Sam Kinchin-Smith considers the tension inherent in green tourism writing, that need to extol the virtues of a place and invite people to share the sublime, knowing that it could bring droves of people that exact a toll on the land and the locals.
Glacier calving is a natural phenomenon that has been accelerated by global heating, part of the wider collapse and run-off of melting ice in the polar regions (and beyond) whose impact, because of the resulting rise in sea levels, is likely to be catastrophic for low-lying landmasses and communities around the world in the near future; by some measures, it already is. From Patagonia to Greenland, calving is also a tourist attraction which, thanks to improvements in smartphone camera resolution, has given rise to a YouTube subcommunity. I’ve watched scores of these videos, which may come closer than anything else on the internet to evoking Romantic sensations of the sublime. But as enormous shelves of ice break off into the sea in surges of blue and white, like slow-moving comets, it’s jarring to hear their creaking tectonic bass drowned out by a shrill treble line of hoooooly shits and whoooahs and hysterical clapping. This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but applause.
To celebrate these events, knowing what we know, is only a particularly flagrant example of the cognitive dissonance we all experience in different ways.