Leadership

Why go to Greenland?

Greenland may appear to be a long way from the Australian continent, but it’s closer than we think, being directly connected to Australia by global weather patterns and ocean currents. It is therefore critical to understand what’s happening in Greenland and the Arctic in order to plan effectively for dealing with looming climate challenges in Australia.

There are three good reasons why our Young Explorers are going to East Greenland.

Firstly, the Greenland icecap is safer and more easily accessed than Antarctica, especially for small scale expeditions such as ours.

Secondly, Greenland is the best place on Earth to witness dramatic climate change in action; in particular, the south eastern fjords. They lie south of the Arctic Circle and are therefore very sensitive to changes in temperature.  Our Young Explorers will literally be able to watch as Greenland’s once permanent icecap crumbles and flows as rivers into the sea, aware that this same melt water will in time drown Australia’s beaches and flood our coastal suburbs.

Thirdly, East Greenland is the most remote outpost of human settlement, where for thousands of years the Inuit have maintained a sustainable life despite total isolation from the world and the area’s poor natural hunting conditions. Our Young Explorers will be able to spend time with the Inuit, and learn about sustainability from their unique perspective based on successful adaptation to the world’s harshest environment.

In summary, Greenland gives us ready access to the global thermometer, enables us to observe rapid climate change in action and provides the chance of friendships that will inspire us in our adaptation to the challenges of radical climate change.

The Inuit are one of the oldest and most isolated peoples on Earth. They have always been separated from their West Coast brothers by the world’s second largest icecap and, until recent times, were all but cut off from the rest of the world by the wide belt of ice that chokes the coast for most of the year.

To most of us, East Greenland, or Tunu, appears quite uninhabitable. But to the Inuit it is home, the result of thousands of years of adaptation and innovation. They have their own dialect, unique traditions and the most beautiful handicrafts.

The primary occupation is hunting and fishing, sometimes still using the traditional kayak and umiaq. And the ancient practices of dividing up the catch amongst the community can still observed.

The Inuit keep one foot in the past, always aware of their unique culture and heritage. Their ancient Drum Dance lives on, as does their music and storytelling, based on myths and sagas that have been passed down through the generations.

Tasiilaq is where one can glimpse the original ancient Greenland and meet people who are truly in touch with their remarkable environment. Here at the edge of the world, visitors can experience a sense of peace and timelessness, and be touched by Inuit family values and their warm hospitality.

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Greenland’s icecap, showing the area of the ACLC expedition field operations.

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Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary in Greenland for their honeymoon.

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Then: Inuit people of Tasiilaq, circa 1900.

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Now: Inuit children on Greenland’s National Day

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