Climate change is occurring all around us, whether you want to admit it exists or not, and no matter whose fault it is. While it does cool things like make it snow in Texas, it deeply affects those who live in the wild. Namely, animals. We recently saw a beautiful video of a man hopping out of his car to save a bunny from the Los Angeles wildfires, but the video photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from conservation group Sea Legacy took after arriving in the Baffin Islands was much less hopeful.
The group stumbled upon an emaciated polar bear as it rummaged for food through a trashcan used by Inuit fishermen. The bear, obviously close to death, has taken on a more yellowish color than the white we are used to seeing, and drags its back leg behind it. Finding nothing in the rubbish, the bear collapses back to the ground hopelessly.
Nicklen, a biologist turned photographer, had seen more than 3,000 bears from his childhood in Canada to his current profession, but the sight of one in such dire conditions was new to him, and brought he and his companions to tears. He told National Geographic, “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”
Nicklen hopes to increase awareness of what climate change is doing to animals with the video he shot. Animals that live in Arctic regions are, understandably, the first to suffer from climate change. Warming temperatures and rising seas cause the seals polar bears rely on for food to be less available, as they stay in the water instead of on ice where bears can access them.
In fact, the National Snow and Ice Data Center is noting record lows in sea ice extent (decreasing by about 5% per decade), a problem that is only expected to get worse as global warming gets worse. As far back as 2002, a report by the World Wildlife Fund found that polar bears’ fasting season was becoming unhealthily long as the moved from ice to land earlier and stayed there longer, showing signs of starvation by the end of the summer.