Fear promoted by young activists is based on false walrus & polar bear narratives

Despite a demand by radical protest group Extinction Rebellion that governments “tell the truth” about climate change, it’s apparent that when it comes to walrus extinction risk they prefer the contrived walrus tragedy porn compiled by David Attenborough and his Netflix cronies over scientific evidence.

Netflix falling walrus clipped from trailer 01

For this group of radical protesters, ‘the truth‘ is a narrative that serves their traffic-disrupting purposes. Since many gullible people – young and old – were horrified by the Netflix claim that hundreds of walruses in the western Arctic had hurled themselves off a cliff because of human-caused climate change, Extinction Rebellion plan to exploit this emotional connection during upcoming protests, apparently believing that what Attenborough told them was a fact. But in accepting docu-drama content without question, they are rejecting the best available science produced in 2017 by biologists who determined that Pacific walrus are not being harmed by the effects of climate change and are not threatened with extinction.

According to a recent report by Eva Amsen (Forbes, 7 August 2019), “Extinction Rebellion Artists Create Animal Skeletons From Repurposed Materials“, members of the doomsday protest group have created a life-sized skeleton of a walrus out of papier-mâché and plastic which they plan to parade through the streets to convince people that climate change is an emergency.

Having spent the day with the walrus skeleton-builders, Amsen revealed that the group had agreed unanimously on the walrus as a symbol, since it “conveyed everything they wanted the skeleton to stand for: a reminder that these animals are dying.”

They wanted narrator David Attenborough’s voice to come to mind, telling viewers of his Netflix ‘Our Planet’ episode that walruses falling from a cliff to their deaths on the rocks below was due to lack of sea ice. As Amsen pointed out, “this scene has helped lodge the walrus in people’s mind as yet another symbol of a changing climate.”

However, walrus falls from cliffs are a natural phenomenon with no exclusive connection to lack of sea ice, a point raised by walrus specialists during the “controversy” surrounding the film to which Amsen briefly alludes. Undeterred, Extinction Rebellion are eager to exploit this heartbreaking but fictitious Netflix narrative as an emotional cudgel to browbeat the gullible public and naive politicians into supporting their ‘climate emergency’ cause. And no wonder: emotional manipulation is how they were taught about climate change in school.

Tales of starving polar bears figured prominently in the history of this generation’s climate change education. High-profile Extinction Rebellion supporter Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old climate messiah from Sweden, has said that in elementary school she was shown images and films featuring starving polar bears, as were most children her age. They were told a simplistic tale of polar bears dying of starvation while their sea ice home melted, all due to the evils of human fossil fuel use. However, what they were not told was that this was only a guess of what might happen to polar bears in the future or that some polar bears die naturally of starvation even when sea ice is plentiful.

Greta, who has been diagnosed with OCD, has admitted she obsessed about the upcoming horrors of global warming she was taught and later went into a deep depression that lasted years. Climate change ‘lessons’ frightened her beyond reason and she is now calling on children and adults around the world to embrace her fear.

In an interview with a Swiss journalist in early August, Greta echoed the Extinction Rebellion demand for climate change truth: she insisted that she has been “…communicating and acting on the best available united science”. However, we know that with respect to polar bears, what Greta believes is an out-of-date prediction that has since proven to be spectacularly wrong, as I explain in my new book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

Summer sea ice has declined much faster than expected: mid-century-like levels of ice have existed since 2007 but despite crossing this critical threshold we didn’t lose 2/3 of the world’s polar bears as predicted. In fact, the global population size has risen from about 22,500 in 2005 to almost 30,000 – and may be much higher. Polar bears – like walrus – are thriving with much less summer sea ice than existed 40 years ago, which means further declines have no chance of causing them to go extinct.

Extinction Rebellion telling children and other gullible adults that climate change threatens walrus with extinction because David Attenborough said so in a Netflix video is the kind of horrifying and simplistic morality tale kids like Greta Thunberg were told in school about starving polar bears but it isn’t the truth.

Their notion that a climate change emergency exists that requires immediate action by governments emanates from a childish comprehension of the issues rather than from scientific evidence.

For those who don’t know me, I am a zoologist (former adjunct professor, University of Victoria) specializing in Holocene mammals, including polar bears and walrus. My new book is called The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened.

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