The wildlife publication in December 2017 published a video of a starving polar bear with a caption that read: "This is what climate change looks like," claiming that the bear was dying because of global warming.
While the video is estimated to have been watched 2.5 billion times — an estimation made by the photographer herself — experts repeatedly voiced their doubts about the global warming narrative and criticized the publication for pursuing easy praise by manipulating its readers.
The experts said the animal could have been suffering from sickness, old age or injury as there was no proof of a link between the animal's condition and climate change.
Some critics said publication was manipulating its readers by playing into their consciousness, associating a sick, dying animal with their claims without backing it up with any scientific data.
Others said National Geographic was preying on people's fears about global warming, injecting desperation into sensitive people's hearts.
After mounting pressure, National Geographic finally admitted lying to its readers on Thursday after it published an article called "Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong."
An editor's note at the top of the article read: "National Geographic went too far in drawing a definitive connection between climate change and a particular starving polar bear in the opening caption of our December 2017 video about the animal."
The editor's note admits that the television network did not have any proof about the connection between climate change and the polar bear as it said: "there is no way to know for certain why this bear was on the verge of death."
Since the publication, the images of the starving bear have been widely used as an argument against climate change doubters and deniers.
Cristina Mittermeier, the photographer who pictured the animal, placed most of the blame on National Geographic by saying that it was the language used by the publication that led to this.
National Geographic has since changed the title in the video that now reads: "This is what a starving polar bear looks like."
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