Monday Reads: The Astonishing Arctic Edition

Photos worth more—much more—than a thousand words

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The Arctic has invaded Seattle. And Berkeley. And Venice. (Venice, California, not the Italian city of gondolas.)

Fortunately, this is not to say that the next Ice Age has unexpectedly crept up on us while we were preoccupied with this whole climate change debacle. Rather, wildlife photographer Florian Schulz and his partner Emil Herrera-Schulz have succeeded in bringing the Arctic to us, in one stunning photograph after another:

Towards the end of June, caribou start to form larger herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range. With warmer temperatures the tundra brings both lush green growth and hordes of mosquitoes. Arctic Refuge, Alaskan Arctic. Florian Schulz /

The Arctic seems to suffer from an unfortunate public relations crisis. Many tend to think of it as an icy wasteland of blinding whiteness, dotted here and there with a lone polar bear and not much more. Sure, polar bears are cute and all (especially the cubs), but there’s not much else there besides the freezing cold, right?

Florian’s work neatly sweeps away that misconception, introducing us to both the vibrant, verdant life that fills the real Arctic—thrilling, epic migrations of caribou numbering in the tens of thousands; herds of majestic muskoxen who seem to herald from a different age—and the encroaching oil drilling and development that threatens to destroy it.

In April and May, several hundred Earthjusticers in the aforementioned three cities had the unique opportunity to hear Florian speak about his photos and experiences in the Arctic. Couldn’t be there? You’re in luck. Coming through a computer near you, experience the Arctic with a rich selection of more than a dozen of Florian’s photos at Earthjustice’s website. Meanwhile, the photos themselves are currently in residence at the G2 Gallery in Venice, CA through June 20, 2010, and would appreciate a visit from you, if you’re in the area.

As you learn about the Arctic, keep in mind that exploratory oil drilling—the very same type that the Gulf of Mexico’s Deepwater Horizon was engaged in—is scheduled to commence in Arctic waters in a mere 60-some days and counting. And that there remains no proven method for cleaning up oil spills in the Arctic’s icy waters. Read about Earthjustice’s work to save the Arctic. Feel like taking action? Tell Interior Secretary Salazar that the Arctic is a national treasure—and once it’s destroyed, it will be gone forever. It’s not yet too late. We still have a chance to save it.

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Shirley undertakes sous chef duties on Earthjustice’s website, serving up interactive online features for our advocacy campaign and litigation work.

Opened in 1978, our Alaska regional office works to safeguard public lands, waters, and wildlife from destructive oil and gas drilling, mining, and logging, and to protect the region's marine and coastal ecosystems.