Viaggiatori (Sep 2019)

Émerveillement et alertes climatiques dans Passer par le Nord. La nouvelle route maritime, d’Isabelle Autissier et Erik Orsenna

  • Roger Marmus

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. 1
pp. 421 – 443


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Published in 2014, the book Going North: The New North Road may become a classic of polar studies. On the basis of observations made during a series of study visits conducted in 2013-2014 and a series of documentary researches, the survey seeks, with a subtle balance of humour, mixed with anguish, to alert the general public of the geopolitical upheavals that the North will undergo. The two friends continue their collaboration to tell and anticipate the destiny of the extreme regions of the North, choosing the prism of wonder to predict the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects. Erik Orsenna, former director of the National School of Landscape, Prix Goncourt 1988, concerned about the aesthetic preservation of the beautiful planet, but also an expert on globalization, and Isabelle Autissier, activist for sustainable development, went to the sea Arctic to see the damage, but also the reasons to hope. They traveled to Norway, Siberia and Iceland to appraise the problems that the mainstream media tend to abandon. Following the footsteps of the pioneers of the Northeast Passage (Barents, Nordenskiöld), the two modern explorers went to Kirkenes, Murmansk or Reykjavik, to understand the “frozen Eldorados”, but especially the fears that surround them. This paper explores the changes of fears related to “North-North” as they presented in the book. Indeed, it seems that the ancestral dangers (cold, bears, wintering, etc.) have been replaced by more diffuse but ultimately deadly threats: mass tourism, melting of permafrost... or barrels of nuclear waste immersed in Arctic waters.