Polar Bears International

© Dan Guravich/Polar Bears International

4/8/2013 6:32:29 PM

West is Best. North is Better.

Contributor:

West is Best. North is Better. Exploration has always been a fascination and obsession of humankind. We have an ever-burning desire to know what is out there, to see what has never been seen. In the United States there has always been a push to the West. The West symbolizes adventure, freedom, fresh starts, and new beginnings. But for me, and I am sure others agree, West is best, but North is better.

The North has been a fascination for centuries. The great explorer Roald Amundsen described its dangerous beauty during a 1925 flight that took him close to the North Pole, "And there below us and in front of us lay the great shining plain of the notorious pack ice. How many misfortunes have you been responsible for during the passage of years, you vast `Whiteness'?"

If only he knew the misfortunes yet to come—three years later, he disappeared while on a rescue mission near the North Pole. The Arctic has since claimed many lives and severely tested others. Yet people are still drawn by the allure of the North, and brave the most severe conditions in the world in order to experience its magnificence.

Today scientists continue to push further into the unknown in an attempt to understand various facets of the complex region, including its changing climate. The age of exploration has taken on a different face as people continue, as they always have, to venture to places never seen before, never felt, never documented, or perhaps just documented in a new way. Adventurers plan expeditions to peaks that have never been climbed, stretches that have never been navigated, landmarks and features that have never been photographed. The Arctic is one of the last truly wild places where humans can venture and the fascination is far from over.

Although it is important for us to venture there to learn more about the complex inter-relationship the Arctic plays in a healthy planet, we must do so mindfully as the Arctic holds some of the most uninhabited land and most delicate ecosystems on earth. We cannot forget the absolutely integral role our icy poles play as temperature regulators for our fragile planet. Our climate needs these regions desperately.

The allure of the North will always intrigue us as humans. The North is the last frontier. It entices our imaginations, inspires our sense of adventure, and fascinates scientists around the world. There is so much we have yet to learn about the northern arctic regions, and many stories that have yet to be told.

Let us work together to reduce our impact and protect the incredible region that is such a pivotal player in our planet's health.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first expedition leader to (undisputedly) reach the North Pole in 1926.

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