Evolutionary biologist Dr. Susan Crockford refutes the disinformation propounded by Gail Collins in the recent New York Times “walrus crisis” story. Collins believes that the beaching of thousands of walruses in Alaska signifies some sort of crisis in the walrus population due to climate change. Dr. Crockford says it’s just normal walrus behavior that has been documented by scientists for decades: “The attempts by WWF and others to link this event to global warming is self-serving nonsense that has nothing to do with science…this is blatant nonsense and those who support or encourage this interpretation are misinforming the public.”
The British Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has released this video [3 minutes] showing that a walrus “haul out”, as they are called, is nothing new and nothing to be concerned about:
Susan Crockford has written a lengthly paper on walrus behavior for the GWPF that goes into detail on walrus haulouts. Here is the summary:
Recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, claims that have been amplified into alarming scare stories by a compliant media and embellished with alarming stories of trampling deaths. However, such claims ignore the published literature documenting previous events, which suggest a different cause. Rather than lack of ice, the presence of such massive herds onshore in six out of the eight years since 2007 indicate that the now well-protected walrus population may be so high that it is approaching the carrying capacity of its habitat. Sea ice maps for the months when known mass haulouts occurred, compared to years when they did not, suggest no strong correlation with low sea ice levels. Instead of there being a clear case for blaming this wal- rus behaviour squarely on global warming, the evidence suggests that high population numbers may be a significant factor, among other potential trig- gers not fully understood. Those who suggest these events are a sign of pend- ing catastrophe are looking for victims of global warming to tally on a ledger, but in doing so they not only fail to acknowledge potential consequences of natural fluctuations in walrus population size but fail to concede the obvious resilience of this species to profound sea ice changes they have survived repeatedly before now.
You can read or download the entire paper here.