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'Serious ethical issues': Did climate change documentary misrepresent this disturbing footage to push 'propaganda'?

The Netflix documentary “Our Planet” attempts to make the case that man-caused climate change is killing endangered animals. Evidence of such a claim can supposedly be found in a scene showing a group of walruses plummeting to their deaths:


More from the Atlantic:

In the autumn of 2017, about 250 walruses in Russia, having climbed up to rocky slopes overlooking a beach, just walked over the edge.Usually, gravity is no enemy of the walrus. When these animals encounter hard surfaces, they rise up to meet them, hauling their two-ton bulks onto floating pieces of ice. When they fall, they flop off those low platforms into the accommodating water. So you might imagine that a walrus, peering off a tall cliff, doesn’t really understand what will happen to it when it steps off. It doesn’t expect to plummet for 260 feet, cartwheel through the air, bounce off the rocks, and crash abruptly. Climbplummetcartwheelbounce: These are not walrus-associated verbs.Nor is landing. The biologist J. B. S. Haldane once wrote a famous essay in which he described what large falls do to progressively larger animals. A mouse “gets a slight shock and walks away,” he wrote. “A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.” And a walrus? “Many just die on impact, or they crush the ones they fall on below. Some have internal injuries, get to the sea, and wash up later,” says Sophie Lanfear, who led a documentary crew that recorded the behavior for Our Planet—Netflix’s big-budget answer to Planet Earth. The team had heard hints about such falls, but were still unprepared for the shock of seeing them. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever filmed,” says Jamie McPherson, a cameraman, on a behind-the-scenes video.

Our Planet makes a point of saying what other nature series have not—the wonders they’re showing are endangered because of humans—and the footage is perhaps the most shocking part of a series full of discomfiting moments. Contrary to popular belief, not even lemmings dive off cliffs. Why would a walrus? Polar bears weren’t harassing them. The camera crews were filming from afar so their scents and sounds wouldn’t spook the skittish animals. Then why? What were walruses even doing on cliff tops in the first place? Our Planetoffers a clear answer. “This is the sad reality of climate change,” Lanfear told me. “They’d be on the ice if they could.”

Sounds pretty awful, right? But is what happened really the reality of climate change? Or was it the result of something else?

Today, meteorologist Ryan Maue posted a “horrifying update” to this story that appears highly problematic for “Our Planet,” to say the least:


Now, it’s also worth noting that some sources have also said that polar bears may have driven the walruses over the cliff.

But if that’s the case, then “Our Planet” is still being dishonest about the nature (no pun intended) of the walruses’ deaths.

When it comes to climate change alarmism, it’s always worth considering financial motivation. In any event, this entire story is incredibly disturbing.


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