Australian TV Exposes 'Stranded Polar Bear' Global Warming Hoax

Remember that wonderful picture of stranded polar bears on an ice floe that were used by folks like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore to demonstrate how dire the man-made global warming issue is?

Well, ABC television in Australia, on a show called “Media Watch,” recently debunked the entire issue (video available here, h/t NB member dscott).

It turns out -- as NewBuster Jake Gontesky reported on March 20 -- the picture was taken in August, “when every year the fringes of the Arctic ice cap melt regardless of the wider effects of global warming.”

The photographer, Australian marine biology student Amanda Byrd, didn’t think the bears were in any jeopardy:

They did not appear to be in danger…I did not see the bears get on the ice, and I did not see them get off. I cannot say either way if they were stranded or not.

Denis Simard of Environment Canada agreed:

You have to keep in mind that the bears are not in danger at all. This is a perfect picture for climate change…you have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die...But they were not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim...They are still alive and having fun.

How delicious. Think this kind of broadcast would ever happen in America?

What follows is a full transcript of this segment. Furthermore, here are the e-mail questions answered by the photographer who took the picture. And, here is the full transcript of the interview “Media Watch” did with The Sunday Telegraph’s Neil Breen regarding this matter.

Those stranded polar bears on the shrinking Arctic ice - victims of global warming - certainly tugged at the heart-strings.

That photo was published not only in the Sunday Telegraph.

It made it onto the front page of the New York Times.

And the International Herald Tribune.

It also ran in London's Daily Mail, The Times of London and Canada's Ottawa Citizen - and that's just to name a few.

All used it as evidence of global warming and the imminent demise of the polar bear.

But the photo wasn't current. It was two and a half years old.

And it wasn't snapped by Canadian environmentalists.

It was taken by an Australian marine biology student on a field trip.

And in what month did she take it?

“The time of year was August, summer.”

— Email from Amanda Byrd to Media Watch

Summer, when every year the fringes of the Arctic ice cap melt regardless of the wider effects of global warming.

So were the polar bears stranded?

“They did not appear to be in danger…I did not see the bears get on the ice, and I did not see them get off. I cannot say either way if they were stranded or not.”

— Email from Amanda Byrd to Media Watch

And they didn't appear stranded to Denis Simard of Environment Canada.

He told Canada's National Post.

You have to keep in mind that the bears are not in danger at all. This is a perfect picture for climate change…you have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die...But they were not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim...They are still alive and having fun.

— The National Post (Canada), Gore pays for photo after Canada didn't, 23rd March, 2007

Polar bears are good swimmers. So how did all this come about?

Photographer Amanda Byrd gave her photo to fellow cruiser, Dan Crosbie - to have a look.

“Dan Crosbie gave the image to the Canadian Ice Service, who gave the image to Environment Canada, who distributed the image to 7 media agencies including AP.”

— Email from Amanda Byrd to Media Watch

Associated Press released the photo two and a half years after it was taken, on the day the United Nations released its major global warming report.

That's where Sydney's Sunday Telegraph got the photo, running it with a story taken from the Daily Mail as Neil Breen explains.

…the photograph represents polar bears standing on ice that’s melting. Now obviously there’s a disputed account of when that was taken now, and maybe it was taken in the Alaskan Summer when you would naturally expect ice to melt but at the time it was sent to us, Associated Press in their caption to us told us that the picture was taken of melting ice caps and to do with global warming and that it was sent to them by a Canadian ice authority and we had no reason to question it.

— Statement from Neil Breen (Editor of the Sunday Telegraph) to Media Watch

But Amanda Byrd didn't think her photo necessarily described whether global warming is occurring.

I take neither stand, I simply took the photos...If I released the image myself, it would have been as a striking image. Nothing more.

— Email from Amanda Byrd to Media Watch

That's not how Al Gore saw it.

He used it in a presentation on man made global warming.

"Their habitat is melting... beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet," Mr. Gore said, with the photo on the screen behind him. "They're in trouble, got nowhere else to go."
Audience members let out gasps of sympathy…

— The National Post (Canada), Gore pays for photo after Canada didn't, 23rd March, 2007

Well that's because they're bears… and at a distance, they're rather cute.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.