Polar Sea 360°

Episode 10

A Passage to the Future

Southerly Course Map it

By Richard Tegnér, Swedish architect and Arctic hitchhiker. Richard began his voyage on the 9.5-metre sailboat, DAX. In Pond Inlet Richard climbed on board the cruise ship, Akademic Ioffe and now Richard finishes the Northwest Passage on the catamaran, Libellule.

September 9 - Beaufort Sea

Our course is now southwesterly after having passed Point Barrow. We see considerably fewer birds and the air smells of earth. In the Beaufort Sea there was almost no smell. I am happy I can enjoy these subtle differences. And I reflect back on the many noticeable contrasts during this voyage: the contrast in temperatures throughout the Northwest Passage, the difference between the dramatic Canadian Archipelago and the quite boring Alaskan coast where not much happens along the flat tundra. Now we snack on thin slices of canned beets and a salmon paste with coconut, feta cheese and balsamic vinegar. We expect to arrive in Nome in about three days at the current speed. The atmosphere is that of breaking up.

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Northwest Passage completed
September 10

At 10:57 we cruised by the polar circle and the Northwest Passage is complete. We saw the Diomedes right in front of us: Russia is on our starboard side, where steep, cold mountains plunged down into the sea, and the USA was on our port side. To the south there was a big herd of walruses. At first we thought that they were whales but they did not match the red brown colour. Then we saw through the binoculars that there were even more walruses on the little rock island we had just passed. We sailed closer. The water around the boat was literally swimming with snorting creatures, with sardine-smelling breath. When we were really close they threw themselves into the water growling and frothing in a cloud of vapour.

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This post is also available in: French, German

My Sinking Home Map it

By Colleen Swan, active community member of Kivalina, Alaska, a village being devastated by climate change effects. Colleen talks about the origins of Kivalina and how people are responding to these changes.

Kivalina, Alaska

I’ve been living in Kivalina my whole life. Before I was born the people of Kivalina used to live in settlements, only using this spot as a gathering place and seasonal hunting ground. That is, until 1905. One afternoon, while people were hunting bearded seal here, government ships came onto the land with school building material. After the school was built people from these settlements were threatened to move to Kivalina; they were told if they didn’t bring their children to school they would be fined or sent to prison. The government forced this community to exist.

From the beginning there were problems in Kivalina. During a meeting in 1911 village elders voiced their concerns about the fall storms, floods, and erosion. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly worried about the future of our community; to me, the environment seemed normal. It wasn’t until 2004 when the fall storms hit that we felt the urgency to get off the island.

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“We’re not able to adapt as we used to because we are dealing with the effects of a changing climate”


These storms were different than the storm surges we normally get every fall because this time we had no sea ice to protect us. Usually by the beginning of October we have enough ice coverage along the shoreline, which holds the storm back. Broken pieces of ice pile up on the beach when the ocean freezes, preventing the waves from getting to the land. With no ice, the storm tore through Kivalina and afterwards the land along the shore just started falling away in big chunks. Our people tried everything they could to stop it but nothing worked. Wave after wave crashed against the island, flooding the center of the village, as if it were determined to bulldoze its way through to the other side of the narrow barrier island. One of the elders told me he had never seen the storms that bad or the water that high in his lifetime. That’s when I realized that we were in trouble.

In 2006, the Northwest Arctic Borough began a multi-million dollar erosion protection project. Without any consideration from the community they piled up hundreds of bottomless sand-filled wire baskets. Predictably, the barrier was destroyed by a storm shortly after its completion. The village leadership later concluded that the wall had actually accelerated Kivalina’s erosion. Two years later, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) built us a large rock wall, to protect us from coastal storm surges. We were told it would buy us ten to fifteen more years on the island.

Things here keep getting worse and it has everything to do with climate change. Basic infrastructure is crumbling, making us more vulnerable. We don’t have any water or sewage services and people are not getting enough to eat. Our people are traditionally very adaptive, but it’s getting really hard for us to keep up with how quickly things are changing today. The ocean water is warming up and affecting everything, including melting the sea ice, which causes dangerous ice conditions that prevent or hinder our whaling and hunting efforts. Over the years we’ve noticed different species moving north and changing migratory patterns of birds, caribou, and seals. Bearded seals are especially important; they sustain us during the winter but now we can’t predict their movement patterns. Our knowledge of the environment and the weather system is what helps us to survive; so we are very perceptive to changes. But the way things are changing causes people to have second thoughts about what they know, or used to know. All we can do now is just get out of the way and find higher ground. We just simply can’t survive here.

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“When you have to live with the threats from something that you didn’t cause, you get angry”

When you have to live with the threats from something that you didn’t cause, you get angry. So we filed a lawsuit in February 2008 against ExxonMobil, and 23 other oil companies, to recover monetary damages to Kivalina for the energy industry’s ongoing contribution to global warming and the ultimate destruction of the community. The USACE and Government Accountability Office estimated that damage was worth between $95 and $400 million.

In 2009 the United States district court dismissed the suit, saying that regulating greenhouse emissions was a political issue to be solved by congress, not in the courts. We appealed several times, without success. Somehow the oil companies were able to convince the rest of the world that they aren’t having an impact on the climate, and that climate change is not really happening – rather, it is a naturally occurring cycle that happens at certain periods.

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“We haven’t done anything wrong. We just live off the environment; off of what’s in the waters and on the land and in the air”

Initiating this lawsuit took a lot of consideration and caused a lot of tension in the community because it was a violation of our customary laws. During the lawsuit, memories of my grandfather’s teachings constantly reminded me, “If somebody gives you trouble leave them alone. Walk away.” It’s important to Inupiat spirituality to be living in harmony with everything in the environment around us; it is especially important in determining the success of the community’s hunters. When Kivalina’s whaling captains are not successful, it traditionally means that they’ve not been socially acceptable in their dealings with the less fortunate. This has caused people to blame each other for the community’s lack of traditional foods. I have also been blamed in many ways because my fight to protect our ways created disharmony. It affects me to the core of my being because I love my people. I feel like I’ve betrayed my grandfather and I blame the oil and energy companies for that.

If we don’t deal with this now it’s our children and our grandchildren who we are leaving this problem to. We need to come up with real solutions, not just the long term solutions like reducing carbon emissions, but the short-term, which is what Kivalina’s situation requires. There are those who have the power to make things better but they choose not to. It’s too much to ask the oil companies to change their policies; that would mean dipping into their profits. The only reason they are able to ignore this is because they have money in their pockets, and some place to run to when something bad happens.

The people of Kivalina have voted on a relocation site that is just 2.5 miles away, on the mainland. But the government says it costs too much to move. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not like we did something wrong, we just live here. They’re the ones who put us here on this island in the first place. Our people knew a long time ago that this wasn’t a good site but we didn’t have a choice.

At this point I think it’s too late. Weather has become so unpredictable that things will only get worse before they get better. There isn’t anything we can do to save ourselves now, except to get out of Mother Nature’s way.

 

This post is also available in: French, German

Kivalina, a Climate Change Warning Map it

By Robin Bronen, Director of the Alaska Institute for Justice and senior research scientist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Robin explains how the small town of Kivalina, Alaska is literally eroding into the ocean as a result of climate change and how their story is a warning for what’s to come.

Kivalina, Alaska

Kivalina is a barrier island, located on a narrow strip of land, north of the Arctic Circle. Due to warming weather, Kivalina’s shoreline is no longer protected by Arctic sea ice from storm surges and waves, causing the island to literally be swallowed by the ocean. The island, which has been used as a hunting ground by the Inupiat for more than 1000 years, is now predicted to be overcome with water by 2025.

In September 2006, after finalizing the construction of a multi-million dollar seawall, federal government leaders arrived to celebrate its completion. But before the celebrations could begin, a storm came in, and damaged 160 feet of an 1800 foot seawall. The celebration was, needless to say, cancelled. A year later, 250 Kivalina residents self-evacuated in the face of a storm with forecasted twelve- to fourteen-foot ocean surges that threatened this community, which lives at a ten-foot elevation level. This grim reality is what encouraged me to focus my research on the climate-induced community relocations occurring in Alaska.

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“The government won’t give them funding for their crumbling infrastructure, but they also refuse to facilitate a community-wide relocation”

Although the federal government has done several studies on the issue, and for more than a decade worked together with the village to find a solution, there is currently no plan to save the community in Kivalina. The problem is that, while government funds are readily available to other communities in Alaska to renovate and rebuild, Kivalina does not have access to it because government officials don’t think that the infrastructure there can be protected from storm surges. Also, in order to qualify for disaster relief an extreme weather event needs to happen; but what’s threatening the lives of Kivalina’s community is erosion, which is not one of the defined disasters in the US federal disaster response legislation.

Additionally, the United States does not have an institutional relocation framework, which means that no government agency, state, federal, or tribal, has the authority to provide technical or economic assistance for relocation; Kivalina and communities like it are literally and figuratively slipping through the cracks. The government won’t give them funding for their crumbling infrastructure, but they also refuse to facilitate a community-wide relocation. This is a catch-22 situation at Kivalina’s great expense.

The situation in Kivalina is not unique. What is happening here is a reflection of what will happen in coastal cities everywhere. Think about when hurricane Sandy flew up the east coast of the United States and turned left sharply into the New Jersey shoreline at high-tide; it became a huge wake up call to people living in that part of the United States. This event helped to shatter long-held beliefs that climate change is some distant phenomenon that couldn’t happen in our lifetime and now maps have been produced that demonstrate what lower Manhattan will look like with varying levels of sea level rise. It will be under water – the question is how soon?

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“What is happening here is a reflection of what will happen in coastal cities everywhere”

The next question that arises is, where are people going to go? I don’t have an answer. It’s been hard enough with indigenous communities of 400 to 1000 people but when you start talking about millions of people living in coastal cities around the world it becomes a much more urgent conversation. We need to figure out where people will go now, not after thousands of people die during a storm.

The decreased Arctic sea ice is evidence of climate change since we can see how rapidly temperatures are rising. A recent study found that October temperatures in Barrow, Alaska increased 7.2 Celsius between 1979 and 2012. 2012 was the lowest recorded level of Arctic sea ice, and as of 2013, climate scientists have been saying there could be no Arctic sea ice during the summer as early as 2020. This poses huge consequences for the world because Arctic sea ice is one of our planet’s primary air conditioners.

Wherever I go, there are people who don’t think that climate change is happening. That’s tragic because climate change is happening. Disappearing Arctic sea ice is tangible, visible evidence of climate change. This is really about transforming the way that we live and our addiction to coal, oil and gas. The residents of Kivalina, as well as Shishmaref and Newtok, have been doing everything possible to protect their communities from climate-induced environmental change and raising awareness about their dire situation to Alaska’s Congressional delegation, government representatives and the public. Climate change is an additional stressor for communities that are already stressed because of limited access to resources. Industries that have profited from the consumption of fossil fuels should absolutely be providing resources to these communities that need the funding and technology to adapt.

“Disappearing Arctic sea ice is tangible, visible evidence of climate change”

I do not know what decisions Kivalina – or the other Alaskan communities who are facing relocations – will take. There is no clear path to relocation. No guidelines exist in the United States to let communities know the steps they need to take in order for them to relocate. We all have human rights that deserve to be protected as we face life-threatening climate change impacts.

Editor’s Note:

As a solution Robin has proposed an “adaptive governance framework” based in human rights doctrine, which means that populations will have a continuum of responses to the climate-induced environmental changes affecting the habitability of the places they live, from protection in place to relocation. One of the key elements of human rights doctrine is the right of self-determination. Individuals, households and communities must have the right to decide whether or not they want to relocate.

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Silence Map it

By Thomas Wallner, Emmy award winning cross media producer, writer, director and game designer, and producer of the Polar Sea 360 interactive film and website. Thomas traveled to Nunavut to shoot the 360 Journey, the world’s first 360 degree documentary.

Greenland Coast

The first time I registered the silence in the Arctic was out on the land near Pond Inlet. I had walked away from our camp, when I heard the sound of wings. I looked up and saw a crow flying about fifty meters overhead and I could hear the sound of air brushing through its feathers. That is when I first became conscious of the immense silence of the land.

I had never been in a place so quiet. The silence makes everything seem vast and instills an unnerving feeling that you might be swallowed up by it.

Three weeks prior I was shooting for this series on Le Boreal, a French Cruise-liner exploring the coast of Greenland. One afternoon outside Ilulissat, I was aboard a small zodiac with a group of tourists and a guide, Didier Drouet, who skillfully navigated us through the drifting icebergs. It was near sun down and the colour of the ice was breathtaking. No one spoke. The only sound you could hear was the chugging of the outboard motor. Then Didier shut the engine off and for a moment silence enveloped us. But not for long.

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“The silence makes everything seem vast and instills an unnerving feeling that you might be swallowed up by it”

Everyone started chatting loudly about the most inconsequential things and I got the impression that the small talk was an instinctual response to keep the silence away. As long as the motor was on, some vestige of civilization reasserted itself, like an auditory umbilical cord that connected us back to the noise of the ship, the din of dinner, the reassuring announcements of the captain on the ship’s speaker systems and the ever present engines, their deafening roar absorbed by layers of steel spreading through the hull with a constant melodic hum. After a while you don’t hear it anymore, but you can feel it with your fingertips when you touch the ship’s frame.

Suddenly an older British lady in the Zodiac blurted out that she would very much like to hear the sound of the Arctic instead of all our idle chatter. Her request had a desperate quality to it, as if coming from someone who knew that the opportunity to experience something special was about to pass forever. We all fell silent immediately, slightly embarrassed and ashamed that we were trampling on something sacred with our mindless voices, and grateful that someone had silenced them. Suddenly the Arctic, the moment we inhabited, came into focus again. There were subtle sounds amid the silence. The churning of water. The distant cracking of ice. A slight wind barely audible. Small shards of floating ice rubbing against the Zodiac. And again that vastness, that huge emptiness reasserted itself, making our existence in the boat seem fragile and the sea and ice vast and hostile.

Le Boreal lay inaudible many kilometers in the distance. I felt I was in some sacred communion of silence with people whose names I did not know and whom I would never meet again. Then someone breathed a little more deeply than necessary. Someone else cleared their throat. People who had been sitting rigidly, avoiding each other’s eyes began to move. The moment had passed and Didier our guide started the reassuring engine that made it unnecessary to talk as we headed back towards the ship.

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“That huge emptiness reasserted itself, making our existence in the boat seem fragile and the sea and ice vast and hostile”

Later at dinner Didier told me that every time he takes tourists out on the water they react the same way. As long as the motor is on, no one speaks and when it is off everyone starts to talk incessantly until he runs the motor again. He believes that most of us are afraid of silence, even in short durations.

Once a year he goes to a cabin in a remote region of Greenland where he spends weeks in total solitude. The silence there is so profound that his mind begins to hallucinate strange sounds and voices. At first these phantom sounds frightened him as they felt like portents of madness. But then he learned to welcome the voices and the deep silence that follows when they too recede. Now he seeks out that silence and solitude.

I had to think of him when I took a series of planes home from Nunavut, each one larger than the next landing in places that got progressively louder until we touched down in Ottawa. Strolling through the airport I remarked how loud it was. Having gotten used to the silence after a month in the North the assault of noise literally hurt my head. How do we live in such constant noise without going mad? In the coming days I got used to it and found my answer. We filter it out and the incessant barrage of noise we live in becomes as inaudible as the vibrations of the engines moving through the hull of Le Boreal. What hallucination is worse? The voices your mind creates in the silence of the North or the hallucination of silence it creates in the noisy world we live in? One thing I know. I have never heard the wind brush through wings of a crow in my city.

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Nome: king crab and beer Map it

By Richard Tegnér, Swedish architect and Arctic hitchhiker. In Nome, Alaska Richard has a few drinks with his Northwest Passage companions to celebrate the end of their lengthy voyage.

September 11 - Nome, Alaska

I saw trees for the first time in several months when we entered Nome, Alaska. Yves opened a bottle of champagne with lunch. Entering Nome harbour you immediately get the impression of a busy place. A couple of years ago Nome was a sleepy outpost in the southern Alaskan Arctic. But when the gold digger TV series trend began a few years ago things changed. Before that only a handful of registered dredges were established in Nome; now there are over 200. In the harbour you see the gold diggers – recklessly dressed, rugged-faced and bearded men, smoking heavily – everywhere in pontoon dredges of all sizes. According to the harbour Master the city of Nome is remodelling the harbour facilities in order to receive bigger cargo ships and tankers.

We started our celebration of completing the Northwest Passage on board the Libellule, safely moored at the south wall. At 18:30 Nicolas and Marco, from the ship Perd pas le Nord plunged, in with some bottles of wine. Their Northwest Passage nearly ended in catastrophe near Point Barrow, where they hit a sandbar and struggled for 24 hours in a storm to get loose. They were forced to give up and were evacuated by helicopter. After four days in Point Barrow a tugboat returned them to Perd pas le Nord and pulled it loose. They eventually made it to Nome, and now we share some wine over our successes.

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“Travelling shouldn’t be too comfortable all the time. Sometimes you need to struggle… to enjoy a nice beer at the bar”

At 21:00 we went to Bering Sea Restaurant to have some steaks and pitchers of Alaskan IPA. Afterwards we explored the bar culture. At one bar the bald female bartender was running back and forth handing out drinks, jokes and encouraging comments to the not-so-sober guests. There was loud rock music on the speakers and the atmosphere was good. Next we went to Breakers Bar, a combination of lotto boutique, snooker lounge, laundromat and bar. A woman won 250$ on the lotto and bought us all drinks. Two gold diggers showed me a picture of their last four days’ harvest and it looked like a lot of gold nuggets. At 02:00 all the bars closed and everybody piled into the street.

Outside the bar we met Sheila, Andrew and Arlo, who continued the party on the Libellule. Arlo brought his guitar and we had a jam session on board. He is a musician and sounds like a mix of JJ Cale, Bob Dylan with a dash of Cohen. I played my Baffin Bay Waltz and he followed and he played some of his songs and I followed. Outside it rained heavily. The party continued until 04:30. The next morning Philipp and Michael left the boat to catch their flight back to Europe and Yves, Sylvain and I motored out of Nome Harbour in the rain.

As I nurse my aching head I think back on the voyage and realize that travelling shouldn’t be too comfortable all the time. Sometimes you need to struggle, you need to freeze, and you need to be tired to enjoy a nice beer at the bar. If I was at the bar all the time I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

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Making The Polar Sea in the Age of Adaptation

By Kevin McMahon, director and creative force behind Primitive Entertainment’s The Polar Sea. McMahon has over 25 years of filming and working the Arctic; he has written and directed 17 films for Primitive, eight of them feature-length and has an abiding interest in humanity’s relationship with nature, technology and the Canadian landscape. Here, McMahon reflects on the difficulties and complexities of telling the story of the changing Arctic and what he learned while filming the series within the greater meaning of humanity and the future of our planet.

Our goal with The Polar Sea was simply to look at global warming throughout the Arctic, where it is most obvious and spectacular; but that’s more easily said than done. Greater than the complications of filming in the Arctic was the challenge of sorting all the relevant issues. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you know the Arctic is reshaping your weather and if you consume media you know polar bears are losing the sea ice that they live on. But behind the plain-to-see scientific facts are many astonishing stories about the impact of climate change on the biology, culture, economy, politics, and society of the northwestern Arctic.

Anyone who tries to understand climate change quickly realizes that its interpretation is influenced by context. Not surprisingly, many people in the coldest region on Earth welcome warming. But the reasons they do so are surprising and their attitudes and responses towards climate change will, in turn, affect all of us. (For example, if northerners are strongly supportive of oil drilling in the Arctic, southern populations may not be able to prevent it, despite environmental campaigns to “save the Arctic”). So to grapple with these additional story layers, we had to look at the history of the region. For the Inuit, recent history has been a series of profound, destabilizing shocks—and if you don’t know that you cannot grasp what climate change now means in the Arctic.

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Our colleague Wolfgang Bergmann of ZDF/Arte – who initiated this project — suggested that we use the narrative line of travelling the Northwest Passage to organize our story. It turned out to be the perfect unifying element because it wraps all the other stories in an unprecedented reality. It was simply not possible to sail the passage ten years ago as it is today. In the transformation of the passage — from an inaccessible grail to a new chic tourist destination – we see reflected a larger truth: the Arctic we travelled to make The Polar Sea is totally new; it has never existed before, at least not since the dawn of humanity.

“The Arctic we travelled to make The Polar Sea is totally new; it has never existed before”

During the course of our 10,000 kilometre adventure, we met a wonderful range of characters travelling, or living throughout the passage. The five directors who worked on the series and the crews who filmed it have extensive Arctic experience, but we were very aware of how our viewpoint as visitors differs from that of people who live there. Arctic dwellers see a land that provides, feeds and warms them, while outsiders see an implacable wilderness to be fought. So our goal, on this journey, was to learn as much as we could and try to present a fair approximation of the differing viewpoints.

What we learned from following sailors attempting the Northwest Passage is that the Arctic is still the most demanding landscape on Earth and the ocean much more so. Most people who try to sail the passage fail. Even cruise boat tourists get stranded and Arctic rescuers die when they meet trouble in this huge and remote land.

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“Travelling the Northwest Passage turned out to be the perfect unifying element because it wraps all the other stories in a reality that is unprecedented”

From scientists we learned that we really are in a world that has never existed before. The “pristine” Arctic air, diligently measured for decades has increasing amounts of atmospheric carbons. The result is a warming affect, whose consequences are visible in many other ecosystems: from the tons of ice pouring off Greenland glaciers, to the changing dates that guillemots lay eggs, and the thousands of caribou dying in starving herds. But it is not only these changes nor the cascade of consequences that will flow from them; what truly makes this a new world is that in the Arctic we can see that the cause of all this mayhem – greenhouses gases into the atmosphere – is now being facilitated by feedback loops the ultimate result of which we cannot see. Just when humans are finally accepting that we are the cause of global warming, we now confront a larger, scarier truth: we have unleashed global forces far beyond our control and we will struggle for generations to cope with them.

Of course, what we learned from people who live in the Arctic is most striking of all. It is, in the end, their perspective which makes the story of climate change so striking. They are living in a place where its impacts are so profound and obvious that it is like being inside a time-lapse photograph. Moreover, it is one of the very few places inhabited by people who are acutely attuned to noticing what is going on in the natural environment. The biotic webs in New York City are also undergoing dramatic change, but very few people notice. Personally, many years of travelling with aboriginal hunters has taught me to trust their instincts and perspective. Inuit have spent thousands of years closely observing and living intertwined with their environment and have very little experience with the distancing mechanisms of technological civilization. When the hunters tell me that the world’s life systems are breaking down I take them very seriously – and I realize that a profound reaction is required.

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“What we are witnessing is not just the dawn of the Storm Age, but the early signs of an era of massive extinction”

What we learned from Inuit hunters is that the ruptures in Arctic food chains are much more complex than previously thought and have consequences that ripple in many directions. The hunting lifestyle – as shown in many of the stories in The Polar Sea – has been so undermined in the last half-century and the resulting problems are so profound, that many now welcome the potential financial benefits they believe global warming will bring. Whether or not those benefits turn out to be real – and there is much evidence to think not – arguments around them will shape how northerners respond to their changing world.

We all know how fragile technological civilization is – how easily the lights go out, the oil runs dry, the machine breaks down. During the Cold War, those who imagined the worst spoke of humanity being “bombed back to the Stone Age.” What our friends in subsistence communities are telling us is that we will not, in fact, be so lucky. The earthen fruits that made it possible for people of the Stone Age to often live a comfortable life are disappearing. What we are witnessing is not just the dawn of the Stone Age, but the early signs of an era of massive extinction. And – all polite politics aside – anyone who does not understand that is simply ignorant or stupid. We cannot allow the ignorant or stupid to set the course we must now sail. Because the other truth one learns from hunters is the necessity to face reality unflinchingly and adapt to it.

“As our hero Richard Tegnér learns in the end, we have no choice but to adapt to our changing climate”

Inuit have no problem with the concept of struggling with larger forces. They did it in relation to their natural environment and then again to survive the onslaught of technological civilization. As our hero Richard Tegnér learns in the end, we have no choice but to adapt to our changing climate. This entails trying every possible method to reduce greenhouses gases as well as the adult wisdom to understand that, no matter how hard we try to change, we must still learn to cope with countless storms, tragedies and dislocations.

In other words, our era, and that of our children and grandchildren, will inevitably be the Age of Adaptation. The history of the Arctic offers us good lessons on how to manage such an age. It is arguably the most hostile environment on Earth yet humans have thrived there for thousands of years. If humanity is to survive another century we will need to face the fact that our planet’s life systems have been thrown into unprecedented chaos and we will need to summon all of our wisdom, sensitivity, intelligence, knowledge, and courage to adapt to their evolution.
In the end, our adaptations will be very complex but they will certainly be aided by each of us trying to embody the soul and spirit of the hunter, travelling alone on empty tundra, with nothing to keep him – or her – going but confidence in the ability to survive, the tireless will to struggle forward and the wisdom to be guided by what the environment itself has to tell us.

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Rough Sea Map it

By Richard Tegnér, Swedish architect and successful explorer of the Northwest Passage. Richard reflects on his four-month voyage through the Arctic.

September 15 - Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Today I slept well in spite of the rough sea. I put out some tarot cards just for fun and, for the second time in a row, a lute player come up as the first card. I want to think of this as a good omen and something I want to embrace. I wrote in the guest book: “Now I am at the last waypoint of my journey with Libellule and disembark at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. During 2450 nautical miles I have been a part of Libellule crew sharing its Oh no’s! and Hurrahs! For me it has been an extraordinary experience being received so openly and generously and without any reservation. This also made it possible for me to complete the Northwest Passage.

“You think you can conserve this feeling and take it with you home, (but) after you return home things turn out a little bit different. I hope the feeling will remain”

I will store this memory as an important and precious part of my journey as well as a life experience. When I walk away from the dock and leave Libellule and its crew it is not without sadness. I appreciate the generosity of Philipp and his eagerness to discuss different issues; Yves, always laughing and helpful; Sylvain and his jokes and gestures; and Michael for his warmth and curiosity. I consider you all as my friends and you are welcome to visit me and my family whenever you want. Good luck to you all!”

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