A year before Greta Thunberg was born, a Nat Geo photographer could not convince scientists to even say the word climate change

Paul Nicklen/Instagram
  • 17 years ago, no scientist spoke about climate change, says Paul Nicklen.
  • Nicklen is an award winning Canadian photographer who spent the last twenty years photographing the beauty of nature.
  • In 2017, he shared the video of a starving polar bear searching for food on an iceless land.
In 2002, a year before environmental activist Greta Thunberg was born, Paul Nicklen, a nature photographer requested scientists to go on record about the rapid deterioration of the environment. They refused as they were scared of losing credibility, though they were aware of the bitter truth.

Now, a 16 year old girl is asking the question he should have asked those scientists. Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg took the lead on climate change by calling out world leaders for failing young people such as her. Her thundering “How dare you?” has echoed all over the world.

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Today is a powerful, hopeful and inspiring day. In 2002, I photographed a major climate change feature for National Geographic Magazine. I could not get one scientist to openly go on the record and tie their name to the words climate change. They knew something was going on but would not go on record for fear they may lose credibility. The Inuit were talking about it, the data was already pouring in showing signs of rapid change, and the evidence was obvious to me and my camera. While on lecture tour for NG, some audiences requested that I did not mention the words global warming and climate change as their entire audience did not ‘believe’ in such “propaganda". I felt deflated and scared. In just 17 years, we have come so far and it is powerful warriors with incredible guts and leadership like @gretathunberg to shake things up. We owe it to the animals and ecosystems, we owe it to the planet, we owe it ourselves and we owe it to your children to reverse this course of self destruction that we have been on for over 250 years. #standinsolidarity #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #bethechange #riseup

A post shared by Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen) on


Nicklen is an award winning Canadian photographer who spent the last twenty years photographing the planet and climate change. He specialises in underwater photography, which won him the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the year award.
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In 2017, he shared the video of a starving polar bear searching for food on an iceless land. The video on Youtube caused an uproar. It also captured the attention of Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who wrote, “The polar photography of Paul Nicklen is a climate change warning.”

Nicklen has formed a conservation society called SealLegacy, and also goes on tours speaking of the need to act against climate change.

“After a while, (climate change) becomes news and we glaze over it. I want to put faces to it. I want people to understand that if we lose ice, we lose an entire ecosystem,” Nicklen said in his speech on TedTalks.
Courtesy: National Geography
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See also:
Greta Thunberg and 15 other kids have filed a legal complaint against 5 countries, joining a growing group of young people bringing the climate fight to court
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