Posted by: waterworks | October 26, 2007

Polar bears don’t like water

Arne Naevra has won a 2007 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year award with this image of a young polar bear precariously mounted atop a block of seemingly shrinking ice.  The photograph was taken east of Barentsöya island, in the Svalbard archipelago. Klaus Nigge, one of the judges awarding prizes for the One Earth Award category, is reported as saying “it is the simplicity of the message: the last polar bear on the last piece of ice in a time of global warming.”

The polar bear’s status as a reluctant poster-boy (or girl) for climate change has not gone unchallenged in recent weeks.  A UK high court judge has ruled that Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth contains “nine significant errors”, one of which is the suggestion that polar bears are being found that have drowned “swimming long distances to find the ice”.  Summing up the case, Mr Justice Barton ruled that “the only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm”.

The judge made his remarks when assessing a case brought by Stewart Dimmock, a Kent school governor and a member of a political group, the New Party, who is opposed to a UK government plan to show the film in schools.   However, Mr Dimmock most likely feels let down by Mr Barton’s overall conclusion that the film is “broadly accurate” in its presentation of climate change and “accords with the latest conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”  Which means that polar bears are going to die in significant numbers at some point in the not too distant future as their hunting grounds melt away.

With only four storm-damaged bears lending empirical weight to Al Gore’s case, it seems surprising that no-one thought to mention the tragic event that unfolded in David Attenborough’s Planet Earth TV series.  Viewers may recall that as the sun melted sea ice, a male polar bear resorted to swimming, unable as he was to wait around any longer for seals to pay him a visit.  Such was the bear’s desparation for food that he later came ashore on a small rocky island, unwisely attacked a walrus and subsequently died of injuries and exhaustion.



  1. What happened to the polar bear in the picture? He doesnt look happy. Maybe Stewart Dimmock could sit on the iceberg for a few days instead.

  2. Rest assured that Polar Bears are used to precarious balancing acts for long periods of time. One only has to think of Peppy the polar bear who has been balancing on a Foxes Glacier Mint since 1922.

  3. […] four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm” (see the previous post  Mr Justice Barton remained unconvinced that the plight of the polar bear is real and not […]

  4. Nice site keep it up!

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