The Only Message Life Can Convey

Photographers Cristina MittermeierPaul Nicklen and filmmakers from Sea Legacy arrived on Somerset Island near Baffin Island, capturing this sobering footage and imagery. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 1.57.15 PM.png

This image took a rapid dash around the internet, shaking social media into a collective sadness with no resolve. This polar bear is not just one, but one of many. The fur around his paws is visibly loose, reflecting the shriveled state of his body. This animal is starving, and we are all guilty of it; ravaging his home from a distance. Consider if your neighborhood began falling away little by little, with no resources to rebuild it, you too would be at grave odds. In fact, this is exactly what is happening.

There's the phrase about the "canary in the coal mine." But the truth is that all animals offer these clear indicators of a changing world in a state of emergency.

Polar bears are carnivores, relying on smaller animals in their habitat for their source of food. In 2002, most polar bears studied by the World Wildlife Fund showed signs of starvation. This wasn't acceptable then. Now verging on 2018, things have only gotten worse, and these bears are very near extinction. 

If you don't think the issue of climate change is directly related to our habits as consumers, you are sorely wrong. What we create, and the power it takes requires the burning of more and more fossil fuels. What is a fossil fuel? It is exactly what it sounds like. It's the robbery of life, left long ago, meant to rest in the past. It's the digging up of a time we were never meant to access. In every sci-fi movie about time travel, we hear about paradoxes, and the heavily strained lesson of "not tampering with the past or future." When it comes to the burning of fossil fuels, this rule, more fact than fiction, is thrown right out the window for the weak excuse of "economy." This development and endless hunger for more comes at the expense of beauty the world may lose, and never get back. 

My heart breaks when I see this photo. We cried as we filmed this dying bear. Although we cannot tell for sure why this bear was dying, what is certain is that as the Arctic continues to warm twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth, many more bears will face this fate over the coming years. We traveled to the Arctic with Sea Legacy in August and saw both healthy bears and starving bears. As climate change accelerates, we will see less of the former and more of the latter. It’s a heartbreaking reality of our current lifestyle.
— Cristina Mittermeier