In 2012, the UN said that Denmark was the happiest place on earth. This year, Denmark returned to the UN with some nice Danish pastries, and a territorial claim to the North Pole based on its relationship with Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory. [more inside]
The Challenge of Celebrating Ramadan in the Land of the Midnight Sun "Six years ago, Sandra Maryam Moe and the sheikh spent months exchanging emails. Is it allowed to eat and drink even though it isn't yet dark outside, Moe wanted to know? And if it is, when does the daily fasting period begin and end? When are the prayer times? Moe described in detail the dilemma facing her community and the sheikh sent her question after question. He too was wary of becoming the originator of a new practice."
The Arctic Light: filmed between 29th April and 10th May 2011 in the Arctic, on the archipelago Lofoten in Norway. SLVimeo; 3.22 [more inside]
Fridtjof Nansen's Polar Saga. Part One: 1,000 Days in the Ice "It was an outlandish idea: freeze a ship in the Arctic Ocean and ride the drifting ice across the North Pole." Part Two: Chasing Nansen's Ghost. "Two adventurers set out across the Arctic in the footsteps of Norway's pioneering polar explorer."
During the 19th century, thousands of men took to the seas to hunt for whales. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic practiced whaling for several millennia before that. Technological change and changes in mores have reduced the whaling industry to a heavily regulated shadow of what it used to be. But it hasn’t disappeared altogether. Even now, at the dawn of the 21st century, ships prowl the seas in search of a spout or a gigantic fin. A few months ago, Outside magazine published an account of a whale hunt aboard the Norwegian ship Sofie.
The last hope of life on earth: Svalbard. Most of humanity depends on just 12 plant species, down from over 7,000 historically. Fortunately, seeds can be viable for up to thousands of years, and seed banks have already preserved many species, including the entire plant population of Antarctica. But with seed banks being destroyed as the result of wars and accident, Norway has has begun work on an underground facility, protected by polar bears, in the Arctic permafrost that is designed to hold millions of seeds, as "final safety net" for humanity.
Global warming -- the upside: the entrepreneurs poised to make millions from new ports and shipping lanes in the formerly ice-bound Arctic circle. A fascinating New York Times article on the international land-grab following the news (reported here, discussed here, whitewashed here, et. al.) that the polar ice caps and Siberian permafrost are melting. Goodbye Gulf Stream, hello Club Med Santa-style -- first SUV to the North Pole wins!
Oil drilling in the Lofoten Islands? Norway's gorgeous Lofoten Islands were the subject of a great post by madamjujujive last year. Now the World Wide Fund for Nature is sounding the alarm over the prospect of oil drilling there. A decision from the Norwegian government is expected next month.
Lofoten Photogalerie - armchair travel through this breathtaking gallery of photos from Norwegian Islands located within the Arctic Circle. The region offers awesome vistas in every season. Links courtesy of Mefioso Kogiak who has an interesting story on his site about how he found this gem.