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Last updated on August 6th, 2017 at 07:03 am
They cling precariously to the top of what is left of the ice floe, their fragile grip the perfect symbol of the tragedy of global warming.
Captured on film by Canadian environmentalists, the pair of polar bears look stranded on chunks of broken ice.
A front-page picture caption on Feb. 3 about polar bears floating on chunks of glacial ice, illustrating an article on a global warming report, carried incorrect information from the Canadian Ice Service about when and where the photograph was taken, and about who took it. The picture was taken in August 2006 in the Chukchi Sea, not in 2004 in the Bering Sea, farther south. The photographer was Amanda Byrd, not Dan Crosbie.
That correction needs a correction. Byrd’s photograph first appeared in 2004, not 2006, alongside this journal entrydetailing a Joint Western Arctic Climate Study cruise. The original caption:
Mother polar bear and cub on interesting ice sculpture carved by waves.
Not “stranded”; not “clinging precariously”. Byrd – an Australian studying at the University of Alaska Fairbanks – was interviewed about this by spiked a week or so back:
Over the past few months the photo has been published widely as a snapshot of the dangers of global warming. Byrd, however, is wary of seeing the photo as direct evidence of manmade climate change. ‘I believe in the climate change phenomena, but for me to say that the image is a direct link, I would be speculating’, she tells spiked. ‘The ice in the Arctic is definitely growing less, and the bears in the migratory route in the Beaufort Sea (where this image was taken, 90 miles off Barrow) have to swim further.’ Byrd is clearly a little miffed that ‘the image you have seen around the world was distributed without my consent, and [with] the wrong byline’.
For Al Gore’s presentation yesterday to a conference of human resources executives, his second Toronto visit in a month, the Oscar-winning envirogelical recycled just about everything from his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
From his opening line—“I used to be the next president of the United States”—through the Churchill quotes, the slick computer graphics and the boiling frog analogy, to his rousing finale, the presentation was a live action carbon copy of the film.
But there was one notable addition, an iconic photograph that was distributed worldwide last month by Canada’s Environment Ministry, and for which the Canadian government is about to be sued by an Alaskan photographer.
The photo, taken in summer, shows two polar bears on a melting ice floe in the Beaufort Sea, north of Barrow, Alaska.
“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.”
Photographer Byrd knew where to go – to her lawyers:
In an interview yesterday, she said Environment Canada “distributed it to seven agencies without my consent. They were amicable, but it’s under legal action right now.”
She has not filed a lawsuit, but has hired a lawyer to pursue a breach of copyright case. She does not accept the government’s explanation that it was “an honest mistake.”
But how does she feel about Gore’s use of her picture?
She said she was flattered when Mr. Gore approached her and offered to pay for use of the photo.
“The image is an icon. It’s definitely pulled the heartstrings of people and it says a lot, in itself. But I don’t have really any opinion myself on what the image says,” she said. “I don’t know what happened to the bears after that… They migrate over 100 miles, swimming.”
She now charges newspapers US$500 for use of the photo on inside pages, and US$700 for the front.
(Much thanks to Lee Matthews for links and research)
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