Canadian High Arctic - Epiloque
"Remembrance of Arctic Treks past" would be a good title of a collection of stories on this area and after camping for total of 10 months in the Canadian High Arctic I feel emotionally attached to the area. Naturally I tend to remember the pleasant parts of a trip. I had no problem handling the living conditions in tents and the field work, rarely having an injury. However, loosing 5 kg every year during two months of uncomfortable camping is not pleasant. We were all very tired after 2 months, especially the older people like our professor .
What you do not see on the pictures are the chapped hands and lips, the dry eyes, poor sleep and other physical discomfort like trying to go to the bathroom but the grim faces on the pictures do show it.
You quickly learn that you should never pea with the direction of the fierce wind, the vacuum created will call turbulence and spray your face and clothes. Taking a shit is most comfortably done wearing the big winter parka (less cold) but requires some coordination to keep it clean. The small tents are always dusty and the wind is generally fierce. You generally get pretty cold after walking two hours outside in the 1-4 degrees Celsius weather especially after lunch as the food tend to move the blood from the fingers to the stomach. Finally, there is the sense of absolute loneliness with only 1 or 2 other persons around for two months.
The level of pollution is scary. Even here the air and beaches are visibly polluted. Dioxin and other chemicals are concentrating in the fat of seals and fish, spreading to other animals. Canada is trying very hard to keep this area pristine wilderness but with so many scientist and some rich tourists already pouring in using motorized transport, just like in Antarctica, you wonder. The animals still react very natural and have no idea who we are, but for how long?
A radical statement would be to do a step change in respecting wilderness. Reverse the situation, create reserves (or cities) for people with closed gates and leave nature in the remaining space.
This is setting the clock back to possibly 10000 years ago or more, and currently we simply have too many human being on the planet which started already a long time ago.
Some examples, in prehistoric England in 1000 BC 50% of the land was already cultivated and there were xx† million people, identical to 2500 years later. The Persians controlling the Middle East from Pakistan to Greece to Egypt in the 4th century BC only had 12 million people but for a desert region this is still a lot. The Chinese already had 50 million people under their first emperor Qin in 220 BC, this exploded later on. India Ö.
Nevertheless, even in France it could be done as so many people now have moved to the city and a large part of the Midi is nearly empty. Possibly half of France could be turned into a wild life area.
Ironically, we create National Parks for wild animals and still donít keep the people out. An improvement would be to vastly increase true wilderness area and leave truly untouched. A related example is the creation of Indian reserves in the US and Canada. It did not help them in keeping their culture.
Geologically speaking we are in the middle of a mass-extinction period happening every 50-100 million years and lasting for perhaps five to ten thousand years. The last one started 10000 years ago with the extinction of large mammals, probably killed by human beings. Over the past hundred years we will kill off even more species.