New York Times journalist Erica Goode misses a mountain of polar bear research, instead lets herself get swept up by alarmist polar bear activism.
The New York Times recently published an article penned by Erica Goode on the controversial Harvey et al paper, where 14 scientists (sophomorically) attacked polar bear researcher Susan Crockford and climate science skeptics.
If the Harvey publication makes anything clear, it is that its authors are deeply frustrated by the large share of the public who reject their alarmist climate science. But instead of looking at themselves and the mountain of blunders they have made in the past to see what they could improve, the Harvey scientists chose to lash out and blame their woes on mean-spirited “deniers”. The inconvenient reality, however, is that alarmist climate and polar bear science (and journalism) has not been clean, and at times it’s been outright sloppy, deceptive and shrill. That’s the real big reason skeptics have been so successful.
Sloppy biased journalism
So it is no surprise that Erica Goode at the New York Times sided up with the 14 scientists of the Harvey publication to attack the so-called climate “denialists” in her most recent article. Unfortunately Goode made the fatal journalistic error of failing to keep a healthy distance from the alarmist side and as a result was blinded from seeing the glaring mountain of scientific research showing polar bears are in fact doing fine.
As a result Goode’s work couldn’t have been sloppier.
A mountain of recent scientific publications gets missed
The reality is that there are many polar bear scientists out there who have produced a considerable body of recent scientific findings, which show that the polar bear populations are in reality stable or even thriving. How could Goode have missed it?
Whatever the reasons, it appears to be to a classic case of journalistic negligence.
Had the seasoned New Times journalist done just the minimum of research one expects of even a beginner journalist, she would have discovered, for example, two very recent papers on polar bears published in the journals Ecology and Evolution and Polar Record, and many others. According to expert polar bear scientists (other than Dr. Susan Crockford) there is no evidence to support recent claims polar bears as a species are in grave danger due to climate change and thinning sea ice.
Somehow Goode allowed herself to be talked into the absurd idea that Susan Crockford is the only skeptic polar bear scientist out there, and so did not bother to check for others, so it seems. And the only crises we find are those from dubious computer-modelled 2050 scenarios.
1) York et al 2016
One scientific publication by York et al in 2016 found that given the paleoclimate record of a much warmer (+4 to + 7.5 °C) Arctic, there was much more reduced sea ice thickness and extent in the past relative to today. They concluded: “it seems unlikely that polar bears (as a species) are at risk from anthropogenic global warming.”
The authors wrote in their summary:
Considering both [observations from native populations] and scientific information, we suggest that the current status of Canadian polar bear subpopulations in 2013 was 12 stable/increasing and one declining (Kane Basin).”
We do not find support for the perspective that polar bears within or shared with Canada are currently in any sort of climate crisis.”
Why didn’t Goode contact these scientists and present their results? There are many other scientists who share Crockford’s view.
2) Wong et al 2017
Another published scientific paper by Wong et al., 2017, “Inuit perspectives of polar bear research: lessons for community-based collaborations”, the authors investigated Inuit observations. Here’s an excerpt of their findings:
Wong, a researcher at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, and her team also found in early 80s, and mid 90s: “there were hardly any bears” and “there’s too many polar bears now”.
Also they noted: “Bears foraging for land-based foods have been reported in the literature prior to recent concerns over climate change (Russell 1975; Derocher and others 1993; Gormezano and Rockwell 2013a).” Also: “Observations of bears consuming garbage are not uncommon (Russell 1975; Lunn and Stirling 1985; Gormezano and Rockwell 2013b)”
More fuel for skeptics
One has to wonder if the activist Harvey team of scientists and the New York Times live in an alternative universe. It is precisely that kind of gross omission and one-sidedness that has been fuelling the skeptics over the years.
And there’s much more that they ignored.
A publication by Laforest et al titled Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Polar Bears in the Northern Eeyou Marine Region looked at the perception of communities in Quebec on the prevalence of problem polar bears. Results: One-third of participants reported that polar bears will be unaffected by, or even benefit from, longer ice-free periods. A majority of participants indicated that the local polar bear population was stable or increasing.
Moreover they cited the fact that polar bears are capable of hunting seals in open water as a factor contributing to the stable body condition of the bears. and that none of the participants explicitly linked the effects of a warming climate to specific impacts on polar bears.
The publication also states that a recent aerial survey of the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation found that the abundance of polar bears has remained steady since 1986 (943 bears; SE: 174) (Obbard et al., 2015).
11 more recent papers show bears survive without ice
Not long ago Kenneth Richard reported on almost a dozen papers showing that polar bears easily survived ice-free and far warmer conditions than those seen today or those expected by mid century.
Even more research shows that polar bear population is up 42% since 2004.
Russia “scientists know little or nothing”
Goode’s non-researched article also mentions that “scientists know little or nothing” about the situation in Russia and other remote areas (and so it’s got to be bad?). If it is unknown, then how can one be either rationally alarmed or relieved about the situation there? Yet, given the positive situation from Canada and Alaska, there is no rational reason to assume all is bad in Russia.
New York Times’ image of bias
So what can we take home from this? Why did Goode ignore so much polar bear research, and why has she unconditionally lapped up everything handed down to her by the alarmist clique? We can only speculate it’s about activism.
Erica Goode and New York Times again shot themselves in the foot on this one and reaffirmed their reputation for bias.
Had Goode resisted getting distracted from the “us” versus “them” narrative and actually dug a little into the actual scientific results – and the scientists behind them – like honest journalists do, she would not have produced such a piece of journalism.