Tag Archives: Reporters in the Field

SEVEN DEGREES OF SEPARATION: Longyearbyen’s climate change may be the fastest in the world, but the wide-ranging impacts tell the real tale (part one of a seven-part series)

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It’s a catchy, but useless headline: “‘Doomsday vault’ town warming faster than any other on Earth.” It’s only six months old, yet now is just another cliché such as “the town where it’s illegal to die” (wrong) and “more polar bears than people” (also wrong).

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Part one of a seven-part series about the drastic effects of climate change on virtually all aspects of life in Longyearbyen and prospects for the future.

It says nothing about the sizable percentage of residents thrown out of their homes, collapse of the traditional workforce, mass arrival of foreigners and class warfare, and hostile military forces practicing a full-scale invasion just across the border. It’s used as a soundbite by policymakers to explain hardships, justify controversies and pursue policies that may or may not substantially address the issue.

So while such drastic blurbs may captivate the world’s attention (or not), they’re largely mundane for locals in the world’s northernmost town of Longyearbyen. They have far more important, but less sensational, things to worry about than a magazine cover declaring in fist-size letters they’re living in an apocalyptic preview of “The Uninhabitible Earth.”