change is really an 'inconvenient truth' (to quote Al Gore's docusoap).
It is happening. And in a faster rate we have ever imagined. Especially
in the arctic region where temperatures have risen more than twice to
three times the global average. Nowhere this can be seen more obvious
than in Alaska, the 'last frontier'. The state is not only birthplace
of climate change, it's also the biggest hot spot in the world where
the greatest variety of change has become visible to the first inhabitants.
autumn 2006 and Spring 2007 we have spoken to numerous Inupiaq, the
first people along the coasts of the Bering Strait and Chukchi sea for
over 4000 years. In barely a lifetime they have seen and experienced
what global warming can do to their culture, their villages and their
way of life.
to retreating sea-ice, fishing grounds have changed beyond imagination.
And in the interior, higher temperatures have profound effects upon
the vulnerability and burning of boreal forests. Meanwhile, rising sea
levels and storms threatens villages like Kivalina. It's just a matter
of time - one year, a season, maybe next month? - before Kivalina will
disappear into the waves. Environmental lawyers recently have started
a law suit on oil companies whom the people of Kivalina blame of having
caused global warming. It's unsure if they will win but for sure it'll
draw more attention to their precarious state.
the most striking effect is hidden in the ground: the thawing of the
permafrost, once eternal frozen soil. South of Kotzebue we saw cliffs
falling into the sea. Could it be this melting is just a prelude of
the release of more methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas? Therefore
we've called our climate expedition 'The Big Thaw'. And therefore
we are working on a terrible beautiful coffee table book about it. Since
it's not too late to show you the traditional Inupiaq ways of living
and their intimate relationship with the environment. It's not too late