In life one reads about and very rarely, meets up with special people who take our breath away because they achieve things beyond what we imagine is possible. One such person is a Canadian Inuit leader by the name of Sheila Watt-Cloutier. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, hence her exposure in the media. She seems quite a remote person to be nominated for such a prestigious award. But her significant achievement is that for about 12 years she has been lobbying for recognition of the environmental impact global warming has had on her homeland, which lies above the Artic circle and involves only about 150 000 indigenous people.
This courageous woman has spent these years publicising the plight of her people who depend on snow and ice for their livelihood, in fact add to that their entire traditions and customs which are also dependent on the cold weather. With global warming, which some countries are still disputing is actually happening such as bright spark Bush – can one even believe that – these people are losing their icy highways and fishing grounds. The wild life which has been their staple diet for centuries is disappearing as the polar bear, for instance, has less time to hunt and fatten up due to shortage of ice cold weather. These remote inhabitants are in fact the observers of the early warning system of what is going wrong in the environment and what damage modern society is causing.
A study commissioned by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, or ICC, shows that this region exhibited, in 2004 already, that the average annual temperature was increasing more than twice as much as the rest of the world. The significance of this woman’s battle is in fact not so much, not that this is not important, putting the spotlight on the plight of her people. Her main achievement is that she is in fact showing off the malaise of the entire world, for which everybody should be eternally thankful. It is with such hugely persuasive examples, that the rest of the world will be motivated in changing bad behaviour with regard to the environment. Because surely, this example, is so blindingly obvious and self-explanatory that even the biggest diehard non-believers are going to sit up and say: what are we doing to our planet!
We can be thankful to Al Gore as well, the USA presidential candidate who should have won instead of Bush and boy are the Americans going to regret that some day. Al Gore has been instrumental in having a documentary compiled, which addresses more global issues of environmental damage that we are inflicting on the world. And I don’t want to take anything away from him. The documentary is exceptional. But this woman didn’t have the resources and prominence of Al Gore. And yet she has made enough noise to be heard and to be considered for the prestigious Nobel award. What tends to kind of stick in my throat is the fact that Oprah Winfrey has also been nominated. This does not mean that I do not hold Oprah in high regard in terms of what she has achieved in her life. But somehow, her achievement of building a school in South Africa for underprivileged girls is just not on a par. I would rather nominate Bill Gates and his wife. Their Foundation is delivering a lot more, without needing to call on the draw card of Nelson Mandela to create publicity.
However, regardless of who finally wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and I do hope it will go to Sheila, just providing exposure to this courageous woman, her people and environment is already a reward. The costs involved in re-settling communities is enormous. But if only the damage could be halted now, any progress would be appreciated by these people, never mind what side benefits the rest of the world will receive if global warming is slowed down at least. It seems that not many people have made the connection, or maybe don’t want to, between Tsunamis and hurricane Katrina, floods and earthquakes and global warming. And then one reads that a magazine is prepared to spend £2mill on wedding photos of some arbitrary film starlet, and the whole fame and celebrity thing is just so pathetically in favour of empty insignificant human beings, it’s scary.
Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. She has recently started a blog and writes on issues that interest her from self-improvement to tech stuff for amateurs. Anja has had a varied and interesting career journey. She started as a high school teacher, changed professions to become an admin manager at her late husbands law firm because this allowed her the flexibility to look after her small children at the time. After many years she left this position to try her hand at an art gallery, moved across to public relations and finally found her niche in education again managing a computer training centre for many years. During this time she also involved herself in writing standards and qualifications in the new media field. 10 months ago she moved from South Africa to join her younger daughter. She now writes a blog and also looks after the business interests of her daughter who is a Flash and Accessibility expert. She has BA (Hons) MBA degrees and on rare occassions she feels like a frustrated wannabe academic. That passes quickly though. www.anjamerret.com