBC?? Were we not advised by several regulars here to never watch CBC? Is CBC not a Socialist, anti-business, anti-science government run taxpayer funded network spouting only Marxist propaganda?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Alastair McIntosh
February 23, 2020 8:31 am

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Reply to  Alastair McIntosh
February 23, 2020 9:53 am

I think you are missing the point. This exposes the lies or wilful deception of the modern media by showing a video that was made the media’s modus operandi was to silence all CAGW dissent.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Alastair McIntosh
February 23, 2020 1:02 pm

Alastair, largely, yes, you pretty well hit the main ones. At one time they were TV and Radio greats, perhaps the worlds best. Do you know that a CBC producer (alas name?) coached the BBC back in the 50s on how to do drama? BBC stuff looked like stage plays in a school auditorium at the time.

Climate Change, identity politics, Eurocentric néomarxiste global governance, killing history, culture, achievement, scholarship – the Great Dumbing Down K-PhD, anti Semitism, the Age of Enlightenment a crime against humanity, by the woke folk… CBC along with 90% of the big media jumped on the wagon.

February 23, 2020 8:32 am

The politics of polar bears

Funny, because polar bears don’t give a flying frack about politics. Maybe they’re more sensible than eco-loons.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2020 9:29 am

“Maybe they’re [Polar Bears] more sensible than eco-loons.”

Definitely. Polar Bears deal in reality. Eco-loons deal in dark fantasy.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2020 1:06 pm

beng, I would say they are models of enlightened self interest and laissez-faire.

February 23, 2020 10:01 am

Speaking of the CBC, 15 years ago, before it was completely co-opted by green leftists, it broadcast this documentary: Global Warming – Doomsday Called Off:

Tom Hope
Reply to  BernardP
February 23, 2020 2:02 pm

Thanks for this link. So CBC did once reported truthfully.

February 23, 2020 11:10 am

Thanks for jogging the memory. Roddy Piper was a great heel.

Reply to  Scissor
February 23, 2020 11:20 am

Sorry for this. It didn’t end up where I intended it to, and it’s off topic with the main hoax under discussion.

Roger Knights
February 23, 2020 1:10 pm

Here’s a comment I made a couple of years ago:

“It should be explicitly stated that polar bear alarmism, like several other false alarms, is a microcosm of global warming alarmism. (E.g., the high strong “nature-defender” and “earth-is-fragile” mentality of the leading researchers, and their mendacity, and their exclusion of dissenting experts.)”

February 23, 2020 2:25 pm
February 23, 2020 3:02 pm


This animated film uses the Arctic landscape and the traditional Inuit characters of the Bear, the Seal and the Owl to raise young people’s awareness about the harmful effects of substance abuse. A polar bear experiences hallucinations after inhaling fumes from an abandoned gas can. A nearby owl and seal help to show the bear the error of his ways, thus preventing him from falling further into addiction. This film was an initiative of the Natives of the Institution La Macaza to warn children of the dangers of inhaling toxic chemicals


Reply to  clipe
February 23, 2020 5:35 pm

Yes, mostly sniffing gas and glue. That was probably a good way to use animals to reach the kidz and relate to them. But even the kidz now, especially the Inuit, know that there is no problem with Polar bears. Some of the adults have gotten on the gravy train about the melting permafrost, but many of them are paid by the NGO’s to be on their payroll. A lot of the melting permafrost is asphalt highways soaking up sunlight and under buildings etc, from thermal heating above even if their structure is on stilts. But things never stay the same forever, and there was also some coastal erosion in the 1930’s when it was also a lot warmer than the cooler periods when things stayed frozen longer.

Gerald Machnee
February 23, 2020 5:29 pm

For his honesty Mitch Taylor was banned from a conference.

Old England
February 23, 2020 5:44 pm

I’ve always found that when someone’s eyes blink rapidly while making a statement it is likely to be untrue. The blinking is a subconscious action because they know that. Interesting interviews, watch the eyes.

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