Lomborg solutions the Polar Bear Abundance Problem

From polar bear science

Susan Crockford

Money quote from Bjorn Lomborg’s response to the polar bear numbers “fact check,” Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2023:

“Polar bears, and all of us, benefit more when those trying to help them use accurate facts.”

Lomborg answers himself after I challenged the “fact checkers” last week:

Relying on the data I referenced used to be uncontroversial. When a CNN science journalist conducted a study similar to AFP’s in 2008, he spoke to scores of scientists, and they agreed “that polar bear populations have in all likelihood been increasing in recent decades.” When polar bears were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2008, the decision noted that the population “has increased from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960s to a current global estimate of 20,000 to 25,000.” The data here hasn’t changed, just the media’s willingness to ignore infuriating facts.

The result is that the public is denied access to accurate data and open debate on these very important issues. Ridiculous points on the one hand stand while so-called fact checking censors inconvenient truths. If we want to make good climate policy, voters need a full picture of the facts. Lomborg 2023, backup link

I’d like to add this fact: in 1982 polar bears were classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN, but by 1996 that had changed to ‘lower risk/conservation dependent’ – now listed as ‘least concern’ (see screenshot below) because population numbers had declined more than 20 years of international protection from overhunting. The return to vulnerable in 2006 was based solely on predictions that future population numbers would decline due to ice loss, which has not happened to date (Crockford 2017, 2019; Crockford and Geist 2018).


.Crockford, SJ 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 will result in a population size decline of more than 30% for polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 19 January 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v1 Open Access. https://peerj.com/preprints/2737/

Crockford, SJ 2019. The polar bear disaster that never happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and e-book format.

Crockford, SJ and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pp. 26-27. PDF here.

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