Monday, June 20, 2011

Midnight Sun over Canadian Arctic

I have flown over this frozen tundra almost every middle of June for 45 years. Having been a geography buff all my life the landscape is oddly familiar. I can name the larger lakes and tell by the occasional mountains exactly where we are. For the first time I see open water where ice still should cover the sea. Lakes are frozen but the salty water isn’t. Of course floating sheets of ice are still visible but the amount of melt water is shocking. I feel sorry for the polar bears. Yes, they are great swimmers but distances to solid ground from a shrinking ice float can be many miles long. Already there are numerous prizzlies or glolar bears as their formerly separated living areas have become mixed.

Clearly our climate is changing, although certain politicians claim otherwise. Seattle may have had the coldest spring in recorded history and back home in Finland past winter was extremely cold. Yet global warming doesn’t mean warmer temperatures everywhere but more of extreme weather. Storms have become more violent globally. Last summer’s long stretch of almost 100° F weather in Finland was highly unusual; we are on both sides of the Arctic Circle after all.

Now we are over coastal Greenland. Baffin Bay was filled with fishing boats, many of which have travelled great distances. One could see numerous icebergs but mainly the ocean water was ice-free. What is shocking to see are the freshwater lakes that have appeared on the snow and ice: they seem to be all over. One mustn’t forget, of course, that Greenland was tropical at some point. Perhaps we are heading in that direction again.

Out of nowhere the Icelandic coast appears and the Boeing 757-300 touches ground almost immediately. A bumpy landing in windy weather and we all rush to the terminal. Since we are going to continue to another Schengen country, we need to go through another security check point. There are signs saying that the American and Canadian methods are not thorough enough. Perhaps so, but annoying they are for sure. This time I had forgotten to remove my very ordinary belt and the SeaTac airport security went through each inch, bending it every which way. No wonder people avoid flying if they can. This sour looking fellow had to manually check the area of my pants that the belt had covered, perhaps looking for explosives. Next time I’ll ask to be hand searched. I know these people are just doing their job but clearly the profession attracts a certain type of a person, such as the police force has members who love the fact that they carry a gun and feel powerful. Often they could be on either side of the law. By being in the police force they can shoot legally without much fear of punishment. Of course, on the other side they make much more money but there is always a risk of being caught.

Finally we are on our way to Finland. The plane’s auxiliary turbine malfunctions so an extra hour is spend on the plane. Finally a truck is able to start the engines and off we take. Three hours later we land in Helsinki. It seems like all flights are coming in at the same time so another hour is spent waiting for luggage. I see my brother and his wife and off we drive to the Finnish beautiful countryside.

The reason for this quick trip is to be present when my dad turns a 100 years old. I’ll also see some other family and friends. Then I return to my brand new grandchild Ellen and the rest of my American family. It is amazing to think that the infant and her great-grandfather are almost exactly a century apart. The world for sure is a very different place from when my father was born, with more than twice the amount of people and ever increasing number of problems. I shall also return to a liberated place. I love Lucy but despise Lucifer. The Devil has returned to his own territory: there is hope in the air. But more about that later.