A Travellerspoint blog

6/9 Svalbard Beckons

If you don't know where that is, you're not alone

sunny 80 °F
View Polar Bears of Svalbard on paulej4's travel map.


My morning routine is quite simple. Brush teeth. Weigh. Make coffee. Settle in with the New York Times--not online; I am a print edition addict which is testimony to my age. This particular Sunday morning, what I as a frequent traveller often refer to as "getaway day," I am slapped in the face by the lead article in the Times Travel Section: "Travel's Climate Problem."

The words of Andy Newman, a reporter for the Times, read as follows: "The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under. Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction." He speaks directly to and about me.

While I would prefer to not read these words on the very morning I depart for Svalbard--in the Arctic--to, hopefully, see polar bears on ice floes "before they disappear," I am verily and justifiably chastised. But, I am not canceling my trip. Going to the Arctic will increase my carbon footprint which will hasten the demise of that which causes me to sit in the seat that contributes all that carbon. (You can and should read his entire piece here:


Tell me what you think (and what you think I should think).

To assuage my guilt, I am going to write--and as I always do, pontificate--about what I see and experience but in this case, in part, so that you don't have to make the trip yourself. Maybe that will help.

I leave 80 degree weather and B4 behind--this isn't her kind of trek--and go far far north to where it is, and will continue to be, very cold. Perhaps, however, not cold enough.

My usual practice of each day posting entries supported by photography will be constrained by lack of access to the internet while I am aboard a small ship sailing amongst the ice floes farther north than most humans will ever go--or even dream of going. I am going north of the northernmost permanent settlement of earthbound human beings. Why? Polar bears. We are at risk of losing them. I hope I can be more a part of the solution than I am a part of the problem.

For the record: Delta conveys me from Kansas City to Detroit (where I write this) to Amsterdam to Oslo where I will stop before continuing to Longyearbyen, located in the Longyear Valley on the shore of Adventfjorden, a bay of Isfjorden located on the west coast of Spitsbergen Island, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago. Longyearbyen, at last official count, is home to only 2,667 permanent residents (for comparison purposes, The Kansas City Music Hall seats 2,400). It is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, Norway. Wagering that description didn't help you to picture where I today go, I happily provide this map.

Posted by paulej4 13:46 Archived in USA

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