By Tim Querengesser
The inevitable has happened with our new July/August issue, which features two articles about climate change -- one listing the mounting evidence that its impacts are being felt right now in the North, the other daring to explore why many Northerners actually like climate change. But no one has paid much attention to those. No, what's getting all the attention -- just as we expected and intended -- is our swimsuit spread.
When you want to get attention in a room full of people talking, you tend to yell. So, when we decided to dedicate an entire issue to climate change in the North, one of the most over-trammeled media narratives in history, we knew we'd have to yell to be heard above the already deafening howl.
An idea was born: Why not make the point the North is warming, fast, by putting people in swimsuits in Arctic landscapes? Why not, someone pointed out, take what Sports Illustrated does with its swimsuit edition and flip it on its head? It was a case of subversive gamesmanship, a classic detournment that would resonate both in the North and in the south, where we have a lot of readers and, one hopes, influence.
It's not as if this is unique, by the way. Back in December, when hundreds of world leaders and their entourages jumped on planes and therefore released a bunch of carbon to talk about climate change in Copenhagen, Canadian artists from Nunavik sculpted a polar bear made of ice to send a message about climate change threatening polar bears. As the bear melted, the point was elegantly made.
And that's what we intended to do with the swimsuit issue: Make a point. Like any bold move, it's open to interpretation and criticism. But that's the goal -- to underline the North's unique predicament with climate change to readers who don't experience what it's like day in, day out, like we do up here.