Well, here’s how I spent a day with the flu:
Watts Up With That (WUWT) is one of the blogs cited as a ‘denier’ blog by Harvey et al.(Harvey et al 2017 asserts that contrarian weblogs predominantly cite Dr. Susan Crockford’s work when discussing polar bears. Crockford is not skeptical about global warming, but is decidedly skeptical of alarmed claims that polar bears are endangered due to loss of ice in the Arctic.)
Watts Up With That bills itself as the most widely viewed climate weblog and with roughly 338 million page views to date, I doubt if their claim can be disputed.
Up to September 15 2017 (the search date of Harvey et al), there were 85 posts with polar bear in the title. Examination shows that 83 of them were actually relevant to the search.
Of those 83 blog posts, 19 were either guest posts by or interviews of Dr. Susan Crockford, the target of Harvey et al 2017.
A gross count of citations of Crockford was not attempted–she self-cited repeatedly during her guest posts, much in the way Joe Romm does at Climate Progress, a typical citation being ‘for the rest of my article see here.’
However, on blog posts not authored by or featuring Dr. Crockford, a wide variety of sources were cited.
Included in those sources are repeated links to scientific papers by co-authors of Harvey et al: Armstrup papers were cited 6 times, for example, while Stirling papers were cited three times.
In total, I found 93 external citations to non-Crockford sources on WUWT for qualifying blog posts, from journals ranging from Science and Nature to peerJ.com.
The most frequent non-journal source cited was the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which was linked to 7 times. The second most frequent were the NSIDC and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
It would have been possible to find many more external sources, but for two factors.
The first is the large number of dead links, which I chose not to include in my list. The second was the number of posts by Jim Steele, a skeptical scientist. He placed non-linked references to many academic publications at the bottom of his posts, and I chose not to include them as they were not clickable.
I submit that if Watts Up With That is representative of the universe of skeptical blogs Harvey et al covered that the results the report seems skewed.
I submit a naive reader wishing to explore both sides of the controversy about polar bears could do a lot worse than following the links presented in WUWT. Can you say the same for the non-contrarian blogs you investigated?
Here are external sources found discussing polar bears at Watts Up With That
At UNO, scientist Michael Mann calls for fast action on climate change
Polar Bears’ Path to Decline Runs Through Alaskan Village
Biological response to climate change in the Arctic Ocean: the view from the past, Cronin and Cronin
IUCN / SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group
IUCN Red Book Assessment
Think Progress: The 5 Year Plan to Save the Polar Bears
US Fish and Wildlife Service, A Conservation Management Plan, Polar Bear Recovery Team
The Silver Ink, Polar Bears Might Go Extinct by 2025
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Service Announce First Conservation Management Plan for Polar Bear
US Fish and Wildlif Service, Polar Bear Draft Conservation Plan
USGS Changing Arctic EcoSystems, Reducing CO2 Emissions Required to Improve Polar Bear Outlook
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Polar Bears: An Improved Framework for Harvest Management
IUCN SSC PBSG, Global Polar Bear Population Estimates
Norwegian Polar Institute: Polar Bears in Svalbard in Good Condition–So Far
IUCN SSC PBSG, Barents Sea
The Energetic Value of Land-Based Foods in Western Hudson Bay and Their Potential to Alleviate Energy Deficits of Starving Adult Male Polar Bears, PLOS One, Gormezzano and Rockwell
Can polar bears use terrestrial foods to offset loar ice-based hunting opportunities? Rode, et al, Frontiers in Ecology
Arctic marine mammal population status, sea ice habitat loss, and conservation recommendations for the 21st century, Laidre et al, Conservation Biology
IUCN SSC PBSG, Population Status Reviews
Government of Canada, Maps of sub-populations of polar bears and protected areas
First global review on the status, future of Arctic Marine Mammals, Dickey, Phys.Org
Polar bear population dynamics in the southern Beaufort Sea during a period of sea ice decline, Stirling, Armstrup et al, Ecological Applications
Fifth Annual Assessment Report, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
NBC: Polar Bears Like Passengers on the Titanic Because of Global Warming
Migration phenology and seasonal fidelity of an Arctic marine predator in relation to sea ice dynamics, Cherry et al, Journal of Animal Ecology
A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Lisiecki and Ramo, Paleoceanography
Polar and brown bear genomes reveal ancient admixture and demographic footprints of past climate change, Miller et al, PNAS
Injecting Sulfate Particles Into Stratosphere Won’t Full Offset Climate Change, University of Washington, Journal of Climate
Polar Bears, Martha Stewart and Me, Gavin Schmidt, GISS/NASA
New insights on Arctic Quaternary climate variability from palaeo-records and numerical modelling, Jakobsson et al, Quaternary Science Reviews
Ice Free Arctic Ocean, an Early Holocene Analogue, Funder & Kjaer, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 2007
Consequences of long-distance swimming and travel over deep-water pack ice for a female polar bear during a year of extreme sea ice retreat, Armstrup, Durner et al, Polar Biology
Polar bear cubs may reduce chilling from icy water by sitting on mother’s back, Aars & Plumb, Polar Biology
Polar bear Ursus maritimus hearing measured with auditory evoked potentials, Nachtigall et al, Journal of Experimental Biology
Pacific Northwest Research Station, Polar Bears No Longer On Thin Ice
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Can Reduce Sea-ice Loss and Increase Polar Bear Persistence, Armstrup et al, Nature
Polar Bears Survived The Ice Free Arctic, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska
Beyond Polar Bears? Re-envisioning climate change, Manzo, Meteorological Applications
Ecological dynamics across the Arctic associated with recent climate change, Post et al, Science
Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed, Forecasting Expert Asserts, Science Daily
Polar bear attacks on humans: Implications of a changing climate, Wilder et al, Wildlife Society Bulletin
Demographic, ecological and physiological responses of ringed seals to an abrupt decline in sea ice availability, Ferguson et al, PeerJ.com
The Hybrid Origin of “Modern” Humans, Ackerman et al, Evolutionary Biology
IUCN Red List, Supplementary material for ursus maritimus
IIUCN SSC PBSG, Western Hudson Bay
Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf:
A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three Decades, Sterling, Arctic
Ringed Seals and Sea Ice in Canada’s Western Arctic: Harvest-Based Monitoring 1992-2011, Harwood et al, Arctic
Temporal variations in Hudson Bay ringed seal (Phoca hispida) life-history parameters in relation to environment, Stirling, Chambellant et al, Journal of Mammalogy
Variation in the response of an Arctic top predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations, Rode et al, Global Change Biology
Increased Land Use by Chukchi Sea Polar Bears in Relation to Changing Sea Ice Conditions, Rode et al, PLOS One
Estimating the Energetic Contribution of Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Summer Diets to the Total Energy Budget,Dyck & Kebreab
Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea, McKay et al, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Natural variability of Arctic sea ice over the Holocene, Fisher et al
Long-term Trends in the Population Ecology of Polar Bears in Western Hudson Bay in Relation to Climate Change, Sterling et al, Arctic
Revisiting Western Hudson Bay: Using aerial surveys to update polar bear abundance in a sentinel population, Stapleton et al, Biological Conservation
IIUCN SSC PBSG, Summary of polar bear status 2017
Survival and breeding of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea in relation to sea ice, Sterling, Armstrup et al, Journal of Animal Ecology
Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three Decades, Stirling, Armstrup et al, Arctic
Unusual Predation Attempts of Polar Bears on Ringed Seals in the Southern Beaufort Sea: Possible Significance of Changing Spring Ice Conditions
Polar bear population dynamics in the southern Beaufort Sea duringa period of sea ice decline, Armstrup et al, Ecological Society of America
Potential effects of diminished sea ice on open-water swimming, mortality, and distribution of polar bears during fall in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, Monnett et al, 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals