Attenborough’s new attempt to scare people about polar bear extinction and walrus deaths

Reposted from Polar Bear Science

Posted on September 13, 2020 | 

Attenborough’s new attempt to scare people about polar bear extinction and walrus deaths

In a new book and Netflix film, Sir David Attenborough again presents false information about future polar bear survival and walrus deaths.An excerpt from Attenborough’s forthcoming book (A Life On Our Planet) has been published in the Daily Mail (12 September), called “End of the polar bear by the 2030s, another major pandemic in the 2080s… and a sixth mass extinction by 2100: SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH reveals how those born today could witness these scenarios unless we save the planet“.  As his upcoming documentary has the same title as the book, this excerpt forewarns of what’s in the film. Attenborough falsely claims that by 2030 – a short 10 years from now – polar bears will be on their way to extinction and again flogs the lie, exposed last year, that walrus falling to their deaths in Russia a few years ago was due to lack of sea ice.


From an article authored by Attenborough (12 September 2020, Daily Mail) about what to expect for polar bears by 2030, with callouts to my rebuttal comments in square brackets []:

Those born today could witness the following scenarios: 2030s Floods, drought… and polar bears die out …In 2011, when we filmed Frozen Planet, the world was already 0.8C warmer on average than it was when I was born in 1926.  That is a speed of change that exceeds any that has happened in the past 10,000 years. As the ice-free period lengthened [in 2011], scientists detected a worrying trend. Pregnant females, drained of their reserves, were now giving birth to smaller cubs. It is quite possible that one year, the summer would be just that little bit longer, and the cubs born that year will be so small that they cannot survive their first polar winter. That whole population of polar bears would then crash. [1] 2040s Lands turn to mud and a CO₂ calamity

… The warning signs of such a catastrophe [in the Arctic] can already be seen.

Walruses live largely on clams that grow on a few particular patches of the sea floor in the Arctic. In between fishing sessions, they haul themselves out on to the sea ice to rest. But those resting places have now melted away. Instead, they have to swim to the beaches on distant coasts.

There are only a few suitable places. So two-thirds of the population of Pacific walrus, tens of thousands of them, now assemble on one single beach. Crushingly overcrowded, some clamber up slopes and find themselves at the tops of cliffs. Out of water, their eyesight is very poor but the smell of the sea at the foot of the cliff is unmistakable. So they try to reach it by the shortest route. The vision of a three-ton walrus tumbling to its death is not easily forgotten. You don’t have to be a naturalist to know that something has gone catastrophically wrong.[2]


1. False. The paper describing the newest model does not say that any population of polar bears would crash or ‘die out’ by 2030 (Molnar et al. 2020), only that one or two might begin to be affected by that date. The model suggests Southern Hudson Bay bears are the most vulnerable and could see poor cub survival as early as 2030. However, the total collapse of the population would take decades.  I have already written about this new model, which is scientifically implausible and based on bad assumptions and out-of-date information; an earlier model has been shown to have failed spectacularly (Crockford 2019).

2. Nonsense. This walrus-falling-to-their-death due to lack of sea ice lie was exposed last year – why is Attenborough still peddling this twaddle? Walruses falling to their deaths is a natural phenomenon, see the video below.


From the brink of extinction in the 1960s, global polar bear numbers have grown roughly three to four times what they were then. None of the 19 subpopulations have gone extinct despite unexpectedly low summer sea ice levels for the last 14 years (Crockford 2019) and their official range across the Arctic is as broad as it was 200 years ago. The claim that reduced summer sea ice in general leads to poor health of females and poor cub survival does not hold up to scrutiny: while it appears to have been true for Western Hudson Bay using old data, it is strongly contracted by recent data from studies in the Barents and Chukchi Seas (Crockford 2019, 2020). Apparently, Sir David Attenbourough accepted without question the newest implausible prediction of future polar bear survival but couldn’t manage to tell the story without exaggeration. And despite being called out on the lie that Pacific walrus in Russia were falling to their deaths due to lack of sea ice, he is flogging this false narrative again because it fits his agenda. This latest film is simply more in a long line of others which Attenborough has used to frighten children and adults alike about polar bears and the Arctic. Since it is already clear that virtually everything Attenborough is peddling about polar bears and walrus is false, why would anyone believe his claims of irreparable environmental destruction – or more importantly, allow impressionable children to watch this new film?


Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats. Crockford, S.J. 2020.State of the Polar Bear Report2019. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 39, London. PDFhereMolnár, P.K., Bitz, C.M., Holland, M.M., Kay, J.E., Penk, S.R. and Amstrup, S.C. 2020. Fasting season length sets temporal limits for global polar bear persistence. Nature Climate Change.

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Charles H
September 17, 2020 2:32 am

This is a classic case of “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”. The problem is that this story (otherwise known as bare-faced lie” – excuse the pun) is food for the eco-alarmists (aka – anarchists) to drive their propaganda machine. So no doubt there will be more placards, XR lunatics and children crying in the streets marching to save the extinction of a species not even endangered. Yet more wasted tax payers’ money as the police sit back and watch them cause chaos (sorry – execute their democratic rights) in the streets of London. Heck – we might even see the messiah Sir David himself leading the way (assuming he is isn’t flying in his personal jet somewhere).

john harmsworth
Reply to  Charles H
September 17, 2020 8:55 am

It’s worse than that. It’s the Left’s lie factory at work. They attack hope and reality so people live in fear of every aspect of life and feel that everything that is noticed in life is a danger and must be attacked, along with ever fellow citizen associated with it. A non-society of us and them to be manipulated for the benefit of a ruling political class.

Reply to  Charles H
September 17, 2020 1:37 pm

Polar bears eat seals. Why does no one care about the seals? Well, I do. I say shoot a polar bear and save a seal. Or feed climate alarmists to the polar bears to save the seals.

R heath
Reply to  Richard Greene
September 19, 2020 11:59 am

Quite agree. Seal lives matter.

Reply to  Charles H
September 18, 2020 1:06 pm

There is a recent announcement about an extinct species of bear, last seen alive about 30,000 years ago, found in the Russia/Siberian tundra, completely intact. Lots of mammoths are over there, too, still frozen into the soil.

Why is Attenborough not fussing about them? Is it because it is quite obvious that no single species lives forever and forcing it to exist at the Command of Man (meaning Attenborough and his ilk) is a fallacy that denies reality?

Just askin’. It just seems like the control freak nature of people who are afraid of some species disappearing for good view it as the reality that they, too, shall evaporate into carbon molecules and dust. And it scares them to pieces.

September 17, 2020 2:38 am

‘Why would anyone believe his claims of irreparable environmental destruction – or more importantly, allow impressionable children to watch this new film?’ is the question asked in the post above.
What else might one expect from the BBC?
I can’t bring myself to watch any of the BBC’s biased programmes on ‘climate change’ – Sir David Attenborough is never required to argue his views with those who disagree, but is simply allowed to present his notions without question.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Carbon500
September 17, 2020 11:21 am

And despite being called out on the lie that Pacific walrus in Russia were falling to their deaths due to lack of sea ice, he is flogging this false narrative again because it fits his agenda.

SO, iffen the walruses fell off the high cliffs and landed on that hard sea ice they simply “bounced” a few times without being injured, …… RIGHT.

And if there if no clams underneath the floating sea ice, ….. then why are the walruses hanging out there?

Sir Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Carbon500
September 17, 2020 6:00 pm

As of this moment, I self-identify as a Knight of the Realm, aka “Sir Michael S. Kelly.” Given the fact that anyone can “self-identify” as another “gender” (by which they actually mean “sex,” but are too stupid to know the difference), I defy anyone to mount a challenge to my declaration. Certainly my BFF, who I know affectionately as “Queenie”, would support my self-identification. And if she doesn’t, well, f*** her, she’s probably a Trump supporter.

By the powers vested in my by my new Knighthood, I hereby proclaim the findings of “Sir” David Attenborough Nil, Nul, and Void…which, by an amazing coincidence, is the the name of my lawyers’ firm. What are the odds? Must be, what…3 to 1?

Reply to  Carbon500
September 18, 2020 8:53 am
Ron Long
September 17, 2020 3:12 am

Attenborough is on the Climate Change Train and he is going to ride it to the end of the tracks. Apex predators tend to adapt, ie, change their dietary habits, instead of going extinct. The nearing extinction event referred to by Dr. Susan was mostly over-hunting of big males for stuffed trophies. The polar bears are about at the population density they should stay at, it seems to me, as any more and their interactions with people go up too high. I see Dr. Susan tried to trick me into watching the polar bear video but I stopped myself in time. Stay sane and safe.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 17, 2020 12:26 pm

Long gone the time to increase hunting permits. PBs are going to become an increasing danger if this is allowed to continue.

Dudley Horscroft(@dudleyhorscroft)
September 17, 2020 3:21 am

Actually walruses climbing cliffs is the result of a ‘race’ memory – they remember that they used to be land animals, with those tusks that used to help them to climb hills and mountains, in the same way that a human climber uses pitons to enable him to climb otherwise inaccessible rock faces.

Just remember the photos of small boys and girls swinging from bars and contraptions (“climbing frames”) in parks, a ‘race’ memory of when humans used to be a lot closer to their ape cousins. Go back to what
Robert Ardrey had to say about man’s origins.

For an alternative, but similar view that ‘Man’s’ actions are partially prescribed by racial memories, read “The Descent of Women” by Elaine Morgan.

If in Man, so in Walruses – or Walrii?

Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
September 17, 2020 4:12 am

Here in Germany climbing frames are Verboten. (Progress ??? )

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  nottoobrite
September 17, 2020 4:38 am

In the US they are (or were in my youth) known as “jungle gyms”. When I were a lad, you would hear of the occasional broken arm or chin/facial injury, but nothing terribly serious. I’m sure the nanny-state has horrible things to say about them.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
September 17, 2020 5:25 am

When I was a young lad they were called trees.

Reply to  nottoobrite
September 17, 2020 5:59 am

Are they ?
You can buy a lot of them everywhere.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 17, 2020 11:43 am

KG: Those structures portrayed in your link are almost impossible to fall from. They are not genuine jungle gyms, but the nanny-govt. version.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
September 17, 2020 9:32 pm

Here’s what jungle gyms used to look like.

They were challenging, encouraged athleticism, and kids could have real fun on them.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
September 17, 2020 9:44 pm

They are also not TRUE jungle gyms unless they are also surrounded by hard asphalt surfaces scientifically designed to remove skin from knees.

Paul C
September 17, 2020 3:24 am

Charles Rotter, trivial word swap – the text in your link “strongly contracted by current data” should be “strongly contradicted by current data “

September 17, 2020 3:29 am

Walrus feed off sea ice over shallow water. If that’s not available, they haul out on shore and are vulnerable to stampedes and predation.

Look at this – the current arctic sea ice. There hasn’t been any sea ice over the shallow water walrus prefer for months now. How is the walrus population NOT affected by loss of feeding areas and hauling out on land not ice?

comment image

And you might well ask – where are the bears in that picture?

Michael Ozanne
Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 4:03 am

“where are the bears in that picture?”

Stalking the photographer…

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 4:08 am

It’s mid September griffo !

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 4:15 am

What has all this to do with sea ice?

Sea ice at the coast or not, has nothing to do with the low brainers to climb the highest cliffs they can find.

It is the same thing with many of us humans, climbing the Agenda-21 energiewende in order to fall into poverty.

It is a pity with the walruses, but sadly sh1t happens.

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 4:47 am


WOW there really is a HUGE AMOUNT OF SEA ICE up there isn’t there, griffool

FAR MORE than for most of the last 10,000 years

Sea ice had MUCH LESSER EXTENT for most of the first 9000+ years of the Holocene…

And yet there are still Walruses, and still Polar Bears

Why the continued climate change DENIAL, griff.

Do you exist in a world of fantasy because of your utter stupidity and incapability of learning basic facts?!

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 4:49 am

“affected by loss of feeding areas”

You moronic twerp.

Walrus hunt in open water. Less sea ice means more open water.

Do you even bother to read the utter tripe that you type !!

Reply to  fred250
September 17, 2020 6:50 am

“Do you even bother to read the utter tripe that you type !!”

Heck, he doesn’t even read the links that he provides.

Joel Snider
Reply to  MarkW
September 17, 2020 8:00 am

Not shamed in the slightest by that either. Quite the contrary – like most progressives, he really seems off on shouting what he knows to be outrageous BS in a room where everyone knows it – apparently the attention is legitimizing.

Reply to  Joel Snider
September 17, 2020 11:45 am

Progress is advancement, improvement, betterment
These people are not progressives they are regressive retards hell bent on returning advanced countries to the ‘middle ages’ where disease and pestilence would decimate the population to numbers they aspire to.

Reply to  fred250
September 18, 2020 7:44 am

Two thumbs way up, fred250!
Thank you.

Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 8:27 am

Griff I am willing to organize a hunting party to save the bears from climate change … I promise you they won’t die because of climate change.

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  griff
September 17, 2020 11:01 pm

As the video clearly explains, walruses like to haul out on land and have always done so. Falling off of cliffs is a result of overcrowding and happens whether or not bears are present.

Jerry Mead
September 17, 2020 3:33 am

Attenborough? Years ago quite good with gorillas, but these days just a silly old fool.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Jerry Mead
September 17, 2020 9:01 am

It makes me suspect that his work on gorillas was probably lousy as well. My scepticism continually grows thanks to the multitude of “experts” who try to B.S. me.

Eamon Butler
Reply to  Jerry Mead
September 17, 2020 3:40 pm

Yes, Jerry Mead.
All his early work was looking at the wonder of nature and this Earth in all its glory. Of all people on this planet, he has been privileged to observe it in a way most of us would envy. He was well positioned to observe the impending Climate change disaster, but he never mentioned it. Not until now. He mainly does voice overs to the film footage, in the safety and comfort of the post production studio. He has covered much of the wonders of the world, not much left, so Climate change has come to his rescue. It keeps him in the news. And here we are talking about him.

September 17, 2020 4:02 am

I used to have such respect for Attenborough. As a child, I read all his “Zoo Quest” books and they influenced me greatly. Unfortunately, he has let hype and scare stories get in the way of science and facts. He is correct about the destruction of habitat but has fallen to the Man-made Global Warming hype. It is so sad to see him end his illustrious career this way.

Reply to  Greytide
September 17, 2020 4:40 am


September 17, 2020 4:04 am

Griffiepoo: You’ve been asked many, many times why Polar Bears failed to become extinct during the eras when the Arctic was ice-free in Summer. Why not?

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  Graemethecat
September 17, 2020 5:53 am

Don’t expect any serious answers from the griffist. He is just a kicker of anthills, a stirrer of boiling pots. He is a drama queen, delighting in getting attention, nothing more.

September 17, 2020 4:21 am

The UN IPCC Assessment Report (AR5) is relatively short on the issue of Polar Bears in the Working Group 1 Report,(2013), Polar Regions at, “Marine mammals, polar birds and sea birds”.
It is worth stating the entirety of what Dr. Susan Crockford is dealing with-
“Empirical studies provide direct insight into the mechanisms of climate change impact on polar bears ( Ursus Maritimus) but modelling allows predictive capacity ( Armstrup et al 2010; Hunter et al 2010; Durner et al 2011; Castro de la Guardia et al,2013).
Polar bears are highly specialised and use annual ice over the continental shelves as their preferred habitat ( Durner et al 2009, Miller et al 2012).
The recent and projected loss of annual ice over continental shelves, decreased ice duration, decreased ice thickness, and habitat fragmentation are causing reduced food intake, increased energy expenditure and increased fasting in polar bears ( high confidence; Stirling and Parkinson 2006; Regehr et al 2007; Durner et al 2009; Armstrup et al 2010; Hunter et al 2010; Dérocher et al 2011;Rode et al 2012; Sahanatien and Dérocher 2012;Castro de la Guardia 2013.)
Subpopulation response varies geographically.Only 2 of the 19 subpopulations- Western Hudson Bay ( Regehr et al 2007) and the southern Beaufort Sea ( Regehr et al 2010 and Rode et al 2010a ) – have data séries adequate for clear identification of abundance effects related to climate change.
Many other subpopulations show characteristics associated with decline but some remain stable.Declining ice is causing lower body condition, reduced individual growth rates, lower fasting endurance, lower reproductive rates and lower survival ( high confidence Regehr et al 2007,2010,Rode et al 2010a, Molnar et al 2011).
Condition is a precursor to demographic change ( Very high Confidence-Hunter et al 2010, Regehr et al 2010, Rode et al 2010a,Robinson et al 2011).
The decline in the subpopulation in the Western Hudson Bay by 21% between 1987 and 2004 was related to climate change ( medium confidence; Regehr et al 2007). Replacement of multi year ice by annual ice could increase polar bear habitat ( low confidence Dérocher et al 2004).Increasing the distance to multi year ice and terrestrial réfugia at maximal melt may result in drowning, cub mortality and increased energetic costs ( Monnet and Gleason 2006; Durner et al 2007, Pagano et al 2012).
There is robust evidence of changes in sea ice conditions changing polar bear distribution including den areas ( high confidence Fischbach et al 2007; Schliebe et al 2008; Gleason and Rode 2009; Towns et al 2010; Dérocher et al 2012).
The number of human- bear interactions is projected to increase with warming ( high confidence- Stirling and Parkinson 2006; Towns et al 2009).
Use of terrestrial resources by polar bears was suggested as adaptive ( Dyck et al 2007,2008)Dyck and Romberg 2007, Armstrong et al 2008; Dyck and Kebreab 2009; Rockwell and Gormezano 2009, Smith et al 2010).
Polar bears cannot adapt to terrestrial foods ( Stirling et al 2008b; Armstrup et al 2009; Rode et al 2010 b; Slater et al 2010), and will most likely not be able to adapt to climate change and reduced sea ice extent ( very high confidence).
Changing ice conditions are linked to cannibalism ( Armstrup et al 2006), altered feeding ( Cherry et al 2009), unusual hunting behaviour ( Stirling et al 2008a) and diet change ( Iverson et al 2006); Thiemann et al 2008).( medium confidence).”
That is the entirety of the scientific case for the claim of endangered polar bears as recorded in AR5.
Note in particular the claim that polar bears will be unable to adapt to climate change and reduced sea ice extent.
If Dr. Susan Crockford is correct in her papers and “The Polar Bear Catastrophe that never happened”, most of these claims are not sustainable, indeed are already refuted.

September 17, 2020 4:33 am

The BIG question isn’t whether climate is changing but just how much of the changes we are seeing are down to man. There is NO hard evidence that man is responsible for much at all. Everything being claimed is based on computer models, which as someone who works with them all the time I can assure you, griff, are hopeless at predicting non-deterministic systems such as the climate.

This is the nub of the entire problem. It could be addressed quickly and easily if those responsible for the models were prepared to publish the true and accurate confidence levels with which their predictions are made. Yet they never ever do so for the simple reason that any model based on the data and complexities involved, which is looking in to the future is going to have confidence intervals that would be laughable.

This is science at its very, very worst. History will look back and wonder how on earth so many people were taken in by it.

Just Jenn
Reply to  MarkW2
September 17, 2020 5:52 am

“Yet they never ever do so for the simple reason that any model based on the data and complexities involved, which is looking in to the future is going to have confidence intervals that would be laughable.”

+ 1M

Confidence intervals are extremely important for testing the model’s predictive capability. If the test data can not produce an appropriate confidence interval then your model needs to be adjusted. That is what it is at the most basic.

I want to see these climate models run a simply regression for a business with complex variables–say the transportation industry (goods not people). Just run it for the shipping lanes from Europe to N. America and choose all ports of call. Now run a confidence interval on that model and present it–you’d be fired on the spot in any shipping company or torn to pieces because you didn’t include vital information–namely what you excluded.

September 17, 2020 6:34 am

Jenn, what I simply cannot understand is why this very straightforward fact isn’t rammed home far more often.

Has anyone on this board ever seen a confidence interval quoted for a model predicting results, say, 10, 20 and 50 years into the future? Maybe I’m just being dumb and have missed this. However, given the number of variables involved in a climate model alone the confidence interval must, by definition, be extremely poor.

This is fundamental and basic stuff. Why isn’t more being done to emphasise it? If these guys are serious about the science they claim is ‘settled’ they’d be more than happy to publish these numbers. So where are they and why isn’t more being done to insist on them?

David A
Reply to  MarkW2
September 17, 2020 9:22 pm

Mark, next you will tell me most if their graphics lack error bars.

Just Jenn
Reply to  MarkW2
September 18, 2020 5:29 am

“So where are they and why isn’t more being done to insist on them?”

They have not even produced the null hypothesis, do you honestly think they’d produce error bars or a confidence interval? When cornered they produced the “97% consensus” as a result. And insisted that their model was accepted and praised for it’s predictive capability (despite being less accurate than Nostradamus).

Run that same “model” from a panda dataframe with properly cleaned and organized data and it will fall apart–and they know it. I want to know what they used to run that “model” because all we’ve gotten is tidbits it may be Fortran or another mainframe program (I suspect it was run with punch cards) that did not have the capacity to even produce a confidence interval or error bars without programming them in properly–and given how lazy their approach has been historically, I doubt they even bothered to figure out how to run it.

September 17, 2020 6:38 am

Rabbitborough knows he faces his own extinction in a short time and wants everyone else to be miserable as well. He has morphed into the ultimate denier who can never answer the question, “what evidence does not support your assertions?”.

2030 will come and go and just like 2010 was going to be the apocalypse for the likes of Hansen and Flannery, 2030 will go unremarked.

Boff Doff
September 17, 2020 7:01 am

I particularly enjoyed the scene in Attenborough’s Blue Planet where he and a “climate scientist” demonstrated shellfish dissolving in an increasingly acidic ocean.
It looked like a couple of Alka-Seltzer tabs dropped into a glass, plink plink fizz.
From nature documentary narrator to propagandist turns out to be a short trip.

September 17, 2020 7:12 am

Al Gore could save those bears….Al has millions…he don’t need all that money….give it to the bears, Al.

john harmsworth
Reply to  T. C. Clark
September 17, 2020 9:02 am

It makes me suspect that his work on gorillas was probably lousy as well. My scepticism continually grows thanks to the multitude of “experts” who try to B.S. me.

Reply to  john harmsworth
September 17, 2020 3:03 pm

While she may not have been super model material, I wouldn’t refer to Tipper as a gorilla.

September 17, 2020 10:45 am

Did someone yell “Fire!!” in the climate theater? during the polisci thriller?

Ian Coleman
September 17, 2020 3:53 pm

I’m not sure which I care about less, walruses or polar bears. I wouldn’t want to share a bed with one of either species, I’ll tell you that right now.

Craig from Oz
September 17, 2020 9:56 pm

“…the summer would be just that little bit longer, and the cubs born that year will be so small that they cannot survive their first polar winter.”

Well if the summer is longer, then the winter will also be shorter. And if it is shorter, then they don’t need to have built up a large supply of body fat.

Sorry kids, if you are going to throw up cartoon type doom scenarios then you need to protect them from their own logical extensions.

I mean if we want to throw junk theories around then try this one – Warming will reduce sea ice. Hence seals, who need gaps in the ice to breathe, will be able to expand their hunting ranges as well as drastically reducing tooth wear by no longer having to bite through ice to keep their air holes open.

This will increase seal numbers resulting in a food rich environment for Polar Bears. Bear populations will then explode. Logically really. Start investing in bear proof fences my northern cousins.

September 18, 2020 11:04 am

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas. There is on average 50 times as much of it in the atmosphere as CO2. Explain how CO2 is dominant?

I have had warmists reply to that with clap trap that water vapor is not persistent. So. What? Do what the earth does. Integrate. Sum over time.

We have to demystify their stupid science. This mistake is huge and they have no defense.

September 18, 2020 1:15 pm

Addledborough & Co latest digitally ‘corrected’ video montage extravaganzas is often manipulated image sequences with additional sound effects (and mostly synthetic) from the folio operator.

More beautiful than nature and utterly artificial videos. For decades TV companies have been outputting this type of pseudo-natural porn to the hapless viewer.
Digital corrections, effects and graphics are certainly a new addition to the nature documentary scene, but (according to the BBC) certain older movies used approaches like blue screen — the precursor to today’s green screen — where people, plants, or animals, ‘natural’ lighting and weather effects, are filmed in a controlled environment with a matte-colored background that is then replaced with a more natural-looking one in editing and post production effects suite.
I remember many years ago going to BBC Bristol studios with a tour party. This was where many of the UK domestic nature productions originated. A cameraman let a group of us into a few secrets of the trade.
He reminded us of a particular scene he had worked on — a Kingfisher bird flies off the river bank and dives into the water, the camera follows going underwater to see the bird catch a fish as it swims by.
It is a stunning piece of cimamatography. Well this cameraman explained in almost frame by frame detail how it was all faked. With hundreds of hours filming over many months, of shots from every angle possible of Kingfishers by the riverbank, diving into the river, exiting the river, and flying back to the nest.
Then taking a couple of Kingfishers back to the studio, having to wait weeks while the birds got acclimatized to it new indoor environment, and all the while having a set build that mimicked the riverbank exactly, except the camera side of the riverbank was clear glass all the way down. Clear running water was added and action!
A fish was added to the artificial studio ‘river’ and the flow of the water adjusted to get the fish to appear stationary as it swam against the waters flow. One of the birds were coaxed into diving for it and hopefully catching and eating it. Hundreds of takes later the hapless birds did the job consistently while the somewhat unreliable high-speed camera actually worked, moving with the bird from above water shot to below the surface and out again. This eventually got the studio a few usable shots.
Anyway the upshot was many months of work got about 4 to 5 minutes of faked Kingfisher action from a very talented camera and post production teams.
I always wondered what became of the poor Kingfishers, did they re-integrate back into their natural environment or did they perish? Nobody seemed to know (or cared).
Later I saw that they had made a documentary about the making of this and a few other scenes.
They never mentioned the how the nice ‘clean’ kills that predators made for the TV programs were often staged with deliberately wounded prey, or the hundreds of insects that died on stage for that perfect shot.

No Addledborough does not make nature videos, he just performs his voice-overs, while some concoction of images that have only a passing resemblance to reality are displayed. But these videos are beautifully made, edited, digitally adjusted, and arranged together, unfortunately they have a voice-over of banalities in that ear-tirering husky whisper from a presenter long past his ‘best before’ date.

September 19, 2020 12:48 am

Attenborough for years kept away from environmental activism, then round about in his 80s decided to join it. Very strange, as most grow cynical of activism in their older years. I just think sustained pressure wore him down.

Climate believer
September 19, 2020 1:28 am

Attenborough holds immense powers of persuasion over people young and old, he is a big gun in the Alarmists army and even his association with the sinking BBC will not harm him, au contraire, he is still seen through glasses of nostalgic reverence as a man of integrity.

His words will unfortunately resonate.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Climate believer
September 20, 2020 4:19 pm

Whenever I think of the faceless cultural elitists I conjure an image of David Attenborough.

This man jets around the world to exotic places talking down to the great unwashed and scaring them half to death by telling them the exotic places, that our out of their reach, are going to disappear and its all their fault.

Karl-Erik Tallmo
September 21, 2020 10:53 am

I wrote extensively about Attenborough’s earlier film ”Climate change – the facts”, see

Since it was aired again in Swedish television a few days ago, I filed a complaint to the Swedish Broadcasting Commission, which supervises the implementation of Swedish broadcasting legislation, esp. regarding public service and its mission to convey a balanced and impartial view of various issues in society. I am now awaiting the Commission’s decision.

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