Brain Pickings

North: How a Small Arctic Town Became a Global Epicenter of Climate Science


A cinematic history of climate change by way of the North Pole.

From British filmmaker, designer, and storyteller Temujin Doran — who has previously delighted us with this cinematic homage to language, some advice to sink in slowly, a meditation on the art of protest, and a thoughtful take on the distortions of democracy — comes North, an exquisite short documentary about how Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Circle, became an epicenter of climate change science after the Svalbard Act was signed in 1920, an international treaty recognizing Norwegian sovereignty over the islands and declaring the whole region a demilitarized zone.

Doran shot most of the footage during a residency in the Arctic Circle in 2010.

In 1969, as the Swiss were marveling at the hazel trees that had been flowering since January, two men stared back at the world from the surface of the moon and took a photograph of the blue-rimmed planet they lived on — a small fragile planet, all they had, wrapped in life, yet enveloped by war — perhaps the most beautiful image ever made.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

Share on Tumblr