Why don’t polar bear activists recognize a success story when they see one?

I have the most dreadful time keeping on top of the e-mail that comes my way. That’s because there’s only me behind this blog. Working out of my home office.

I have no clerical assistants, interns, researchers, fundraisers, grant application specialists, or sales force. Compare that to the small army of people who help someone like David Suzuki communicate his point-of-view.

The website of the David Suzuki Foundation includes a 2012 photo of staff associated with its Vancouver head office (additional offices are located in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal). The photo includes 47 people:


Sixteen Suzuki staffers are listed here under the heading Communications and Public Engagement. Another 14 staffers are working on Development and Strategic Partnerships (backup link here). I, on the other hand, don’t earn enough to pay even one person a part-time salary.

So when I receive e-mails from fans of this blog looking for my assessment of, say, the polar bear situation, part of me feels like weeping. That’s not an area I know the first thing about. It would take weeks, perhaps months, for someone like me to properly research that question. Where would I find that kind of time?

Luckily, polar bears are a topic that other people do have a handle on. One of them is Susan Crockford, a zoologist now writing a blog titled Polar Bear Science, Past and Present.

Recently she has discussed ongoing US government pressure to upgrade the status of polar bears from an Appendix 2 listing (of concern) to an Appendix 1 listing (endangered).

Crockford points out that less than 3 percent of the world’s polar bears reside in the US, and that other Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, and Norway) consider such a status change unnecessary. But Russia is apparently now backing the US proposal and if the EU also votes in that direction, who knows what might happen?

Crockford raises an important question:

Why is it so hard for environmental advocates and advocate scientists to accept that the unbridled slaughter [of polar bears] that went on in the past has been successfully halted? Why can’t they move on? The 1973 agreement that gave protection to polar bears worldwide is one of the great conservation success stories – polar bear numbers have rebounded remarkably since then (see also previous posts here, here, and here). The polar bear has been saved.

Polar bears are magnificent creatures. But because they’ve long been poster children for the climate change cause, much of what the average person hears about them is likely to be total nonsense.

Crockford’s blog is, therefore, a welcome voice of reason – a source of sober second thought.

You can sign up to receive e-mail alerts of her latest posts in the bottom right corner of her blog: PolarBearScience.com


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