Polar Bear Researcher is Unbearable According to the University of Victoria

Controversial Scientist Deserves Academic Freedom

Peter Wood

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by RealClearEducation on October 28, 2019, and is republished with permission. 


The apex predator of the north is the polar bear, which devours about 150 pounds of meat at a sitting. Fortunately for the seals (and occasional humans) polar bears dine out only every five or six days.

Polar bears, of course, have been elevated by environmentalists to the status of demi-gods of the wilderness. Images of them adorn almost every appeal to save the Earth from the depredations of humanity. Among the favorite visuals is the forlorn and emaciated bear, trapped on an ice flow as his Arctic environment melts away around him. The message: our ravenous desire for fossil fuels is driving the beautiful bears to the brink of extinction.

This message has some evident flaws, not least of which is that polar bears are excellent swimmers. But the greater flaw is that polar bear population in recent decades has been growing rapidly. Extinction isn’t on their menu.

The most prominent bearer of the news about bear fecundity has been Susan Crockford, a zoologist and an adjunct researcher in the anthropology department at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia. Her university just deleted her from its speaker bureau and cut off her adjunct status. Adjuncts of course can be fired for no reason and universities aren’t required to explain why. But Crockford believes she was cashiered because her popular blog, polarbearscience.com, undercuts the environmentalist mythology. She puts the extant polar bear population at about 39,000, which cuts against a widespread belief that there are no more than a few thousand left.

Among Crockford’s enemies numbers Penn State “climatologist” Michael Mann, who has a troubled history with facts but a celebrity status among warmists. Mann characterized Crockford’s website as a “denier blog.”

Denying Crockford’s adjunct status at the University of Victoria puts at risk her research funding, much of which is tried to her maintaining a university position. The National Association of Scholar’s Canadian counterpart, the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, wrote to the University asking for the grounds and the procedure for her firing. Crockford herself sees a political motive behind the university’s decision. Her new book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, stands perilously on the melting iceberg of climate orthodoxy.

Crockford’s dismissal is a striking example of how the academy attempts to police scientific opinions on climate change. Scientists—including very well-known figures such as Crockford, William Happer, and Judith Curry—are subject to a constant barrage of ad hominem attack. They seldom receive more than token support for their academic freedom, but are instead pressured to “respect” the so-called “climate consensus.”

Instead of debates on the merits of climate models and critical examination of the underlying data, we have universities that are willing to take active steps to suppress dissonant views. Perhaps the polar bear is indeed an apt symbol for environmental extremism: a charismatic killer that gorges on the innocent.

Peter Wood is the President of the National Association of Scholars.


Image: untitled image, By Brian McMahon, Source: Unsplash, License: Unsplash License

  • Share

Most Commented

December 7, 2022

1.

New Study Tracks Rise of DEI in STEM Departments, Associations, Grants, and Literature

A new study published today by the National Association of Scholars, Ideological Intensification, offers an in-depth quantitative analysis of just how far DEI has advanced into STEM fields....

January 9, 2023

2.

NAS Celebrates the Nomination of Reform-Minded Trustees to the New College of Florida Board

The National Association of Scholars is delighted with Governor Ron DeSantis’ nomination of six education reformers to the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida....

October 20, 2022

3.

NAS Statement on Nomination of Ben Sasse for University of Florida President

We believe that Senator Sasse would make an excellent president of the University of Florida, and we urge the Board of Trustees to follow the search committee’s recommendation....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010

2.

Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

January 5, 2023

3.

NAS Condemns the Attacks against Jordan Peterson

The National Association of Scholars condemns the unrelenting illiberal attacks being levied against Dr. Peterson and against anyone who dares push back against the enemies of intellectual f......