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Category Archive for 'Greenland'

If the title of this book doesn’t pique your curiosity from the outset, the photo of the author in Eskimo dress probably will. The astounding ironies – the contrasts between what we are seeing in the author photo vs. what we expect when we see someone wearing traditional Eskimo (Inuit) dress – are only the first of many such ironies as Tete-Michel Kpomassie, a young man from Togo in West Africa makes a journey of discovery to Greenland. For the first sixty pages, the author describes life in Togo in lively detail, setting the scene for his lengthy journey from Togo to Copenhagen to get a visa for Greenland, an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark. As he travels over the next ten years through Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Mauritania, before arriving in Marseille, Paris, Bonn, and eventually Copenhagen, he clearly establishes his background and experiences and the mindset and cultural background he will be bringing with him when he finally gets to Greenland. With a wonderful eye for the telling detail, Kpomassie becomes real, a stand-in for the reader who will enjoy living through his journey vicariously. The people he meets not only represent their culture but emerge as individuals through their interactions with him. Despite language differences, he is able to communicate and share their lives, and because of his honesty and his curiosity about their culture, he makes many friends in Greenland – and with the reader who shares his enthusiasm for discovery.

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Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a film festival where I saw the most important film I’ve ever seen—one which I hope everyone, everywhere, will see as soon as possible! The film is Chasing Ice, filmed by award-winning nature photographer James Balog and his small crew from 2007 – 2012, a full-length film which shows incontrovertibly, through time-lapse photography, that the world’s glaciers are not only vanishing, but are vanishing at a rate so alarming that unless something is done soon, they may truly vanish completely. One glacier studied for the film has retreated more than two-and-a-half miles in just a couple of years and over eleven miles since 1984, with all that water, and the additional melt from other glaciers, emptying into the ocean. The rising water levels, if they continue, will soon threaten coastal land and islands. The book being reviewed here, Extreme Ice NOW: Vanishing Glaciers and Changing Climate, also Balog’s work, was published by National Geographic in 2009, and includes dramatic photos of Balog’s early work at the glaciers, some of which are included in the film of Chasing Ice, along with essays by Balog. (The review includes a video trailer for the film CHASING ICE.)

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