‘Already too late’ to save Churchill polar bears claim a false NY Times climate change cliché for COP26

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford

Not only is it prime polar bear viewing week in Churchill, Manitoba but it’s the week of the 26th international elite COP climate change gab-fest: every media outlet on the planet is eager to promote climate catastrophe talking points.

Hence totally expected that the New York Times would print someone’s unsupported claim that the polar bears of Churchill (part of the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation) are on the verge of extirpation due to lack of sea ice and other similar nonsense. Also not surprising to find that Canadian government biologist Nick Lunn used the occasion to again offer unpublished and misleading data to a reporter. However, this time it’s good news meant to sound like an emergency: if correct, the data he shared indicate polar bears are heavier now than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“This is not another story about saving Hudson Bay’s polar bears. It’s too late for that. This is a story about what comes next for a small town that bills itself as the Polar Bear Capital of the World.

In Churchill, an isolated town perched on the southern edge of the Arctic, climate change is not a looming danger. It imbues daily life. It is broken sewer lines and taller trees, longer summers and bigger snowstorms and moose where caribou used to go. Most of all, it is the fear that Americans won’t come visit anymore.

...There’s not a lot of sentimentality about polar bears in Churchill. It’s hard to mourn the loss of the bears while they’re ubiquitous. Indeed, many locals say the bears have become bolder and more visible in recent years...

3,000 Miles From Glasgow, a Town and Its Polar Bears Face the Future‘ (Binyamnin Appelbaum, 4 November 2021) [my emphasis].

Too late for the bears” makes it sound like they are already gone. Sorry, an 11% decline in population size is not a death-knell.

The last reported survey for the entire WH subpopulation was done in 2016: it estimated 842 bears for one specific region compared to 949 bears for the same region in 2011. These are the only two survey numbers than can be reliably compared according to the scientists who did the 2016 survey (Dyck et al. 2017). Any apparent decline is not statistically significant, which suggests the population is stable despite what the NYT editorial board author claims. I’ve been told another survey was done in August this year but the results will likely not be out until September or so next year.

Moose where caribou used to go” makes it sound like the caribou are gone. That may count as poetic journalism but it’s nonsense: there is no evidence that Cape Churchill caribou numbers have declined by any amount in recent years. the population is considered stable at about 3,000 animals. There are some moose in the wooded regions of Cape Churchill, for sure, but they are not thriving at the expense of caribou, who prefer the tundra habitat along the coast.

And it would indeed be ‘hard to mourn the loss‘ of polar bear when they are everywhere around Churchill. How silly to imply the bears are so far gone they can’t be saved only to admit a few paragraphs later that the bears are abundant. Back in the 1980s, seeing more bears meant there were more bears; now other excuses need to be made to explain why bears are abundant where they were predicted to be scarce.

Weights of pregnant bears increased since 1990s

The NYTs piece quotes Nick Lunn as saying that the weights of pregnant polar bears declined 15% between 1980 and 2019, which sounds like a worrying statistic. However, a paper by Stirling and Derocher in 2012 (their Fig. 5, copied below) showed the average weight of a pregnant bear in 1980 was about 295 kg. Therefore a 15% loss would be 250.75 kg, which is more than the average for most years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In other words, the bears were in better shape in 2019 than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Lunn also claimed that “new births are in decline“. However, unless and until the data supporting such a claim are published, it is safe to say it is immaterial. That is, the data might refer to bears from around Churchill but not to the whole of Western Hudson Bay, which is the official subpopulation. Churchill-exclusive data are not applicable to official WH subpopulation science.

Lastly, no one in this piece mentions recent ice conditions. Of course they don’t because although this year has been average for WH polar bears, the six previous years have been excellent – average or shorter than usual ice-free seasons, bears nice and fat.

This has been a great season for polar bear viewing near Churchill, with fewer than usual problem bear reports. There is no ice on the bay for the week of 1 November but that’s normal, as the chart from the Canadian Ice Service shows (below) – no blue or red showing along the west coast means ‘normal’ conditions:

As of today (4 November), there is a bit of new ice forming north of Churchill near Arviat:

I leave you with my message from a couple of years ago:


Dyck, M., Campbell, M., Lee, D., Boulanger, J. and Hedman, D. 2017. 2016 Aerial survey of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation. Final report, Nunavut Department of Environment, Wildlife Research Section, Iglolik, NU. http://www.gov.nu.ca/environnement/information/wildlife-research-reports#polarbear

Stirling, I. and Derocher, A.E. 2012. Effects of climate warming on polar bears: a review of the evidence. Global Change Biology 18:2694-2706. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02753.x

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Steve Case
November 4, 2021 10:36 pm

Here’s the WWF map of polar bear populations:
comment image

If you add up the dots and their associated numbers, it comes to about 22,000 bears The Arctic Basin, Laptev sea, Kara sea and East Greenland aren’t listed, but are probably good a few thousand more. It can be assumed that the world polar bear population has not decreased. People who claim that it is are lying pure and simple.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Case
Rory Forbes
Reply to  Steve Case
November 4, 2021 11:45 pm

It’s important to note that the bears aren’t the easiest large predators to count. They appear to be very reticent to report in when the scientists declare a census is required. In fact they’re damned uncooperative, in that way, refusing to show up at all ,… not to mention that it’s rather like counting salt grains on a sheet the size of a football field. They hide in plain sight.

Steve Case
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 5, 2021 12:51 am

You just know that these guys flying around the Arctic in helicopters shooting bears with tranquillizer guns and getting their selfies with cute little cubs are having the time of their lives. Nice work if you can get it.

How many bears do we have to collar with tracking devices before we finally know enough about them.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Steve Case
November 5, 2021 1:46 am

Don’t Polar Bears like the occasional morsel of Human being from time to time?

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Alan the Brit
November 5, 2021 5:34 am

I don’t think we are their preferred food source. We’re too lean and stringy, not like a nice, fat seal pup. They even prefer our garbage over us. However, if they’re starving we make a nice snack.
All of that being said, I’m pretty sure I can outrun Al Gore if need be.

Last edited 10 months ago by Mumbles McGuirck
Rory Forbes
Reply to  Steve Case
November 5, 2021 10:14 am

Nice work if you can get it.

Then they get to go back to the city for a good old session of virtue signalling and gnashing of teeth. What’s not to like?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 5, 2021 8:00 am

Maybe a few of those Extinction Rebellion activists could gather on an ice floe all dressed up in their fake blood colored gowns and whistle up some poley bears for a pat and a hug.

I’m sure the poleys wouldn’t think the ER idgits were edible, even if they do dress up as bait for apex predators.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Mr.
November 5, 2021 10:06 am

I’m sure the poleys wouldn’t think the ER idgits were edible

Maybe so … but I wouldn’t want to offer them the temptation, would you?


Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Steve Case
November 5, 2021 5:56 am

Steve, thanks.

Notice the areas where populations are unknown are as large as the rest. The areas that are stable or increasing are larger than the areas where they are decreasing. This actually looks really good.

Steve Case
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
November 5, 2021 8:09 am

Yes 22,000 and plus how many there are in those four large areas. Here’s an old web page with population estimates:

Animal Info

     1965: About 10,000 (IUCN 1966)
     1967: About 10,000 (Schuhmacher 1967)
     1972: Roughly estimated at 20,000 (DeMaster & Stirling 1981) 
     1983: Perhaps 20,000 (Nowak & Paradiso 1983) 
     1996: 20,000 – 30,000 (Watson 1996) 
     1997: 22,000 – 27,000 (Garner 1997) 
     1998: 22,130 – 27,030 (Truett & Johnson 2002) 
     2001: At least 22,000 (Schliebe 2001) 
     2002: 21,500 – 25,000 (Lunn et al. 2002) 
     2005: 20,000 – 25,000 (Polar Bear Spec. Gr. 2005) 
     2006: 20,000 – 25,000 (IUCN 2006) 

It looks like 22,000 was the predominate estimate by 2006, so it all depends on how many bears are in those four large areas. The link above also says that polar bears have been seen within 160 miles of the North Pole and It is still found in most of its original range.

Add it all up and the smart money says there are more bears now than there were ten years ago. But that’s not what the so-called main stream media is telling us.

Reply to  Steve Case
November 5, 2021 6:47 pm

WWF isn’t interested in inconvenient accurate numbers. They’ve been inundating us with commercials about how donations to them save wild critters, specifically polar bears, tigers, snow leopards and elephants…

November 4, 2021 11:05 pm

New York Times produces propaganda in support of their chosen narrative = dog bites man at this point. But it still needs to be pointed out for the credulous and naive who actually think they do journalism.

Reply to  Independent
November 5, 2021 8:45 am

The NYT has been systematically covering up communist genozides that killed tens of millions of peoplefor decades
but they are so worried about the death of a few Polar Bears ,though they ain’t even dying?
Yet there are many many thousands who subscribe to these lunatic pervs.
Humanity is cursed by the symbiosis of idiots who worship psychopaths.

November 5, 2021 12:10 am

always the same chicken licken storey

the sky is falling in the sky is falling in
shame it was an acorn

Shame reuters news service is such a rubbish system

where are the good old research journalists who know how to do the hard yards

oh that would involve work

Steve Case
Reply to  John
November 5, 2021 12:54 am

where are the good old research journalists who know how to do the hard yards
oh that would involve work

If they actually did that and told the truth they’d be out on the street, and they know it.

Barry Moore
Reply to  John
November 5, 2021 6:00 am

Saying that the polar bear population has largely recovered from its state in the 1970s when regulation on Polar Bear hunting was passed is not a story they want to hear. There goal for the current scare propaganda is to pretend that global warming is so super serial we need climate lockdowns and new taxes.

November 5, 2021 12:14 am

Pay up or the bear gets it!!!!

Reply to  LdB
November 5, 2021 12:44 am

the bears will have you for dinner in churchill thats why the locals are not that happy with them

Reply to  John
November 5, 2021 9:01 am

The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther.

Ogden Nash

Climate believer
November 5, 2021 1:13 am

According to The New York Times readership demographics, 91% of its readers identify as Democrats.

I wouldn’t expect unbiased reporting from a propaganda outlet.

Barry Moore
Reply to  Climate believer
November 5, 2021 6:04 am

I was a Democrat all my life until I realized that the party revolves around constant insanity being pushed by media and none of them seem aware of it.

When I would compare what these people are fed through their media to reality and saw no match no match I would bring it to my Democrat friends and immediately they accused me of being a Republican. The hatred they would spew was disturbing.

That really was the wake up call.

Once you accept that these people live in a fog of propaganda It’s hard not to feel sorry for them. I mean it turns them evil – but I still feel empathy for these people being manipulated so constantly.

Climate believer
Reply to  Barry Moore
November 5, 2021 7:17 am

All sides of the political aisle have there propaganda outlets of course, the left however have an ideology to preach and can’t contemplate anything that might risk undermining their dogma, which explains their aggression when threatened.

The history of the left has been stubborn defiance in the face of reality.

November 5, 2021 1:57 am

One of the joys of being polar bear is hunting humans in long polar nights lit-up by aurora borealis, and as it happens currently is exceptionally good opportunity for it
andcomment image

Last edited 10 months ago by Vuk
Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Vuk
November 5, 2021 5:39 am

Sort of like dining by candlelight. !Que romantico!

Reply to  Vuk
November 5, 2021 5:51 am

The main glow is over since some days.

November 5, 2021 4:21 am

I don’t think it premature to shout out

Save the [working class] humans – we’re the ones under threat now.

November 5, 2021 4:27 am

Obviously someone has left a walrus carcass contaminated with cyanide staked out for the bears. It is too late because the bears are being poisoned as we speak. Only if we approve whatever idiocy come from Glasgow will they stake out walrus carcarsses with the antidote. Muwahahahahahaha!

November 5, 2021 4:48 am

I don’t see what’s so hard about taking a polar bear census. Just count the black noses and divide by one. 😜

Seriously, the alarmist crowd needs to give it up. Over the past 200,00+ years the polar bears have survived all sorts of climate conditions. It seems the major influence on polar bear populations has been trophy hunting.

That problem was addressed and the polar bears now seem to be doing what polar bears have always done. Well, except for the new trick of raiding garbage dumps. But that’s just the polar bears adapting. “Hey Fred. Check out what I found out behind those wooden human-wrappers… Score! Now we can skip the seal hunt today.”

Reply to  H.R.
November 5, 2021 7:16 am

Just count the black noses and divide by one. 
H. R. that will never get you a research grant. If you use this formula you stand a chance
N (bears) = [e * (number of observers)^2 * (number of days of observations)/10 ]^0 * (number of black noses)
where e=2.71828 .

Last edited 10 months ago by Vuk
November 5, 2021 5:14 am

Well, they are correct. The Polar Bears don’t need saving so it is too late to save them.

Ireneusz Palmowski
November 5, 2021 5:38 am

The Arctic from Siberia is freezing fast.comment imagecomment image

Barry Moore
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
November 5, 2021 6:07 am

That just means situation is worse than then they expected. Whether there’s more ice or less ice it’s worse than expected and twice as worse than everywhere else on the planet.

Vote Democrat

Reply to  Barry Moore
November 5, 2021 8:35 am

It’s not only worse as expected but twice as faster than in the rest of the world.

Mumbles McGuirck
November 5, 2021 5:42 am

Did anyone do a population survey of idiots wearing polar bear costumes among the protesters/street performers in Glasgow this week?

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
November 5, 2021 5:48 am

Some of those weren’t costumes and some of the attendees won’t be jetting home.

Polar bears are opportunistic, doncha know.

Peter Wells
November 5, 2021 6:06 am

Why would any rational person bother to subscribe to the NYT!

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Peter Wells
November 5, 2021 2:05 pm

They own lots of birds??

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
November 5, 2021 7:52 pm

Poor birds. Walking on that cr_p.

November 5, 2021 6:25 am

Listen up!

Children just aren’t going to know what snow is h/t Dr. David Viner (2000)

Cambridge University Professor Peter Wadhams has made headlines this weekend, telling The Independent that the Arctic could become ice-free “this year or next.” (2016)

Polar bears went extinct in 2012

Last edited 10 months ago by fretslider
November 5, 2021 6:36 am

I’d like a point of clarification:

Do Polar bears “need” sea ice or do they just “use” sea ice to survive?

Richard Page
Reply to  JohnWho
November 5, 2021 7:13 am

Polar Bears use sea ice to feed and their preferred meals are seals and young seal pups. Seals are ice-obligate, meaning that they need the sea ice to give birth and raise the pups until they’re old enough to go into the water (a couple of weeks). Polar Bears would be just as happy with or without the ice just so long as their food source remained plentiful.

Reply to  Richard Page
November 5, 2021 9:05 am

If there was no sea ice, the seals would haul up on land to give birth.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
November 5, 2021 5:04 pm

If the seals hauled up onto land then rather than being spread out over a wide area of ice, they’d be more concentrated around accessible shorelines and far easier for the bears to hunt. Far less sea ice would probably mean less seals.

Reply to  Richard Page
November 5, 2021 7:57 pm

Seals and polar bears lived through thousands of years with zero Arctic ice throughout the summer during the early Holocene.

50,000 polar bears can clean a lot of seals off the beach.

Reply to  Richard Page
November 5, 2021 9:30 am

As Patrick Moore says in his excellent new book (Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom), More ice= less phytoplankton due to less sun penetrating to ocean depths, less phytoplankton = less zooplankton, less zooplankton = fewer fish, fewer fish = fewer seals, fewer seal = fewer polar bears, not more! Ice is only needed for feeding, and too much isn’t good.

Richard Page
Reply to  DrEd
November 5, 2021 5:07 pm

There’s a goldilocks zone for ice where there’s not too much and not too little, which would be ideal for all Arctic species.

Reply to  Richard Page
November 6, 2021 5:13 pm

Thanks. That’s the way I understand it, too. Alarmists claim they “need” it, else they have nothing to say.

November 5, 2021 7:17 am

The Polar Bear meme has back-fired on the climate liars…..the general public has caught on, and is no longer hitting the “donate” button on that particular fundraiser.

November 5, 2021 8:17 am

 “longer summers” Oh, the humanity!

November 5, 2021 10:46 am

Also, a single-year number is… just not very informative.
We all remember how Predator-Prey Equations look like, right? Oscillation can and will happen.
The only thing that matters for purpose of deciding if their survival is threatened is how well the low part of the curve clears the noise level. Obviously, the high phase being higher is not necessarily good, because this may mean greater amplitude, and be followed by crashing number of prey and then low phase getting lower.
Polar bears happen to be predators whose diet is known and not very varied.
Thus meaningful data on how well polar bear populations do should include several cycles worth of bear “census” and the same for seals, or whatever local bears eat (since it’s the only way to tell whether it’s a high or low phase), with the end result on the differential equation graph (predator count vs. prey count, or better vs. prey count × body mass average). I don’t expect the “watermelon” crowd to raise their standards this high (at least, not those who stay “watermelons”), of course.

Reply to  TBeholder
November 5, 2021 8:02 pm

Polar bears happen to be predators whose diet is known and not very varied.”

Polar bear researchers that have been studying polar bear feces were shocked at what a polar bear will eat. If it moves, they will likely eat it at some time.

PBI alarmists still refuse the PB feces DNA analysis and insist the bears starve most of the year and only pig out on seals and whales.
Because it suits their alarmist messages and fundraising.

Reply to  ATheoK
November 9, 2021 6:37 am

Sure, and sometimes bears also visit towns to eat trash, especially at population peaks. But in the wild, the bulk is going to be 1-3 species per area, which probably vary. For approximation purpose, anything else is likely to be subsumed in either multiplier to the main prey count (if it varies synchronously enough) or a constant (trash cans).
My point is, one variable with but a few data points (which is annoyingly common) tells us little about the real situation. If there’s -10% from the last year, is it usual in this phase?.. instead of -30%?.. or instead of +10%? Let alone for meddling with the system: e.g. if they are on long-term decline, importing more bears may help them recover, but not when there’s not enough of food for them.

Seals, of course, cycle much the same way, both as carnivore and as prey
(with greater irregular hits from diseases, as they live in large groups). Again, the long term dynamics is what matters, yet not what gets brandished everywhere.

November 5, 2021 12:41 pm

Climate Change in Canada: far fewer bloody cold nights.

Reply to  climanrecon
November 5, 2021 8:03 pm


Pat from kerbob
November 5, 2021 10:47 pm

“ Most of all, it is the fear that Americans won’t come visit anymore.”.

Since any visitor is coming to Churchill via hydrocarbons, mostly flying, isn’t this what the scientologists want?
No travel?

Do they ever even read their own crap and think it thru?

Lloyd Martin Hendaye
November 6, 2021 3:44 am

Over half-a-century from 1968, then 1978, every syllable of Klimat Kooks’ attitudinal anthropogenic global warming (AGW) mythos has proved ridiculously 180ᵒ dead-wrong. Yet Green Gangsters’ hidden-agenda narrative persists because crony-socialists’ money and power are at stake.

As applied by Svensmark-Zharkova from c. 2005 to 2016, Ap Index levels tie to Cosmic Ray incidence via sunspot activity driving solar magnetic fields, governing Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) influencing global temperatures. Absent astro-geophysical factors –orbital and polar inclination, equinoctial precession, continental plate-tectonic dispositions– this confirms Australian Robert Holmes’ empirical 2017 Mean Molar Mass version of the Ideal Gas Law, where any planet’s Global Atmospheric Surface Temperature (GAST) = PM/Rp (qv). Since this includes no “carbon footprint” (CO2) industrial/fossil-fuel [sic] component, Holmes’ Law decisively discredits Green Gangsters’ nefarious emissions fraud.

 Meantime, as Potsdam’s HRC Ap Index breaches 1878 levels below -50 from c. 2006 – 2107+, Earth’s cyclical 102-kiloyear post-Holocene glaciations stir awake from AD 1350, conforming to plate-tectonic Pliocene-Pleistocene patterns due to last another 9 – 21+ million years.

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