Netflix’s new documentary series has everything we’ve come to love in a nature documentary: Beautiful landscapes and mind-blowing cinematography, close-ups of rare animal interactions that make you wonder ‘How on earth did they film that?’ and of course, smooth, warm narration from worldwide treasure David Attenborough.
(Seriously, I hope the UK government are working around the clock to figure out how to clone Attenborough because he must never leave us).
But what makes Attenborough’s newest series Our Planet different is that the legendary environmentalist is, frankly, done with our sh*t. He’s not holding back: All of this beauty and wonder is being ruined. It’s terminal, actually, unless we hurry up and act.
He says it… nicely, because he’s David Attenborough, but that’s the gist of it.
“What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on Earth”, he warns.
Through the eight-part series we see the impacts of industrialisation and climate change on our Earth: the destruction of natural environments and animal habitats, over-fishing, melting ice and rising sea levels.
Oh, and we’re also causing walruses to plunge to their deaths.
When I settled in for my Sunday afternoon of Netflix, I was prepared for Attenborough to tell me the planet was being destroyed and it was all our fault. I was prepared to sigh, be angry about it and probably go back to my business-as-usual, which is mostly environmentally friendly, but could use some work. What I wasn’t prepared for was to watch sweet, innocent walruses – who had to climb a cliff to find free space to relax in because we’d melted all their ice – plummet to the ground below in slow motion.
It was traumatising.
According the Our Planet, the retreat of sea ice around Russia’s Bering Strait has caused hundred of thousands of walruses to gather on small stretches of coast, which are so overcrowded that many of the animals – who just want a place to lie down, chill out and maybe make some babies – scale rugged 80 metre cliffs nearby to get some peace and quiet.
But outside of the water, walruses have poor eyesight and their large, blubbery bodies are definitely not made for getting up and down steep inclines.
So, in dramatic slow motion, we watch as they tumble down the rocky cliff face.
I cried. I cried again when I recounted it hours later and I’ll probably cry again soon because that god damn slow motion, orchestra-backed sequence will be with me forever.
It’s powerful, gruesome and most importantly, it demands we pay attention. Given it’s all anyone is talking about on the internet, there’s hope that seeing the brutal impact of climate change on animals like walrus will spur more of us into action.
If the Walrus scene in Our Planet doesn’t make you reconsider everything you’re doing to make climate change happen nothing will.
They’re doing this because of us. Jesus. pic.twitter.com/x6VcdJP6r4
— Elliot Hackney (@ElliotHackney) April 7, 2019