A University of Victoria adjunct prof has become climate deniers’ go-to source on polar bears.
By Stephen Leahy | MOTHERBOARD
The photo of a lone polar bear on a tiny fragment of floating ice has become a powerful symbol of the impacts of global warming in the Arctic. This iconic animal has become climate change’s canary in the coal mine, but climate denier blogs love to claim the animals’ numbers are booming, largely based on the claims of one Canadian zoologist blogger.
A a new analysis in the journal BioScience examines 45 blogs that deny or question climate science, as well as 45 science-based blogs. Nearly all of the denier blogs say that, contrary to the opinions of many scientists who study them, polar bears are doing fine. In fact, 80 percent of these blogs reference a single site, a blog by zoologist Susan Crockford, who has not published any peer-reviewed papers on polar bears. It shows how climate denier messages spread online.
“These bloggers hope to use polar bears to cast doubt on global warming itself,” said co-author Steven Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International, a conservation-focused organization. This is a deliberate tactic to sow confusion in the minds of the public about the climate change science, just as the tobacco industry did about the link between smoking and cancer, Amstrup said in an interview with Motherboard.