Warming Island Project makes expedition to Jim Santy Auditorium | ParkRecord.com

Warming Island Project makes expedition to Jim Santy Auditorium

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Explorer Dennis Schmitt discovered an island in the Arctic two years ago, but did not receive quite the same pat on the back bestowed on his predecessor Robert Peary when he reached the North Pole in 1909.

Schmitt calls his discovery "Uunartoq Qaqertoq," Inuit for "Warming Island," claiming it as unequivocal evidence that global warming is changing the Earth’s topography, and its climate. The island was formed because a shelf of ice, that once connected it to eastern Greenland dissolved into a strait, he says.

His finding has catapulted him, if somewhat reluctantly, from the realm of geology and expedition, into the world of politics and science.

"I’m an explorer," Schmitt told his audience Sunday night at the Jim Santy Auditorium, "Not a politician."

A slide show accompanied the discussion. Photos featured Schmitt suited in waders used by fisherman, negotiating a cracked ice shelf, rife with pools of water, and images of the island he discovered, white and rocky like a mountaintop, which he notes is shaped like a human hand, with a palm and fingers.

Hence, Shmitt’s discovery has poetry: it is both a literal and graphic example of global warming, he observes.

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"What is happening scientifically and what has happened along the edge of North America is significant," Schmitt reflected. "The sum of all [human pollution] is reaching a point of no return. global warming is not hypothetical. It’s happening now. We have to do something now."

Schmitt visited Park City to speak alongside Salt Lake documentary filmmaker John Collins Rudolf to share his findings and to help support their next expedition to Greenland in July.

The two are part of a group called The Warming Island Project that aims to further document the collapsing ice shelves, melting glaciers and the retreat of the polar ice cap. Specifically, they will chart an island chain Schmitt identified in 1996, the Stray Dog Islands, which he expects will be surrounded by water, not ice, very soon. The trip will be filmed by Rudolf for a documentary he plans to call "Ice Man."

Sunday, Rudolf called Schmitt, who is readily identified by his distinguished snow white beard, "one of the last great explorers." Schmitt has been exploring the Arctic since he was 19 years old and says he has ventured on more than 100 expeditions to the northern most edge of the world.

Schmitt claims his upcoming work with Rudolf to the Arctic Circle will be the most definitive of all of his life’s explorations "a significant, and historical film project."

He noted that scientists predict ice-free summers in the Arctic in a s little as 30 years, a pace he claims could not be possible without an excess of greenhouse gasses. Schmitt says he began experiencing the climate change in the Arctic in 2000, during a violent thunderstorm.

"What’s left to explore in the world? Not much," mused Schmitt before the Park City crowd. "But that’s changing because of global warming&We believe a new era of polar exploration is at hand."

Rudolf recalls meeting Schmitt before a trip to Greenland’s 100,000-year-old ice sheet in 2006.

The two decided to travel to the country together and Rudolf, a graduate of New York University’s graduate journalism program, wrote an article about his visit to Warming Island for The New York Times. The newspaper called it "The Warming of Greenland."

The story traveled far and fast.

Hundreds of newspapers worldwide picked up Rudolf’s NYT story, and a short video posted on the Internet of Rudolf and Schmitt’s travels appeared on ABC and BBC networks.

Just this month, Rudolf learned a 10-year-old boy, across the Atlantic in Monaco chose "Warming Island" as the subject of his class science project.

Compelling arguments about Global Warming

The U.S. government recently reported dramatically decreasing global warming measuring efforts from space. The original plan was to launch six new satellites in three orbits, but instead, the administration plans to launch four satellites in two orbits. Despite this decision, Arctic explorer Dennis Schmitt says many other countries and U.S. citizens have become convinced by these critical warnings that global warming is changing the world’s climate:

*This year’s global warming report issued April 6 by the United Nations that reported with more than 90 percent confidence, that the warming of the Earth’s climate is caused by humans. The report said its conclusion was supported by years of accumulated scientific data.

*The University of Washington and the Center for Atmospheric Research’s study that predicted ice-free summers in the Arctic by 2040.

*The increasing violent and unseasonable storms seen throughout the world, and the increasing precipitation in desert climates has raised the level of awareness and concern about global warming, especially in Europe, says Schmitt.

*Schmitt’s discovery of Warming Island in 2005, which he says was formed after an ice shelf melted on the eastern coast of Greenland.

For more information about Warming Island and the documentary "Ice Man," visit http://www.warmingisland.org.