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This is climate change

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, December 10th, 2009 - 82 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

cannibal polar bear

Climate change has melted the sea ice where polar bears catch seals. Starving, they are turning to cannibalism. Here a male bear takes the remains of a cub, which it had taken from its mother.

This is climate change. This is just the beginning.

I have a terrible feeling that this picture is an omen of things to come.

82 comments on “This is climate change ”

  1. Leopold 1

    While I agree that climate change concerns are valid, one of the many effects could be the extinction of polar bears, is not this possibly more a case of a male killing the cubs of rival to bring the mother into fertility again? Male lions apparently do it all the time

    • Marty G 1.1

      The article says that this male did not do it for that purpose, and it doesn’t seem to be a reason that male polar bears kill cubs. And male lions don’t eat the cubs they kill.

      “retired Environment Canada biologist Ian Stirling says evidence suggests cubs are being killed for food, not just so the male can mate with the mother.

      He told CBC news that the nearby Hudson Bay sea ice, which the bears use to get at the seals they need to fatten up for winter, is not appearing until weeks later than it used to”

      It’s not unheard of for males to kill cubs when food is low. This is part of a spate of incidents in an area where food is running low for polar bears because the sea is is gone.

    • snoozer 1.2

      a very powerful picture, Marty.

      The image of a polar bear with another polar bear’s head in its mouth may symbolise what will happen to human societies and economies as climate change makes survivial tougher and tougher.

    • Bright Red 1.3

      a heartbreaking image

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Hi Marty,

    I am not disputing the possibility that climate change could cause bears to eat their young. However, I think this article is a prime example of climate alarmism.

    Cannibalism is a reasonably common occurrence amongst bears as part of this article points out:


    Also, many other species engage in cannibalism for various reasons. So, it is not that uncommon.

    So, I think it as premature and alarmist to draw these sorts of conclusions on the basis of a very small sample. Also, do you not think it is just as likely that the bears could be getting hungry due to over-fishing. It is not disputed that fish stocks world-wide are collapsing which will certainly have a major effect on the food chain, including the bears.

  3. gitmo 3

    Did you read the article that the picture was linked to or did you just decide the picture was to much of an Al Gore opportunity ?

  4. lukas 4

    What alarmist crap!


    “Adult male bears males occasionally kill and eat polar bear cubs, for reasons that are unclear”


  5. richgraham 5

    Marty, in NZ there are men who kill their children – yes ?
    What conclusions do you draw from that ?
    Cannibalism in the wild is very common – ask any fisherman.
    You are harming the cause Marty, issuing nonsense like this.

  6. Marty G 6

    of course, the point of the picture is the symbolism as much as debating why one particular polar bear killed and ate a cub. But if you read the article they say it is uncommon and it is increasing, and the reason is a shortage of food.

    richgraham. are those men cannibals? And aren’t they the product of dysfunctional conditions?

  7. outofbed 7

    Too much polar bear focus me thinks

    • outofbed 7.1

      Too much polar bear focus me thinks

      The first case study I’ve posted reveals how a coalition of US coal companies sought to persuade people that the science is uncertain. It listed the two social groups it was trying to reach “Target 1: Older, less educated males”; “Target 2: Younger, lower income women” and the methods by which it would reach them. One of its findings was that “members of the public feel more confident expressing opinions on others’ motivations and tactics than they do expressing opinions on scientific issues”.


  8. tsmithfield 8


    You didn’t bother to answer my point about the possibility of overfishing having something to do with the problem if there is an increasing trend.

    There is more than one reason why the bears could be hungry.

    • Bright Red 8.1

      polar bears don’t eat fish. and seal populations, which polarl bears do eat and which themsevles eat fish aren’t in trouble.

      It’s the melting sea ice that is the problem because polar bears hunt by waiting beside holes in the sea ice for seals to come up to breathe.

  9. gingercrush 9

    [Don’t be a dick.]

  10. TightyRighty 10

    i was going to call on sycophantic BS, but everyone else has done. I read the article in the paper this morning, and it said whoever deals with this usually get a report about once a year of male bears eating cubs. could it be that their natural hunting grounds are getting larger, in direct opposition to global warming, and the reason this gets observed more is that the bears are now living further south, i.e. closer to denser populations.

    • snoozer 10.1

      their hunting grounds are sea ice, tighty. Do you think the amount of sea ice is increasing? because it’s clearly not.


      • TightyRighty 10.1.1

        “Arctic sea ice extent averaged over November 2009 was 10.26 million square kilometers (3.96 million square miles). This was 1.05 million square kilometers (405,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for November, but 420,000 square kilometers (160,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in November 2006. In general, the ice edge is now at or slightly beyond its average location, with two notable exceptions: Hudson Bay and the Barents Sea.”

        also interesting to note that the rate of growth is higher than the 1979-2006 average. but none of that is very relevant to the photograph is it snoozer? how often do you see shrubs on sea ice? or do polar bears only go to land to eat their young? awfully considerate cannibals. i stand by my original hypotheses. or maybe just tweak it, maybe polar bears have evolved to learn that food can be gathered from any arctic landform, so long as it sustains what they prefer to eat. seals, fish (not possible on land), the offspring of fallen foes so that the woman can be ravished. reads like a conan novel.

        • snoozer

          Tighty. In case you can’t read the amount of sea ice is 1 million square kilometres less than the 1979 to 2006 average (and that average is over a period of decreasing sea ice, not the old normal). So this year isn’t a record low, so what? a vital part of their habitat is disappearing.

          and tighty. polar bears live on land but hunt on the sea ice (which is why their latin name means ‘maritime bear) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear because the sea ice is gone, they are turning to other food sources in desperation.

          “maybe polar bears have evolved to learn that food can be gathered from any arctic landform, so long as it sustains what they prefer to eat. seals, fish (not possible on land), the offspring of fallen foes so that the woman can be ravished”

          you don’t seriously believe that animal behaviours evolve over this kind of timeframe do you? Polar bears don’t eat fish you fool, they eat seals nearly exclusively, unless they can’t get to the seals, then they will eat what they can and eventually they will starve because they are evolved for catching and eating seals. And the cub was stolen from a living mother not a “fallen foe”.

          are you actually this dumb or are you playing at it?

          • TightyRighty

            i love it, im a fool for suggesting evolution. go kick back under whatever rock you crawled out from. i believe that animals, giving their inherent survival instinct will drastically change behaviour if neccesary. and lets face it, the article you pointed me too in your first post said “the sea ice is at or further than the 1979-2009 average, with two notable exceptions” so a localised problem maybe? because two locations do not make a globe nubnub. in two locations there might be a problem with the local population.

            now, this particular bear might be starving, or as a local says, who probably knows better than you and wikipedia combined

            ” this theory is disputed by Inuit leaders in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, who claim it is wrong to connect the bears’ behaviour with starvation.

            Kivalliqu Inuit Association president Jose Kusugak said: ‘It makes the south southern people look so ignorant.

            ‘A male polar bear eating a cub becomes a big story and they try to marry it with climate change and so on, it becomes absurd when it’s a normal, normal occurrence.’ ”
            – thanks gitmo

            • snoozer

              it’s not an isolated incident. It’s a spate of hungry bears eating cubs in this area where the sea ice is gone.

              Yeah, animals will be forced into other emergency survival strategies (not evolution, btw) when their food is inaccessible – like cannibalism.

              Get it yet?

              • gitmo

                Perhaps you could fly up there and run cover for the polar bear cubs ?

              • TightyRighty

                If polar bears only eat seals, and seals swim in the seas or can kick it on land (were polar bears live) or ice (where polar bears hunt) then there is a certain confluence there that may help those poor bears with less hunting grounds in hudson bay (one of two locales with less ice). with more sea ice elsewhere, other bears are fine. once again a localised problem, ice poverty. maybe you can come with a WFPB’s type ice-equality distribution model to help alleviate the problem of adapting to changing hunting grounds, then those in medium-ice-decile areas can all have ice-pods.

                sorry for being pithy, but according to a local indian chief (who probably knows more about this than you and wikipedia put together) it happens all the time. so it’s not an isolated (nobody, especially me, said it was) incident, it’s a natural occurrence. get it yet nubnub?

              • snoozer

                for god’s sake, Tighty. The hunting behaviour of polar bears is not up for negiotation. They hunt by ambush at breathing holes on sea ice. No sea ice, no breathing holes, no seals. And they turn to food elsewhere. they’re not adapted for hunding land animals, they can’t run fast for long… so cannibalism.

                No-one ever said that polar bears have never cannibalised each other before but if you read the articles this is about a starving population that has lost its sea ice.

                Neither you, nor I, nor the inuit (god, did you really write indian?) chief, nor the biologists who say it is linked to climate change can be saw what is in that polar bear’s head. But it is the symbolism of the picture that really matters – the icon of climate change, eating its own kind

              • TightyRighty

                oh thats right the science is settled nubnub. they haven’t lost their sea ice. i’ll point this out one more time, the article you showed me, has decreasing sea ice, yes. but on;y in two specific areas. in all other areas there is more sea ice on average, and the rate of growth is above average. so they have’t lost their sea ice. it’s not hiding down the side of the couch. the symbolism is what you want it to be, and if the rest of the world doesn’t see it your way, they are not wrong, they are just smart enough to know that polar bears eat younger polar bears. and just because someone draws a link between the image and climate change doesn’t make it true, though with your clammy constantly wringing-over-some-small-thing hands, i’m not surprised you get worked up. even if you get slapped back down.

                Oh the symbolism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. ben 11

    Great post, Marty. Not only is it alarmist (by selecting global warming out of all the possible explanations as the culprit here for no obvious reason), you’ve got it exactly backwards. Polar bear numbers are increasing.

    So, yes, you’re more likely to see this sort of thing by virtue of there being so many more bears!

  12. Monty 12

    Marty – it was on the internet so it must be true eh? – Like others say – this is crap and probably has nothing at all to do with that global warming scam that is currently the great fashion (remember a couple of years back it was GE??)

    The religon on global warming has taken over governments – not keen to be acused of “not caring” – this is one of the greatest marketing campaigns ever – and now we get a picture of a cuddly polar bear eating a meal like it has done for thousands of years.

  13. todd 13

    Keep on coming up with bullshit like this it just makes joe average laugh.The stories about AGW just keep getting more OTT every day,its better than paying to go to see a disaster movie.

  14. Bored 14

    Well Marty, you got their attention with a bit of shock photogaphy, and for the right reasons which is more than shock jocks like Paul Henry can claim. The reactions above are pretty predictable though, it is representative of a vast expanse of of dense craniums. None so blind as dont want to see (or hear in this case). Its all rather depressing really, but dont give up.

    • ben 14.1

      For his next trick, Marty will demonstrate a link between global warming and child abuse in east Manukau by drawing two lines that slope up.

      Nasty CO2.

    • TightyRighty 14.2

      so because people are disagreeing with the link marty has drawn, they are stupid? and some people think paul henry is conceited

    • gitmo 14.3

      Dear boring

      From the article that the picture was linked to.

      … this theory is disputed by Inuit leaders in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, who claim it is wrong to connect the bears’ behaviour with starvation.

      Kivalliqu Inuit Association president Jose Kusugak said: ‘It makes the south southern people look so ignorant.

      ‘A male polar bear eating a cub becomes a big story and they try to marry it with climate change and so on, it becomes absurd when it’s a normal, normal occurrence.’

      But what would they know eh ?

  15. tsmithfield 15

    Don’t agree with you Bored. If AGW is the problem its cracked up to be, then this sort of nonsense from Marty is just damaging the cause.


  16. Pat 16

    Snoozer said: “The image of a polar bear with another polar bear’s head in its mouth may symbolise what will happen to human societies and economies as climate change makes survivial tougher and tougher.”

    Really??? People are going to eat each other???

    • gitmo 16.1

      Well at least chianti sales will improve.

    • snoozer 16.2

      not literally, hopefully.

      But you do realise that if runaway climate change is allowed to occur (when 2 degrees of warming sparks postive feedback and rapidly becomes 6 degrees, 8 degrees) they’re talking about at an 80% decrease in human population by the end of the century. I hate to think how people will behave in collapsing societies.

  17. TightyRighty 17

    `someone has already made a game of it


  18. Bored 18

    QED, Git et al, on your responses, selective blindness to reality.

    • gitmo 18.1

      I think the Dingo that killed Azaria was also acting due to the obvious effects of AGW.

      • snoozer 18.1.1

        you’re sickening gitmo.

        • gitmo

          And you’re retarded.

          [lprent: Do we have a self-proclaimed ‘celebrity’ in our midst? What is it with the right fringe and that word? I almost feel like adding it to the banned word collection. ]

          • lukas

            careful gitmo, those who think TE is in National HQ will start thinking you are Paul Henry….

          • TightyRighty

            if you don’t like something ban it. shower heads, incandescent light bulbs, national standards. hip hip hurrah

            [lprent: tightyrighty…. no no I must restrain myself….

            Of course a simple banning is better than unfettered bully devices. You know – separating people into an in-crowd and the scapegoats.

            I had a look over one yesterday at kiwiblog (some kind of voting system). It felt like being in high-school as depicted on TV. Of course that does describe the attitudes and thought levels of most of the people who frequent the sewer. But where would conservatives be without having a scapegoat to blame. ]

            • TightyRighty

              oh come on lprent, you know i’m joking. i always maintain that while you are partisan, you are all reasonable. surely you can handle a little dig?

              ps the kiwiblog new system sucks. i can’t read anything sugar coated in yellow.

              [lprent: Sorry. I should have made that clearer. I was just joking… It was the list. I just thought of adding your name at the end to help prove your argument. But I restrained myself. ]

            • Draco T Bastard

              Exactly what NACT + MP have been doing – removing the standards that would allow us to live a freer life.

  19. Draco T Bastard 19

    I have a terrible feeling that this picture is an omen of things to come.

    The Arch Druid: Human Ecology of Collapse

    Nobody, but nobody, is willing to deal with the harsh reality of what a carbon-neutral society would have to be like. This is what makes the blame game so popular, and it also provides the impetus behind meaningless gestures of the sort that are on the table at Copenhagen. It’s a common piece of rhetoric these days to say that “failure is not an option,’ but this sort of feckless thoughtstopper misses the point as totally as any human utterance possibly could. Failure is always an option; when trying to prevent it will lead to highly unpleasant personal consequences, without actually having the least chance of preventing it, a strong case can be made that the most viable option for anyone in a leadership position is to enjoy the party while it lasts, and hope you can duck the blame when it all comes crashing down.

    Basically, we’re screwed. We’re not going to do what’s necessary because no one’s willing to make the needed sacrifice. I give it 10, maybe 20 years before we know that we’re in a runaway climate change scenario. By the end of this century I’d be surprised if there was 500m people alive in the world along with a massive reduction in biodiversity.

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Welcome to Hell.

    • Bored 19.1

      Thanks Draco, its what I was going on about with regard to thick craniums, denial of reality etc. A few of these bugges should also read the Archdruid for his explanations of economics, particularly liked his recent post on how guilds regualted market demand, price and quality….

    • ben 19.2

      Draco that quote is right on the money. Environmentalism is nothing if not a luxury good, something that enjoys popular support so long as it doesn’t hurt too much. A carbon neutral society will be a low energy society and probably an unpleasant one to live in. But the fact is that the sort of cuts required to achieve anything, and the level of taxation or outright controls required to do that, are enormous. The green movement survives by pretending the necessary cuts won’t hurt much, or by arguing that raising taxes on energy will help the economy. Um, no. There is a trade-off, deciding where the sweet spot is is a legitimate role for democracy, and pretending there isn’t a trade-off is disingenuous.

      • outofbed 19.2.1

        Great quote so true
        The elephant in the room though is overpopulation
        Discussion of overpopulation has become somewhat taboo in the environmental movement. emissions cause emissions
        Although I’m sure the earth will just shake most us all off eventually

      • lprent 19.2.2

        There is always a trade-off. It happens everywhere because that is the nature of not having unlimited resources and natural levels of conservatism. However the real question is how to provide a strong enough market signal to induce change without causing a panic (the 1973 and 1978 oil crises come to mind).

        I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of things that could be done at lower energy/resource levels. But to date there hasn’t been a market signal to say that research has to be done. So things are done the simplistic way – which is to use more resources.

        Every time that a strong market signal has been given, think of things like DDT, CFCs, the cost of keeping horses (pollution problems in big cities was getting pretty extreme at the end of the 19th and the taxes were rising), and as many more as you can be bothered thinking about, a solution was found over the next decades. In each case the procrastinations were doing the chicken little that the CCDs do today. In each case a steady market signal early enough made alternatives available.

    • Bill 19.3

      @ DTB

      Been thinking about this a wee bit and well….capitalism is a relationship predicated on abuse (exploitation)…but the abuse of the wage slave is so much better and more powerful than the abuse of the plantation slave ever was.

      A plantation slave can perhaps contemplate escape on the grounds that they have nothing to lose except maybe a lousy fucked up life. But a wage slave?

      Wage slaves are dependent upon the continuing survival of the system that abuses them….food, water… hell, all resources are controlled by the capitalist system and many of them are necessary for life.

      Others merely contribute to material wealth (a sense of comfort and ease?)….but that has been elevated to such a level of importance that wage slaves desperately seek to attain more and more in the belief that comfort/ease/fulfilment or whatever will be theirs as a secondary effect of material excess or success. So many of us seek to continue and even deepen our engagement in our own exploitation.

      And the older we are the more generally speaking, we have invested in the status quo. Depending on your perspective then, status, a sense of life, purpose, meaning and so on all flow from what is and what you have made of yourself either in spite of capitalism’s constraints or because of capitalism’s opportunities.

      In other words this is our nest and the older we are the more effort has gone into this here nest and the less able or willing we are to abandon it.

      This would all be bad enough given ageing demographics, but it’s not just that
      old codgers and old birds are sitting at Copenhagen. It’s privileged old codgers and privileged old birds with very lush layers of rather exclusive feathers in their nests who sit at Copenhagen.

      There is no way that they can move to the psychological space that is necessary for correct action. And even if they could, the majority of their domestic populaces can’t.

      But young people can. And ageing activists from civil and societal struggles of previous generations can. All we need to do is meet, talk and organise.

      • Armchair Critic 19.3.1

        “All we need to do is meet, talk and organise”
        Yes, and we need to then do things, too.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.3.2

        Wage slaves are dependent upon the continuing survival of the system that abuses them .food, water hell, all resources are controlled by the capitalist system and many of them are necessary for life.

        Exactly what I’ve been saying for quite awhile. When NACT say that they want everybody to be independent from government welfare what they’re really saying is that they want everyone to be dependent upon the capitalists because without that dependency there would be no capitalism. This also proves the fact that capitalist free-market is an oxymoron – capitalism cannot survive in a free-market where everybody is financially independent.

        This would all be bad enough given ageing demographics, but it’s not just that
        old codgers and old birds are sitting at Copenhagen. It’s privileged old codgers and privileged old birds with very lush layers of rather exclusive feathers in their nests who sit at Copenhagen.

        There is no way that they can move to the psychological space that is necessary for correct action.

        Exactly. As I’ve said before, John Key has been very well rewarded for doing SFA and there’s no way he’s going to do anything to jeopardise that and neither will anyone else in NACT, Labour or even the Greens. They hang on to capitalism as it’s all they know and they’re comfortable with it.

        • Bill

          Let’s just reasonably assume that we are in broad agreement here about ‘them’ and ‘their’ agenda and ineffectiveness

          The problem I’m concerned about is, I think, quite an old one.

          Along comes a generation of activists. They do things with varying degrees of success. They learn how to do shit better over time. But then, for a variety of reasons they become less active and eventually just not active at all.

          On the plus side this means there is a large pool of potential ‘just sitting there’. Okay. The reality might be family commitments and a plethora of other important factors that contribute to non-participation. But if they were ever more than trendy activists, the “Oh. I’m at Uni now and this is what we do when at Uni and now I’ve got a job and now I’m looking for that next fashion fix.”…we might say that they are likely to have accepted but not embraced the status quo.

          Even with a more passive involvement, they have a lot of valuable knowledge to pass on from their more active days that would save younger activists wasting time and energy reinventing wheels and falling into avoidable pit falls.

          Anyway. I’m interested in unlocking the latent potential of the left (and the latent left in most people) . TV, radio or journals won’t do it. Face book won’t do it. People meeting and talking and making their common ideas the foundation of common ground….

          ….then the ossified attendees at Copenhagen and the various school ma’rm political parties of parliament can do or not do whatever they wish because they will be an irrelevance in the face of broad social movements.

          Meanwhile, an idiocy of this here internet thing is that you could be my next door neighbour, the guy on the bus every morning… but beyond this anonymous and not exactly empowering medium there is no communication, no evolving discourse and therefore no possibility of that common ground being excavated and built upon.

  20. tsmithfield 20

    The reason that this article is so bad is because it draws the reactionary conclusion that AGW is to blame.

    What would have impressed me more is if Marty had thought about other possible explanations, done some research, and explained why other explanations were inadequate, and why the only explanation left is AGW.

    However, he has taken the alarmist approach of leaping in, and blaming AGW without any
    further thought.

  21. I have made this my screensaver image for the month.
    Not pretty and I can’t avoid this during this month of consumption without end.
    More tinsel and plastic toys anyone?
    captcha – significances

  22. BLiP 22

    And just a few short months ago John Key was telling environmentalists to “go hug a polar bear” – I wish he would take his own advice, even if it would only be a light meal.

  23. You know a warning would of been nice.

    • felix 23.1

      There was plenty of warning, Brett, you just didn’t want listen.

      And now it’s probably too late.

      • lukas 23.1.1

        we haven’t signed yet… there is some hope Felix… glad you’ve seen the light.

        Captcha- balance…. not in NZ…. climategate emails hidden to just before the sports on TV3

  24. outofbed 24

    Tiny Tuvalu beaten down in climate talks

    Tuvalu’s gambit, seconded by Grenada, the Solomons and other island states, but not supported by New Zealand,

    Don’t need the PI vote then ?

  25. SJ Hawkins 26

    I think the only way forward is going to be very strict population control. A limit of one child per parent is probably the best start. Then I guess we simply stop offering medical treatment to certain demographics.

    Sooner or later we’re going to have to face the facts, too many people is bad for the planet.
    Obviously fossil fuels aren’t sustainable so investment in alternative energy is vital (not nuclear obviously -someone actually told me Margaret Thatcher and the nuclear energy lobby thought up AGW in the early 1970’s – anyone else heard that, surely it must be a lie?)

    • Bill 26.1

      Too many rich pricks are bad for the planet. How many Ethiopians does it take to account for the impact of one US citizen? One rich US citizen?


      “The WallyPower 118 (which gives total wallies a sensation of power) consumes 3,400 litres per hour when travelling at 60 knots. That’s nearly a litre per second. Another way of putting it is 31 litres per kilometre.(….)As the owner of one of these yachts I’ll do more damage to the biosphere in 10 minutes than most Africans inflict in a lifetime. Now we’re burning, baby”

  26. jaymam 27

    Wow, cannibal bears!
    Here’s a list of other things caused by global warming, all published in reputable media such as the BBC and the Guardian:

  27. The picture presented is an amateur photoshop set up.
    Neither the victim polar bears head or the entrails were in the original picture.
    This ii obvious.

    Note the feathering and overlap between the victim head and the entrails.
    That is you can see head and entrails in the same area of the pictu\tre.

    Note how the entrails are not really in the bears mouth, they are attached by photoshop and extruded toward the mouth.
    Note the lack of blood or other body parts in the photo.

    This photo is pure green fake.

  28. Further to my report above, you can see evidence of photoshop green fake

    blurred edges and opacity between the entrails and the polar bear’s leg:

    the head of the victim polar bear has the face of an adult made smaller,
    whereas the head of a cub is wider:

    the entrails are meaningless and represent no anatomical part of a bear true, they are a badlyl defined photoshop amalgam between mesentry [ thats abdominal fat] and guts, but actually neither;

    Note how obvious it is that the original picture is just a bear standing there, with head toward viewer;

    Standard garbage.

  29. jaymam 30

    Actually that is not a male bear, it’s a female, and it did not kill the cub or eat it.
    That has all been stated by the photographer who took the picture.
    There’s no proof that climate change caused its death.
    Otherwise, a really good job of alarmist propaganda. Well done!

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