Just in from Jim Becket, close friend, filmmaker, writer, former world class ski racer, Harvard trained lawyer who never practiced, world traveler etc. Thanks, Jim
I am sitting in my house in Ojai, California, a village some fifteen miles from the Pacific Ocean in a bowl of mountains. The 1930’s movie Shangri La was shot here, a novel and movie about an earthly paradise. As I look out my window it’s snowing.
A few weeks ago I was in Greenland where it wasn’t snowing. Global warming is a reality there. The current ecological devastation of our planet has drastically affected the traditional way of life of the native Inuit people. Like other indigenous peoples, they adapted very effectively over the centuries to their environment. In that barren ice-covered universe they lived by hunting and fishing. But with the melting, it’s no longer safe to venture out with their dogs and sleds as some hunters never come back. The ice sheet is pocked now with moulins which are pools in the ice which go down thousands of feet. A lake has formed under the ice sheet which lubricates the movement of glaciers toward the sea. The Ilillussat glacier (photo) is moving at nearly three meters a day. Last year it moved 15 kilometers, the year before 8. It’s believed that the iceberg which sank the Titantic came from this ice field. The Arctic temperature has risen some eight degrees Fahrenheit, the largest change on the planet. And as the melting increases pouring water into the ocean, the sea level is rising.
The Inuit’s diet was essentially blubber, blubber from seals and polar bears, and that’s part of the sad story. Toxic pollution from the developed countries to the south comes by wind and ocean current. (They can even detect pesticide’s used in India that have ridden the world’s ocean transmission belt,) These chemicals first affect the plankton and then the poison works its way up the food chain until when it’s in the fat of mammals like polar bears and seals, it is one million times the toxicity. So this has had a very negative effect on public health. Pregnant woman, nursing mothers, children, have been warned not to consume blubber which before provided a healthy diet for these people. It’s not only disease, birth defects, but there have been observed particularly in Arctic Siberia that girl babies are being born at twice the rate of males.
The native peoples like natives elsewhere were harshly treated by their colonial masters, in this case the Danish, forcibly converted to Christianity and the rest of the familiar story. All food now has to be imported and obesity has become an issue. Suicide is also the highest in the world and there are those who hold that this brusque forcible change in their way of life is one of the causes.
So here are a people who had absolutely no responsibility in what has befallen them. It has come from outside, from us.
Back to Ojai. I forgot to mention it’s snowing ash. I can’t see the mountains of this paradise as the brown smoke obscures them. Southern California and the Western United States are on fire. Global warming. Here the temperature has risen one degree but that’s enough with drought and Santa Ana winds gusting up to eighty miles an hour. All of this is unprecedented, twenty years ago a 100,000 acre fire was extraordinary. Today 500,000 acre fires are all too common. And in states like Arizona, it’s estimated half of the burnt areas will never come back as the heat was so intense the seeds below were destroyed.
If you don’t ‘believe’ in global warming, come here or go to Greenland. We’ve passed what’s called the mitigation stage, it’s now adaption. In Southern Greenland they’ll be able to grow some crops. And the Arctic mineral rush is on as the ice recedes. And I just learned from a Greenlander, that they’ve discovered oil in Greenland. So that will provide more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more global warming. But hey maybe they’ll be able to grow tomatoes, while in Southern California we can import them as we move north with our last harvested date crop.