I have discovered that an entirely false meme has been circulating social media. For the record, here it is with an explanation of what’s wrong with it, which is everything.
First of all, the photo of the starving bear with an injured leg was taken in 2015, not 2019, somewhere around Svalbard, Norway. Its emaciated condition had nothing to do with lack of sea ice or global warming.
It was included in a meme that was circulating online in 2019, constructed as part of a ’10 year challenge’ (before and after) on Instagram by someone who either made an error or deliberately misrepresented the year the starving bear image was taken.
A description of that starving bear image from 2015, with links to more info, is available in this post:
An injured or very old bear can’t hunt. If it can’t hunt, it can’t eat and will starve. This is true of all animals. It has nothing to do with lack of sea ice or global warming. Starvation is the most common natural cause of death for polar bears.
People who post these kind of images want attention: the photographer who took the starving bear photo told the CBC:
“I wanted to reach people. I wanted to send a message and get a reaction, but I didn’t expect it to be so big,” she said.
According to a polar bear researcher who had conducted a comprehensive survey of polar bears in the Svalbard region the same summer that starving bear photo was taken, the polar bears in general were “as fat as pigs.”
The fact that this meme has been getting traction suggests it’s time to post this again:
Lastly, the image of Greenland without an icecap is obviously manipulated or misrepresented (could it have been taken with a filter meant to highlight melt ponds on the ice that makes it look like there is no underlying ice?). Greenland’s ice cap has not disappeared.
The current meme has added the manipulated Greenland images to the false polar bear meme from 2019: someone used it on Reddit to make a point about capitalism.
The whole thing is bogus.
Note: I was alerted to this meme via this Facebook page but I doubt that’s who started it.