Fighting for Greenland; Kari Herbert Returns to the Tundra Her Father Explored

Newsweek International, January 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Fighting for Greenland; Kari Herbert Returns to the Tundra Her Father Explored


Byline: Ginanne Brownell

In December, at the international climate-change conference in Buenos Aires, the 155,000 Inuit in Canada, Greenland, Siberia and Alaska announced plans to sue the U.S. government. They charge that since the United States has been blamed for 25 percent of the emissions causing global warming, it should pay for putting their livelihood--hunting polar bear and walrus--at risk. It's still early days for the case, but the Inuit people have at least one strong supporter in author and journalist Kari Herbert. "It's quite new that they are getting political, but it's wonderful that they are starting to fight for themselves and their future," she says.

She should know. As the daughter of Sir Wally Herbert--described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as "the greatest polar explorer of our time" for leading the first team to reach the geographic North Pole by surface crossing, in 1969--she has spent plenty of time in Greenland. Two years after his historic trek, Sir Wally packed up his wife and 10-month-old Kari and headed to remote Herbert Island, an outpost in the Arctic Circle that happened to share their name. The family was quickly adopted into the tightknit society of one of the last surviving traditional hunting communities. When they moved back to Britain two years later, Kari spoke mostly in Inuktun and had a taste for whale blubber.

In 2002 Herbert, then 31, returned to Greenland to investigate how the community had developed. Her findings are engagingly relayed in "The Explorer's Daughter: A Young Englishwoman Rediscovers Her Arctic Childhood" (Viking. …

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