Susan Crockford on the decline of the polar bear icon

Here at CliScep we are gutted that our blog did not make the list of “AGW denying blogs” provided by the lying fraudsters top scientists behind the recent smear job on Susan Crockford. The reason seems to be that we have not been enthusiastically promoting her excellent work debunking the polar bear scare as some other blogs such as Bishop Hill and WUWT have done. As Richard points out, most of the blogs on their list are not “AGW denying” at all, so perhaps lying fraudsters is the correct term for whoever drew up that list.

So in an effort to redeem ourselves, here is Susan’s most recent video. (Warning: this video contains images some viewers may find distressing).

In it she talks about how the poster-child polar bear, which used to feature regularly in climate propaganda, has quietly been dropped, as the decline in bear numbers predicted by alarmists does not seem to be happening. Polar bears aren’t mentioned in the recent Climate Science Special Report, or in a recent movie sequel, in the light of this inconvenient truth.

Here are two quotes from the end of the video:

“The animal has come to symbolise the irrational bias imposed on biology by climate politics”

“This is a lesson for researchers in other areas, who have failed to stop the invasion of politics into their science.”

Please do not publicise this video, or any of Crockford’s blog articles or papers. Remember, Amstrup, Verheggen, Lewandowsky and Mann would rather you didn’t.

Do not read or publicise Ten dire polar bear predictions that have failed as global population hits 20-31k

Do not watch or publicise any of her other videos or interviews.

Do not read or publicise her paper on the lack of correlation between sea ice decline and polar bear numbers.

And whatever you do, please don’t read or publicise her blog.


  1. Jo Abbess (climate activist – seven years ago)

    ” I point out that when the environmentalists put out posters about Polar Bears, that the audience pretty quickly realised that the Polar Bears were being used as a “poster child” for Climate Change, and they started to mock the campaigning.

    Ten years ago, or even less, a poster depicting a tragic human or endangered animal was still a useful communications tool, but the potential recipients for these communications are now highly sceptical of this device, this attempt to pluck at their emotional/heart strings.”


  2. I think we should be more proactive. Dump the polar bear, so yesterday and uncooperatively increasing in numbers despite all the attention lavished upon them. We can do better. Long die the Magazine Mountain middle-toothed snails, the new poster species, destined to adorn our literature. We could always claim the molluscsn eye stalks used as a Cliscep front was a MMMT snail. We will need to train up our expert, preferably female with few peer-reviewed papers.


  3. I’m sure polar bears are now happy to resume their rightful zoological identity, having previously been cast as ‘poster-children’ and, even more annoyingly, as canaries in coal mines. I bet if you were a big white bear strutting around the icy wastes of the Arctic, you’d object to being labeled a small yellow bird with sooty plumage buried deep underground in some dark dingy cave too.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. This hatchet job has really boomeranged. A very nice Streisand effect post, Paul. The SImis now available via Verhaggen, and guess what—it contains gross errors in blog categorization.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. lead author – Jeff Harvey – comment at ATTP – reproduced in full for further analysis (WTF)

    Jeff Harvey says:
    December 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm
    I will make several points. First of all Willard, Susan Crockford does not original research. She is like James Delingpole – an interpreter of interpretations. Please find among her commentaries where she discusses area-extinction models of exponential decay; tipping points; temporal lags, the extinction debt and tipping points. Crockford is not an ecologist. These vitally relevant areas are ignored by her probably because she does not understand them. If she professes to be THE authority on polar bear biology and ecology then she needs to publish her critiques in scientific journals and not on a blog. And again, if Joshua is correct why are these denier bloggers who profess an interest in science cherry picking conclusions from a scientist on the academic fringe? Why aren’t they going directly to papers by the real experts and taking their conclusions seriously? The fact is that there are hundreds of researchers working on arctic ecology and only a tiny number apparently believe that warming is not a threat to polar bears and other species that live there. By turning over every rock they can find denier blogs have stumbled over one of them – Crockford – and provided her with a megaphone.

    With respect to tipping points. Polar bears are habitat specialists. As such they are model organisms for studying island biogeography and area extinction models. These models have proven to be robust when it comes to predicting the loss of species in both temperate and tropical biomes. Indeed, they sometimes underestimate extinction rates because they omit other stresses like overharvesting, pollution and invasive species. Some polar bear populations have not reached critical tipping points yet and this has been seized upon by AGW deniers as proof of their resilience. By the time they do reach and pass them it will be too late. We have seen this in the case of extinctions of species in lower latitudes whose numbers remained sizeable until their habitat was lost and fragmented beyond critical thresholds. I could give you many examples.

    The problem is that most of those downplaying the effects of warming on biodiversity are not ecologists. Indeed, my take is that nobody here critical of our paper is. Deniers are masters of the art of focusing in the present and in downplaying future projections by exaggerating doubts and u certainties. No wonder our species is in such trouble. We seem intent on going over the cliff in order to prove that we are going over the cliff.

    This highlights the main reason that scientists are losing the battle for public opinion. Climate change deniers are engaged in one big love-in. Their blogs are one big echo chamber. Scientists, on the other hand, are ruthlessly self critical. To be honest, some newspapers didn’t run a story about our paper because they said what we show is obvious. In other words, they said that it’s clear that denier blogs are not remotely interested in the scientific truth and that they are master cherry pickers of very dubious sources of information. Yet here some of you are, apparently challenging that. You won’t see deniers admitting this. Not a single critic of our paper has said that Figure 2 is wrong. Instead they accuse us of and hominem smears of Susan Crockford and leave it at that. Strange that these same blogs don’t ever hesitate to lay out ad hominem smears of Mann, Lewandowsky etc al; even Crockford has made choice comments about polar bear researchers like Derocher, Stirling and Amstrup on her blog and elsewhere. Look at the smears if Katharine Hayhoe. They can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Finally, while many make pedantic points over our paper, the planet continues its slide to hell in a handbasket. Three weeks ago Bioscience also published an important article following up 25 years later on the World Scientists Warning to Humanity. What it showed that, aside from the Montreal Protocol, every major indicator of environmental quality has declined, many rapidly, over the past quarter of a century. We are seeing wholesale collapses in the diversity of various species groups, with an estimated loss of 50-60% of genetic diversity since 1970. I have dedicated some of my career to fighting those who are intent on destroying nature for short term profit by countering distortions of blogs and people like Crockford. We are running out of time. Despite this I am depressed when people who should be on my side try and pick holes in papers like ours in Bioscience that are simply pointing out the obvious. One of the referees also said that our analyses only say what we already know. But we still needed to show it with data. If standing up to those denying that humans and nature are on a serious collision course means that people who should be supporting me and my co- authors are joining in to criticize us, then maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and say future be damned.”


  6. LOL – “One of the referees also said that our analyses only say what we already know. But we still needed to show it with data.”


  7. Does anyone know what Jeff Harvey’s credentials in the field of polar bear science might be – or Mann’s or Lewandowsky’s for that matter?!

    But that aside … Considering the timing – and the fact that polar bears seem to have fallen off the iconic symbol bandwagon of the alarmist barkers – I can’t help wondering if perhaps this ludicrously shoddy attack is a rather convenient diversion on the part of Harvey et al.

    After all, Rupert Darwall has a new book (which I haven’t yet read) and an excellent recent essay with a Foreword by Judith Curry.

    And Bernie Lewin has an eminently readable history of the early days of that – increasingly tarnished – “gold standard” IPCC, which I am currently reading. Lewin eloquently demolishes the pedestal upon which the IPCC’s self-proclaimed laurels have rested for far too many years.

    See Ron Clutz’s excellent synopsis, if you aren’t already reading Lewin’s book which has the added cachet – as do many of Susan Crockford’s essays and videos – of being published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Jeff Harvey is either delusional or cynical.
    I lean towards cynical because he bloviates so long to say so little, and still avoids dealing with the dacts:
    Polar bears are up in population. And his little gang’s assault on Crockford was not only low class but hilariously ignorant.


  9. And here’s an important addition to Paul’s list of that which must not be mentioned:

    Retraction request to Bioscience: FOIA emails document another harsh criticism of Amstrup’s 2007 polar bear model

    Today I sent a letter to the editors of the journal Bioscience requesting retraction of the shoddy and malicious paper by Harvey et al. (Internet blogs, polar bears, and climate-change denial by proxy) published online last week.

    The letter reveals information about the workings of the polar bear expert inner circle not known before now, so grab your popcorn.

    Unlike the error riddled, amateurish pastiche from Harvey et al this long but – as always – worthwhile read includes … wait for it … evidence, and lots of it! Susan concludes:


    By identifying and discussing the above issues, I do not mean to imply that there aren’t other issues that could be raised about this paper. But these are enough.

    You accuse me of having no expertise regarding polar bears, no peer-reviewed papers about polar bears, allege that I support a “scientific uncertainty” frame, and state that I criticize the work of Amstrup and colleagues without supporting evidence.

    These allegations are untrue, defamatory and malicious, but in addition, the failure to mention my Ph.D. and my recent scientific critique constitute a falsification of my expertise and work output. In addition, the purported scientific analysis is shoddy and the language used is reprehensible.

    I formally request that you retract this paper.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Thanks Barry. That comment makes it quite clear that the Harvey et al paper is not intended to be a real science contribution, but is an expression of fear and panic that the world is not following the authors desired climate policies. His comparison of Crockford to Delingpole is itself almost libelous in its incredible ignorance.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. David, Hilary. Wow, there’s a lot to digest there. Definitely needs a new post. Watch this space. I suggest holding off commenting on that until new post is up.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I have had an RSS link to her blog for a long time, how many years I can’t remember.

    She has got so much abuse she had to turn off the comments. People just won’t accept that it was guns that almost drove the polar bear to extinction, not climate change.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. There are a number of issues here, which are interactive. It would seem that the ‘threatened’ status of polar bears was achieved via Amstrup’s decidedly dodgy climate change/sea-ice loss projections. Was the main impetus of polar bear field research the achievement of the ‘threatened’ designation or was it simply to illustrate how climate change threatens this iconic species? Or both, in roughly equal measure. Or was it something a lot less noble and more mundane? Susan Crockford gives this intriguing comment over at WUWT:

    “Absolutely. I’ve argued before that they could not stand the thought of NOT having that “vulnerable” designation.

    In fact, that’s what started the whole game of using global warming to predict future declines: by 1996, the bears had been down-graded to “least concern” and the PBSG had real trouble accepting that. To be fair, animals of least concern get little funding for research but threatened animals get way, way more.”

    Whatever the case, polar bears are listed as ‘threatened’. Could it be a case of wrong method, right result? Polar bears were in serious decline in the 1960s/70s because of hunting. A relaxation of endangered status could see a resumption of hunting. Delingpole even argues that polar bears are becoming ‘dangerous pests’, which seems a little extreme to me.

    There is no doubt whatsoever that human/bear conflicts will continue to be a problem and inevitably present a challenge to polar bear conservation. But we should be very careful about defining the nature of that conflict and its possible causes. We should also note that the single potential greatest threat to polar bears are bullets – issuing from the guns of licensed hunters or poachers.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jeff Harvey’s comment at ATTP is of considerable interest. I first read it and thought he makes some valid points. Not having even seen a polar bear in the wild, I’m not in a position to make a judgement of the merits of the material used by the paper’s authors and by Crockford. But having slept upon it and rereading it I saw something I had missed. Harvey points out that Crockford does not mention such terms as “area-extinction models of exponential decay; tipping points; temporal lags, the extinction debt and tipping points”. These are all terms employed by mathematical ecologists in their models. Harvey then claims Crockford is not an ecologist. What he actually means is that she is not an ecological modeller, which may very well be true. He then continues that given “these vitally relevant areas are ignored by her probably because she does not understand them” (uncalled for). What Harvey ignores is that there are many other areas of ecology than modelling. As far as I can tell, Susan Crockford compiles other people’s data and reaches her own independent conclusions. In her most important paper concerning bear populations she uses the fact that ice breakup conditions are now similar to those predicted by others to occur in the future, allowing her to compare bear numbers now with those predicted by ecological modellers. Her conclusions, based on observations (of others) are devastating to the modellers, who have resorted to smear tactics.

    In times of reasonable science, modellers would take note of the work of data compilers, recognize differences between model predictions and reality and revise their models to fit the more recent observations. What do polar bear experts do – trash the data compiler, mumble about future tipping points and up the anti with regard to gloom and doom for the polar bears. Bears having lost their poster status will probably not be studied so intensively in future, so polar bear experts will lose funding – unless something is done. The Harvey et al. monstrosity is one attempt to rescue their academic futures. Susan Crockford’s observations and conclusions are a major threat.
    Parallels between polar bear predictive models with poorly performing climate models are obvious. No doubt, if we looked closely we might find data manipulation and avoidance to keep the models (and the modellers) “healthy”.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. If you want to see polar bears for yourself, you could sign up to a WWF tour:

    Funny thing is, there is no mention of them being threatened until they have done the big sell….

    “On our flagship polar bear trip, meet the world’s greatest concentration of these big carnivores as they wait for freeze-up on Hudson Bay and the start of seal-hunting season”

    “Private Chartered Planes Maximize Our Time with the Bears”

    “So we don’t waste precious time planning around airline schedules and making our way through airport security screenings, we charter our own private aircraft, flying directly from Winnipeg to Churchill at a time that is most convenient for us.”

    Don’t worry however,

    “We all care about the planet, and on this adventure, you can travel knowing that the emissions from your trip are 100-percent carbon-offset. Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, a feature that is particularly important when considering that polar bears face a substantial threat from a warming planet.”

    “Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF’s Travel Partner”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The main point of this paper, is to label all sceptic blogs, as cherry picking one source, vs ‘science’ blogs.. and thus ‘peer reviewed’ science says to ignore sceptic blogs.

    This. is. the. sole. intent. of. this. paper.

    Polar bears/Crockford just as as an example.. and a bit of revenge on Crockford from Amstrup.

    exactly the same intent, as the Moon Hoax paper, both Fury papers, and the attacks on Ian Plimer paper (all by Lewandowsky) and the ‘seepage’ paper, to attacks ‘sceptic’ memes.

    “activism abusing science as a weapon” – Prof H Markram

    “Political motivations…. .. obvious” Prof Lee Jussim

    (ref Lew’s work)

    “Jussim pointed out that the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results. And it appeared that no peer reviewers, or journal editors, took the time, or went to the effort of scrutinizing the study in a way that was sufficient to identify the bold misrepresentations.

    While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. PAUL MATTHEWS says:

    06 Dec 17 at 2:04 pm

    Barry, correct. The paper has 14 authors, but it stinks of Lewandowsky.

    With a hint of Mann’s performance enhancing slugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Sent: 26 January 2011 09:55
    To: [log in to unmask]
    Subject: Re: Extraordinary bear swim

    Dear John,

    Many thanks for this interesting message. I didn’t see the news item,
    but if the interviewee who “ducked” the question was a scientist, I can
    understand why.

    Climate change is about long-term trends, and single events and
    anecdotal information are not really very good indicators of the
    presence or absence of any trend.

    The story of one polar bear found swimming for a long time is not really
    very good evidence about the impact of retreating Arctic sea ice. A
    large population of bears shown to have changed their behaviour over
    many years might be more convincing. This story might be illustrative of
    a trend, or it might just be about a bear that got lost.

    The fate of the polar bear has become a pawn in the highly politicized
    debate about climate change, particularly in the United States. It is
    not hard to conclude that retreating Arctic ice must be having an impact
    on the polar bear population – but whether you can yet detect that
    impact yet is another question entirely. I think it would be much better
    to find some solid research papers which have looked at impacts on polar
    bear populations and use that as the basis for any campaign.

    Bob Ward

    Policy and Communications Director
    Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
    London School of Economics and Political Science
    Houghton Street
    London WC2A 2AE


  19. copy Susan Crockford this: ? (Vindication – from Lewandowsky/Whitmarsh)

    “Last year, for example, when a picture of an emaciated polar bear circulated on the internet, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, wrote in a tweet: “THIS is what climate change looks like.”

    Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦
    THIS is what climate change looks like. Climate change is real. As are its impacts. Time to stand up for our polar bears and our planet. 🌎

    National Geographic

    “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” says photographer Paul Nicklen

    In reality, it was just what a sick old bear looks like. “It’s far more likely that it is starving due to health issues,” polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher told the National Post. Another scientist observed that polar bears have no predators, so when they die, it is usually of starvation.

    The trouble is that, if a sick bear is the narrative face of climate change, then a healthy bear can just as easily be the face of denial.”

    and a very old bit of scepticism…. seems to have been acknowledged…

    I remember tracking down the photo in question, the expedition blog just had it credited as a nice picture of polar bears,that there had been more ice thusualsal!!1

    “The photo, taken in summer from Canada’s flagship icebreaker the Louis S. St-Laurent, shows two polar bears on a melting ice floe in the Beaufort Sea, north of Barrow, Alaska.

    “Their habitat is melting… beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet,” said former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore in a presentation of his film An Inconvenient Truth, with the photo on the screen behind him. “They’re in trouble, got nowhere else to go.”

    This was not even close to true.

    “It’s just too cute to be true,” a spokesperson for Environment Canada said at the time. “You have to keep in mind that the bears are not in danger at all. It was, if you will, their playground for 15 minutes, you know what I mean?”

    Those bears were, as Lewandowsky and Whitmarsh argue, illegitimate emotional triggers.

    “The crucial attribute of legitimate triggers is that they capture the long-term trend that characterizes climate change, rather than short-term phenomena or random events,” they write. “Moreover, the triggers must be representative of a global pattern rather than a ‘cherry-picked’ result…. Biologists hoping to raise awareness of climate change risks to biodiversity should consider the evidence of how best to communicate climate change to ensure that they are not delivering counterproductive messages.”


  20. “Canada’s polar-bear capital Churchill warms too fast for bears”

    Or you could try this for some information from a polar bear expert:

    “No evidence for BBC claim that Churchill is simply getting too warm for polar bears”

    The simple fact is that sea ice in Western Hudson Bay, where Churchill is located, has not been declining more and more with rising CO2 emissions, according to data published by polar bear specialists (e.g. Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017).

    Since 2015, there has been only one ‘late’ freeze-up year (2016)–but five very early ones–and at most one relatively early breakup year (with some bears ashore in June). This year (2022) freeze-up was about as early as it was in the 1980s, as was the case in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, as the chart below indicates (dark blue is more ice than usual compared to 1991-2020). Breakup happened in July in 2022, so also not early.

    In other words, there has been no escalation of poor Churchill-area sea ice conditions in recent years as stated by the BBC.

    The BBC and others only get away with such blatantly false statements because polar bear specialists simply do not update their published data on Western Hudson Bay sea ice or condition of bears. Data for ice is now 7 years out of date and information on the condition of the bears is decades out of date.

    Moreover, the models predicting the demise of polar bears by 2100 are implausible prophesies based on discredited RCP8.5 scenarios that assume an unrealistic 500% increase in coal and a 60C rise in global temperature (Hausfather and Peters 2020) and out-of-date information on WH bears (Molnar et al. 2010, 2020)….

    Liked by 1 person

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