The Guardian newpaper yesterday reported that sea ice coverage in the Artic had retreated to its lowest level since satellite observations were first made of the region in 1972. The research, which was conducted by physicists working at Bremen University, also indicated that sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at its lowest level for 8,000 years.
[Image Source: Connecting Knowledge.com]
While this story is troubling in and of itself, it raises important questions about how we connect to dramatic forms of environmental change in polar regions. As remote and inhospital environments, it is not difficult to see why people find it hard to connect environmental change at high altiudes with the more everyday geographies of climate change. While things have clearlty moved on from the early attempts that were made to emotionally connect people to the Artic through accounts of the impacts of climate change on polar bear habitats, much work still needs to be done if polar research is to generate changes in environmental behaviour beyond the ice.
Interestingly, but perhaps not suprizingly, it appears to be Artists who are leading the way when it comes to attempting to instigate new forms of emotional connection to the polar regions. The initaitives of Cape Farewell have, for example, used various artistic projects as a way to initiate new cultural responses to climate change in glacial places. Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo’s “Melting Men” exhbitions also make piogniant connections between the fate of ice and the fate of humankind. Much more, however, needs to be done to ensure that we recognise our climate conenctions to places of ice.