Random weirdness for the week of Sept. 15, 2015


Remember this photo of a starving polar bear we published nearly a month ago, in large part because some skeptics thought it was a Photoshopped fake designed to win converts to the climate change crowd? Well, there’s not much doubt the photo is real, but the hype that’s exploded during the past week or so making the poor creature the poster child of the “new normal” for bears in our warming world is a much, more crazier fiction. Make no mistake – polar bears are seeing the sea ice they traditionally feed on vanishing fast, forcing them to hunt in new places for new types of prey – but researchers monitoring the animals in Svalbard say they are still generally in good health. Plenty of well-fed bears were found during the past year in particular since there was more sea ice than in recent years. Old and sick bears like the one in the picture have existed as long as the species has. But Kerstin Langenberger – who to her credit did offer a thoughtful rebuttal to those findings when she originally posted the photo – is now embracing the bold “bears are doomed” headlines because, well, apparently fiction is OK to tell what she sees as a larger truth. “Maybe I cannot prove that this individual polar bear had starved because of climate change: but it surely gave a face to those many animals that die directly or indirectly because of climate change,” she wrote in a column for International Business Times. “This image is so powerful: it sums up what is happening in the Arctic.” That’s one way of ending the argument about whether it’s Photoshopped, we suppose.