Wednesday, November 30, 2016

why #WeAreTheArctic, no matter where we live

I'm fortunate to have experienced the expanse of Alaska multiple times, and a few regions of the Arctic across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Norway in my short 26 years. The Arctic mystifies me, captivates me, and has altered my perspective on nature and it's role in modern human life.

The interior of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is filled with incredible peaks. I hope to someday ski there. Anyone who has been to Alaska understands the immensity and vastness of the mountains there, like this image from the Chilkat Mountains of Southeast Alaska. 

When you spend time in the Arctic it is hard to deny it's importance and significance. It has provided hunting grounds for indigenous people for centuries— healthy food, rich with vitamins, that sustain life in a harsh environment, clothing, shelter, traditional knowledge and inter-generational wisdom. Through extended time spent surviving in wild places people learn to read the natural world, to understand the wind and the sun, to learn the language of ice and animals. 

“All the wisdom is only to be found far from the dwellings of man, in the great solitudes; and it can only be attained through suffering. Suffering and privation are the only things that can open the mind of man to that which is hidden from his fellows.” ~ a Caribou Eskimo once said to Rasmussen

Reducing humanity's dependence on fossil fuels is key to preserving the Arctic. 

Yet in a warming world the Arctic is threatened by modern man's greed, by the myth that development will solve our problems and that the earth's resources are plentiful, if not unlimited. 

“Once Rasmussen asked a shaman, ‘What do you think of the way men live?’ The shaman answered, ‘They live brokenly, mingling all things together; weakly, because they cannot do one thing at a time.’ I tried to do less and less everyday, tried weeding out the mind. To obtain awareness was once thought by the Inuit to be an essential aspect of personhood.” ~This Cold Heaven

As the world continues to warm, melting their sea ice home, polar bears face a dire future.

Those who have spent significant time challenging themselves and struggling to survive in the wilderness understand that nature is more powerful than humans are capable of comprehending. As technology grows the human ability to impact increases. In a desire to make life as easy and comfortable as possible we are slowly destroying the very resources that sustain us. We are poisoning our water, melting our ice, and destroying the habitat of animals upon which we depend.

Fortunately we do have time to turn our actions around. We can choose to live more sustainably and respectfully. We can use technology to save us instead of destroy us. We can protect wild places that are important, significant, and essential— such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska. 

A rare caribou sighting in northern Manitoba along the coast of Hudson Bay.

Right now we have the opportunity to protect one of the most vast wilderness areas on earth. Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is important for many reasons; it sets precedent that drilling for oil in the Arctic amidst fragile wildlife habitat is not the future, it protects the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and helps preserve the Gwich’in indigenous people's way of life.

Although the Arctic may seem far away, the impacts there trickle down to the lower latitudes. We must choose the health of the planet over oil and money. We must speak for the land that cannot speak for itself. 

“The real is fragile and inconstant. The unreal is ice that won’t melt in the sun.” ~This Cold Heaven 

Sea ice north of Svalbard, Norway. A different, but equally important and beautiful region of the north. 

Please join me, sign the petition to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

Shared in partnership with Care2.

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