But it appears the film’s real purpose was to convince a far more important audience than paying Netflix customers that a global ‘climate emergency’ was going on: the elite influencers and world leaders who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, where the dying walrus film clip was introduced and interpreted to the audience by Sir David Attenborough himself.
In the spring of 2019, Netflix released its ‘Our Planet’ documentary that included a clip of walruses falling from a high cliff in Siberia to their deaths on jagged rocks below, which Sir David Attenborough’s narration told viewers was due to lack of sea ice caused by climate change.
It moved people to tears, as it was meant to do.
Of course, we now know that already-fat polar bears deliberately frightened those walrus over the edge – using a particularly effective, site-specific hunting strategy that avoided fighting the dangerous beasts head-on – and it all had nothing to do with walrus struggling desperately to survive in a warming world.
This explanation not only makes biological sense, but it’s also backed by solid evidence. Since it is now clear that the truth would eventually come out when the BBC aired its own documentary in November 2019 showing bears driving walrus to their deaths, the Netflix/Attenborough ruse seemed like a silly PR stunt.
Now I know otherwise.
Here is a quote from a blog post written by Anatoli Kochnev, the Russian on-site ‘scientific advisor’ to the Netflix producers, who helped out with filming in Ryrkaypiy on the coast of the Chukchi Sea; the post is dated 7 April 2019 [via Google Translate, my bold]:
Just in the fall of 2017, I worked as an expert and field guide with a British team of filmmakers who shot walruses and polar bears for two programs of the BBC and the Living Planet company. This year, films should appear on television and computer screens… A couple of days ago [sic, actually months], at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sir David Attenborough and Prince William presented a preliminary version of the film, in which one of the key stories was presented with shots taken then, in 2017, in Chukotka…The most vivid and dramatic shots captured the fall of walrus from the cliffs, where they climb because of the lack of space on the beach and to avoid unpleasant smells from the nearby village. That year, only on one of the rookeries where we were shooting, about 800 walruses died, of which almost a third broke when falling from rocks…It is said that some of the important economic and political bosses could not keep tears when watching a film in Davos.