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6 Nov, 2019 23:40

You’ve been lied to: Walrus suicide NOT caused by climate change as Attenborough story quietly revised. What else is a lie?

You’ve been lied to: Walrus suicide NOT caused by climate change as Attenborough story quietly revised. What else is a lie?

Footage of walruses driven to suicide by climate change broke the world’s heart last year, only for the story to be quietly revised. But if media lied about walrus suicides, what else are they lying about?

Renowned nature documentarian David Attenborough probably converted a few climate skeptics with his heartrending footage of walruses, their habitat decimated by climate change, throwing themselves off cliffs in despair in the 2018 Netflix documentary Our Planet.

Unfortunately, the story was untrue. Walruses regularly take to the water as part of their seasonal migration, and some plummet to their doom in their hurry to escape predators like polar bears, which sometimes hunt their prey by triggering a stampede off a precipice. 

Some eagle-eyed viewers noted that the placement of Attenborough’s camera crew might have also left his walruses with no choice but to jump off the cliff, since humans were blocking the beach. With polar bears menacing them inland, the walruses could have been caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.

Other sleuths found the filmmakers had engaged in some editing trickery to make it seem that the ‘desperate’ walruses going ashore to the dangerous cliffs were just around the corner from the packed 100,000-strong colony showcased in the documentary. In fact, the two locations were 400 hundred kilometers apart in Russia’s Far East.


The persistence of a handful of climate change skeptics seems to have shamed Attenborough into revising his explanation of the pinniped tragedy. In a more recent BBC documentary Seven Worlds, One Planet, he explains the walrus mass suicide as a consequence of marauding polar bears – another species supposedly on the edge of extinction because of climate change but apparently doing quite well.

Attenborough wasn’t the first to depict the walruses’ death dive as the tragic result of manmade global warming – the group Climate Progress was using the tale to tug at heartstrings as early as 2014, calling the yearly walrus retreats to the land a “real change.” That sob story, too, was debunked – walrus “haul-outs” are actually a sign of healthy population growth, their numbers having rebounded since the outlawing of large-scale hunting, though that didn’t stop the climate change contingent from trying to claim that the makeup of the walrus population was unusual this time, with more females and calves, and maybe that was because of climate change. 

Environmental activists tearing their hair out about “climate change deniers” fail to take into account the frequency with which the media gets climate change wrong. Attenborough’s walruses are just the latest flub in a long history of green fables that have evaporated on closer examination. Former vice president turned environmental crusader Al Gore famously predicted New York would be underwater in the near future due to a 20-foot rise in sea levels, declaring in 2008 that the North Pole would go completely ice-free within five years. Gore has become a very rich man off his holdings in solar energy, which ballooned in value following the release of his film An Inconvenient Truth – a film so full of errors a UK judge would only allow it to be showed in schools with “guidance notes to prevent political indoctrination.” 

The familiar “hockey stick” graph, used by climate change alarmists to claim that global temperatures have been rising rapidly since the industrial revolution, was dealt a near-fatal blow in 2009 with the release of internal emails from the University of East Anglia’s climate research division. The emails revealed the scientists had ‘edited’ the Earth’s historical temperature record to fit their theories, a scandal that has come to be known as ClimateGate. These scientists worked with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the group whose recent report warned humanity we have 12 years to act before irreversible climate change dooms us all to temperature increases incompatible with life.

Also on rt.com Clock is ticking: Planet has only 12 years to avert global climate chaos, UN warns

Sure, one could believe the IPCC has cut out the misbehaving climate superstars and restricted itself to reliable science this time. Certainly mainstream media has all but forgotten about the ClimateGate emails, eager to lure in more viewers with climate catastrophe and theatrical Extinction Rebellion protests, but “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” as they say…

Mainstream media has been caught lying about seemingly everything – from labeling a Kentucky weapons demonstration as Turkish shelling of helpless Kurds, to flogging the “Russian collusion” hoax long past its sell-by date, to blaming hurricanes on climate change. Trust in the media is at historic lows; a poll conducted by the Columbia Journalism Review earlier this year found less confidence in the press than any other institution, including Congress. 

So while scientists have been adamant climate change is a real phenomenon, and it’s entirely possible the humans are contributing to it to some extent, it is difficult for many who’ve been lied to by the media for their entire lives to believe that this time and this time only, they’re telling the truth.

Under these conditions, it’s surprising anyone believes in climate change at all.

Helen Buyniski, RT

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.