“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever filmed.” That was the reaction of Jamie McPherson, professional cameraman, who in 2017 documented the unwitting mass suicide of nearly 250 walruses in Russia. These walruses simply walked off a high cliff, tumbling to their deaths, smashing against rocks below and occasionally crushing other, unsuspecting walruses as they landed.

McPherson was part of a team of videographers who documented goings-on in the natural world for the Netflix series “Our Planet.” Recently, after the show depicting this tragedy aired, several social media pages immediately blew up. Many blasted the producers of the show for airing the footage and even claimed they sensationalized it by depicting these animal deaths in slow motion with dramatic music playing.

However, this viewer is personally glad to see that the dark, heart-stabbing realities of our changing world are finally being shown for all to see. After all, it’s our fault.

Why would these walruses simply walk off a cliff? Well, why would someone jump out of the flaming World Trade Center? Simple — there’s nowhere else to go.

You see, these walruses — like many of their other cold-weather counterparts — rely on ice as a natural habitat, a place to rest and sleep between their time swimming in the ocean. Seventy percent of that ice is now gone, meaning these highly unfortunate creatures must now cram themselves onto whatever land they can find. Some struggle to shimmy their one-ton bodies to the tops of high cliffs to avoid being trampled by their brothers and sisters. The problem is that walruses — as you may imagine, with their webbed feet and massive bodies — aren’t really designed to descend cliffs very well. Inevitably, the vast majority of them fail and plummet to a painful death.

The deaths of these creatures — and many more — should be on our conscience as a society. It is our engines, our refrigerants, our tree-cutting, and most of all our greed and the mass delusion that money is a shining beacon of success, which is destroying everything we hold dear.

“I can’t stop crying after watching this,” one viewer wrote about the walruses.

Well, the reality is that we should all be in tears over what is happening, and the more bloody, visceral reminders we get, the better. Perhaps with each one, some small fraction of our society will actually wake up and realize the impact we’re having with the decisions we make every day — to drive instead of walk, to leave the motor running, to leave the light on, and of course to do nothing to combat or reverse the problem.

If you’re feeling like this problem is too big to combat, I invite you to log onto citizensclimatelobby.org and see the difference we can make together.

Eventually, as our world continues to die, we’ll start running out of space, too.

 

Ash Hekmat is a resident of Winslow.

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