I don't really care what you think about the politics or science of global warming. Some say it's the greatest threat to the world, and others think it's a far overblown hoax. That's actually not at issue in this article at all.
But a hilarious story came out this week that the Daily Mail published an article using photos from photographer Josh Anon and spun them in a completely different way than the story that the photos actually told. The photographer posted the full, scientifically-accurate story on his blog.
Photographer Josh Anon recently traveled to the arctic and spotted four healthy-looking polar bears, two of them on a fresh kill of a seal. The bears were at the edge of the ice (obviously, that's where the seals are) and appeared to be thriving. He submitted the photos to a wire news agency that wrote more information about the photos and eventually the story was published on the Daily Mail. Whether the fault of this story is from the Daily Mail or the wire service is not clear.
The Daily Mail spun the story to say that the polar bears came to see the boat traveling through the water that the photographer was on, and when the bear got to the edge of the ice, the ice broke off and stranded the polar bear on the ice floe. The story was supposed to show the polar bears losing their ice habitat due to global warming, but it completely ignored science, as the photographer pointed out to the writer multiple times.
The story also cut out all of the photos showing the bear feeding quite happily on a seal. The story also stated that the polar bear was “isolated from his friends” when actuality there were four polar bears together. The Daily Mail cut out all of the photos showing more than one bear in the picture.
Anon told the Daily Mail that the story was not accurate at all to what he witnessed, and was factually untrue. So what did the Daily Mail do? Published it.
Here's what Anon wrote to the Daily Mail:
[x_blockquote cite=”Josh Anon” type=”left”]Hmm, that's not at all accurate to how the bears live unfortunately. What you might focus on is how the bears travel on the ice, and while they can swim a bit, they use the ice to hunt and live. When there's no ice and they get stranded on land, they don't eat/can't hunt until the ice returns (or at best ravage eggs from a bird colony which barely gives them a snack but destroys the colony: I have pics of this I can provide)…[/x_blockquote]
At this point, Anon wrote back and said that the story was “more fiction than fact” and that “It’s so scientifically wrong it’s a bit embarrassing.” The Daily Mail has yet to comment on the actual story from the photographer, despite the fact that he posted a comment right on their website about the story.
To be clear, the photographer does not seem to be taking issue with global warming, but with the scientific falsity that a bear would be trapped forever on a piece of ice when it is not far from shore.
Anon wrote in his comment:
[x_blockquote cite=”Josh Anon” type=”left”]I'm the original photographer, and I agree this story is scientifically inaccurate and more fiction than fact. The original story was that I was on a small boat, and we found two bears with a seal kill in the ice pack. We were able to stay with them for a good amount of time, and over the course of that time, two more bears joined, and they would check us out and then ignore us. I also originally posted a message about hunting being a more immediate and actionable concern than global warming. Unfortunately since there's seal blood in many of the pics, this fictional, G-rated story went out to the wire instead. If you search my name, you can find my blog and the original story.[/x_blockquote]
The Daily Mail said they couldn't publish the photos of the polar bears eating the seal because it was “too graphic.” Yet, the Daily Mail failed to even mention the fact that the bears were successfully hunting in their habitat. It gave the sad excuse that the photos of the bears hunting was “too graphic” for their publication. Yet, they have no issue with publishing far more graphic photos of people destroying one another in war. That's fine, but a little seal blood from a natural hunt as part of the circle of life would be too horrific for a newspaper… right….
Again, to be clear, I don't care what you think of global warming. But I do care when a “journalist” falsifies the stories that photos clearly tell in order to drum up a fantastic tale that simply was not true.