Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Ian Stirling:'' I Found a Polar Bear Who Died of Climate Change! ''
Will wildlife biologist and Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) member Ian Stirling now say anything -- no mater how unscientific -- to garner more sympathy and media attention for polar bears? It appears he's back into ''tragedy porn''. A tabloid-style picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words article appeared in the environment section of the UK newspaper The Guardian last week with a picture of a dead polar bear meant to wring your heart. The picture is a vehicle for statements from Stirling and others that this poor bear died from climate change. The caption below the photo of the dead animal read: ''This 16 year old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals, according to Dr Ian Stirling.''
Many folks have been asking questions about this and so have I. I suggest this is what really happened: the polar bear biologists working in Svalbard earlier this year knew this bear was going to die back in April when they captured him -- they simply waited with a photographer on hand, until he died. It was an orchestrated photo-op. The Guardian quoted Dr Stirling (below left) explaining the circumstances of the dead polar bear:
''The bear had been in apparently good health when it was examined by scientists in April in southern Svalbard. It was found dead three months later (July) 250 km away in northern Svalbard, far from its normal range. Most of the fjords in Svalbard did not freeze normally last winter, driving the bear further afield in the hunt for food. From his lying position in death the bear appears to simply have staved and died where he dropped, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone.''
Ashley Cooper, the photographer who took the picture, said the sight of the dead bear was ''desperately sad.'' He added, ''it looked basically like a rug because there was just no weight on it at all.'' He said he saw five live polar bears during a 12 day trip to Svalbard in July. Three looked ''quite thin'' and the others looked healthy hunting on the sea ice. Now, I ask, how is it possible that his bear was healthy in April but dead by starvation less than 3 months later? Why was he even on land in April? Why was global warming activist photographer Ashley Cooper in Svalbard in July, fortuitously available to take the bear's picture?
The fact that the bear was onshore in April, available for capture by polar biologists, is a Red Flag. He should not have left the ice this early. He should have been out on the ice hunting seals. The ice may have pulled away from the shore but there was no compelling reason for him to go on shore if he was healthy and still successfully hunting -- he just had to stay on the ice. He must have been sick or dying of old age. I say this bear was doomed back in April by the simple act of leaving the ice so early and the biologists working the region (putting collars on bears) had to have known it: leaving the ice in April was not normal behaviour. I suggest they alerted their colleagues (in crime) and then kept track of him until he died, so Cooper (right) could get a useful picture of his dead carcass.
Male polar bears routinely go through a 4 month fast every summer of their lives (females go for 8 months). A bear in good condition should be able to live through a 3 month fast -- since this bear didn't survive for 3 moths, he could not have been healthy. It's old bears that starve to death; something goes wrong with their ability to fast properly and they burn their stored fat too quickly. The decline of old age is highly individual (which is way some die at 15 or 18 years, while a few live past 20). Polar bear biologists will routinely use ''tragedy porn''. It's worth noting that there haven't been any incidents of cannibalism this year (despite the record low sea ice in September 2012), so this emaciated dead bear was the next best thing to emphasize the ''message'' that polar bears are already being harmed by global warming.
The Way I See It.....this incident is meant to prime the media pump to make the PBSG get maximum coverage and that the right hoax message is spread. They did it before, back in 2009, before the international climate meetings in Copenhagen (IPCC) and it worked very well for them. Their press release showing the shocking photos and video of cannibalism in Western Hudson Bay of an adult male dragging around a carcass of a cub it had killed and partially consumed. It is telling that Mr Cooper just happened to be on hand to take that picture too, with the Polar Bears International (PBI) also in on that circus.
There seems to have been no press release associated with this report (there is not one listed on their website), so how did the Guardian get sucked-in with this story? Who told them what was going on? Ian Stirling? Apparently, he is now an employee of PBI, although there is nothing on their website to indicate he is more than the ''scientific adviser'' he has been for a long time. So this story also is an announcement of sorts that Stirling has become a professional advocate. This should add an extra income stream to his already lucrative largess from the government trough he has his ''snout'' in. In short, it's pretty clear to me, and perhaps you now too, that this poor bear did not die of climate change: he was simply used as a prop for a message that activist polar bear scientists want to convey, even if that message is no longer valid with no significant warming for the past 17 years!