It’s easiest to detect global warming if you live near the arctic circle:

Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, hunter Noah Metuq feels the Arctic changing. Its frozen grip is loosening; the people and animals who depend on its icy reign are experiencing a historic reshaping of their world.

Fish and wildlife are following the retreating ice caps northward. Polar bears are losing the floes they need for hunting. Seals, unable to find stable ice, are hauling up on islands to give birth. Robins and barn owls and hornets, previously unknown so far north, are arriving in Arctic villages.

The global warming felt by wildlife and increasingly documented by scientists is hitting first and hardest here, in the Arctic where the Inuit people make their home.

The Inuit’s whole way of life is being disrupted. And they are just the first to be impacted by global warming. As the ice melts it not only disrupts their hunting environment, but the hunting and breeding grounds of many species. The increased exposure of open water leads to higher frequency of violent storms. The Bush administration would do well to listen to the warnings coming from the Inuit community….

“People have become disconnected from their environment. But the Inuit have remained through this whole dilemma, remained extremely connected to its environment and wildlife,” she [Sheila Watt-Cloutier, head of the International Circumpolar Conference] said. “They are the early warning. They see what’s happening to the planet, and give the message to the rest of the world.”

That message?

“These are things that all of our old oral history has never mentioned,” said Enosik Nashalik, 87, the eldest of male elders in this Inuit village. “We cannot pass on our traditional knowledge, because it is no longer reliable. Before, I could look at cloud patterns or the wind, or even what stars are twinkling, and predict the weather. Now, everything is changed.”


In Nain, Labrador, hunter Simon Kohlmeister, 48, drove his snowmobile onto ocean ice where he had hunted safely for 20 years. The ice flexed. The machine started sinking. He said he was “lucky to get off” and grab his rifle as the expensive machine was lost. “Someday we won’t have any snow,” he said. “We won’t be Eskimos.”

Our government needs to stop protecting big business and start listening to the people to our north.

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