Dr. Susan Crockford
My scientific blog posts contributed to the failed Antarctic Treaty bid to protect Emperor penguins
There is actual evidence that two of my fully-referenced blog posts caused some Antarctic Treaty delegates to reject a bid for special protected status for Emperor penguins. Activist heads have exploded.
At a meeting of the Antarctic Treaty organization in Berlin last week–see yesterday’s post–it seems the Chinese delegates read my blog and weren’t impressed to find out that the predicted ‘march to extinction’ for Emperor penguins was based on climate change/sea ice models that used an utterly implausible and discredited ‘worst-case’ scenario: I’m guessing the penguin scientists hadn’t stated clearly that their “unmitigated scenario” in their artfully constructed infographic (below) is so far removed from reality that it could never happen (Burgess et al. 2021; Hausfather and Peters 2020; O’Neil et al. 2020; Spencer 2021).
Apparently, my informed analysis caused the Chinese delegates to lose trust in penguin scientists.
It also appears that the Chinese envoys saw parallels between the penguin narratives and claims that polar bear numbers are declining when there are actually many more polar bears now than there were in the 1960s. If you press, polar bear specialists will admit this is true but explain it away by saying this is only due to a ‘rebound’ from over-hunting. Of course it is: protect populations from over-hunting and their numbers increase (Crockford 2017, 2019).
However, this is not how polar bears (or Emperor penguins) are routinely portrayed in the press and many scientific publications: it is either stated explicitly or implied that overall numbers have declined due to loss of sea ice. And, not surprisingly, the same ‘worst-case’ scenario models used to predict the coming ‘march to extinction’ of Emperor penguins have also been used to predict polar bear extinction.
Once your eyes have been opened to the fact that conservation specialists may be presenting misleading or incomplete information to push a particular agenda, they cannot be un-opened: you begin to look much more critically at the evidence presented to you and go looking for what might be missing.
As far as I can determine, that’s what happened to the Chinese delegates last week in Berlin.
There is no indication that the envoys simply took my word regarding the polar bear and penguin situations and every reason to believe they checked all the references I provided as well as the evidence presented by penguin scientists before publicly revealing that they had used my blog posts to inform their decision.
According to a reporter from a South African news outlet (7 June 2022) who claims to have “seen” papers circulated at the closed-door Antarctic treaty meeting:
But the Chinese delegation suggested the “case of polar bears conservation” was “informed by climate models and the potential similar case of emperor penguins”.
“The truth is that polar bear numbers are the highest they have been in about 60 years as of today,” their paper said. The paper further argues the emperor penguin has also increased in numbers, contending that the international scientific community may have misled the public on both species’ population trends. …
Citing Crockford’s blog “Polar Bear Science”, the Chinese paper suggests this “could be used as reference materials to facilitate the consideration of Antarctic Special Protected Species issues and particularly the emperor penguin designation”.[T. Walters, Daily Maverick]
Actually, these papers are not a secret that only she had access to: they are publicly available to download on the meeting website here [search for ‘Submitted by’ China]. However, you won’t find a single link to the meeting website in Ms. Walters’ article so that you can see for yourself what they contain. For example, the ‘reference’ materials cited by the Chinese delegation in document ATCM44_ip123_e.docx [‘The Case of Polar Bears Conservation informed by Climate Models and the Potential Similar Case of Emperor Penguins‘] are two recent blog posts of mine:
Emperor penguin numbers rise as biologists petition for IUCN Red List upgrade [6 August 2020]
How are polar bears doing 15 years after the IUCN declared them ‘vulnerable’ to extinction? [10 May 2021]
Copies of those blog posts (and my ‘About me’ page) were entered into the record by the Chinese delegates but you won’t find a link to any of those in Ms. Walters’ article either. And since she could not actually refute the information in those blog posts, Ms. Walters belittled my scientific credentials, leaving out the important fact that I have a Ph.D. and a recent peer-reviewed scientific paper on polar bear sea ice ecology (Crockford 2022). Climate mauled yet again!
In the end, the Chinese delegation obviously examined all information available to them and concluded, quite reasonably:
In summary, the emperor penguins are currently listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List, the population of the species has been increasing at the regional (Antarctic) scale, the northernmost emperor penguin colony on Snow Hill Island is stable, the known and emerging terrestrial and marine threats affecting emperor penguin are considered relatively small if not negligible, and the considerable uncertainty regarding the threat from climate change and sea ice reduction which is predicted to take place only until after 2050. Considering these facts, it may be inappropriate to designate the emperor penguins as an ASPS [Antarctic Specially Protected Species] at this stage, in accordance with Annex II to the Protocol and the Guidelines adopted in 2005.ATCM44_wp035_e.docx ‘Proposal for Development of a Targeted Research and Monitoring Plan for the Emperor Penguins’
Since the Chinese delegation considered the proposal ‘inappropriate’, there was no consensus (as required) and therefore, no special protected status for the Emperor penguin, which the penguin scientists hoped would clear the way to having the birds up-graded to ‘Vulnerable’ status on the IUCN Red List (Trathan et al. 2020): I’m guessing they are now worried that might not happen.
All because I provided critical perspectives that penguin scientists withheld from the Antarctic Treaty delegates.
In this case, it seems I really do get to take the credit. I’m no fan of the Chinese government but see this as a win for scientific transparency.
Burgess, M.G., Ritchie, J., Shapland, J. and Pielke Jr., R. 2021. IPCC baseline scenarios have over-projected CO2 emissions and economic growth. Environmental Research Letters 16:014016. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abcdd2
Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 19 January 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v1 Open access. https://peerj.com/preprints/2737/
Crockford, S.J. 2019. The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.
Crockford, S. J. 2022. Polar bear fossil and archaeological records from the Pleistocene and Holocene in relation to sea ice extent and open water polynyas. Open Quaternary 8(7): 1-26. https://doi.org.10.5334/oq.107
Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3
O’Neil, B.C., Carter, T.R., Ebi, K., et al. 2020. Achievements and needs for the climate change scenario framework. Nature Climate Change 10:1074-1084. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-00952-0
Spencer, R.W. 2021. ‘An Earth Day reminder: ‘Global Warming’ is only ~50% of what models predict. Dr. Roy Spencer blog, 22 April. https://www.drroyspencer.com/2021/04/an-earth-day-reminder-global-warming-is-only-50-of-what-models-predict/
Trathan, P.N. and others, including Fretwell, P. T. 2020. The emperor penguin – Vulnerable to projected rates of warming and sea ice loss. Biological Conservation 241:108216. [open access] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108216
Good effort. Thanks
I had thought, times were gone for honest men.
…and they listened to an honest woman!
And what if that woman, were a man??
Just for information. If the penguins had been awarded super vulnerable status what would the conservation efforts have looked like? Pictures of starving penguins on ice flows. Ban on Penguin parts for medicine. Send more money appeals. More scientists interfering with colonies and counting birds. Send celebrities for penguin photo-ops
It would be racist and sexist of course.
Great post by the author and a notable defense of the scientific method. Just what we need to provide useful information to policy makers. Actually, pictures of starving, dying, injured, lonesome penguins will become more common as alarmist activists set out to find as many as possible. I foresee a potential small-business possibility – locals keeping penguins in poor condition so they can show them to eco-warriors with cameras.
They wouldn’t necessarily be above that kind of deception. Arsonists in California and Australia light wildfires to help drive the global warming agenda.
Cherry picking data and altering of data sets isn’t the limit for climate science! They actually k;]]ed people for the cause. They wouldn’t smother penguins …would they¿
P-p-p-pick up a Penguin!
a.k.a a chocolate and biscuit candy bar for those not familiar with UK advertising.
Cheer up, CAGWist!
Polar bears will now have plenty of penguins to eat. 😎
I was told they taste awful. Poor bears! Stick to seals, is what I recommend.
Tell that to the orcas who must find vegan alternatives
Polar bears and penguins live in fairly close proximity. At the zoo.
Is chocolate good for polar bears?
No they prefer clear minty boiled sweets! It’s the penguins that like the chocolate biscuits!
and fizzy drinks. “It’s frothy, man”
They like igloos. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
So the Chinese followed the science. That hurts on many levels.
Haven’t they been following the science for many years?
I offer their increase of fossil-fuel power stations as evidence of this.
Of course, this isn’t the usual ‘science’ from models that are paraded as fact.
They followed both political & climate sciences- spew BeeEss & follow the real science!
Exactly that’s why it hurts, we have been China bashing for so long now it’s now hard to admit when they are right for simply by applying the science with a dose of common sense.
Unfortunately, they apply whatever is convenient to achieve their nasty goals!
“Exactly that’s why it hurts, we have been China bashing for so long now it’s now hard to admit when they are right”
It’s not hard for me. If they are right, they are right. In this case, they are right.
Pointing to the evil things the Chinese regime has been doing is not “China bashing”.
They may be responsible for sponsoring $ the non common sense 😉
China is committed to keeping the lights on so is building new nuclear power generating plants, coal fired power stations and expanding their piped gas distribution network as fast as they are able. Does that qualify as “applying the science” with respect to “climate science”? By that I mean the real climate science.
I see India has reopened 100 coal mines. Perhaps they are applying the same common sense.
Actually, they mostly follow the technology ….. and ignore the patents.
Dr. Crockford, Keep up searching for truth, wherever it may lead you. That, of course, is real science, and not political science. Checkmate.
What exactly is” political science “?
I cannot see anything scientific about how our politicians act .Our communist Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a degree which includes Political Science .
Our present government in New Zealand does not understand science or economics.
Susan Crockford stands up and tells the truth , unlike many other scientists who have swallowed the propaganda that mankind is destroying the world .
I meet people who are concerned that polar bears are heading for extinction because of the News medias lies They take alot of convincing that polar bears are thriving because of the what they see on our news.
There is a lot of irony in it being the Chinese, not known for their love of freedom of information, who are looking beyond the censorious climate angst pedlars for their decision making.
The Chinese propagandists don’t like competition from the climate change emergency propagandists.
I must admit that I don’t know about the Chinese love for freedom of information .But I am sure that they have been subject to a relentless and comprehensive propaganda campaign from western media and governments for my entire lifetime. So I will avoid the old trope of nodding to the narrative on the Chinese. Who knows how objectively honest they are?
Good report Susan.
Thanks John. And the rest of you. Sometimes it feels like you make a difference but so seldom to actually know it.
And yes, there is the irony of it being the Chinese – using me to toy with activists? Whatever gets such a useless treaty swept aside.
My thanks to you for standing up to the lying scientists – I hope you don’t face any retribution from the climate bullies.
Yes brilliant work Susan. Tenacious and calm. Great.
Thank you, succinct as usual. I don’t understand their claim that rebound from hunting is the reason for population growth. If the climate were affecting polar bear lifespans as they claim then wouldn’t adverse climate inhibit the growth regardless of why it happened?
The Canadian government, as far as I can tell, changed the rules on polar bear hunting some time around 1970. link The Canadian arctic was becoming more accessible to big game hunters and that was a problem.
The alternate explanation for the increase in polar bear numbers is that conditions somehow became a lot better for them and they thrived. I think ‘rebound from hunting pressure’ fits the facts better. However, there’s a third possibility.
It may be that polar bears had previously been seriously under-counted. Susan will, I hope, correct me if I’m wrong, but, as far as I can tell, there was a lot less polar bear research, especially prior to the International Geophysical Year in 1958. At that time, the Polar Continental Shelf Project was established to provide logistic support to researchers.
The Canadian Arctic is huge and, if you’re Ian Stirling using a dog sled to do your polar bear count, you’re going to miss most of them. 🙂 So, as research budgets, and the number of researchers, increased, so did polar bear numbers. Coincidence … I think not.
The Canadian Arctic is so big that all 550 present employees of Canadian Wildlife Services, established in 1947 under the Environment department, flying around in helicopters for a month would miss 3/4 of the polar bears…..the count is only performed in known bear habitats as reported by residents with guesstimates for the spaces in between. And those spaces in between are incredibly vast with no residents.
The decline in polar bear hunting has been overstated; about 800 polar bears are still being hunted each year. This figure has not declined much over the last 50 years. This means that polar bears are increasing in number despite the extensive hunting.
Good job Dr. Crockford.
A good read to end a nice day.
Hausfather supports 3C as the most likely increase in temperature by 2100?
Be careful. Annoying the world’s bureaucratic establishment is not a safe thing to do.
Thanks for all your efforts, Dr. Crockford.
Truth goes unrewarded, meanwhile, a liar gets honoured..
A pair of useful idiots in one photo.
Why would you crow about stopping a species getting extra protection?
and you know full well that there isn’t any firm evidence on many polar bear populations, but there are certainly some in decline…
a shameful post.
Still butthurt are we, Griff?
Push off, you ignorant troll. You have absolutely nothing to contribute.
All you need to do is read.
. “I’m no fan of the Chinese government but see this as a win for scientific transparency.”
And indeed it is.
griff is not and never has been a fan of scientific transparency.
Nobodies crowing about stopping a species getting extra protection, but we are discussing a situation where a species is doing very well in a tough environment with no need of extra protection. In fact, if you look at an earlier post on this, you’ll see that the attention and ‘protection’ they’ve been receiving from scientists has been detrimental to their health – they need to be left alone, not interfered with.
Largely unsaid is that any “extra protection” only means filling the coffers of the WWF and similarly “concerned” wildlife and conservation groups with money from the propaganda they could spew about how “climage change” is now invading Antarctica and hurting the penguins, as determined by the Antarctic Treaty Organization. Sounds so official, and it is, which is why garbage “science” has no place in the decision. Bravo, Dr. Crockford.
Yes, and coral reefs just need to be left alone too.
They can regenerate in ~ 60 years from total obliteration all by themselves like the Bikini Atoll lagoon reefs did.
Haven’t heard from you in the last few days. Fact is that the virtual ‘starving’ polar bears from the Arctic ate all virtual penguins from the Antarctica, so both species are now extinct. There you have it, that’s what happens when you play with models for too long.
I knew Griff wasn’t going to like this.
Too bad, so sad.
From the press release XLIV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting:
“Four new protected areas will be added in the future, as the ATCM endorsed the next steps for their special protection.
In addition the Meeting focused on a specific species: the emperor penguin. The world’s largest penguin is increasingly at risk, in particular because of global warming.
An overwhelming majority of Parties held the opinion that there is sufficient scientific evidence for the species to be put under the special protection of the Protocol on Environmental Protection. “
The Penguins are not without protection, Antarctica is already a haven of protection for it’s flora and fauna.
All those 29 countries have decided in a consultative meeting to do, is to not allocate more resources to protect a species that doesn’t need any more protection than it already receives.
Maybe this has allowed them to add the 4 extra protected areas, or fund more pressing protection projects.
They have come to this conclusion by looking at scientific evidence, this maybe a new concept for you.
There are ~20 million breeding pairs on the continent, they’re doing fine.
Once again, griff demonstrates that data is of no importance. Only the narrative matters.
Polar Bears not declining? Just ignore the data, and keep on proclaiming their imminent extinction.
Penguins don’t need extra protection? Just ignore the data and declare that extra protection is a good thing.
Let’s ignore the problems that will be caused by these extra protections. After all, we are doing a good thing, so the harm done along the way doesn’t matter.
The only thing shameful around here griff, is you.
I suspect that the biggest threat to the penguins is over-fishing and as the biggest culprits are probably the Chinese then they will look for any excuse to stop their plans being disrupted.
I suspect you are right, in which case it would have been better to put an argument about the over-fishing to them rather than a future climate extinction doom fantasy.
I was on a cruise to Antarctica, and there were 3 scientist on board studying penguin populations. They thought global warming was good for some species (gentoo? – it was a few years ago) and bad for others. They were much more concerned with overharvesting of krill. China, Japan and Norway were the main countries doing it. Japan backed off because it was a short-lived food craze, but China has since built a krill-harvesting ship bigger than any others, so they are not backing off.
Global warming is a red herring here, so to speak. But I still don’t think helping the Chinese to decimate wildlife is something to be proud of.
From the Daily Maverick link:
I think that you are selling yourself short here. You are a PhD so by definition you have a graduate degree.
From the article: “The paper further argues the emperor penguin has also increased in numbers, contending that the international scientific community may have misled the public on both species’ population trends. …”
Oh, you got to love that charge of “scientists misleading the public”, coming from the Chinese!
The Chinese are talking like Skeptics!
“Once your eyes have been opened to the fact that
conservation specialistsmost institutions may be presenting misleading or incomplete information to push a particular agenda, they cannot be un-opened: you begin to look much more critically at the evidence presented to you and go looking for what might be missing.”
I think this speaks to a lot of us here.
As a South African, I can tell you that the “Daily Maverick” used to be a reliable source of news in South Africa. Then something went wrong, the reliable reporters fled and, since then, we’ve had to suffer through a hail of phony science, including the likes of my “favorite” evil genius, Amory Lovins.
In short, If it’s stamped “Daily Maverick”, discard it, disregard it, it is of no value.
Great stuff Susan Crockford! Its gratifying that excellent scientific work that seems to be buried by the Dark Forces, does actually get out there. The Chinese know full well that the the proposal to “protect” the penguin is to be able to use it for the same climate hysteria purposes that failed with the “iconic” polar bear in the Arctic (thanks to Susan for that, too).
Had they succeeded in this, there would be another “Specialty Group”
probably led by Australian and New Zealand climateering zealots, putting out preconceived doomology like the Norwegian-headed bear bozos. Turney of the “Ship of Fools” fame might be given a spot in the group as a ‘specialist’. He cried tears when he saw frozen penguin chicks that later turned out to be 300yrs old and the ‘missing’ penguins were found somewhere else .
Brava! Brava, Dr. Crockford, brava!
Thank you for sharing this good news with us.
FYI: I just took a look at the Wikipedia entry about you… . Ugh. Throughout its clearly biased-against-truth writing, you are being grossly misrepresented, probably even libeled, there.
You were probably aware of this, just letting you know in case you were not.
If we accept that polar bear numbers are increasing due to the reduction of hunting pressure, we are still left with the question of how changes in sea ice and Arctic temperatures impact the population. If the conditions are not conducive to Polar bear survival, the the population would continue to decline, regardless of the hunting pressure. The conditions for survival occur at the level of individual animals. Either they can find enough food to live or not. The expansion o9f the population tells us that the conditions are not problematic. .Move along Warmists. Nothing to whine about here.
Every win on truth is a step forward for those who want rational policy, and one of the thousand cuts to be inflicted on the deceiving climate rabble. Way to go Susan!!
Ahh, but if the penguins were put on an endangered list, this would free up more money for future studies.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that there may be a pecuniary motivation, after all, scientists are benevolent.
Kudos Dr Crockford!!
China is normally happy to placate western leftists, because they want to help their enemy commit economic suicide. So I have to wonder why they didn’t in this case. My guess is maybe China doesn’t want any impedance when they try to exploit resources in Antarctica.
When I read: “…a Chinese delegation at a top Antarctic meeting claimed rising polar bear numbers were among the reasons for stalling a global push to save emperor penguins…” I thought they had seen way too many ‘Far Side’ cartoons (a favorite by Gary Larson that I love and miss!).
But when I read: “…the predicted ‘march to extinction’ for Emperor penguins was based on climate change/sea ice models that used an utterly implausible and discredited ‘worst-case’ scenario…” I immediately understood the Chinese delegation was a lot smarter that the American and European delegations.
OOOOOH you evil woman you!
Fancy using facts and data rather than computer generated fantasy to prove them wrong and how dare the Chinese not follow the narrative those naughty people.
I haven’t seen anything on the threat to the Penguins from hungry Polar Bears in a while, that was a fun trick the doomsters tried.
Keep up the good work Dr Susan