Experts are questioning the viral video of a starving Baffin Island polar bear that purported to show the ravages of climate change.
Climate change advocates seized on the video. It has become virtual climate change doctrine that global warming has so devastated the arctic habitat that polar bears are increasingly unable to fend for themselves.
But according to the National Post, the skinny on the skinny polar bear looking for food is that this imagery doesn’t prove an environmental disaster but does illustrate the life cycle of the polar bear.
For days, the video galvanized the climate change boosters, including Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, who tweeted, “THIS is what climate change looks like.”
But as the Post reports, the people who know something about polar bears — and aren’t looking for erroneous proofs of climate change — this video may just be documenting the last days of a old, diseased or injured bear who was too aged or sick to hunt.
“The video shows what appears to be an old male in declining health, but clear clinical signs of starvation aren’t obvious (e.g. convulsions),” biologist and polar bear authority Andrew Derocher emailed the Post.
Likewise, Arctic wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon observed that the bear in the video seemed to be in the last stages of bone cancer.
“That bear is starving, but (in my opinion) it’s not starving because the ice suddenly disappeared and it could no longer hunt seals,” he tweeted, adding that polar bears routinely endure the summer months when the ice thaws and interrupts their normal hunting routine.
“It’s far more likely that it is starving due to health issues,” he said.
University of Alberta polar bear expert Ian Stirling says whether the bear was old or not, it’s beyond anyone’s capabilities to categorically rule why the bear was apparently starving, just that this “is what a starving bear would look like, regardless of the cause,” he emailed the Post.