Resolute Bay

March 20, 2009 9:21pm

Woke up today to find Keith already downstairs, sorting out our food.
We spend a few hours organizing our food allotment for the first twenty
days, which is when we will get our first re-supply. This process is a
fine balance between calculating each meal’s caloric intake and
exacting it against the precise weight we will be pulling. It is a
virtual science, and the magic number should not exceed 2.4 pounds of
food each per day for a caloric value of around 7000! It’s like a real
jigsaw puzzle! Servings of blended mixes of bacon and cranberries(!),
butter, soups, stews, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, Herbalife protein
shake and power bars, electrolytes, candy and cereal are each carefully
examined to meet the exacting criteria of the unforgiving scale. Keith
is a strict numbers cruncher. I am so used to carrying extra camera
weight that I am somewhat loser in the approach. But I know that out on
the ice, after a few days of intense effort, I will be cursing the
extra butter!

Rick has arranged for us to invite the elders to dinner. This turns out
to be a great thoughtful gesture. The elders bless our dinner and share
with us the manner in which climate change is affecting their lives.
The indigenous cultures of the Arctic are the first line of casualty
from the changing conditions. Reliant on hunting both culturally and
economically, they find themselves handicapped by warmer trends
preventing the freezing of sea channels, which enables them to cover
vaster hunting grounds for seal, caribou, musk ox, narwhal, and yes,
bear. The Arctic is a desert, with very little food. It takes 500
square miles to feed one person in the Arctic. The Inuit use the hunt
for food and hide, as they have for the last few thousands of years.
Less hunt means more reliance on commercial food, which is very
expensive up here, given the distance it needs to travel. A shortage of
jobs in these communities creates a socio-economic instability, and
introduces delinquent behavior as is commonly seen in underprivileged
communities around the globe. Only this time, the loss of a culture, in
such a short time, can be linked directly to activities perpetuated
thousands of miles away. Odd though it may be to sum up this way:
excessive carbon emissions in our cities are leading Inuit to poverty
and delinquent behavior. Their culture endangered, they truly put a
face to global warming. After the dinner, the elders sign the Polar
Explorer flag that will be flying on our tent every night. And they
bless our trip.

Outside the sun is hanging low on the horizon, casting a pink glow on
the frigid landscape. Keith and I decide that tomorrow we will ski out
and test our gear one last time before departure. We will sleep on the
ice, preferably near a pack of dogs. They provide good warning for the
bears! One was sighted outside the hotel just three days ago!

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