Misrepresented data used to falsely ‘prove’ polar bears thriving & More Trending News


For greater than a decade, folks have falsely claimed polar bears are “thriving,” utilizing an “increasing population” as proof. We clarify the actual standing of polar bears.

The polar bear, with its ice habitat in decline, has turn out to be a logo of the results of worldwide warming. But in accordance to some individuals who deny or downplay local weather change, the species is thriving. For instance, a viral tweet and its subsequent thread claimed that the worldwide inhabitants of polar bears has “never been higher.”

It’s a declare that’s been repeated incessantly over time. A Wall Street Journal article from 15 years in the past took exception to the Bush administration recommending polar bears be listed as “threatened” below the Endangered Species Act, claiming that it was pointless as a result of the polar bear inhabitants was larger than it had ever been earlier than. An article by the Foundation for Economic Education in 2019 shared related data to argue that polar bears are thriving.


Are claims that polar bears are “thriving” as a result of their inhabitants is “increasing” true?



This is misleading.

Claims that polar bears are thriving, as confirmed by a rising inhabitants, are deceptive. Polar bear numbers did rise within the late twentieth century after governments carried out looking restrictions. But they aren’t at present growing in quantity, and their future stays in peril.


Scientists don’t know the precise variety of polar bears in existence, largely as a result of lots of them dwell in locations troublesome to attain. Instead, they estimate a worldwide inhabitants and replace that estimate at any time when their data improves.

Even with restricted data, scientists are assured that there are extra polar bears now than there have been 50 years in the past, when polar bears had been victims of overhunting. But now that the inhabitants has leveled off, they don’t consider the quantity remains to be rising in the present day.

Some clusters of polar bears are in decline, some are secure, some are growing and most lack sufficient data to draw any conclusions.

“It is both simultaneously true to point to part of recent history and say there’s a conservation success story here, and that should rightfully be celebrated, and to also say there’s an immediate existential threat to the entire species right now,” stated John Whiteman, chief analysis scientist for Polar Bears International.

But even when scientists did have all of the data, and even when that data did present a present-day development within the polar bear inhabitants, polar bears wouldn’t be “thriving.” The world polar bear inhabitants would nonetheless be susceptible to decline as sea-ice loss continued within the Arctic.

“It’s a very different threat imposed by climate change going forward as compared to [hunting] going backwards,” stated Andrew Derocher, a scientist within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Polar Bear Specialist Group.

Using VERIFIED sources, we break down the state of the polar bear inhabitants prior to now, the current standing of the polar bear inhabitants and what’s on the horizon for the species.

Polar bears’ previous — late twentieth century

Back within the Sixties, polar bears had been on the verge of extinction thanks to overhunting. Although the precise variety of polar bears within the wild was unknown and estimates had been due to this fact even much less exact than they’re in the present day — Derocher stated that trendy surveying methods weren’t developed till the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties — the estimates from the time put the worldwide polar bear inhabitants at 5,000 to 10,000. 

In 1973, there was an settlement between the 5 Arctic nations the place polar bears dwell — Canada, the Soviet Union, Norway, Greenland (Denmark) and the U.S. — to make native polar bear looking sustainable.

“As that hunting pressure was reduced and managed more effectively around the Arctic, the number [of polar bears] increased,” Whiteman stated. “And so between I would say the 60s and the 90s, polar bears were absolutely a conservation success story.”

But that success story was three many years in the past, and biologists don’t consider polar bears are nonetheless of their post-hunting regulation inhabitants growth. 

“I think that most populations that were overharvested have already sort of plateaued at whatever level they’re going to be at,” Derocher defined.

Polar bears’ current — From 2000 to in the present day

Even in the present day, the precise variety of polar bears across the globe is unknown, however estimates are at the least significantly better than they had been simply 10 years in the past.

Instead of polar bears as a single world inhabitants, in the present day’s researchers monitor polar bears in 19 distinct sub-populations, every inside a separate area of the Arctic. These sub-populations all face distinctive situations that have an effect on polar bears otherwise, Derocher stated. So as a result of scientists analysis and monitor every area of polar bears individually, they’ll get perception into which elements of the Arctic polar bears are doing the most effective, and which elements they’re doing the worst.

Of the 19 sub-populations, 10 lack sufficient data for scientists to decide inhabitants tendencies, in accordance to a map from Polar Bears International. Three populations are in decline, 4 are secure and two are on the rise.

The 10 data-deficient sub-populations all dwell in areas with little infrastructure and significantly harsh situations, such because the Siberian coast and east Greenland. Derocher stated scientists nonetheless attempt to make their greatest guess on the polar bear numbers in these areas, usually utilizing the well being of the regional sea ice as indicators. But it’s nonetheless the equal of “hand waving,” in accordance to Whiteman.

Still, scientists try to put collectively a worldwide polar bear inhabitants. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says IUCN scientists at present estimate there are 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears worldwide, or roughly 26,000.

That’s larger than the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears the IUCN estimated about 10 years in the past. The change doesn’t mirror a rise within the variety of polar bears, the WWF explains. Instead, it’s the results of current enhancements to surveying a number of the sub-populations of polar bears, significantly in data-deficient areas. 

Based on the data they do have, each Whiteman and Derocher estimate that the worldwide polar bear inhabitants is at present in a slight decline, or secure at greatest. But proclamations that polar bears are positively growing or positively declining in complete quantity needs to be handled with skepticism, at the least for now, Whiteman stated.

Polar bears’ future — Over the subsequent century

Both Whiteman and Derocher stated previous and present tendencies within the world polar bear inhabitants haven’t any indication on how polar bears will fare sooner or later.

“We can predict with quite high likelihood that there’s going to be a major decline in the range of polar bears, which means that a lot of these sub-populations will be extirpated, which is a fancy word for local extinction,” Derocher stated. “As a species, though, we do not anticipate that there’s a very high likelihood of extinction within [the next three generations, or 33 years]. And even some of the work in my research group suggests that the likelihood of extinction before the end of the century is quite low as well.”

His prediction has every part to do with sea ice.

Whiteman defined that polar bears are extremely specialised for all times on sea ice. Their tooth are designed to eat fewer crops and extra meat, significantly seals, than different bears. They have curved claws to seize slippery prey and have traction on ice. They’re huge; polar bears are about as heavy as the biggest brown bears.

“Can polar bears go on shore and survive for a couple of months? Yes, and they do that in some parts of their range right now as part of their natural cycle, for sure,” Whiteman stated. “But could they fully transition to being shore-based animals? Not a chance; their best hope would be to evolve back into brown bears if they’re going to do that.”

Scientists can see there was better and better Arctic sea ice soften over the previous couple of many years, and they also’re assured that continued soften will imply fewer and fewer polar bears. But, at the least within the quick time period, they know that some polar bear sub-populations received’t wrestle in any respect.

Remember these two sub-populations on the rise? They dwell in areas with almost 100% sea ice cowl year-round. Whiteman stated that these situations are unfavorable even for polar bears, which want breaks within the ice if seals are going to floor for air and make themselves susceptible to hungry bears.

So whereas polar bears in areas with out a lot sea ice will endure first and decline most quickly as what little ice they’ve melts, Whiteman stated that polar bears in these ice-dense areas will really profit from improved habitat high quality, at the least at first. Polar bear biologists really predicted this might occur, Whiteman stated.

But finally, if sea ice loss continues to such an excessive that the icier areas are left with barely any sea ice in any respect, then the polar bears there can even endure.

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Misrepresented data used to falsely ‘prove’ polar bears thriving

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Misrepresented data used to falsely ‘prove’ polar bears thriving

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Misrepresented data used to falsely ‘prove’ polar bears thriving

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