Heartbreaking Video of Starving Polar Bear Illustrates Devastating Effects of Global Warming

Heartbreaking Video of Starving Polar Bear Illustrates Devastating Effects of Global Warming

New footage has emerged of a starving polar bear surrounded by dry land. The heartbreaking video, picked up by National Geographic, sees the malnourished animal struggling to walk as it searches for food.

Biologist-turned-wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen posted the video to his Instagram account on December 5. The clip was recorded after he and a series of filmmakers from the conservation group Sea Legacy arrived in the Baffin Islands during summer, and came across the devastating sight.

Growing up in Canada’s far north, Nicklen has seen thousands of bears in the wild. But this particular scene was easily one of the most distressing. "We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks," he said. The animal appears gravely thin, its muscles limp. After unsuccessfully searching through a trashcan for something to eat, the polar bear collapses back to the ground.

Naturally, apprehensive members of the Internet have been asking why Nicklen did not intervene. "Of course, that crossed my mind," he commented. "But it's not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat." Not to mention it’s also illegal to feeding wild polar bears in Canada. Of his choice to film the bear, he says he didn’t wish for it to die in vain.

"When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” he added. Nicklen hopes the footage will serve as a warning about the consequences of global warming.

See more of Nicklen's work at his Instagram.

Lead image by Jay Mantri.

[via National Geographic]

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

Log in or register to post comments

Yes, this is heart breaking but what I fine even more sad are the amount of people who don't want to see or better yet act as if its something done in Hollywood. Very uneducated group and some are educated so they say. lets hope the light goes on ASAP.


Sad indeed and a ever growing story that needs to be seen!

But, but, all those scientists said global warming was real and I heard people from Hollywood say it was true too.

It's the beauty of facts and science. It's still true even if you don't believe in it.

I'm not sure how old you are but I've lived long enough to have lost count how many times I've heard, 'Scientists used to think abc but now believe xyz'. :-/

That's the scientific method in practice, isn't it?

Yes. My point being that while facts don't change, conclusions often do. Climate change, as a principle, is a fact. Assigning specific phenomena to it (the bear's fate in this article), or deciding it's current or future effects, are conclusions.

Yes, a valid distinction.

The original "See no evil, hear no evil,..." is part of a series of carvings, depicting a story. You can see it at the Toshogu shrine in Nikko. If ever in Japan, it's a definite must see! Make sure to climb the stairs to Tokugawa Ieyasu's grave while you're there. It's a long, tiring climb but worth it from a historical POV.

My Japanese wife would agree with you. :-) I've been many times and will go many more.

The most ironic comment you've ever made.

Yeah. I think I was the last patient before the switch! :-/

:-) The only thing that depresses me is when I say something in jest and the audience doesn't get it. :-D

I thought about it. Sometimes, I like people to think, "Is he kidding or not?" ;-)

It all makes so much sense now!

Yes, becuase scientist are capable of changing their opinion when confronted by facts.

They have been finding facts that correlate to global warming for decades now. They are pretty fucking sure.

Only ignorants fools claim objectivity when really they are too stubborn to accept that they were wrong when confronted by a mountain of evidence.

All I can do is shake my head when I read a story like this. I’ll just leave it at that.

heart wrenching and a foreboding

Out of all the things that could be causing that bears suffering, we choose global warming? It honestly seems like a pretty far stretch to make that assumption. I’m a fairly reasonable person, so I don’t count anything out, but it seems irresponsible to me that we label an issue from a photograph. Just a thought.

Somebody wants to push an agenda, plain and simple. An animal dies in the wild, must be global warming!

It's avery well documented issue. Polar bear use the oce to travel easier in search of prey. Prey that swims better than walks. With melting ice, it's harder to travel and hunt for prey AND the prey can escape better since they can swim in the water instead of walk on ice.

Even if you don't believe in global warming, that explanation is enough to understand the issue.

Of course, I make the asumption that you follow a logical thought process and can accept fact even if they challenge you preconceived beliefs.

Your first paragraph is true and undisputable.

Your second paragraph is disingenuous. You're assuming what the issue is, in this particular case, and we just don't know. Did they perform an autopsy on the bear? Do we know it wasn't diseased? Maybe it was wounded somehow and couldn't hunt effectively. Maybe it was Climate Change. Devising a theory for a phenomenon is sound scientific practice. Ending with, "Obviously..." is not. And, finally, science is NEVER settled.

Your last paragraph, makes you look petty. Claiming objectivity while being snarky is never good for your argument. Just sayin'

Willfully ignoring the truth in the face of facts isn't objectiveness either.

I guess we both have some flaws...

Well, I can't speak for Johnny but I think there could be some confusion regarding what is truth and what is fact. A fact is indisputable but can be used to support different conclusions. Also, facts don't exist in a vacuum. So, if you get temperature readings above average but the gauge was in the sun or in the shade, those facts have to be taken into consideration. If you're looking at the fact this poor bear is starving to death, you have to search for, and consider all relevant facts.
Most people will honestly consider the facts if they're provided transparently,

Polar bears are the poster children of the climate change disaster promoters for sure. But one sad photo of a sick polar bear does not a climate change extinction event make. Polar bear populations are not generally decreasing according to two recent papers. Real science is always more complicated than people realize and much less absolute and certain. http://notrickszone.com/2017/12/07/2-new-papers-92-of-polar-bear-subpopu...

so so sad, breaks my heart to see this happening, such a magnificent animal reduced to nothing.

Hear hear! You’ve detailed the problems with the global warming debate succinctly, and offered sound solutions.

Just my opinion but, I don't think addressing climate change is their goal. If it were, their actions would be more inline with your suggestions. First, and foremost, they want the unwashed masses to bow at their collective feet. Second, wealth redistribution. Every "solution" involves sending money to someone or crippling industry, giving a financial benefit to those nations, exempt from such actions.

Perhaps I should have defined the they in "their". The vast majority of Climate Change advocates are sincere and only want the best for everyone. I admire their dedication if not their blind adherence. I won't go into the "they" I meant. They're a very vocal minority.

I guess the author didn't get the memo. It's not "Global Warming" anymore, it's "Climate Change". Now, just ask yourself, why did they change it?

Global warming refers only to the warming of the earth's temperature. Climate change includes global warming as well as all of the cumulative effects of these increased temperatures: https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming/

I don't think that was what he was looking for. Probably more along the lines of, the earth is demonstrably NOT getting significantly warmer so they had to rephrase the problem to something a little more ambiguous. JMO

Oh I see what you're implying, thought it was more of a direct question. If there was an implication of some purposeful change (nefarious or otherwise) in the nomenclature, that's simply not accurate. "Climate Change" is a phrase that's been in used by the scientific community longer than "Global Warming."

Actually, I would argue it is a purposeful change. While the term "Climate Change" may have been in use longer than "Global Warming", it's current usage is designed to deflect from the lack of proof. They state it in theoretical terms, which can't be disputed, but treat it as settled science, which doesn't exist. The whole issue is, in fact, based on nefarious intent. You don't have to take my word for it and I couldn't prove it but, it is all the same.

OK that’s your opinion. I don’t agree with it.

Good! A multitude of opinions and perspectives make life more interesting. :-)

I agree that it’s good we disagree! :)

I disagree. LOL

What the actual fuck?

Can you read graphs? Can you understand which number is higher than another?

Than the fact that the earth is warming up should be hard to accept!?

Pardon me? If you want to discuss this, I'm all for it. If you want to talk to me like a 15-year old, no thank you.

You can't really quote NASA when they have been caught revising past temperatures so their computer models would show a warming trend. https://principia-scientific.org/nasa-exposed-in-massive-new-climate-dat...

I mistakingly thought you were asking for actual clarification of the terms in an attempt to further your knowledge of the subject, instead of peddling your conspiracist views. That you believe a debunked website with a clear agenda over the collective conclusions of nearly every reputable scientific organization in the world shows that any fruitful discussion here will be near impossible. Best to part ways on this.

I disagree. :-)

Likely disease, parasite or broken leg. Polar bear population is actually increasing.

The overwhelming conclusion from years of accumulated conversations with native populations about polar bears is that there is almost no connection between the long-term observations of polar bear ecology and the more recent claims that polar bears as a species are in grave danger due to climate change and thinning sea ice.

In fact, the long-term observations suggest that polar bear subpopulations are currently faring quite well, with 92% of the subpopulations studied either remaining stable or growing in recent years.

According to Inuit observers, there may even be “too many” bears now.

Furthermore, the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) gleaned from local populations affirms that polar bears do not need thickened sea ice to hunt seals, as they can “catch seals even if the ice is really thin”

Maybe that's why this particular polar bear starved to death. Too much competition! I'm gonna go out and warm up my car for a few hours. That way, I'll be toasty warm when I leave and my carbon emissions will help thin out the polar bear numbers so the survivors will have something to eat! :-D

Pssst...I think you're meant to say "climate change", rather than "global warming" these days.

FYI, there has been a follow-up article posted, with the perspective from of an Inuvialuit.