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. Climb, plummet, cartwheel, bounce: These are not walrus-associated verbs.
“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? Our Planet offers a clear answer. “This is the sad reality of climate change, they’d be on the ice if they could.” Our Planet draws a straight line between climate change, sea-ice loss, bigger haul-outs, overcrowding, climbing walruses, and falling walruses. “It is not a normal event.” So they are showing massive crowds of walruses on the beach, then showing walruses falling off the cliffs, presumably above the same beach. But is it?
“But a few walrus scientists who saw the clip have questioned parts of this narrative—including the claim that walruses are climbing “to find space away from the crowds.” “Walruses thrive on crowds and haul out in tight groups, even when space is available,” says Lori Quakenbush from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Also, in the sequence, it looks as if the beach beneath the teetering walruses is relatively empty. What crowds are they escaping from?
“This confusion arises from the ways in which documentaries elide space and time. The sequence includes footage from two separate beaches—one with the 100,000-strong congregation and one with the falls. At the latter, walruses started climbing only once the area beneath the cliffs had completely filled up; gregarious or not, they had no room. Once at the top, they rested for a few days, and walked off only after the beaches below had emptied. Indeed, as the narration suggests, the sounds of their departing comrades may have lured the cliff-top walruses off the edge. “They seemed to all want to return to the sea to feed as a group.”
“Quakenbush and others also doubt that the climbs and falls are related to climate change, because such tragedies have been reported since before sea ice showed substantial declines. “Walruses have shown similar behavior on the U.S. coastline when space and ice were not an issue, and the reason is unknown,” says Lori Polasek from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For example, in three successive years, from 1994 to 1996, dozens of male walruses fell to their death from cliffs in southwestern Alaska.”
You know the word “anthropomorphism”? It’s rampant in the passages above, in all that speculation by My Planet, and their attribution of decision making to the walruses. Perhaps, if walruses are really so capable of thinking, there’s a different explanation. These were Russian walruses, or maybe just walruses that discovered they were in Russia. But the climate change mafia has to relate everything to human, i.e. American, caused greenhouse gases. When you see the phrase, climate change, you are supposed to think “bad Americans, driving their stinking SUV’s everywhere, causing even Russian walruses to jump off cliffs.” Despite the fact that auto emissions have fallen so significantly that my state, Washington, has ended emissions testing…but that’s typical of the U.S. Technology and a sense of responsibility have combined to produce less emissions per capita than any of the signers of the Paris Climate Accords, most of whose emissions are worse since they signed the pledge to clean up their act. So Our Planet needs to justify their existence by blaming humans, i.e. us. Just as plausible is that the walruses were desperate to escape communism. You might argue Russia isn’t purely communist today; okay, they’ve managed to combine the worst of communism with crony capitalism. The walruses that didn’t jump will probably be killed for the ivory in their tusks, and oil to light lamps, while the electric grid fails.