Lomborg Responds to Polar Bear Abundance Challenge

From Polar Bear Science

Susan Crockford

Money quote from Bjorn Lomborg’s response to being ‘fact-checked’ on polar bear numbers, Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2023:

It does more good for polar bears, and the rest of us, if those trying to help them use accurate facts.”

Lomborg responds himself after I challenged the ‘fact-checkers’ last week:

Relying on the data I referenced used to be uncontroversial. When a CNN science journalist did an investigation similar to AFP’s in 2008, he spoke to numerous scientists and they agreed “that polar bear populations have, in all likelihood, increased in the past several decades.” When polar bears in 2008 were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the decision noted that the population “has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960’s to a current worldwide estimate of 20,000-25,000.” The data here haven’t changed, only the media’s willingness to disregard annoying facts.

The result is that the public is denied access to accurate data and open debate about these very important topics. Ridiculous points on one side are left standing while so-called fact-checking censors inconvenient truths. If we’re to make good climate policy, voters need a full picture of the facts. Lomborg 2023, backup link

I would add this fact: in 1982, polar bears were listed by the IUCN as ‘vulnerable’ but by 1996, that had changed to ‘lower risk/conservation dependent’–now called ‘least concern‘ (see screencap below) because population numbers had rebounded after more than 20 years of international protection from over-hunting. The reversion to ‘vulnerable’ in 2006 was based entirely on predictions that population numbers would decline in the future due to see ice loss, which so far has not happened (Crockford 2017, 2019; Crockford and Geist 2018).


.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. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.

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Tom Halla
January 28, 2023 2:06 pm

Another case of people being more devoted to their pet model than finding out about reality.

Dodgy Geezer
January 28, 2023 2:10 pm

It is completely useless to state facts and make logical arguments in defence of your position.

The ‘fact checkers’ are not interested in facts, and will just laugh at you. They are not getting into a debate – they are just providing a vaguely justifiable excuse to have you excluded from web sites, and cancelled.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 28, 2023 2:53 pm

Yes. This whole fact checking/disinformation/misinfo thing only started about 2 years ago. The 2020 election wasn’t stolen, Hunter’s laptop is Russian disinformation, the COVID vax works (even if it doesn’t prevent infection, it doesn’t prevent transmission, it doesn’t prevent hospitalization, it does induce myocarditis and SAD)… Thing is, it got so bad so fast that now after the Twitter files exposes it will implode. This lead post is just one small example.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 29, 2023 4:44 am

I would venture that it has been around a few years longer than that but it has certainly grown very rapidly especially with the release of Covid.

michael hart
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 29, 2023 4:57 am

Yup. I generally steer clear of anything or anyone who likes to talk about “fact checking”.

To all the new “fact checkers” I want to ask the question “So what did you do before you discovered telling the truth might be a good idea? Some of us have always believed in it.”

John Shewchuk
January 28, 2023 2:11 pm

As long as it’s still legal to trophy hunt polar bears using Inuit hunting guides, they are not endangered.

Rud Istvan
January 28, 2023 2:38 pm

Followed the whole kerfuffle over at Susan’s.
My take is that the alarmists know they have lost the polar bear argument, but are unwilling to give it up so increasingly fudge, altering both their past ‘facts’ and past predictions. AFP is France, an EU hotbed of climate alarm.

  1. Polar bears do not depend on the summer Arctic sea ice that didn’t disappear as predicted. They depend on spring sea ice during the seal whelping season, when they consume 70-80% of their annual caloric intake. Even Wadhams never predicted Arctic spring ice would disappear.
  2. Depending on which genetic evidence (SNP, mitochondrial, whole genome) polar bears ‘fully’ diverged from grizzly (brown) bears about 700,000 years ago, a process likely started at the onset of the current ice ages about 2 million years ago. That means they survived the Eemian interglacial, which according to northern Greenland ice cores was as much as 8C warmer than present in the Arctic (and ~2C globally, with Eemian sea level highstand ~6-7 meters above present). Which means no alarmist amount of AGW could now threaten their existence by 2100 as IPCC ‘experts’ repeatedly claimed.
  3. Polar bear numbers have been increasing significantly since hunting was curtailed. We just don’t know by exactly how much except in a few well monitored subpopulations like WHB. Arctic is a big place, and polar bears evolved white on white camouflage for seal hunting.
  4. There are a bunch of polar bear ‘experts’ like Sterling and Derocher who made careers out of climate threatened polar bears. They are still at it since the money has been good and they cannot admit to having been wrong their entire careers. I don’t think there will be many replacements for them since Dr. Crockford came on the polar bear scene to explain basic polar bear biology and ecology to all us non-experts.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 29, 2023 4:43 am

AFP is one of the propaganda outlets that signed up the Covering Climate Now started by the likes of the Guardian and BBC to promote climate lies, so no surprise at their hatchet job on Lomborg.

Sweet Old Bob
January 28, 2023 5:30 pm

News tip :

according to Big Joe B. ,Texas is expected to get up to an inch of freezing rain next week .

WeatherBELL Analytics

Saturday summary ( free , scroll down to bottom )

BOHICA Texas .

Martin Brumby
January 28, 2023 8:22 pm

Polar Bears are in as much danger from fossil fuels, as Emperor Penguins are from being eaten by Polar Bears

Mr David Guy-Johnson
January 29, 2023 12:53 am

So basically the reversion to “vulnerable”, was a political rather than a scientific move. It’s disgraceful

January 29, 2023 1:09 am

Fact checkers?

Narrative compliance enforcers

January 29, 2023 9:26 am

The reversion to ‘vulnerable’ in 2006 was based entirely on predictions that population numbers would decline in the future due to see ice loss

Well, you can never let out that something is improving.

January 29, 2023 11:02 am

Why not let polar bears fall off the political radar? They served their purpose. Why try to defend the idea that polar bear populations are about to collapse?

Greens never talk about acid rain, anymore. “Save the Whales” is only seen in period piece dramas. Even the rainforest has little airplay, these days. So why not quietly drop the polar bears too?

I suspect the answer is that there is no ready-made replacement.

The AGW hype has been so extreme that only catastrophic weather events fit the narrative. And, while one of those will happen somewhere in the world every other month, they cannot be summoned up on cue. Also, disasters all look the same and are quite sad. Pretty white bears are so much more child-friendly.

The polar bear hill needs to be defended as the Greens are running out of steam. They cannot move to the next battle. They are tied down by inflated promises and are now moribund, intellectually.

January 30, 2023 12:28 am

Don’t tell me; the alarmists must be “modelling” polar bears..

January 30, 2023 11:49 am

Climate alarmists worried about polar bear populations should travel to the Arctic carrying a dead seal. They will soon find a large population of polar bears following them around.

In such a situation, the best course of action would be to drop the seal and get out of Dodge.

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