Tipping Factors, Attenboroughesque Tales of Local weather Change and Dying Polar Bears – Watts Up With That?

From polar bear science

The weird “tipping point” rhetoric will be repressed with the announcement of the latest IPCC report due today. Tipping points are those theoretical climate thresholds that, if breached, cause widespread catastrophe; they are mathematical model outputs that depend on many assumptions that may not be plausible or even possible.

Polar bears often get caught up in motivational stories of sea ice tipping points.

Tipping points aren’t facts: they’re scary stories that sound like science.

It is for this reason that Sir David Attenborough fully embraced the tipping point narrative. He even dedicated a film to them called Breaking Boundaries – The Science of Our Planet. Turning points are the animal tragedy porn of mathematical models, and Attenborough has adopted them both.

Attenborough and his cronies want you to fear climate change instead of thinking about what they mean by ‘action’, ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘net zero’. They want free domination to free the world from fossil fuels, and the more afraid you are of their implausible narratives, the more likely it is that they will be successful.

Remember the original scary polar bear story: the ice is melting faster than we thought and 2/3 of the bears will die!

Contrary to these predictions, however, polar bears have survived a loss of sea ice in summer of more than 40% since 1979 without the global population size declining (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019, 2021).

We had 14 years of sea ice cover in the summer that polar bear specialists insisted would destroy the species, and yet studies of the bears in the Arctic areas hardest hit by ice loss (the Barents Sea and Chukchi Sea) show that they thrive, not fight survive (Aars 2018; Crockford 2021; Regehr et al. 2016, 2018; Rode et al. 2014, 2018).

The latest polar bear model (Molnár et al. 2020) is no more believable than the first and is unlikely to provide an accurate picture of the future for polar bears.

Mathematical models are not facts (Curry 2017; Hausfather and Peters 2020).

Models are unlikely to predict future climate more accurately than polar bears’ future survival.

Think don’t feel Don’t let Attenboroughesque doom narratives prevent you from seeing the difference between fact and rhetoric in climate change. Https://www.youtube.com/embed/jQRle6pgBCY? Version = 3 & rel = 1 & showsearch = 0 & showinfo = 1 & iv_load_policy = 1 & fs = 1 & hl = de & autohide = 2 & wmode = transparent


Aars, J. 2018. Population changes in polar bears: Protected, but quickly losing their habitat. Fram Forum Newsletter 2018. Fram Center, Tromsø. Download PDF here (32 MB).

Amstrup, SC, Marcot, BG & Douglas, DC 2007. Predicting the blanket status of polar bears at selected times in the 21st century. US geological survey. Reston, VA. PDF here

Crockford, SJ 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice cover of 3-5 mkm2 leads to a decrease in the population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) by more than 30%. PeerJ Preprints January 19, 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 2021. The State of the Polar Bear Report 2020. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 48, London. pdf here.

Curry, J. 2017. Climate models for the layperson. Global Warming Policy Foundation Briefing # 24. London. pdf here.

Hausvater, Z. and Peters, GP 2020. Emissions – the business as usual story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620

Molnár, PK, Bitz, CM, Holland, MM, Kay, JE, Penk, SR and Amstrup, SC 2020. The length of Lent sets time limits on the global persistence of polar bears. Nature climate change. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0818-9

Regehr, EV, Laidre, KL, Akçakaya, HR, Amstrup, SC, Atwood, TC, Lunn, NJ, Obbard, M., Stern, H., Thiemann, GW, & Wiig, Ø. 2016. Conservation status of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to the predicted decline in sea ice. Biology Letters 12: 20160556. http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/12/20160556 Additional data here.

Regehr, EV, Hostetter, NJ, Wilson, RR, Rode, KD, St. Martin, M., Converse, SJ 2018. Integrated population modeling provides the first empirical estimates of vital rates and the occurrence of polar bears in the Chukchi Sea. Scientific reports 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-018-34824-7 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-34824-7

Rode, KD, Regehr, EV, Douglas, D., Durner, G., Derocher, AE, Thiemann, GW and Budge, S. 2014. Variation in Response of a Habitat Loss Arctic Tip Predator: Food and Reproductive Ecology of Two Polar Bear Populations. Biology of global change 20 (1):76-88. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12339/abstract

Rode, KD, RR Wilson, DC Douglas, V. Mühlenbruch, TC Atwood, EV Regehr, ES Richardson, NW Pilfold, AE Derocher, GM Durner, I. Stirling, SC Amstrup, MS Martin, AM Pagano and K. Simac. 2018. The spring fasting behavior of a marine top predator provides an index of ecosystem productivity. Global Change Biology http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13933/full

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