By Barbara Kessler
Global Warming 101 is a website and project that sounds like one of those for “Dummies” books, but it’s actually much more compelling because it tells the story of global warming from the perspective of an arctic explorer.
Minnesota explorer Will Steger and three other explorers and educators led by four Inuit guides, take us to the front lines – to the earth’s imperiled polar regions where they are about midway in their 1,200 mile dogsled journey across Canada’s Baffin Island.
The group is chronicling the four-month journey in pictures, words and audio-visuals so that we can see the effects of global warming if not firsthand, then secondhand and nearly in real time, on their website. They post daily audio dispatches and are planning a documentary film for later.
Needless to say, this is not about adventurers setting out to conquer forbidding lands. That was another century with a different goal in mind. Rather this is the story of the explorers’ love of nature and their plea to the world to pay attention.
They are urgently recording what could soon be a lost way of life as the Inuits’ hunting grounds dwindle and the polar wildlife around them retreats. The Inuits have told them that in more primitive times, this would be a period of widespread starvation because their hunting period, when they are able to hunt on frozen waters, has been cut in half.
Global Warming 101 reports today that it is minus 4 in Iqaluit Canada. But before you conclude that that sounds pretty chilly for March 30 and wonder all the fuss is about, check out the FAQ on the GW101 website. It explains that an earth that averages just a few degrees warmer would not be a cozy place. This is not about taking the edge off winter, but about polar seas melting, sea levels rising, climate patterns shifting, ill-timed rains and drought and widespread changes in the oceans around the world.
You’ve probably heard about how this chain reaction is expected to play out. If you’re not sure you buy that scenario or you just want to know more and you have questions visit the canaries in the mine – in this case the arctic peoples and polar bears – at Global Warming 101.