You may recall the story that broke last December about the poor emaciated polar bear shown in the National Geographic.

The picture was taken by Christina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen in the Baffin Islands in Canada.

And the National Geographic used it as a proof of their claim that climate change was destroying the wildlife and the ecosystem.

From Conservative Tribune:

The original article describes, in horrifying fashion, “the polar bear clinging to life, its white hair limply covering its thin, bony frame. One of the bear’s back legs drags behind it as it walks, likely due to muscle atrophy. Looking for food, the polar bear slowly rummages through a nearby trashcan used seasonally by Inuit fishers. It finds nothing and resignedly collapses back down onto the ground.”

“We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Nicklen said.

However, now both Mittermeier and the National Geographic are admitting that the narrative that developed around the picture was inaccurate particularly in regard to climate change in the August 2018 issue of the magazine in an article titled, “Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong.”

Mitttermeir described how the picture went viral when Nicklen posted it on Instagram, telling people to do everything they could to “reduce their carbon footprint.”

“He wondered whether the global population of 25,000 polar bears would die the way this bear was dying. He urged people to do everything they could to reduce their carbon footprint and prevent this from happening. But he did not say that this particular bear was killed by climate change.” (Emphasis mine.)

Mittermeier said their “mission was a success, but there was a problem: We had lost control of the narrative. The first line of the National Geographic video said, ‘This is what climate change looks like’ — with ‘climate change’ highlighted in the brand’s distinctive yellow. In retrospect, National Geographic went too far with the caption. 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.'”

“Perhaps we made a mistake in not telling the full story — that we were looking for a picture that foretold the future and that we didn’t know what had happened to this particular polar bear.”

But the bottom line was that they had no idea what was wrong with the bear, they just thought it helped their cause.

It’s good that they’re coming clean about it now.

But it’s eight months later. And while the picture went viral and stoked the narrative, the retraction/correction wouldn’t get anywhere near the attention of the original picture. And they should have been responsible to begin with and not implied something which wasn’t the case.




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