Good News For Polar Bears Is Bad News for Global Warming Alarmists

Good News For Polar Bears Is Bad News for Global Warming Alarmists
August 15, 2012

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

Professor Susan Crockford, a zoologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Victoria, Canada, reports that polar bears have successfully adapted to severe climate change many times in the past and will likely adapt to future climate change, as well. While common sense tells us that people concerned about global warming should welcome Crockford’s findings, expect the merchants of doom and gloom to ignore or go on the attack against the evolutionary biologist’s findings.

Crockford, who has been published many times in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, presented the evidence for polar bear resilience last night at a public lecture at the University of Toronto. Her talk built upon several scientific papers she has written on the subject.

“We tend to hear nothing but alarming messages about the current status and future welfare of polar bears from animal advocates of all kinds, including lobby groups and activist scientists,” Crockford said in a press release announcing her public lecture. “Many of these tales of imminent doom, however, have important facts left out, glossed over or misrepresented – and much of the uncertainty in the underlying research has been downplayed.”

Crockford has more than 35 years’ experience in zoology and evolutionary biology, with a special focus on the Holocene history of Arctic animals. She publishes a highly respected science website called “Polar Bear Science: Past and Present.”

In a July article on her website, Crockford explains why the colder temperatures yearned for by global warming alarmists may negatively affect polar bear populations. Crockford explains that extended periods of thick sea ice extending south to Arctic shorelines may negatively impact ringed seal populations. Because ringed seals are the only prey species readily available to female polar bears giving birth to cubs on shore or on sea ice near shore, long periods of thick ice near Arctic shores can pose grave threats to polar bear populations. The recent disappearance of ringed seals from Beaufort Sea shores during periods of exceptionally thick sea ice appear to verify Crockford’s observations.

More importantly for the future outlook, Crockford explains, polar bears have successfully endured climate change and Arctic sea ice extremes far beyond those of recent years.

“It is still not known for certain when Polar Bears evolved but there is no question that, in the many millennia they have existed as a separate species, they have survived very significant changes in climate,” Crockford said in the press release announcing her public lecture. “Polar Bears successfully adapted to times when there was both much less, and much more, Arctic sea ice than exists today. Polar bears obviously have strategies for surviving dramatic changes in sea ice conditions – we just don’t know yet what all of them are.”

Major media outlets and environmental activist groups should warmly welcome and widely report on Crockford’s findings.

If the alarmists’ history of deception and bias tell us anything, however, don’t count on it.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)