We've all seen the pictures of polar bears stranded on
sea ice. They're
all too often used as the iconic poster animals of a
rapidly changing climate.
Every now and again, claims emerge in the media that polar
bears' plight might not be so serious after all. Just recently,
Peter Hitchens said in the
Mail on Sunday polar bears are "doing extremely well right
now" and that claims otherwise are "just hot air".
Carbon Brief has dug through the literature and spoken to polar
bear experts. While little is known about some remote bear
populations, it's clear there's no scientific basis for such
optimism. As temperatures rise, polar bears face a bleak future
ahead, scientists tell us.
Claims about polar bears on the
The crux of Hitchens' argument is that polar bear
numbers are rising around the world, not falling. He quotes
Dr Susan Crockford, who says:
"On almost every measure, things are looking good for
polar bears ... It really is time for the doom and gloom about
polar bears to stop."
Source: Ben Webster, The Times,
Feb 27th 2015
This stems from a report authored by Crockford
and published last
week by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate skeptic
think tank. Entitled, "
20 good reasons not to worry about polar bears", the
report describes itself as a "resource for cooling the polar bear
The Times quoted the report's conclusion that:
"Polar bears are not currently
threatened with extinction due to declining sea ice, despite the
hue and cry from activist scientists and environmental
Similarly, a Mail on Sunday
article from last September, also featuring
Crockford, claimed: "The poster boys of climate change thrive
in the icy Arctic: Polar bears defy concerns about their
So, what is the evidence for the claims? And do other scientists
agree there's no cause for alarm?