Response to Blogger Tom Nelson About Telegraph Article

Posted Dec. 9th, 2010 by Daniel J. Cox

British Newspaper The Telegraph Runs Starving Polar Bears Video

Recently the British newspaper The Telegraph ran the story of the starving polar bear video I shot last month. As predicted there are lots of negative comments about the validity of the claims of starvation. One blogger, Tom Nelson, laid out some questions that I  answered on his website but his blog would not accept the length of the answers. That being the case I wanted to make sure he got the answers he was searching for, so I’m posting them here for all to see. The following was exactly what I typed into his blog comment section—tried to submit but was told it was too lengthy.

You can see his original post at Tom Nelson’s Blog


Daniel Cox here, the guy who shot the starving polar bear video. I would like to answer  the questions you have.

1). (Your Question)  If warming is killing this bear, why is there so much snow around, why is the temperature “well below zero degrees Fahrenheit”, and why is the cub described as “shaking and cold”?

Answer – Fresh water to make snow freezes at 0 C but saltwater freezes at -1.8 C. Yes there was snow on the ground but the bay had absolutely no ice on it. Not sure where you live but if you have ever spent time in the north you know that there can be snow yet no ice. Based on historical scientific data the ice was at least three weeks late and has been for approximately the last five years. This combined with them being forced off the ice earlier adds 3-5+ additional weeks of living with NO FOOD! As far as the cubs “shaking and cold”  is concerned this would not be unusual in a situation where the air temperature had begun to drop but the cub had no food since its mother had no nourishment and could no longer make milk for them to nurse. That’s why they died.

2). (Your Question) If the people documenting this situation actually cared about polar bears, and if the bears are really starving, why didn’t they try to feed the bears?

Answer – Yes I do care about polar bears. That’s the main reason 50 % of my time is donated as a volunteer to Polar Bears International. I’ve been documenting this population of polar bears every year except one since 1986. Your lack of understanding why bears cannot be fed suggests to me you are unaware of some of nature’s most basic rules. Rule number 1 for all bears is they cannot be fed. Feeding polar bears would only lead to them becoming a problem to humans in the remote native communicates they come into contact with.

3). (Your Question) When another bear shows up, why doesn’t that one look like it’s starving?

Answer – Not all bears have starved, yet! The other bear you refer to was most likely a younger adult that did not have the burden a female with two young cubs is encumbered with. When you have no food for yourself and yet you still have to produce milk for your cubs, eventually the milk dries up. With no milk, starvation for the cubs ensues.

4). (Your Question) The mother and cubs are shown laying around in one spot. How does that qualify as “desperately searching for food”?

Answer – These polar bears have obviously hit a wall. Though they are not running all over the tundra as your question suggests you would like to see to satisfy your concern that they truly were “desperately searching for food,” they are—like all bears—constantly searching for their next meal. However, at the same time they’re also trying to conserve every ounce of energy they still have left. For the cubs that energy ran out two days after this video was shot. Also keep in mind that the video portrays a short 3-4 hour window into this event. At the time I shot this the bear family was resting and for the cubs it was the last time.

Finally, I should mention that this is the second extreme event I have witnessed in the last two years of documenting the polar bears of Western Hudson Bay. Last year it was a large male who predated and cannibalized a cub of the year. That was one of either seven or eight predations—a record—of young cubs that took place in this area in 2009. Both cub losses, this year’s and last, fall into the category of what polar bear scientists have predicted would start to happen as this group of polar bears starts to decline due to ongoing food difficulties. You can see the photos from last year’s event by clicking here. Amazingly, in 20+ years of working in this area I had only ever seen one cub death. Now in the last two years I have seen two. Polar bears are the proverbial Canary in the Coal Mine. If they can’t cope with the speed of change in their environment, what makes humans think we can do any better? Thankfully there is hope. Stop by for ideas on how we can all do our part to save the ice and the polar bears who need it to survive. For a more complete story about what happened you can visit my blog at Polar Bear Caught in Act of Infanticide and Cannibalism.

Add Your Voice!
There are 8 comments on this post…
  1. Verified ResearchOn Dec. 31st, 2010

    Its a money grab to enrich the elite. Biofuel plantations and local farming (shocker!)are destroying the rainforests. Al Gore and the like live in mansions that use as much energy in a month than the average home uses in a year. All the while he will be making some serious dollars (strike that), Chinese Yuans. After all the Guardian states he may be the world’s first carbon billionaire. Iwhale the 100 mile diet is another myth. The main problem is the computer and electronic devices that take massive amounts of energy (carbon) to produce and use. But they never talk about that because alot of their funding is tied to the computer industry. Are there pictures of other starving bears? Has there been an autopsy performed that could help prove your point? The University of Idaho released a study titled “Reduced body size and cub recruitment in polar bears associated with sea ice decline” clearly states; However, of the 19 polar bear
    populations recognized throughout the circumpolar
    Arctic, data on long-term trends in polar bear condition
    and vital rates in response to changing sea ice conditions
    are rare and to date have only been evaluated for a
    single population in western Hudson Bay (Stirling et al.
    1999, Regehr et al. 2007).

    So it seems that the data is incomplete.

    Link to the Guardian. “How the myth of food miles hurts the planet.”

    Forbes Link – The Locavore Myth

    And by keeping my 2000 Ford Explorer I have a lower footprint than the guys driving a Prious according to PBS’s Tom and Ray.

    Cheers and safe travels in your photagraphy travels this New Year!!!

  2. IwhaleOn Dec. 27th, 2010

    If that video was hard for me to watch, it must have been gut wrenching for you to film. But you did, and I am glad of it, this is something people need to see. In the documentary film The Cove the crew did not free the hundreds of dolphins penned for slaughter, no matter how much they wanted to. People did not demonize them for that, as some here have done to you.
    I would like to apologize for the majority of people, who, understandably, are horrified and angry when they watch the video. They are also appear to unable to think clearly and lashing out at you and your team makes them feel less responsible for the bears situation. They comment without thinking of long term consequences or solutions. This is not like watching a car wreck and not helping, as one viewer posted. These bears were likely beyond saving. If not, doing food drops just burns more fossil feuls, and the starving bears would most likely have been chased off by other healthier bears. Bringing in excess seals is one of the most ridiculous comments, yes people lets start a whole new problem somewhere else…And how people like Tom Nelson, who clearly failed to do any research before spouting opinions, shove their heads in the sand and pretend global trends are cooling and that the green house effect is a myth make my blood boil. So I am sorry for all of them. I can only imagine that some of those thoughtless comments stung.
    We can change this, but we have to get mad at the right people, and be willing to be a little less comfy ourselves. We live a lifestyle that the planet can not maintain.
    So to all of you couch ranters, get up and do something. Adopt a bear. Try eating a hundred mile diet. Know what you are buying, where it is from and how it is made. Reduce your footprint. Be thankful for people like Daniel, who devote a huge chunk of their lives protecting and bringing awareness to these animals and issues.
    Thank you

  3. JK CanepaOn Dec. 12th, 2010

    Daniel, thanks for this explanation. After I watched the video my rational mind (which at first was shocked into silence) reflected on what must have been happening in that little cub’s body and it was clear that, like a Holocaust victim in the final stages of starvation, that bear wouldn’t have been able to take in any nutrition. By that time, probably the organ systems had started shutting down. What could you have done? Gone out and found a seal and killed it? Tossed the mother your lunch? You’d have had to carry around a lot of food in your car to do her any good, and then what about the next mother, and the next …. and of course there’s the example of our own black bears who live off the scraps and donations of human beings, and that hasn’t worked out well for them nor for us. So Dan, just know that there are some of us out here who do get what you’re doing and hold you in high esteem for bearing witness (no pun intended). Here in NYC we’re working to get the city to pull back from its use of tropical timber for municipal infrastructure – we’re the biggest consumer in North America. We did a demo at Coney Island last Jan. 1 – in the water! – connecting the plight of the polar bears and the loss of rainforests: deforestation contributes 20% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thus causing the warming. If you’re interested check us out:

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Dec. 12th, 2010

      JK Canepa,

      You really made my night and beyond. What a well thought out and sincere response to a situation that anyone in their right mind would understand I had no control over. Filming this event was the very least I could do for this unfortunate family of polar bears. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in the outdoors knows the implications of feeding bears and why it was impossible for me to intervene. As I pointed out in another post it is illegal to feed polar bears in Manitoba. I’ve chosen to post each and every critical comment that has come through and I will continue to do so but I’m extremely thankful that you added your voice of reason to what so far has been a complete assignation of my character. Thank you. I’m very grateful for your kind words and educated insight.

  4. FanakapanOn Dec. 10th, 2010

    Much as I feel for the bears, its becoming clear beyond dispute, that global temps have been in decline for at least the last 10 years, so your Canary in the Mine allegory, inasmuch as I assume you use it to refer to Climate Change ? is probably wrong.

  5. not sureOn Dec. 9th, 2010

    you sure sound like you have an agenda, Daniel.

  6. agwISalieOn Dec. 9th, 2010

    P.S. for the record, I’m not Tom Nelson, nor am I a scientist.

  7. agwISalieOn Dec. 9th, 2010

    I guess I have some questions of my own:

    If what you are saying is true, why are there more Polar Bears today than there were 20 or 30 years ago?

    Do you know ANY scientists involved in studying ANY animal that is not studying it under the framework of AGW? (And I am not referring to vivisection.)

    If you came to the conclusion that AGW was not real, but you also realized that stating so in public would mean you would never get another cent of research money in your life; would you state your opinion or be silent?

    Do you think other scientists would do the same thing? Or not?

    If you do believe in AGW based on CO2 emissions, what steps have you taken to prevent your country from engaging in war, which is the most intensive CO2 producing activity done by humans? (Do not say “I voted for Obama” since Obama is clearly and obviously a member of the war party.)

    Is the data you are using for ice/temp/etc coming from research funded by backers of AGW? Have you made any attempt to seek out contradictory evidence – you know, the way an actual scientists would – or are you satisfied with data coming exclusively from AGW-believing sources?

    Are you familiar with Elite Theory? The concept of problem-reaction-solution?

    What would it take for you to believe that intelligent extraterrestrials exist? Would seeing a news announcement on TV be sufficient for you?

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