CBS News – February 28, 2007
I have nothing but respect for the ancient ways of indigenous people on North America. This article is quite moving and very inspirational. The story of how Mr. Nattaq lost both of his feet to frostbite after a snowmobile accident should touch everyone that reads it.
I am not surprised that the warming trend of the recent couple decades has caused a change in the ice formation of the Arctic. I am not as easily convinced that this warming trend is the cause of mankind as this article portrays. The article gives no scientific evidence of mankind’s interference but does detail how the warming climate has affected the Inuit.
Nattaq and other Inuit, the Arctic people of the United States, Canada, Russia, and Greenland _ in Alaska where they’re known as Eskimos _ have been warning the world for more than a decade about the shifting winds and thinning ice. Hunting patterns thousands of years old are in jeopardy.
Another is Pitseolak Alainga, who says peculiar crosswinds overturned his boat in 1994. The freak storm claimed his father and seven uncles and cousins, who were together in a hunt for walrus.
The Arctic is the region of the globe hardest hit by rising temperatures. In a major report Feb. 2, a U.N.-sponsored network of scientists said some projections show the Arctic’s late-summer sea ice will disappear almost entirely in the second half of this century, unless emissions are dramatically reduced by such developed nations as the United States, which is responsible for one-fourth of world’s greenhouse gases.
Scientists last December discovered the 41-square-mile Ayles Ice Shelf had broken free in just a matter of hours from the coast of Ellesmere Island, 500 miles from the North Pole. The ice shelf was one of six major shelves remaining in Canada’s Arctic, some packed with ancient ice more than 3,000 years old.
The Canadian weather service said last wnter was the warmest on record there since they began keeping records in 1948.
Watt-Cloutier, who traveled only by dog sled when she was a child, fears her 9-year-old grandson could be from the last Inuit generation to know how to read the stars, the wind and the clouds, to hunt the food that keeps them healthy, and the furs and skins that help them survive the elements. “Within my grandson’s lifetime, he will lose what I had,” she said. “The wisdom and answers from our hunting culture may leave us, because the ice is melting so fast.”