Viral video of starving polar bear likely the product of climate change: expert - InfoNews

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Viral video of starving polar bear likely the product of climate change: expert

A starving polar bear is pictured in this screen grab from a Facebook video post by National Geographic photojournalist Paul Nicklen. The effects of climate change, such as a shorter feeding season and less seal to eat, could have caused the emaciation of the bear shown in a viral video, a polar bear expert says.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Paul Nicklen
December 09, 2017 - 4:30 PM

The effects of climate change, such as a shorter feeding season and less seal to eat, could have caused the emaciation of a bear shown in a viral video, a polar bear expert says.

The video, shot by National Geographic photojournalist Paul Nicklen, racked up over a million views and depicted a skeletal bear foaming at the mouth and digging through a metal barrel for food on Baffin Island.

Ian Stirling, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta who has specialized in polar bears for four decades, says the period that bears are able to feed has shortened by about three weeks, and that could be the reason why it was starved.

Polar bears are able to go months without food, but Stirling says that a slightly longer period without food, combined with the fact that there is less time for bears to store fat and eat enough seal, could be what is causing bears to die of starvation.

"The key feeding time is being shortened and shortened progressively," said Stirling. "So they're coming to shore with less stored fat, they're having living longer on it, and some of them are just running out of gas."

Stirling says it's likely that the bear in the video is suffering because of the changing climate in the arctic. While polar bears in other parts of the world are experiencing different difficulties due to various climate conditions, Stirling says it's likely that they will eventually face the same situation as the bear in the video.

Stirling says he's already witnessed polar bears who seem to have died of starvation (death by starvation can only be confirmed by autopsy), and has seen many others near death while working in the Norwegian arctic.

Nicklen, who planned to address the video at his New York art gallery on Saturday, says that when he hears scientists say that polar bears will be extinct in the next hundred years, he thinks of thousands of the animals starving to death as they are in the video.

Nicklen says he hoped that the video, which he described as "soul-crushing," could help break a cycle of apathy towards the polar bears and their starvation.

"We went to the Canadian Arctic to document the effects of climate change," wrote Nicklen. "We found the good, the bad and the ugly, but mostly just beautiful animals and landscapes we want to protect," he wrote.

Canada marks one year since eight provinces and the three territories signed the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change on Saturday. The plan aims to put a price on carbon, eliminate coal-fired electricity and work on energy efficiencies for buildings to help Canada cut emissions.

At least six major environment policies, bills or strategies to implement parts of the framework are expected in 2018.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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