To Kill a Polar Bear
“Climate Change May be a Death Sentence for Polar Bears”
“Polar Bears Losing Refuge: Mass Starvation by End of Century”
“Shrinking Ice Caps are a threat to Polar Bears”
These are just a few of tens of thousands of results that pop up in a Google News search for “polar bears global warming.” But what if they’re all based on a myth?
We’re all familiar with the polar bear spin: From the sentimental Nissan, Coca-Cola, and Greenpeace ads to brazenly bizarre propaganda videos like the one by Plane Stupid which shows dozens of polar bears falling out of the sky and splatting on the ground. The news and networks, like BBC, Discovery, and National Geographic, are bobbing their heads to the same tune.
If there’s one iconic image that speaks louder on behalf of the whole notion that humans are ruining the planet by causing apocalyptic climate change than anything else, it’s this: A polar bear floating on a small chunk of ice surrounded by water. Hearts melt at the sight of a poor bear teetering on a dwindling ice cube presumably about ready to drown, starve, or die of heat stroke.
Beneath all the cuteness of some of the fluffy white pictures and heartstring-tugging videos, there’s an unapologetically hard-core environmental message being drilled into our — not to mention our children’s — skulls: By flying on an airplane you’re killing polar bears. By not turning off the lights you’re killing polar bears. By having lots of kids and driving bigger cars you are murdering fuzzy, innocent, good-natured polar bears!
Without a doubt, the polar bear is the golden calf of the global warming alarm crowd. Mr. Inconvenient Truth himself helped start the polar bear emotional avalanche on day one. But just like how Al Gore’s lame prediction about the ice caps disappearing turned out to be a dud, this Brobdingnagian polar bear scare — the sacred cow of the climate change movement — has finally just been killed, butchered, and served up like a juicy steak on a silver platter.
Last year, one of my favorite headlines read, “Polar Bears Threatened From Too Much Arctic Ice.” It was based on the work of Dr. Susan Crockford, a zoologist from British Columbia who has studied polar bears for the bulk of her 35-year career. But now, Dr. Crockford has just released a new, in-depth report on the relationship between sea ice and polar bears, entitled Arctic Fallacy. It’s a promising iceberg-of-truth destined to sink a Titanic-load of scientific dross. Let’s dig in:
“She uses her broad background in several scientific fields to question the basic assumption that sea ice is a stable environment in all seasons, even over short time periods,” writes Matthew Cronin, Professor of Animal Genetics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in the foreword.
Crockford shows how it’s naturally variable spring ice, not summer ice, that is most critical to the survival of polar bears. She explains, “Arctic biologists now surprisingly attribute virtually every downturn in population size of Arctic species to declines in summer sea ice blamed on human use of fossil fuels. Shifting the blaming for the devastation caused by thick spring ice onto recent summer ice declines, biologists portray summer ice changes as manifestations of unprecedented, human-caused habitat instability.”
Spring sea-ice thickness is especially important because it “is the period of on-ice birth and nursing for ice-dependent seals and is also when polar bears consume two-thirds of their annual prey.” Crockford says that the most deadly ice variable for both seals and polar bears appears to be thick spring ice, instead of a lack of summer ice.
“More disturbing is that population declines that were clearly caused by thick sea ice conditions in spring are now blamed on summer sea-ice declines,” writes Crockford.
Even when summer ice extent has been less than average, the prediction that polar bears would drop in numbers as a response have proven to be wrong. “While it is true that there have been moderate increases in the length of the ice-free season in regions of the Arctic where the ice usually melts completely in the summer — for example Hudson Bay and the Davis Strait — this has so far changed gradually and polar bear populations are either stable or increasing.”
The report is very well documented, interesting, and worth your time to read in its entirety. From the conclusion of Arctic Fallacy, “The IUCN and the US government, in accepting predicted sea-ice changes as valid threats to species survival, have allowed a myth to masquerade as 21st century science.”
If photoshopping stranded bears on ice chunks and lying about bear population isn’t enough, intentionally ignoring the truth about what causes polar bear fluctuations should pop your eyes wide open to the pompous extent of some who will do anything, break every rule, and disregard science to push the climate change agenda forward.
JD King is a contributing writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He is also a filmmaker and has two documentaries on environmental subjects, Crying Wolf, and BLUE.