Remember that video of an emaciated Baffin Island polar bear that went viral last December? It became the poster bear for climate change. National Geographic made a stunning admission – it was a bit bogus.
National Geographic went too far in drawing a definitive connection between climate change and a particular starving polar bear in the opening caption of our video about the animal. We said, “This is what climate change looks like.” While science has established that there is a strong connection between melting sea ice and polar bears dying off, there is no way to know for certain why this bear was on the verge of death. This is an updated version of the video.
In other words, it was completely bogus. There was zero evidence the bear’s condition and climate change were tied together.
When the two photographers saw the bear, one posted the video on Instagram with the caption, “This is what starvation looks like.” He tied it to climate change.
They quickly lost control of the narrative.
National Geographic picked up the video and added subtitles. National Geographic went too far with the caption. They claimed it was iceless land caused by climate change.
Other news outlets ran dramatic headlines like this one from the Washington Post: “‘We stood there crying’: Emaciated polar bear seen in ‘gut-wrenching’ video and photos.”