Some of you may already have heard about how this year
a cruise ship called Crystal Serenity is going to sail the Northwest Passage with more than 1000 guests. Prices range from $22,000 to $121,000 dollars per passenger (drinks included). Here's how the journey is being advertized:
Follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers as you sail through unparalleled landscapes of grand glaciers, stunning fjords, and rare wildlife sightings as you learn the Arctic culture and its fascinating people.
1000 people who are eternally desperate to inflate their egos and reduce their boredom, will follow in the footsteps of McClure, Parry, Amundsen and Larsen. From their top-deck jacuzzis they will observe the blueness of that which once was white. Maybe they'll take helicopter flights to Jakobshavn Glacier and hope for a good calving, make selfies on Beechey Island in front of the Franklin crew graves, leave some trash behind. 'Look, honey, that's where the Gjøa was stuck in the ice. Can you pass me the shrimp-o-naise?'
In short, they're going to check personally the result of their actions.
With great wealth comes great responsibility. Tell the grandkids.
I'm trying to stay polite here. Someone who is more successful at staying polite and explaining the problems of this slap-in-the-face example of disaster tourism, is Suzanne Goldenberg, perhaps the best reporter on Arctic matters at the moment. Here are the final paragraphs of her latest column on The Guardian, but the stuff preceding it, is well worth reading as well:
Let’s not turn the Arctic
into an adventure playground
It is too late to stop climate change entirely. Many of the changes under way in the Arctic are now inevitable, even with all the good intentions encapsulated in last December’s Paris climate change agreement. But it is not too late to stop treating the Arctic as a great adventure playground for the rich and the restless – and protect the polar region for the people who live there.
It is still possible to limit the scope of future climate effects, with deeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions, especially within the next few years. The first port of call should be a ban on drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic. And there is still time to prevent an even dirtier version of an Exxon Valdez or BP oil spill in pristine Arctic waters. On 18 April, the environmental council of the International Maritime Organisation will meet in London, and campaign groups are pressing for a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.
A number of the adventurers holed up in Norway waiting for the repairs to the ice runway claim to be making their epic journeys in the name of conservation – saying they need to go now, before the Arctic is ice-free. “These rapid environmental changes will likely consign epic, long range, polar ice expeditions to the pages of history,” one expedition lamented. Giving up on the chance to make that call from the other side would no doubt be a personal tragedy for explorers or well-heeled adventure tourists.
But if they really cared about the Arctic, it would make more sense to stay home andtake up an equally challenging mission: pressing political and business leaders for a ban on oil and gas drilling and the use of heavy fuel oil. It might not rival the bragging rights of a polar phone call, but it could help preserve that last great open space for the people who live there and future generations.
Read the rest here.