I spend a lot of time driving. I wish I didn't have to for the obvious environmental and economical reasons, but it is a simple fact of the distances between people in the place I live. The last two days I had to drive about 600 miles for two work meetings. One of the perks of that much road time is that I get to listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio. Yesterday I listened to an excellent documentary called Arctic Re-imagined (listen to it here) about what the Arctic means to Canada and how the northern part of that country is changing. Most Canadians live next the the US border, like a horizontal Chile, and have never been to the Arctic despite Canadian icons being mostly arctic in origin - think Polar Bears and inukshuks. Thus for most Canadians (and most people in the world for that matter) the Arctic is mostly an imagined place. The documentary describes how that imagined landscape is fast becoming obsolete in the face of rapid climate change and how people are adjusting to a new and different life in the Arctic.
We often don't think about how warming affects people because we really haven't seen the impacts like the residents where it has really changed things. What does a few degrees in average temperature mean? I see it belittled often. However, when you live someplace where it means the difference between a frozen landscape and a melted landscape, those few degrees are huge. And it effects a life they have known for thousands of years in ways those of use who do not live in that environment would never imagine. A seal that had it been shot 10 years ago would have floated in the salty water but now sinks because the water has become more brackish from increased melt water.
These same changes are happening in the other polar region on earth but absent a long-standing human culture to put a human face to those changes, only those of us who have traveled there many times over the last couple of decades are able to tell that story. My friend Jon Bowermaster had a post from today (here) that does a good job of talking about some the changes on that side of the world.
Oh yeah, the title of this post? You will have to listen to the documentary figure that one out. And don't think I don't appreciate the irony of my long drive and the change described in the story.