Nat Geo: We Went ‘Too Far’ in Linking Starving Polar Bear to Climate Change

In December 2017, viral images of a starving polar bear in Canada captured the world’s attention. Now National Geographic is saying it went “too far” in saying that the images show “what climate change is like.”

The video was captured by photographers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier on Somerset Island in the Canadian Arctic. After Nicklen posted the video on Instagram with the caption, “This is what starvation looks like,” Nat Geo picked it up and added its own captions.

Here’s the 1.5-minute video that National Geographic originally published:

The video quickly became the most viewed video on the National Geographic website ever. The photographers estimate that roughly 2.5 billion people saw the images.

“[B]ut there was a problem: We had lost control of the narrative,” writes Mittermeier in a new Nat Geo story for the August 2018 issue. “The first line of the National Geographic video said, ‘This is what climate change looks like’—with ‘climate change’ highlighted in the brand’s distinctive yellow.

“In retrospect, National Geographic went too far with the caption.”

Source :

Previous thread:

Maybe the bear was sick. Very sad to see the condition of the bear.


Total polar bear numbers have seen a market increase in the past decade, which contradicts the narrative used with the above video.


All the lies told linking things to global warming is one reason I think it is bogus. That and I’m still waiting for the ice age they assured us was coming in the 60s and 70s.


It’s coming…but first we go through warming. There are bushfires in the arctic circle now…

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One needs to pay attention to record breaking temperatures in various parts of the world that normally don’t have heatwaves.


When cold records are beaten, we are told “it’s just weather,” but when heat records are broken, it’s evidence.

I have never understood that…


Not merely risen, but skyrocketed.

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  1. Joanne Nova
    Joanne Nova describes herself as a “greenie who grew up” and someone who “wants to save the world, but now with logic, reason and the scientific method”. She runs a popular blog at, has self-published two books on climate science, and acts as a professional speaker on the issues of science and “groupthink”. She graduated in the field of biology and worked as Associate Lecturer of Science Communication at the Australian National University. Nova’s interests lie mostly in the science debate and her writings reflect this.35 She believes that climate policy is flawed principally because it is based on science that is systemically biased to the “dominant paradigm” and fortified by the IPCC. She states that “bad science makes for bad policy”. She argues for a thorough consideration of the true costs and benefits of any proposed policy. In her view the costs of trying to mitigate the human impact on the climate, the magnitude of which is unproven, imply that very real and immediate trade-offs would have to be made in the economy. For instance, subsidising domestic solar power generation is not only wasteful, but the opportunity costs are large: “instead of spending $1bn dollars on solar panels, we could have spent $200 million on cheap electricity and used the other $800 million to double our medical research budget”. She argues that there are greater profits for Australia in funding medical research (a field displaying strong demand for such benefits) than from investments in clean carbon technologies, the demand for which, in her view, might not even exist ten years from now. She rejects the need for a total transformation of the economy based on what she sees as a dominant but unchallenged scientific paradigm.

In her view, policies that can deliver secure, short-term benefits should be preferred over policies that are costly and potentially futile. While not opposed to investment in clean technologies in principle, she argues against “inefficient” schemes (solar panels) and potentially unnecessary technologies (carbon capture/sequestration). She does not exclude the possibility of local investment in clean carbon research and development, but urges adoption only if such technologies prove useful and affordable. She claims to be open to reviewing her scepticism if and when new evidence comes to light.

They are both evidence. And weather. But there are more heat records being broken than cold records being broken.

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Then this should be the response, not that cold records being bbeaten don’t count.

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The opinions on the population of polar bears is quite varied. It is not all so certain as your source thinks. For example, you can read this source, which says:

The fact is that in the 1960s we had no idea how many polar bears there were. Even now, about half of our population estimates are only educated guesses. Back then, the best we had over most of the polar bear’s range were uneducated guesses. Polar bear science has come a long way since then.

We do know (and I have published papers on this) that some polar bear populations grew after quotas were imposed in Canada, aerial hunting ceased in Alaska, and trapping and hunting were banned in Svalbard. All of these events occurred in the late 60s or early 70s, and we know some populations responded—as you would expect. Some populations were not being hunted back then (or were hunted very little) and those were probably unaffected by these three actions.

Back then, the sea ice was solid and not noticeably in retreat. With stable habitat, polar bears were a renewable resource that could be harvested on a sustainable basis.

But the most important point is that whatever happened in the past is really irrelevant. Polar bear habitat is disappearing due to global warming. Even the most careful on-the-ground management doesn’t matter if polar bears don’t have the required habitat.

Polar bears depend on the sea ice surface to efficiently catch their seal prey. A shorter duration of ice cover over their productive hunting areas means less opportunity to hunt. A reduction in sea ice has been statistically linked to reduced stature and weight in polar bears and to lower survival rates of cubs. So, it doesn’t really matter that hunting is now largely under control or that we know a lot about other impacts people might have on bears. Without habitat, polar bears will disappear no matter what else we do. If a farmer has 100 cows out in a pasture, and every year he goes out and paves over some of his pasture, pretty soon he won’t have enough habitat to support 100 cows. And, each time he paves over a little more land, his remaining land will hold fewer cattle. There may be some short-term enhancements of the remaining habitat that will forestall the inevitable. But, when his whole pasture is paved there will be no cows! Declining habitat now and the assurance it will decline in the future is why polar bears were listed as a threatened species. Discussions about how many bears may have lived in the past before and after hunting quotas have no bearing on this new situation.

I don’t think anyone said cold record being broken don’t count (but heat records do).

Yeah, i have seen that.

Climate Change Sceptical Frames: The Case of Seven Australian Sceptics

When forced to deal with cold records, they say it’s also global warming.

OR … they change it to “climate change”.

I think that most people understand that an increasing average can also be accompanied by increasing variance.

USGS estimated 24,500 (average) polar bears in 2005.

IUCN estimated 26,500 (average of 22,000-31,000) in 2015
(assessment completed in July, released in November).

Subpopulation surveys completed or reported after July 2015 (Baffin Bay, Kane Basin, Barents Sea) added ~2,000 bears.

This brings the adjusted average total at 2015 to ~28,500.

This may not be a statistically significant increase but it is also not the catastrophic decline that was predicted to occur in association with the abrupt drop of summer sea ice in 2007 to a new average of about 3-5 mkm2 [updated 1 June 2017].

That’s not so far-fetched as you might believe. Read here for more info.

That’s how a lot of science is done these days. It’s not really science of course. It is just imposition of will trying to use science as a veneer.

It is “science by press release”.

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