Frozen Planet II repeats Attenborough’s local weather change scaremongering that started in 2015 – Watts Up With That?

From Polar Bear Science

Susan Crockford

A brand new Sir David Attenborough-narrated BBC six-part documentary, Frozen Planet II, has simply hit TV audiences within the UK with a contemporary litany of sob tales about Arctic and Antarctic animals designed to amplify the ‘save the planet’ rhetoric that Attenborough has been pushing for years, which I described intimately my e book printed earlier this 12 monthsFallen Icon: Sir David Attenborough and the Falling Walrus Deception. h/t Toby Younger.

Filming of Frozen Planet II sequence started in 2018, which suggests it was a part of Attenborough’s relentless ‘local weather change’ and ‘tipping level’ messaging agenda that began in 2015 with the inception of the WWF/Netflix ‘Our Planet‘ blockbuster sequence and the notorious Russian ‘falling walrus’. I’m certain it’s no coincidence that the second episode of this new sequence (Frozen Ocean) is ready to air subsequent week, across the time that Arctic sea ice will attain its lowest extent for the 12 months.

Frozen Planet II: Sunday [11 September], 8pm, BBC One

Penguins! Gerbils! Seals! The fluffiest (and grumpiest) cats on the earth! David Attenborough returns with one other epic exploration of the world’s frozen areas. One minute you’re screaming at a grizzly bear chasing a muskox calf that’s misplaced its mother and father, the subsequent you’re weirdly unhappy {that a} polar bear can’t hunt seals due to the melting ice – and this picture nails the pressing message on this unbelievable six-episode sequence. The frozen wilderness is disappearing at a quicker charge than ever earlier than, with the Arctic predicted to see ice-free summers by 2035. Every closeup shot of those superb animals is a reminder of what the world will lose with out taking quick motion. [my bold] Hollie Richardson, The Guardian, 11 September 2022

Svalbard/Barents Sea

Summers within the Arctic at present convey record-breaking warmth. With local weather change, it’s warming quicker than anyplace else on Earth. It’s predicted that the Arctic Ocean might change into ice-free every summer time by 2035, elevating new challenges for polar bears. [my bold] Episode 2: Frozen Ocean.

The primary a part of the above snippet appears like a normal description of life within the Arctic for polar bears nevertheless it’s not: one of many scenes on this episode was shot in Svalbard (an archipelago east of Greenland, see under), which is decidely not consultant of the Arctic generally.

Svalbard has certainly been experiencing heat summers in recent times and that is mirrored in the truth that by 2015, summer time sea ice extent within the Barents Sea had retreated greater than 6 instances as a lot because it had in Southern Hudson Bayprobably the most southern subpopulation. The charts of summer time sea ice decline from 1979-2015 under are from a paper by Eric Regehr and colleagues in 2016:

If the professed correlation between summer time sea ice and polar bear well being and survival acknowledged by polar bear specialists was appropriate (e.g. Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019, 2022), there must be no bears left in Svalbard. This portion of the Barents Sea subpopulation particularly has endured greater than a decade of critically low sea ice in summer time.

Nevertheless, regardless of this dramatic decline in summer time sea ice, polar bears in Svalbard are “unexpectedly” thriving, based on one of many polar bear specialists who constantly screens their situation. Over the last inhabitants survey within the spring of 2015, bears have been discovered to be in wonderful situation and lots of cubs have been counted. As lately as spring 2022, this was nonetheless the case and an in depth examine printed in 2019 had this to say concerning the well being of polar bear females specifically:

“Unexpectedly, physique situation of feminine polar bears from the Barents Sea has elevated after 2005, though sea ice has retreated by 50% for the reason that late Nineties within the space, and the size of the ice-free season has elevated by over 20 weeks between 1979 and 2013. These adjustments are additionally accompanied by winter sea ice retreat that’s particularly pronounced within the Barents Sea in comparison with different Arctic areas” [Lippold et al. 2019:988]

The reply to the conundrum of polar bear survival in Svalbard is that sea ice in Spring (i.e. April-Might), when the bears do most their feeding, is plentiful and that has not modified in recent times, as this sea ice space chart for 7 April 2020 exhibits:

Right here is the essential take-home message about polar bears within the Barents Sea:

“Regardless of the declining sea ice within the Barents Sea, polar bears are seemingly not missing meals so long as sea ice is current throughout their peak feeding interval.” [Lippold et al. 2019:988]

Wrangel Island/Chukchi Sea

With out sea ice, increasingly more bears have gotten stranded on distant Arctic islands. It’s a harmful place to be for a mom bear with cubs, surrounded by bigger, predatory males. Episode 2: Frozen Ocean.

The opposite story about polar bears introduced on this sequence takes place on Wrangel Island, the place “…a mom polar bear finds herself stranded on a distant island stuffed with threatening males as she struggles to feed her cubs.” Though the episode hasn’t aired but, it’s potential to pre-emptively refute the implied narrative of a wrestle for survival caused by human-caused local weather change leading to a sea ice dying spiral.

Chukchi Sea polar bears are the opposite subpopulation that’s ‘unexpectedly’ thriving regardless of current dramatic declines in summer time sea ice and a rise in time spent on land throughout the summer time (Rode and Regehr 2010; Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018). Chukchi Sea polar bears are plentiful and in wonderful situation. Wrangel Island has at all times been used as a summer time refuge for polar bears when the ocean ice retreats throughout the summer time (and a essential denning space for pregnant bears), which implies this ‘stranding’ of a mom bear and her cubs just isn’t a brand new phenomenon.

And whereas barely extra polar bears have certainly spent about one month extra on land throughout the 2010s, in recent times that sample has modified. Sea ice alongside the coast of Chukotka and round Wrangel was very thick final summer time and at 1 September this 12 months Wrangel was nonetheless surrounded by ice (see under):

The conundrum of polar bears and seals thriving within the Chukchi Sea regardless of much less summer time sea ice is defined by the truth that major productiveness has elevated since sea ice declined after 2002. Research have proven that extra daylight reaching open water for longer intervals in recent times has meant extra meals for your complete Arctic meals chain and that these results have been strongest within the Chukchi and Barents Seas (Coupel et al. 2019; Crockford 2021; Frey et al. 2020). Extra meals for fish and seals has meant extra meals for polar bears within the spring and fatter bears imply extra wholesome cubs.

In different phrases, any suggestion within the Frozen Planet II sequence that Wrangel Island polar bear moms and cubs is perhaps struggling to outlive as a consequence of lack of sea ice wouldn’t be supported by scientific knowledge.

In conclusion, this sequence is extra deliberate emotional manipulation meant to make viewers amenable to ‘taking motion on local weather change’ (whether or not voluntarily or through authorities edict), as Frozen Planet II government producer Mark Brownlow instructed the BBC:

Environmental storytelling is far more engrained on this sequence. We get the viewers invested in our characters, which we then use to speak the message. Our harp seal sequence in Greenland is an effective instance. Females abandon their pups at simply 12 days outdated, having launched them to swimming, to allow them to breed once more. On the level within the sequence that our feminine leaves her teen – alone on a small ice floe in the course of freezing nowhere – you’re emotionally engaged.

Then we reveal the tough fact: as a consequence of local weather change, storms are extra frequent and the ice is thinning, which implies many pups are being blown into the water earlier than they’re correctly in a position to cope. It’s heartbreaking.

By no means thoughts that harp seal abundance throughout the Arctic is at an all-time excessive as a result of numbers within the NW Atlantic are booming or {that a} storm or low ice protection on the incorrect time in any 12 months may cause excessive pup mortality: the BBC/Attenborough agenda calls for a sure a message be instructed about local weather change and the individuals concerned usually are not about to let scientific details get of their means. That is calculated ‘local weather change’ propaganda marketed as ‘leisure’. Purchaser beware.


Amstrup, S.C., Marcot, B.G. & Douglas, D.C. 2007. Forecasting the rangewide standing of polar bears at chosen instances within the twenty first century. US Geological Survey. Reston, VA. Pdf right here

Coupel, P., Michel, C. and Devred, E. 2019. Case examine: The Ocean in Bloom. In State of Canada’s Arctic Seas, Niemi, A., Ferguson, S., Hedges, Okay., Melling, H., Michel, C., et al. 2019. Canadian Technical Report Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3344.

Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the speculation that routine sea ice protection of 3-5 mkm2 ends in a larger than 30% decline in inhabitants dimension of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 19 January 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v1 Open entry.

Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Disaster That By no means Occurred. International Warming Coverage Basis, London. Out there in paperback and book codecs.

Crockford, S.J. 2021. The State of the Polar Bear Report 2020. International Warming Coverage Basis Report 48, London. PDF right here.

Crockford, S.J. 2022. The State of the Polar Bear 2021. International Warming Coverage Basis Notice 29, London. pdf right here.

Frey, Okay.E., Comiso, J.C., Cooper, L.W., Grebmeier, J.M. and Inventory, L.V. 2020. Arctic Ocean primiary productiveness: the response of marine algae to local weather warming and sea ice decline. 2020 Arctic Report Card. NOAA. DOI: 10.25923/vtdn-2198 weather-Warming-and-Sea-Ice-Decline

Lippold, A., Bourgeon, S., Aars, J., Andersen, M., Polder, A., Lyche, J.L., Bytingsvik, J., Jenssen, B.M., Derocher, A.E., Welker, J.M. and Routti, H. 2019. Temporal developments of persistent natural pollution in Barents Sea polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to adjustments in feeding habits and physique situation. Environmental Science and Technology 53(2):984-995.

Regehr, E.V., Laidre, Okay.L, Akçakaya, H.R., Amstrup, S.C., Atwood, T.C., Lunn, N.J., Obbard, M., Stern, H., Thiemann, G.W., & Wiig, Ø. 2016. Conservation standing of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to projected sea-ice declines. Biology Letters 12: 20160556. material/12/12/20160556 Supplementary knowledge right here.

Rode, Okay. and Regehr, E.V. 2010. Polar bear analysis within the Chukchi and Bering Seas: A synopsis of 2010 subject work. Unpublished report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of the Inside, Anchorage. pdf right here.

Rode, Okay.D., Douglas, D., Durner, G., Derocher, A.E., Thiemann, G.W., and Budge, S. 2013. Variation within the response of an Arctic prime predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations. Oral presentation by Karyn Rode, 28th Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, March 26-29. Anchorage, AK.

Rode, Okay.D., Regehr, E.V., Douglas, D., Durner, G., Derocher, A.E., Thiemann, G.W., and Budge, S. 2014. Variation within the response of an Arctic prime predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations. International Change Biology 20(1):76-88.

Rode, Okay. D., R. R. Wilson, D. C. Douglas, V. Muhlenbruch, T.C. Atwood, E. V. Regehr, E.S. Richardson, N.W. Pilfold, A.E. Derocher, G.M Durner, I. Stirling, S.C. Amstrup, M. S. Martin, A.M. Pagano, and Okay. Simac. 2018. Spring fasting conduct in a marine apex predator offers an index of ecosystem productiveness. International Change Biology

Rode, Okay.D., Wilson, R.R., Regehr, E.V., St. Martin, M., Douglas, D.C. & Olson, J. 2015. Elevated land use by Chukchi Sea polar bears in relation to altering sea ice situations. PLoS One 10 e0142213.

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