First off, I believe that climate change is a serious problem, that it is human driven, and that it is having a profound effect on the Arctic. That said, it annoys me to no end that almost everything is being used to make the arguement that climate change is happening.
Look, I understand that it is a crucial issue, and one that it is difficult to convince some people (the very people who happily point out that the earth was warmer in the past accept the science that tells us that while rejecting the same science that is telling us that it is warming at unprecedented rate).
The problem with ascribing absolutely every problem or perceived problematic behaviour to climate change is that it dilutes the evidence at the end of the day. It has the power to numb, not shock. And what currently has me shaking my head is the cannibalistic Polar Bear photos and news item that is currently making its way around, the media and the internet.
Polar Bears are a touchstone for many people. They are charismatic, beautiful animals, and the ice they depend on is disappearing. Their listing as threatened by the US has done nothing to alleviate the threat to them. The threat to them isn't from hunting, either sport or by Inuit. Fifty bears or fifty thousand, when the ice disappears so will much of their food supply. There are many healthy populations right now that can and do sustain a hunt, the listing notwithstanding.
Because they have suddenly become the iconic messenger for climate change in the Arctic these photos, and the accompanying text (there are media stories as well, in pretty much every market) are being waved as climate change warning flags. "Look! The bears are being forced to eat each other because of their disappearing habitat and food supply!" "They are being forced to eat cubs!" (those are imaginary quotes - illustrative if you will.) But here is a quote for the Reuter's photos that I linked to:
I don't know about you, but I grew up on a steady diet of nature films/docs and practically every one that had Polar Bears had the dramatic part about the mother bear having to keep an eye out for males that will kill her cubs. Not the best evidence you say? That is true, how about this snippet from Polar Bears International
So we have known behaviour from Polar Bears (and other animals, the killing of offspring is often used by males to both eliminate other male's genes from the pool and bring females back into breeding condition) suddenly being trumpeted as evidence of climate change. There's plenty of other evidence, we don't need to make everything evidence of climate change.