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Analysis: NYT journalist Erica Goode lies about skeptical scientist Dr. Crockford, Watts and polar bears


Anthony Watts reports on another smear on Susan Crockford and himself: Climate Change Denialists Say Polar Bears Are Fine. Scientists Are Pushing Back, by Erica Goode of the New York Times. Anthony says

I’m not allowed to give any of the details of it other than a link because I recently got a threat letter from the NYT’s lawyers over some “fair use” excerpts criticizing another junk article of theirs, and was told essentially “that they don’t adhere to the fair use doctrine, and I’m not allowed to use excerpts – ever”.

Here at CliScep we are not under any injunctions from the New York Times, so here is one excerpt from the largely content-free piece of drivel from Erica Goode:

But to hear climate denialists tell it, polar bears are doing just fine. On Watts Up With That, Climate Depot and other websites that dispute climate science, bloggers insist that the Arctic’s receding ice is part of a natural warming cycle unrelated to human activities.

I am not aware of Anthony or Susan insisting that Arctic ice decline is unrelated to human activities, so I’m calling that a lie by Ms Goode. Neither of them is a “climate change denialist”, as she repeatedly implies.

She also writes  that

Of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in the Arctic Circle, three have shown substantial declines, including bears in the South Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s coast and in West Hudson Bay in Canada. One subpopulation has increased in numbers, and scientists know little or nothing about nine of the others, which are either in Russian territory or in locations so remote that resources are not available for surveys.

Even if that were correct, that would hardly justify the hysteria over polar bears. No link is provided to support this claim. It may be based on this page on polar bears.  If so, it doesn’t really support her claim of three areas showing substantial declines. In the text about the South Beaufort sea, for example, it says “it is important to note that here is the potential for un-modeled spatial heterogeneity in mark-recapture sampling, resulting from field crews being unable to sample the entire geographic reach of the population boundaries, which could bias both survival and abundance estimates. A recent Traditional Knowledge study from Canada concluded that the numbers of polar bears in regularly used hunting areas have remained relatively stable within living memory”.  Similarly, in the West Hudson Bay section, it says that the estimate for 1978-1992 was about 1000, before being “adjusted” to 1200, while the current estimate is 1030, with a range of 754-1406 — hardly the ‘substantial decline’ claimed by Goode. Finally, there are three areas on that map showing increases, rather than one as claimed by Goode: Davis Strait,  “likely increased over the last 30 years”, MC, “thought to be increasing from reduced numbers”, and KB, “likely increasing”.

Meanwhile, Susan Crockford has posted her latest round-up of the Harvey et al story.

James Delingpole has an article about the incident today, including an extensive quote from polar bear expert Mitch Taylor.