Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Arctic with Bruce Parry: Greenland

The second in the series of 'Arctic with Bruce Parry', saw the adventurer living with Inuit communities in Greenland, experiencing spring in the Arctic and confronting the shocking clash between Inuit and Western conservation values.

Living on a diet of raw narwhal fin, seal stomach skin and seal eye jelly, Bruce joins a group of hunters, looking for walrus to feed their families. Government restrictions limit the amount a hunter is allowed to shoot and we learn that it's virtually impossible to become wealthy through following a traditional Inuit lifestyle. But hunting is about much more than wealth, hence the decision by many to continue the work of their ancestors. The unbreakable bond between man and nature is undeniable with these people, who hold a deep respect for their landscape, and can be seen developing in Bruce throughout the program.

Bruce gives a fascinating insight into the economy and traditional values of a rapidly changing landscape and people. In this remote, frozen ecosystem where nothing grows, locals pay the equivalent of £2 for a shrivelled green pepper in a supermarket, and around £30 for imported lamb chops. Despite a desire to stay close to their traditional heritage, many Inuit have turned to mining, amongst other jobs, to fund their increasingly expensive lifestyles.

Although climate change is a serious issue for Greenland's people, they held the forward-thinking attitude that they would simply have to adapt to their changing landscape. The strongest argument to emerge from the program was the tension between conservationists and the Inuit people. Bruce battled to make a decision whether or not the traditionally sustainable practice of polar-bear hunting should be condemned, with local people arguing that their survival not only depends on hunting these and other Arctic species, but also that the causes of their population decline were due to the actions of industrialised nations, not theirs.

You can watch the episode again here on BBC iplayer

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Ths blog was also posted on Responsible Travel News

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