The starving polar bear raises a question: Is fake news okay for a good cause? – by Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2017)

The video is shocking. An emaciated polar bear staggers across the tundra. She is nothing more than a bag of bones. It’s clear that she is on her last legs.

“My entire team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,” wrote Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic photographer, on his Instagram post. “It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy.”

Mr. Nicklen’s heartbreaking video, posted a few days ago has now gone viral. It has received more than 1.3 million views, and the story has generated widespread news coverage.

He and his team at the conservation group SeaLegacy have done interviews from around the world. “National Geographic photographer films polar bear succumbing to climate change,” read one typical headline. Even Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna tweeted about it.

“All of our team was in tears,” team member CristinaMittermeier told the CBC’s As It Happens. “We hear from scientists that in the next 100 to 150 years, we’re going to lose polar bears …We want the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like.” Only later, when pressed, did she admit that it was “impossible to tell” why the animal was dying.

For the rest of this column: