Delingpole: The Ugly Truth About that Dying Polar Bear

Polar Bear (Bernd / AFP / Getty)
Bernd / AFP / Getty

Have you seen the footage of that dying polar bear yet?

It’s sad. Very sad. You can see why it has gone viral and been all over the media from the Mail (“soul-crushing footage”) to CBC to the Washington Post (“we stood there crying”).

It’s the kind of sad thing you want to share it with your friends so they can wallow in the same pool of helpless misery you’re wallowing in.

For example, that bit where the emaciated bear reaches with his sad paw into that rusting trash can in search of something, anything, to eat. As you watch, you want so desperately to help him….

The footage was filmed on Baffin Island in Canada. Surely, if you or I had been there, we could have found something edible to push that stricken bear’s way: maybe a visiting delegation of performance poets, abstract artists and avant-garde musicians who arrived by antique sailing ship on a Rockefeller-Foundation-funded arts project to “raise awareness” of melting icecaps; or a group of Greenpeace activists(aren’t bears attracted by strong smells?) on a No To Arctic Drilling protest; or one of the plethora of explorers on another of those deep and meaningful eco-expeditions, sponsored by one of those big reinsurance companies whose business model largely depends on scaring potential clients into thinking global warming is a serious problem.

OK, perhaps I shouldn’t be so flippant. Watching a once-mighty beast in its death throes is never a pretty sight.

I’ll tell you what’s a lot uglier, though: the way that polar bear’s death has been completely misrepresented for political ends by the usual suspects in the climate alarmism lobby.

And I’ll tell you what’s uglier even than that: all the old people – not bears but actual humans – who’ve died equally miserable deaths in fuel poverty brought about by precisely the kind of environmentalist propagandizing we’ve seen in the cynical, manipulative promotion of this video.

The dying bear video was shot by wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen for an eco-activist organization called SeaLegacy.

Here is how SeaLegacy is exploiting its ursine tragedy porn.

Though it wasn’t possible for scientists to tell us exactly what was causing this bear to starve to death, we do know that he didn’t have any visible wounds and that he was not an old bear.

 What we do know for certain is that an increasing number of polar bears, and other polar species, are likely to die in this way as a result of our warming climate. As global temperatures rise, the amount of multi-year sea ice in the Arctic shrinks. Polar bears depend on that ice to travel large distances and to hunt for their food. Without sea ice this will become a common scene across the Arctic.

Let me translate: “We’ve no evidence whatsoever that this bear’s death had anything to do with climate change. But we’re still going to offer a few very heavy hints that that’s exactly what killed the bear. Then we can rely on a gullible media hungry for man-is-evil, global-warming-is-bad-m’kay, think-of-the-children sob stories to do all our dirty work for us…”

And, yes, the media obliged.

Every one of the media outlets which reported on the story duly relayed the “fact” that the bear’s death had something to do with global warming. The Daily Mail online‘s coverage, for example, featured a whole fact box explaining how climate change means all the bears are going to die because of the usual pseudo-scientific crap about summer sea ice and seals and hunting grounds.

I call it pseudo-scientific crap because that’s exactly what it is.

Here’s polar bear expert Susan Crockford giving chapter and verse on the subject.

In August, [when it was filmed] this bear would have been only recently off the sea ice: since most bears are at their fattest at this time of year, something unusual had to have affected his ability to hunt or feed on the kills he made when other bears around him did not starve and die. It could have been something as simple as being out-competed for food in the spring by older animals.

But if sea ice loss due to man-made global warming had been the culprit, this bear would not have been the only one starving: the landscape would have been littered with carcasses. This was one bear dying a gruesome death as happens in the wild all the time (there is no suggestion that a necropsy was done to determine cause of death, just like Stirling’s bear that supposedly died of climate change.)

That’s Stirling as in Ian Stirling – yet another environmental campaigner who exploited footage of a dying polar bear for exactly the same ursine tragedy porn purposes as recently as 2013. Then, as now, the media just couldn’t get enough of it.

Here, for example, is the Guardian‘s take. It was captioned – inevitably – “Starved polar bear due to record sea-ice melt, says expert”.

In fact, as we again learn from Susan Crockford – long reviled by eco-campaigners for her unhelpful habit of telling the truth about polar bear populations – there’s quite a thriving industry in polar bear snuff movies.

This is no different from Ian Stirling’s “bear that died of climate change”back in 2013, or several others since then: herehere, and here (one of these incidents also involved the same photographer as this incident, Paul Nicklen). I’ve called this practice of filming dead or dying bears and splashing the photos across the pages of newspapers and the internet “tragedy porn” — a kind of voyerism that leaves people open to emotional manipulation. The internet laps it up.

Let’s consider how perverse this is.

The world’s polar population is thriving. It’s at what in recent historical terms are record levels of 30,000. That’s about six times more than there were fifty years ago.

But the greenies don’t want you to think about this. All they want to do is exploit the polar bear as some kind of totemic symbol of man-made climate doom – even the evidence doesn’t support this.

That’s why, for the greenies, footage of one polar bear dying of starvation is far, far more valuable than footage of the many thousands of more which are not dying of starvation and which are in fact thriving so well that they are in danger of becoming a pest.

In a world without cause and effect this might not matter.

Unfortunately, in the real world, misleading green propaganda such as this has real consequences for actual human beings.

It is an utterly inexcusable lie that the death of the polar bear in that video had anything to do with man-made climate change.

The reason that lie is utterly inexcusable is because of the chain events such lies create: the public is misinformed; green NGOs become richer and more influential; politicians are more inclined to take expensive, unnecessary action to deal with non-existent problems; electricity prices “necessarily sky rocket”; old people die.

Not bears, note. People.

Now that’s what I call tragedy.




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