Now, we may not have had as many issues with the New York Times travel section's list of 53 Places to Go in 2008 as some of our peers, but the article that accompanied the piece, which discussed trips for tourists "who want to see the effects of climate change for themselves" did seem to be a bit off. We at IT have had a lot of conversations about the paradox that exists when attempting to visit endangered places (as exemplified in the sinking of the Explorer last month), but something about this piece seemed less about experiencing a place and much more...voyeuristic. Check out this excerpt about trips to Greenland:
The most popular destination for Americans is the Ilulissat ice fjord, a 45-minute flight from Kangerlussuaq and the site of the fastest retreating glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. A few years ago, the fjord was 25 miles long, but the melting of the glacier has lengthened the fjord to 31 miles, a change that has made it one of Greenland’s most visible examples of climate change.
The fjord is full of icebergs, calving from the bordering mountains of ice, and cruises to see the ice crack and fall are popular.
Now, we try not to frame everything in the context of carbon offsets, and certainly don't promote reining in your travel to avoid contributing to global warming, but the piece does little to acknowledge the ways this newfound tourism is impacting the area – and helping to further the climate change along. In fact, it goes on to quote Dennis Schmitt, an American explorer who discovered Greenland's Warming Island, and whose view on the subject is slightly depressing.
“People sense the Arctic is going to change,” he said. “There is something in human nature that likes to watch things die, a morbid curiosity of human beings."