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Age of the Arctic – Age of Indigenous People?

“The return of the Sun to Tromsö” was the motto of Sunday night’s get-together ahead of the official conference opening on Monday. After two months of darkness, the sun officially comes back on Jan. 21st. We sampled the traditional sun-cakes and cocoa, which go down a treat in the cold, dark weather. Actually, I haven’t found it too cold so far. Tromsö benefits from the Gulf stream, and after the very cold weather we had in Germany at the turn of the year with temperatures down to -15 at times, today’s weather here didn’t feel too cold, thanks to a lack of wind and the dryness of the air.

There were two excellent traditional musicians performing tonight, Sara Marielle, a Sami musician from Norway, and Sylvia Cloutier, an Inuit musician from Canada.

They are two very impressive ladies with very different voices, but in harmony with each other, they would say because they share the same environment. Sylvia sings “throat music”, quite amazing, and also dances with a traditional Inuit drum.

Paul Dahlö, Chairman of Troms County government, gave the welcome speech at the start of this 3rd Arctic Frontiers conference. He noted the increased interest in the Arctic because of the milder climate rousing high hopes with a lot of people of tapping into previously inaccessible natural resources. He referred to the current gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, though, to illustrate how crucial stability is with regard to securing energy supplies. And that means governance of the Arctic region, a main theme over the next few days here.
There’s a considerable EU presence at the conference. The Troms chairman welcomed everybody, but I got the feeling it’s very important for people here to retain a strong influence in what happens in the region that is their home.
The other speaker was Steinar Pedersen, Principal of the Sami University College.

He is a charismatic story-teller, one of the people you could listen to all night. He told a traditional Sami tale which was all about not being arrogant but respectful towards nature. I interviewed him later and am looking forward to meeting him again tomorrow. If I had to sum up his message, I’d say it’s learn about sustainable use of our natural resources from indigenous people. And he calls for rules and regulations to be changed to allow them to have more say in what happens – and to share in any benefits gained from using resources of any kind up here.

Date

January 18, 2009 | 9:39 pm

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G’donya Cara!

The World Bank has been running a short film/video competition on the subject of the Social Dimensions of Climate Change.
Cara Augustenborg from Ireland is in 9th place with a short film she made on the Inupiat in Barrow, Arctic Alaska. (Sound familiar? Yes, she was one of the Climate Change College ambassadors I accompanied to Arctic Alaska, the birthplace of the Ice Blog).
Social Responsibility competition, with the short-listed filma

Cara (green do-it-your-selfer in the green helmet)with Aart and Erika, filming for their projects in Alaska
And here’s a link to Cara’s site

Date

November 4, 2008 | 3:52 pm

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Cool Forecasts – a Hot Topic?


They have no doubt that the planet is warming: Arctic explorers Marc Cornelissen,head of the Climate Change College, and archaeologist Anne Jensen, who rescues historic burial sites from being washed into the sea as a result of coastal erosion. (The sea ice is a natural protection barrier. As it diminishes, the land is left more vulnerable to the elements). I took the photo at Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the USA and well into the Arctic Circle.

People here in Germany are talking about a new study published in the journal Nature last week suggesting a possible lull in man-made global warming. (More in the “eco-news” bulletin which Nina Haase wrote for this week’s Living Planet programme):

This week’s “Eco-News” by Nina Haase

Scientists and politicians are worried that this might make people think they don’t have to rush to take action after all. The study doesn’t dispute the human role in global warming, but it predicts a cooling down from recent average temperatures between now and 2015, as a result of a natural and temporary shift in ocean currents. Now, experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are worried that people might become relaxed again about reducing emissions. There’s no doubt about the fact that people are more likely to take action if they see clear evidence of climate change and are worried about droughts and floods.
(Ines, I thought of you this morning when I read in the paper that Barcelona is relying on tankers bringing in drinking water.)
I was on a panel at an event here in Bonn today where some of the journalists – discussing the role of the media in reporting on climate change – said doubt had been cast on the methods used in the “cooling” report anyway.
In the hope that it might convince some more undecided readers of this blog (I realize of course I could be preaching to the converted with this), I’d suggest a listen to George Divoky, a dedicated ornithologist working on Cooper Island, in the Beaufort Sea north of the Arctic town of Barrow. George has been observing guillemots for 33 years and has quite clearly seen the evidence of climate change. The interview is attached for your listening pleasure. It’s also featured in our Living Planet programme this week.


This shows climate ambassador Cara, talking to a young eskimo,Kayan, who told us he is very concerned about the warming climate and the changes to the sea ice on which the eskimo culture depends so much. Cara is also on this week’s Living Planet programme.

Trying to look at ancient burial sites at Point Barrow. This shows typical everyday working conditions for scientists and other experts trying to keep track of coastal erosion and the ancient sites in danger of disappearin there.

Date

May 14, 2008 | 4:13 pm

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Coastal Erosion Threatens Indigenous Heritage Sites


“When we go out today,we have to stay together. And if the bear guides say back to the skidoos, you get back NOW.This is polar bear country.” Anne Jensen is an archaeologist of the charismatic – and extremely hardy sort. To conduct excavations in the Arctic, you’d have to be. She had held us all entranced in the disused theatre now used as a storeroom by BASC, telling us all about the history of the region and her efforts to preserve old indigenous grave sites and remove remains for reburial before coastal erosion washes them into the water. We’d heard from Chris yesterday how the retreat of the sea ice leaves the coastline more vulnerable to storms and pressure from wild ocean waves.Today Anne took us on an excursion to Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the USA,to visit one of the sites. We weren’t going to be able to see much. The locals told me this was the worst kind of day for a trip out.
Our expedition leader Marc Cornelissen rounded up his charges before we settled onto the snow machines and sledges.”Has everybody got FULL Arctic gear? I don’t want to hear anybody has forgotten a pack, their gloves or anything else. This will be a long ride, the strong wind in our faces on the way out and you need to make sure you don’t get cold”.
It was an amazing trip, a tiny taste of the life of an Arctic explorer. Sitting on the flat wooden sledge,the wind and the exhaust from the skidoo blew the snow into our faces and everywhere else.At times I couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the snow began. And when we reached the point where the two seas meet – all we could see was snow-covered ice, all around.
In spite of the wind and snow, I managed to record Anne Jensen’s introduction to the location. Available below, for your listening pleasure.Click onto the link:

Date

May 3, 2008 | 6:33 am

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