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Vanishing World: The Endangered Arctic

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A RECENT report suggests that the earth is entering a period of global cooling which, if proved true, would certainly be good news for the Arctic, one of the world’s last true wilderness areas and home to some of its most remarkable creatures.

Sadly – or thankfully, depending on how you look at it – it’s a place only a lucky few will ever see for themselves. However, those less fortunate (your truly included) need not despair – thanks to photographer Mireille de la Lez and producer/writer Fredrik Granath whose beautiful new book, Vanishing World: The Endangered Arctic, is the next best thing.

Five years in the making and published to coincide with the International Polar Year, Vanishing World is primarily a celebration of the wildlife that inhabits the Arctic. And what better way than with a portfolio of stunning images. And I don’t use the word stunning lightly – these truly are some of the most remarkable images you are ever likely to see. Doubly so when you consider the challenges of filming in such a hostile environment.

Set against dramatic Arctic landscapes are portraits of polar bears, foxes, walrus, reindeer and seals (one just hours old – and how much better his coat looks on him than a homo sapiens of the female sex). Others reveal intimate facets of animal behaviour – the sequence of a polar bear mother playing with her cub, for instance, is pure magic.

In addition, spectacular landscape shots of ice floes, snow-covered mountains, glaciers and pack ice show just how vast, uncompromising and beautiful the Arctic is. And so good are these images that you can actually see the glint of sunlight on snow, almost hear the wind sweeping across a seemingly endless plain, feel the bitter cold of the frozen sea.

However, Vanishing World: The Endangered Arctic is, as the title suggests, also a cautionary tale and in the penultimate section, Future, a detailed discussion on global warming delivers some startling facts and figures. It also offers the assurance that the damage already done is not irreparable; that this vanishing world can still be saved – providing we act now.

Finally, Granath has written about his and de la Lez’ experiences in the Arctic and it makes delightful reading. My favourite anecdote must be the one about the polar bear, a hungry and aggressive young male, that tried to smash through the roof of the trapper’s cabin the pair were sleeping in. It was, he says, “as if it [the roof] was ice and we were seals.”

Vanishing World: The Endangered Arctic is indeed a beautiful book; one that will give hours of pleasure. And, if in the process, it alerts us to the dangers of global warming, then so much the better – particularly if the recent suggestion proves groundless. On both counts therefore, it comes highly recommended.

  1. Thanks to this review I bought the book and have to agree. The photos are phenomenal. Thanks for the recommendation

    Ella    Apr 18    #