greenland | ZEAL OPTICS
"This place, really is the canary in the goldmine."
"Journeying through this landscape by foot and boat is a complete sensory overload, making it one of the most visceral experiences some of our team have had. Apart from the sight and proximity of towering icebergs and craggy peaks, the freezing surrounds which make your fingers ache, and the taste of saltwater, the stench of rotting fish hung to dry in remote fishing villages, its was the sounds of groaning icebergs and drip, drip, drip of melting ice all around us that left the most indelible mark. Greenland and the greater polar regions are the proverbial canary in the goldmine for climate change. The sad reality is that Greenland’s icecap is melting, far faster than the climate models predicted and far more decisively than any political action to combat our changing climate. If the Greenland ice sheet disappeared sea levels around the world would rise by seven metres, as 10% of the world's fresh water is currently frozen here."
These are excerpts from the story about a small team of pro trail runners, sailors and glaciologists, getting to see, explore and understand the place that is East Greenland.
"We ran over virgin ground. Barely, if ever trodden by human beings before, there was no trail to follow."
We were simply bounded by the geographical features we moved through: icy, cobalt sea to our right and tongues of old snow creeping down re-entrants and hollows, giving up the merest slithers of tundra. Each new footstep was route finding in its truest sense, balancing the general direction of travel with using the microgeography of the area to smooth our path. We’d hunt patches of smoother vegetation, skirt bogs and bridge the frigid flows of melt water; all the while aware that we were truly in the middle of nowhere. There was no town or village as a destination, no signs of habitation at all, in fact; no communication with our pick up – just a predetermined time and location and the hope that the boat would be able to navigate up ice-choked fjords to meet us. The escapism we felt was palpable, the beauty and remoteness unsurpassed, but even here, on the wild eastern edges of Greenland, man’s impact on the world was evident...
Choked with ice debris.
Almost all the fjords we sailed in were littered with remnants from the crumbling Greenland ice cap - it made for a striking visual representation of climate change whilst also making navigation a jittery affair.
Maybe there are clues in our history to how humans will manage climate change. The Thule people adapted and survived, working with their changing environment. So frequently in our short existence on this planet, we seem to thrive at the sake of other species or even just those less fortunate than us though. It is ironic that the Greenlandic for their country is Kalaallit Nunaat. “The Land of the People”. This island that was unpopulated for so long, and remains so empty shows the marks of human impact more than most, and while we may be able to adapt, there is still much to save, though, so much to fight for. This story, these pictures, therefore are more than a record of a running trip. They represent a snapshot of a place in artificial metamorphosis, a tangible example of why we need even greater individual, collective and government action to change our behaviours. It may already be too late – and regardless, we will adapt and find a way – but is there anything more important to fight for than our home?