Bogus Greenpeace claim that lost Russian polar bear is evidence of climate change
Another day, another bogus starving polar bear claim from an environmental organization. Polar bear starvation is virtually never caused by climate change but apparently, Greenpeace thinks there are still some gullible folks out there who will believe anything they are told. A young male polar bear in poor condition found far south on the Russian coast of the Bering Sea a few days ago is an isolated incident: it is not evidence of anything except the sad fact that the life of a polar bear can sometimes be brutal. In contrast to these reports, Chukchi Sea polar bears are doing extremely well overall.
Headline from The Guardian 18 April 2019
Environmental activists are of course blaming climate change for the appearance of this ‘exhausted’ polar bear found in a Russian village on the edge of the Bering Sea on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the media has been more than happy to spread their allegations far and wide (here, here, and here).
In contrast, the full story carried by The Siberian Times (18 April 2019, with more pictures and video) confirms the bear is a young male who arrived at Tilichiki on an ice flow that moved down the coast while the bulk of the Bering Sea ice was retreating north. It was a sad accident of life that has apparently happened before: he, like a few others, happened to get caught on the wrong piece of ice. The Russian report does not include a quote from Greenpeace and does not mention climate change.
Here is how he is described:
‘Locals filmed it on video, photographed it, and yesterday – fed with fish, though, he did not eat much.
‘The bear looks drained and weak.
‘For some reason he does not catch fish and seals, which we have in good supply.’
Nor has he threatened people.
‘He did not even enter the village itself,’ she said.
‘He lies near the bay on the ice – close to our police station.”
And here is Greenpeace, trying to make this a story about climate change:
A lost, exhausted polar bear has swum hundreds of miles to a village in Russia.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 18, 2019
But this is a phenomenon that happens virtually every year somewhere across the Arctic and likely always has done. It is no more a story about climate change than the bogus starving polar bear video promoted by National Geographic and Paul Nicklen in late 2017:
In some areas, particularly the Bering, Barents and Labrador Seas, ice can retreat rapidly in the spring and bears can get left behind on isolated chunks of ice floe. See my last post about just such a bear onshore in Newfoundland, who may be in the same situation if he does not leave soon, or one from last year in the Barents Sea. Poor judgment cannot be blamed on climate change.
Moreover, some young bears will always be in poor condition at this time of year because they are inexperienced hunters and too small to compete against bigger, stronger bears: that is an established fact.
Bottom line: This lost Kamchatka bear is not evidence of climate change.
Some background on causes of loss of body condition, from my post last year:
There are at least eleven natural causes of loss of body condition for polar bears (getting thinner and/or emaciated to the point of death) that must be ruled out before starvation can be blamed on lack of sea ice (many of which require a necropsy):
- Lack of experience hunting (young bears, 2-5 yrs)
- Competition from older, bigger bears (young bears, 2-5 yrs)
- Competition from younger, stronger bears (old bears, > 20 yrs)
- Poor judgment
- Broken or rotting teeth (especially in old bears)
- Injuries from fighting (especially to the jaws)
- Injuries from hunting or falls (especially to the jaws)
- Illnesses (including cancers that cause muscle wasting)
- Thick ice in spring (fewer seals to hunt)
- Thick snow over ice in spring (seals hard to find)
- Less food for seals in summer (means less food for bears next spring)
References for above: 1-8. Amstrup 2003; Miller et al. 2006, 2015; Stirling 1974:1196; 9-11. Calvert et al. 1986:19, 24; Chambellant et al. 2012; Demaster et al. 1980; Derocher and Stirling 1992, 1995; Ferguson et al. 2005; Obbard et al. 2018 [yearling cub survival in 2015]; Ramsay and Stirling 1988; Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2018; Stirling 2002; Stirling and Lunn 1997; Stirling et al. 1975a, b).
The reason a close examination of a thin bear is required to determine the cause of its condition is apparent below (even more so if the cause was an illness like cancer):
“I captured an emaciated but very large male polar bear one autumnwhen he should have been near his maximum weight. His weight was less than half that of similar-size males at that time. He seemed to be fit and his teeth were in excellent shape. On examination, however, we discovered that his maxilla [upper jaw] was broken through (Fig. 27.(0), and there was a pronounced gap in his palate. The front portion of his upper jaw was attached only by the skin and musculature of his lips. His ability to bite and hold large prey was seriously compromised. How tbis injury was sustained is not clear. He has not been recaptured, and given the bear’s lean state just before tbe harshest season of the year, I suspect he did not survive the winter.“ [Amstrup 2003:602, my bold]
As explained in my previous post, the few bears that come ashore in late spring (perhaps lured by abundant bird eggs on shore) and become stranded by retreating sea ice that does not make a timely return, are not victims of climate change per se but rather casualties of their own poor judgment. In the recent examples cited in Svalbard, the bears involved were not forced ashore but chose to do so, perhaps due to lack of experience and/or competition on the ice for available seals (items 1-3).
The last three items in the list above (9-11) reflect conditions in winter and spring that can effect survival and body condition later in the year but will not be obvious from a necropsy. These causes of poor body condition are more likely to be present if more than one bear is affected in a local area.
For example, #9 (thick ice in spring) was the reason given for many bears starving in the spring of 1974 in the Southern Beaufort (Demaster et al. 1980; Stirling 2002; Stirling and Lunn 1997; Stirling et al. 1975a,b) and in Western Hudson Bay in the early 1990s (Calvert et al. 1986:19, 24; Chambellant et al. 2012; Ramsay and Stirling 1988).
Similarly, #10 (thick snow over ice) was the likely reason that many bears that came ashore in less than good condition near Churchill in the 1980s (Ferguson et al. 2005) and perhaps for the poor condition and lower cub survival of bears in the 1980s (Derocher and Stirling 1992, 1995).
And #11 (less food for seals in summer) explains why the condition of virtually all bears in the Chukchi Sea improved after 2006 when there was less summer ice compared to the 1980s, because less summer ice meant more time for seals to feed and therefore more fat seal pups for polar bears to eat the following spring (Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2018).
It is likely that one of the last three listed causes was responsible for the unexplained low survival of yearling bears (about 3%) in Western Hudson Bay that would have been born in 2010 and 2015 (Dyck et al. 2017; Stapleton et al. 2014; Obbard et al. 2018) and Southern Hudson Bay in 2015 (Obbard et al. 2018). Although the ice-free season was unusually long in 2010, even by recent standards (Lunn et al. 2016), that was not the case for 2015 (Obbard et al. 2018). In other words, survival of cubs was low in recent years in two adjacent regions but could not be conclusively blamed on reduced sea ice.
In any case, the trend data is inconclusive. The summary paper by Stirling and Derocher (2012) is still presented as “evidence” that sea ice declines caused declines in body condition that eventually led to population decline, even though the Western Hudson Bay data on body condition has not been updated since 2004 and in any case never explained the decline in body condition that happened in the 1980s (before sea ice declined). More importantly, the trend from Western Hudson Bay is not matched by similar trends from other regions.
Contrary to predictions, Chukchi Sea polar bears have became fatter with less summer sea ice (Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2018), not thinner. And for years, the body condition of Southern Hudson Bay bears declined only slightly (Obbard et al. 2004, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016), even though the decline of sea ice since 1998 has been as severe as for adjacent Western Hudson Bay bears. Only by an application of statisitcal magic did the latest population count of SH bears show a slight decline (Obbard et al. 2018), and body condition data was not revealed. As noted above, the authors did not blame lack of sea ice for the poor survival of Southern Hudson Bay cubs in 2015: they left it unexplained.
Bottom line: Trends don’t explain individual observations. When polar bear specialists raise the point that trends in declining weights of polar bears correlate to trends in early breakup dates or an extended ice-free season (see discussions here and here) in the context of explaining the state of a particular thin or starving bear, they are perpetuating the white lie.
Fake News About Greenland Glaciers
Video: Tony Heller
What kind of a crisis needs to be supported by lies?
Attenborough’s “Climate Change–The Facts
By Paul Homewood
The BBC continued its climate change propaganda season last night with David Attenborough’s well trailered “Climate Change – The Facts?”
The opening sequences, recorded against film of hot weather and including these quotes, left no doubt of where the programme was headed:
“Right now we are facing our greatest threat in thousands of years – climate change”
“What we’re doing right now is we’re so rapidly changing the climate, for the first time in the world’s history people can see the impact of climate change”
“Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea level rise”
“All of this is happening far faster than many of us thought possible”
Attenborough shows this graph of global temperature trends, (though omitting satellite temperature measurements which show no increase since 1998). But he fails to explain why temperatures rose sharply in the early 20thC, long before CO2 emissions began to rise significantly.
Nowhere either does he tell us that the 19thC marked the end of the Little Ice Age, probably the coldest period since the end of the Ice Age.
In order to scare people about this small amount of warming, he has brought out the extreme weather boogeyman.
Peter Stott – “It’s having a dramatic effect on our weather” “The frequency of extreme temperatures is increasing”
Michael Mann – “You’re going to get more frequent and intense heatwaves. You’re going to get worse drought”.
The example of last summer’s heatwave in the UK is used as an example of climate change, even though it was actually no hotter than the summer of 1976.
While average summer temperature temperatures may be a bit higher, winters are also milder, so it is not clear why the climate is any worse. Is Oxford’s climate worse then Newcastle’s, just because average temperatures are higher?
As for Stott’s ludicrous assertion that the frequency of extreme temperatures is increasing, milder winters will simply offset hotter summers.
In any event, daily temperature extremes are not increasing, in the UK at least. The hottest day in CET was 33.2C, set in 1976, and equalled in 1990. No day last summer got anywhere near that.
In fact, there is considerable evidence that heatwaves are actually becoming less common, at the same time as cold spells are also less frequent. In other words, temperatures are becoming much less extreme. This is certainly the case in the US, as the Federal climate report admitted:
They then show a film of some dead bats in Queensland, killed by a heatwave when temperatures reached 42C. Yet the all time record for Queensland is 49.5C, set in 1972!
Picking single weather events is meaningless. But this does not stop Attenborough preposterously saying:
“Animals of all kinds are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions”
As for droughts, there is no evidence whatsoever that they are getting worse, as the IPCC AR5 admits:
And in the US, as Mann ought to know, rainfall has steadily been increasing since 1900. The calamitous droughts of the 1930s and 50s are a thing of the past:
David Attenborough – “As temperatures rise, the threats we face multiply. Last year saw record breaking wildfires take hold across the globe. “
Michael Mann – “We’ve seen wildfires break out in Greece, even in the Arctic. We’ve seen a tripling of the extent of wildfire in the western US”
Naturally global warming is blamed for all of this.
In fact, experts in this topic are clear that globally wildfires have declined in recent years.
The EU Commission has found the same in Southern Europe:
As for Greece, last summer was not unusually hot, and it was wetter than average, so clearly climate change was not a factor there.
The idea that you don’t get wildfires in the Arctic is also absurd, as Alaska’s history shows. It is dry weather and not heat which is the key factor.
In the US, wildfire acreage was much greater in the past as well.
Proper forestry experts, which Michael Mann most definitely is not, consistently maintain that the real reason for the severity of recent fires in California is the build up of undergrowth, dead trees, thickets of small trees, and overcrowded forests generally, all of which act as fuel.
This is the result of decades of fire suppression after the war, not climate change.
If droughts are a factor, Mann should be honest enough to admit that California’s climate used to be much drier:
Storms and Floods
Michael Mann – “You’re going to get more rainfall, more superstorms, worse flooding. We’re seeing the effects of climate change now play out in real time”
Maybe one of the most dishonest parts of the programme.
Even the IPCC can’t find any long term trends in tropical cyclone activity or flooding.
And severe tornadoes are have become much less common in the US:
Polar ice caps
It is claimed that ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland is “worse than expected”.
In fact, according to NASA, the Antarctic has actually been gaining ice. It is symptomatic of the whole programme, that Attenborough does not mention this inconvenient fact.
As for Greenland, I’m not sure what the experts were “expecting”, has any relevance at all. What we do know though, is that temperatures in Greenland are no higher now than they were in the 1930s. (Another of those “inconvenient facts”!):
Inevitably rising sea levels are mentioned, and Attenborough makes the bold claim that rising seas are already displacing hundreds of thousands of people from already vulnerable coastal areas.
I have certainly never this claim before, and it seems pure hyperbole to me.
What is not mentioned though is that sea levels have been rising steadily since the mid 19thC, as glaciers started melting at the end of the Little Ice Age.
There is no sign of acceleration, and even the IPCC admit that they were rising at the same rate a century ago:
It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level rise was 1.7 [1.5 to 1.9] mm/yr between 1901 and 2010 and 3.2 [2.8 to 3.6] mm/yr between 1993 and 2010. Tide gauge and satellite altimeter data are consistent regarding the higher rate during the latter period. It is likely that similarly high rates occurred between 1920 and 1950.
As with some of the other segments of the programme, an emotional piece of film is shown, this time of the tiny Isle de Jean Charles in the Mississippi delta in Louisiana, which is disappearing under the waves.
In fact it has never been more than a few inches above sea level, and most of the problem lies with land subsidence and coastal erosion, caused by activities such as dredging of canals and logging.
To equate the problems faced by the Isle with general sea level rise elsewhere is utterly dishonest.
Finally Attenborough gets onto corals, and makes this astonishing statement:
“In the last three years, repeated heat stress has caused a third of the world’s corals to first bleach, and then die”
There is absolutely no evidence for this, and I have not even seen that claimed about the Great Barrier Reef.
And as we now know, the death of GBR corals was drastically overstated. Indeed, as scientists like Peter Ridd and local reef experts have long maintained, corals quickly recover from bleaching, which was just as bad in the 18thC.
One of the features of the programme is the insertion of personalised, emotional film sequences – bats dying from heat in Australia, father and son escaping from wildfire in California, and the Isle de Jean Charles.
They are clearly designed to bring home to people the real effects of climate change, and make them feel guilty. At one point, the interviewee even says “we have got to do something”.
Unfortunately, the facts don’t agree. Maybe the programme would better have been called “Climate Change – The Myths”
This first part of the programme focuses on the effects so far of climate change. In Part II, I will look at what the future holds and what Attenborough tells us we can do about it.
Everything from and by the left is FAKE. From FAKE News to FAKE Russia collusion to FAKE “Climate Change”, they mean (Man Made) Global Warming (imagine that, even the name is FAKE!)
Now, let’s look at even more FAKE data from the Rent & Grant Seeking Community of activists and criminals (i.e. mostly leftists).
It’s only getting worse: ‘Our Planet’ film crew is still lying about walrus cliff deaths: here’s how we know
Is The Global Temperature Record Credible
Video: Tony Heller
Why Arctic Winter Warming Is Fake News
Video: Tony Heller
The Wildly Fraudulent Obama National Climate Assessment
The Obama White House generated a wildly fraudulent document titled the “National Climate Assessment” In this video, I show how the secrion about wildfiires intentioanlly attempts to lead readers to the wrong conclusion.
Video: Tony Heller
Let’s end this article with information of another way the Rent & Grant Seeking activists and criminals are manipulating temperature data: