The people of the Arctic are among the first on Earth to experience the direct impacts of global warming, and it was their compelling stories that prompted CCTV America to produce a new documentary about the repercussions of climate change on the people, land, and wildlife of the Arctic.
Reporter Sean Callebs and photographer Andrew Smith spent three months in the Arctic, documenting the changes in the region for the original documentary: “On Thin Ice: The People of the North” which premiered at the National Press Club to an audience of about 100 in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
“About four million people live above the Arctic… which is a very small percentage of the Earth, but 30 percent of the world’s natural resources could be above that imaginary line,” Callebs said “People are going to go after those natural resources.”
The documentary observes how ships are navigating the Northwest Passage, a new sea route known as “Panama Canal North” that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic and was made possible through climate change, and how this could impact the people and wildlife that live there.
“They’re worried about invasive species… and the passage isn’t charted at all. Now you have ships going out there and there’s massive potential for collision,” Callebs said. “If cruise ships now want to go there what will happen? You’re talking about a huge potential for disaster.”
Callebs and Smith also document the struggles that native communities face as they sit on the nexus of tradition and change. In visits to cities, towns, and villages in Alaska and Canada, they interviewed residents who can no longer practice traditional hunting due to the rapid rate of sea ice melts and thinning ice.