A video of a skeletal polar bear hopelessly scavenging for food in a desolate landscape is going viral online, and this definitely isn’t your cute animal video. The clip of the bear, which was released by the National Geographic channel, is just about the most gut-wrenching thing that we’ve watched all week.
Photographer Paul Nicklen, who has been with National Geographic for 17 years, says recording the video was even more heartbreaking. He’s spent his life filming bears and estimates that he’s come across about 3,000 of them, but the animal in his latest video was unlike the rest. In an article on the clip, Nicklen recalled, “We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks.”
Nicklen says he’s often asked why he didn’t do something, but he explains, “Of course, that crossed my mind. But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” He added, “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.”
The internet has definitely felt the gut-punch of the video and evoked an audible outcry. Actor Kumail Nanjiani offered one off-hand solution to the problem:
Unfortunately, animals seem to have a very bleak future in front of them. The number one threat to the world’s 22,000 polar bears is climate change, according to a World Wildlife Foundation report. The bears spend the winter months on the ice where they do a lot of laying around and a whole lot of eating seals — they fast during the summer. But, as the winter months have become warmer, it takes longer for the ice to reappear each season, meaning that the animals have less time to eat, and they have to fast for a longer stretch of time. In short, no ice means no seals, which could soon mean no polar bears.
Buzzfeed News also uploaded a video of the tear-jerking scene that has made the rounds online.
Government agencies monitoring about climate change are also warning that we may lose polar bears in the battle with mother nature; possibly as early as 2050, per a Washington Post report.
Environmental activists are scrambling under Trump’s administration as the president works to enact policies that they say will have a detrimental effect on combating the phenomenon. In addition to pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, Trump has signed an executive order pulling back regulation on industries that contribute to carbon emissions. And, early in Trump’s presidency, his Environmental Protection Agency scrubbed almost all of the information on climate change from their website. Climate experts are almost unanimous in their belief that humans are contributing to global warming with 97% of the published research on the topic pointing to that consensus.