Polar Nature

Tags: Sunand Prasad

The Greenlanders have reclaimed their place names, so the glacier shown on Danish maps as the Jakobshavn Glacier is now the Ilulissat Glacier. It is moving at 38 metres per day now sliding on more melt water and producing more icebergs than any other in the world. It would be amazing to be near enough the glacier front to hear the sound made by the calving of the icebergs. But the spot where we land by zodiacs is at the edge of a gigantic iceberg pile up caused by the terminal moraine, like a dam across the sea mouth, 50 km away now from the glacier front. The scientists have been giving us occasional classes in geology, explaining the action of glaciers, or how the salinity and temperature of the ocean contain clues to climatic behaviour.

People have started doing projects. Francesca Galeazzi releases 6 kg of CO2 from a gas bottle in a deliberate, if very small, act of climate vandalism, claiming that she will simply offset that amount of CO2 for a few pence. The idea is to expose carbon offsetting as purely a conscience salving exercise. It provokes a heated debate amongst the Cape Farewell crew, immediately validating the piece. Marcus Brigstocke does a 5 minute stand up routine in a tan corduroy suit addressing the empty icy vastness. Jokes on theme of climate change, seriously. All of this activity is being recorded by a film crew, and as Marcus is supposed to be telling jokes into the void no one is allowed to laugh, which causes Nathan Gallagher to eat his own glove. Nathan is a professional photographer and it has become a regular thing to crowd round his laptop to look at his fabulous day’s work. In fact everyone is taking photos, which will amount to tens of thousands by the end of our journey.

Read on The Architect’s Journal website.