Letter: The polar bear climate change debate continues

Opinion pieces do not a scientific refutation make

To the Expositor:

I write in response to the McPhail letter of October 14, ‘A counterpoint to the upbeat bear health study.’ 

The study that I referenced in my October 7 letter provides information about current polar bear health, reproduction trends and a population estimate for the Kane Basin, one of the bear sub-populations. In other words, this information can be considered factual. They count the bears, measure body weight, observe reproductive rates, among a host of other information relative to the bears. Perhaps useful to support or negate a hypothesis. In other words, it is a comprehensive study. McPhail references “other articles” that attempt to dismiss the results of the study. Note the difference here. The first is a comprehensive study not an “article” of the sort that he refers to. 

I also referenced two other studies concerning the Chukchi Sea and M’Clintock Channel sub-populations. As stated in an earlier letter, both these population are also doing very well. Three-thousand bears for the former and increasing from 625 for the latter. We don’t know the extent of the increase since the numbers have not been released. We do know that they have increased since the study authors have said as much. In addition, on September 23, 2020 the Government of Nunavut reported that surveys in the Gulf of Boothia (about 2,200 bears) and M’Clintock Channel indicate that the animals are doing very well. Again, this information should be considered great news for polar bear enthusiasts. We all should be thrilled!

The common hypothesis concerning Arctic warming is that lack of summer sea ice will result in disastrous consequences for the bears. The facts do not support this hypothesis.

Another interesting issue regarding the information that Mr. McPhail included is the comment that the Kane Basin bears will likely face the same fate as their southern cousins. Again, the facts do not support this contention. The Chukchi Sea area, for example, is more ice free in summer than the Kane Basin and most of the other areas as well. As reported, the bears there are doing just fine. If there are reports (not opinion pieces) that indicate that southern sub-population are not doing well, it should not be difficult to provide a reference to those studies. 

We have been told over several decades now that the bears are in a dire situation. The information came at us from every direction reaching a crescendo with the Al Gore “documentary.” As the research continues, it is becoming obvious (to some people) that the opposite is happening, the bears are doing very well and the population is increasing. And by the way, any article with “if this happens” or “will likely” and other weasel words interspersed in the text should be an indication that the work is light on facts and should be treated as such.

I would like to close with a description of a cartoon that has been circulating recently. It is a wonderful picture of a bear with a little cub and Mom appears to be talking to her offspring. The caption underneath reads, ‘When Al Gore was born there were 7,000 of us, today only 30,000 remain.’

Shane Desjardins