We've heard from scientists about what is happening to
polar ice; now it's time to hear from the indigenous
of the Arctic. They should know if there is more ice than
in previous years, or less. OUR ICE IS VANISHING say the
Canadian Inuit people, who live and travel on ice, but are
appealing to all of us to reverse the climate warming
before it is too late.
The author Shelley Wright is a Canadian who went to an
Inuit town to teach law to students, who were mostly
female. She describes her experiences and the friendly,
capable people she met. Photos show spectacular scenery.
Ice varieties include glaciers - frozen rivers of ice
sitting on land - and icebergs, huge pieces which break
as a glacier meets the sea. Shelf ice is a flat surface
attached to land, forming over the sea. Pack ice is frozen
sea surface, which can be annual, a few feet thick before
melting in summer, or multiyear, twenty feet or more thick
with sculpted undersides providing homes for algae,
crustaceans and fish. Bright ice reflects heat back so the
sun does not heat up the planet too much. However, with
less ice each year, more dark land and sea are exposed,
which absorb heat. This is called a feedback loop.
The word 'Inuit' means people and the Canadian nomadic
Inuit helped to establish Canada's sovereignty over far
northerly regions. These people now have modern
but they prefer to lead a generally traditional lifestyle,
despite high rate of deaths from accidents or disease. But
as the Northwest Passage was ice-free in 2007 for the
time in memory, and in 2010 Greenland lost two chunks of
ice each miles across, matters are changing. The book
recaps the characters of the age of exploration, showing
that in the 1800s the quest for an east - west passage was
fruitless and dangerous. To balance this we are told some
of the travels of a mythological hero called Kiviuq who
lived off the land.
Rapid industrial development from high-carbon energy
sources in Asia, and deforestation from logging and forest
fires in drying environments, combine as the world becomes
hotter and more carbon dioxide is absorbed by seas,
them acidic. The findings of the Arctic Council (eight
nations and some indigenous groups) and the International
Arctic Science Committee on this topic in 2004 are
explained, and rapid advances of warming since.
Shelly Wright explains that she was sceptical about
change until she went to the Arctic and saw the difference
for herself. She writes this well-researched and clearly
presented OUR ICE IS VANISHING while travelling aboard a
vessel completing a journey through the Northwest Passage,
ice-free. Anyone with an interest in what is happening to
our world should read this book.
The Arctic is ruled by ice. For Inuit, it is a highway, a
hunting ground, and the platform on which life is lived.
While the international community argues about
sovereignty, security, and resource development at the top
of the world, the Inuit remind us that they are the
original inhabitants of this magnificent place - and that
it is undergoing a dangerous transformation. The Arctic
ice is melting at an alarming rate and Inuit have become
the direct witnesses and messengers of climate change.
Through an examination of Inuit history and culture,
alongside the experiences of newcomers to the Arctic
seeking land, wealth, adventure, and power, Our Ice Is
Vanishing describes the legacies of exploration,
intervention, and resilience. Combining scientific and
legal information with political and individual
perspectives, Shelley Wright follows the history of the
Canadian presence in the Arctic and shares her own journey
in recollections and photographs, presenting the far North
as few people have seen it.
Climate change is redrawing the boundaries of what Inuit
and non-Inuit have learned to expect from our world. Our
Ice Is Vanishing demonstrates that we must engage with the
knowledge of the Inuit in order to understand and
negotiate issues of climate change and sovereignty claims
in the region.