Trump orders fleet of icebreakers and new bases in push for polar resources

Article via The Guardian

“The intensifying rivalry over sea routes and mineral resources in the Arctic, itself a consequence of the climate emergency, has caused alarm over its environmental impact. 

“Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against state violence, the Trump administration is still finding new ways to exploit the climate crisis. He is truly the worst president for the planet we’ve ever had,” Charlie Cray, a senior researcher for Greenpeace USA, said.

“There are so many ways our tax dollars could be used to support Arctic communities. Helping out the oil industry and the military with a new fleet of icebreakers is definitely last on the list.”

Polar military experts are also sceptical over the urgency of the “icebreaker gap” with Russia. 

“Icebreakers – even if armed – don’t really address some of the most commonly cited challenges that China and Russia might pose for the United States in the Arctic,” Paul Avey, assistant professor for political science at Virginia Tech university, argued. “This isn’t to say icebreakers can play no role in competition. But in narrow defence terms, I think that the best way to address China and Russia in the Arctic – and Antarctic – is to focus on issues in eastern Europe and the western Pacific.” 

Read the full article here

BBC: Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency

Image shows a large diesel spill in the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk in Russia

“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle.

The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.

The power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.

The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.

The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence, as there was reportedly a two-day delay in informing the Moscow authorities about the spill.

Ground subsidence beneath the fuel storage tanks is believed to have caused the spill. Arctic permafrost has been melting in exceptionally warm weather for this time of year.

President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident on Sunday.” – BBC, Read the full article here.

Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (2012) Directed by Alexei Fedorchenko

“Set in the snow-capped Urals, this multi-genre anthology reveals the lives and traditions of Russia’s indigenous Mari people through stories of 23 women.

The Mari, a Finno-Ugric people that live along the northern bank of the river Volga, are considered to be Europe’s last pagans. Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari, the award-winning ethnofiction film by director Aleksei Fedorchenko, paints a beguiling picture of a culture driven by the ritualistic appreciation of female beauty. The script, written by Denis Osokin, is divided into 23 novellas, each focused on a woman whose name starts with the letter “O”. Through these short chapters, each different in terms of tone and visuals, Fedorchenko creates a vivid portrait of the diversity of Mari people and the idiosyncrasies of their culture.

Shot in their native language, the film features local Mari people as actors. However, the film is by no means an anthropological study, as fantasy and witchery interweave with local traditions in a colourful interplay between magic and reality. Described as a “Mari Decameron”, Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari is a captivating example of a local female reality that transcends language barriers and cultural borders, and proves to be universally relatable.”

Text: Maria Muzdybaeva

Alexei Fedorchenko’s Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari from DEPESHA on Vimeo.

 

Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene | Documentary 2017

This was so incredibly beautiful, and it definitely brought tears to my eyes.

“The Ozernaya River winds serpentine-like through a remote corner of Kamchatka in Far East Russia. In one of the most intact eco-systems left in the Northern Pacific, rainbow trout eat mice for breakfast, and the salmon run in the hundred of thousands. This bounty attracts two kinds of people; those who want to protect, and those who want to exploit. Rampant salmon poaching is big business on Kamchatka, and once the salmon are gone, entire eco-systems collapse. “Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene” explores how fly fishing can help protect the wilderness, and celebrates the beauty and wonder of one of the most vibrant places on earth.”

A film by Peter Christensen and Rolf Nylinder http://RolfNylinder.com

Thoughts on moving forward

Officially beginning my journey of writing and photographing the Baltic, Balkan and circumpolar regions of the world where I will focus on their native cultures, environmental issues, folk history, art, etc. No more jobs that make me want to die. If anything I’d rather continue thriving in survival mode among beautiful places where I meet the people of the world. Welcome to my blog, where I will try to document my journey.

A fading culture adapts to the changing times in this Arctic town

‘With each new border and political shift, the indigenous women of Chukotka, Russia adjust to maintain their heritage and survive.’

mtn_elizavete_russia2017-27_opt

“Elizaveta is Siberian Yupik and was born in 1942 in the village of Naukan, Chukotka, on the edge of the Bering Sea. She lived there until 1949. When she was seven years old her family moved about 50 miles away to Lavrentiya. Naukan remained her summer home until 1958 when the Soviet authorities closed the village. They explained that Naukan was not a good place to build modern houses and that it was not healthy to live in yurangas, traditional tents. In the summer of 1958, the usual supply ship with food and coal did not come, and within two months Naukan was closed and its people banned from returning.

At that time, Elizaveta remembers her great uncle saying “If they close Naukan, we will lose our language.” “Now,” she told me, “that is what has happened … My grandchildren do not speak it.” Yet 60 years after that relocation Yiakunneun lives on, hidden in a special place in this apartment, just as she would have been hidden in the yuranga generations ago. I wonder where she will be generations from now, who will look after her, and what a Yupik home will look like by then.” – Jennifer Kingsley, 2019. Read the full article here. 

What happens when the Bering Sea’s ice disappears?

030219_arctic-sea_featMISSING ICE Cameras, like this one, set up in the Chukchi and Bering seas, record how much light reaches through the melt ponds that sit atop sea ice. More light means more algal blooms grow below the surface. K. FREY

‘Record low sea ice in 2018 sent ripples through the entire Arctic ecosystem’

“There were early signs that conditions in 2017 and 2018 were going to be different. By November 2017, the sea ice was already late. The air above the waves wasn’t especially warm. In fact, the air temperature was typical for that time of year, Phyllis Stabeno, a physical oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, reported at the December meeting. But an unusually persistent wind was blowing from the south, she said, preventing the ice from drifting down from the Chukchi Sea as it would normally.

The wind tapered off by December and January, but by then air temperatures were higher than normal. The Chukchi Sea, normally at least 80 percent covered by thick, tough, icebreaker-testing pack ice by January, still had large open swaths of water. That meant less ice was available to migrate southward through the Bering Strait.” – Carolyn Gramling, 2014. Read the full article here.