In the last couple days there have been several articles published claiming that polar bear mortality due to starvation is a result of climate change. This latest burst of articles focuses on a film, shot in August 2017 by SeaLegacy, of a young, emaciated polar bear struggling to survive on Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada.

Despite the statements made in the article, the story itself fails to provide substantive evidence to back up its’ claim that the reason for this bear’s death was caused directly by climate change. In a subsequent interview with CBC Radio,  Cristina Mittermeier, the co-founder of SeaLegacy, elaborated on the reasons for shooting the video. She also openly stated that the exact reason for the bear’s death was “irrelevant.”

“Conservation group SeaLegacy has released video of an emaciated polar bear near the Baffin Islands. They say climate change has led the animal to starvation.” (SeaLegacy/Caters News)

“We hear from scientists that in the next 100 to 150 years, we’re going to lose polar bears.” – Mittermeier

“We wanted the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like.” – Mittermeier

“It is impossible to tell why he was in that state. Maybe it could’ve been because of an injury or disease.” – Mittermeier

Based on her statements, Mittermeier has made it clear that in the case of a dying polar bear on Somerset Island, facts are not of importance; hyperbole and emotional manipulation are of greater concern.

Dr. Susan Crockford at Polar Bear Science has just published a well-written blog post that challenges this SeaLegacy story. Dr. Crockford is a Canadian zoologist who has studied polar bear ecology and evolution for over 20 years. In her blog post, Dr. Crockford provides substantial references to support her statements.

Listed below are additional articles and videos relevant to this topic.

  • Available via the Wiley Online Library is an article published in the journal Ecology and Evolution. This article argues that much of the scientific evidence indicating that polar bear populations are declining due to climate change is likely flawed by poor data sampling and inaccurate population models.
  • Available via the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a paper submitted by Friends of Science Society’s Michelle Stirling. The paper deconstructs the framing of climate change in relation to polar bears, addressing influences in financial markets and the value of internet forums. It also specifically addresses the death of Knut the polar bear in the Berlin Zoo.
  • A supplement to the above article is a short video summarizing the cause of Knut’s death while in captivity at the Berlin Zoo. Scientists determined that Knut’s death was related to him suffering from a form of encephalitis.

The plight of a starving polar bear is unfortunately being exploited by activists to advance their agendas and encourage financial donations. These activists can assume to be “experts” in the fields in which they choose to operate, but upon closer scrutiny they can be exposed as uninformed or even contradictory in their statements.

As always, Friends of Science Society invites you to take advantage of our balanced, objective and referenced scientific knowledge to make informed decisions on matters that concern you.

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