Goodbye To Another Civilisation?
Rigolet is a remote, coastal town, situated in the eastern part of Canada. The town does not have any contact with the outside world. The temperature of Rigolet, the home of just 300 people, remains below the freezing point throughout the year! Although it is not accessible through road, the community is may be contacted through a snowmobile trail or seasonally via a coastal ferry from Happy Valley-Goose Bay. In winter, it becomes easier to access the town when snow covers the surrounding ponds, lakes and rivers. The local residents stock their necessary items for daily usage during this period… In other words, the light of civilisation reaches Rigolet only in winter. The town is the southernmost officially recognised ‘Inuit community’ in the world. Popularly, they are known as ‘Eskimos’!
Apart from Rigolet, the Inuit community also lives in the remote mountainous regions of Alaska, Greenland and Siberia. Although the name Eskimo is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this name is considered ‘derogatory’ in many other places, like the US, because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean “eater of raw meat”. Then US President Barack Obama signed a legislation, replacing the term with ‘Alaska Native’ in Federal Laws, in May 2016. These people, who had to fight against adverse weather conditions in the Polar Region for survival, want to be known as Inuit.
A recent research has revealed that the community is in real danger because of Global Warming, which has triggered loss of sea ice and melting of the ice sheet in Polar Regions. It has become increasingly difficult for them to communicate with the rest of the world through the natural highways made of ice due to the Climate Change. They are unable to use sledge-cars even in winter, as the thickness of ice sheets decreases. The melting of ice sheets has made it difficult for the community to build ‘Igloos’ or snow houses, typically built when the snow is easy to compact. The community uses snow to build their huts because the air pockets trapped in it make it an insulator.
Currently, the Inuit people face food crisis, as well! A large part of their diet consists of polar bears, seals, various other fishes, ice birds and whales. However, these animals are also not in abundance, nor in proper health condition, mostly due to the melting of ice. The polar bears depend mainly on seals for their survival, and seals have lost their residential and breeding areas due to lack of ice. As a result, the entire food-chain is on the verge of destruction! The people, who got accustomed to high-quality animal proteins and fat, have no other option, but to change their diet. This change has a great impact on their physical, as well as mental, health. According to researchers, the Inuit people have developed a tendency to commit suicide in recent times due to the hardship they currently face!
The Global Warming directly affects the environment, the plants and the animals, compared to the human beings… however, the Inuit community is an exception! The rising temperature prompts them to face existential crisis. The global community will have to control the temperature as soon as possible. Else, a large part of this world will not be habitable, and human civilisation will whither away. Perhaps, the Inuit community will secure their position in the list of lost civilisations, first!
The conscientious among us should strive to find ways for rehabilitating the Inuit community…
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