A Note to the Reader

The Torngats group, 2013. L-R, Matt Dyer, Larry Rodman, Marta Chase, Rick Isenberg, Marilyn Frankel, Rich Gross, Kicab Castañeda-Mendez. (Courtesy: Kicab Castañeda-Mendez)

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In the summer of 2013 seven American hikers embarked on a wilderness adventure and came back with a story of terror.

A seaplane dropped them off at the edge of a breathtaking fjord in northern Canada as a frigid rain and an awesome silence fell over them. They were alone in polar bear country and soon to have an encounter for which they were unprepared.

At the top of the Arctic food chain, the polar bear is a magnificent, carnivorous creature. The sea ice where it hunts for seals with ease is fast disappearing, and the open ocean offers it no foothold to secure the fat and meat it needs to thrive. It lives where few people venture, but it is losing its natural habitat to a man-made meltdown, battling starvation and facing extinction.

Those of us reading Meltdown with a full stomach, in the warmth and safety of human civilization, should not feel immune to this tale of terror. The climate change that is thawing the Arctic is upon us all, wherever we may be.

It is not coming by surprise like a wild beast in the dark. It is advancing by our own invitation, drop by melting drop, in parts per million of CO2 we know how to count, in satellite images we can decipher, in accordance with laws of physics we cannot alter.

Did the seven hikers make it out alive? Will we?

David Sassoon


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