Nat Geo’s ‘The Last Ice’ Doc: What is really at stake in global warming.


Time is running out; scientific projections predict the complete disappearance of the Arctic summer sea ice – the cooling system of our planet – as early as 2040. While the world is focusing on the COVID 19 pandemic and its catastrophic impact on our economy, some consider global warming to be of less concern. But not to the scientists who see the pandemic as the loudest wake-up call to our broken relationship with the planet.

National Geographic’s new feature, The Last Ice, reveals even more about what is at stake in global warming – the disappearance of the way of life of the indigenous Inuit communities that depend on Arctic sea ice. The document, which will premiere in National Geographic in October and be shown at film festivals around the world, follows Inuit communities struggling to protect the rapidly warming Arctic and preserve their traditional culture.

Filmed over four years in Canada and Greenland, The Last Ice features interviews with Inuit community leaders, activists, traditional hunters and youth advocates. It examines the impact of melting sea ice between these two countries on the 100,000 Inuit living in, on and around the Arctic, on and around this frozen ocean. Now the newly opened waters are being exploited for financial gain: Oil and gas deposits, more efficient shipping routes and increased fishing and tourism.

But for the indigenous Inuit, development in these sacred waters poses a threat to the future of their homeland and traditional culture. As the land and wildlife disappear, so does their way of life of fishing and hunting. If not the moral imperative to protect the culture and rights of indigenous groups, what more will it take for the world to take care of it?

Protecting the planet is our best health insurance

If the disappearance of our planet’s cooling system, the Arctic sea ice and the indigenous culture that survived on it is not enough to protect our planet, it should be a pandemic, says Enric Sala, executive producer of The Last Ice, also a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Protecting the “white heart” of the world is also our best health insurance and is economically wise, Sala demands in an interview with

The melting Arctic sea ice is trickling down on everything – completely changed weather patterns, loss of wildlife, the dying of indigenous cultures – and, beyond that, on the global economy and the health of all people. Sala hopes that the film will create urgency by showing that protecting the planet’s wild places is not something we can put off.

“If we want to prevent another pandemic, now is the time to invest in protecting our own planet,” says the marine conservationist and founder of National Geographic Pristine Seas, an initiative to protect the last wild places in the ocean.

The pandemic is a wake-up call for humanity

“The pandemic is the loudest wake-up call we have for humanity; it is the strongest example we have of why nature’s health and our relationship with nature determines our health and well-being and ultimately our survival,” says the National Geographic expert.

Sala believes that the pandemic effects – human suffering and economic downturn – that will last for years are a result of our broken relationship with nature. But he says there is also good news: We can fix them – nature can save us all.

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This month a new book The Nature of Nature is published: Why We Need the Wild, Sala explains that there is also an economic argument for protecting the world. “We have economic studies that show very clearly that a world with more protection would be a world where global economic output would be greater. We published an economic report last month that showed that nature gives us five dollars for every dollar, at least in protected areas, in return.

It would create millions of jobs if we protected 30 percent of the planet, for example, Sala says. “If we give nature more space, we will receive many, many more benefits in return,” adds Sala, who urges the world to listen when the Arctic summer sea, “the air conditioning of our planet,” disappears.

If we need another reason to care about our planet, we need to show more respect for nature now, Sala says – the more we get into the


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