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Professionalism in the Heart of Darkness


Conditions didn’t improve over the night. As we reluctantly donned our bunny boots to head out for our 3 hours of twilight, we briefly discussed professionalism in science with no great revelations or conclusions. Now after returning from bluff exposure observations, ice measurements, and overflow recon, its entirely dark outside and notably more so since we arrived in Utqiagvik 4 days ago. Being about 80 miles from the nearest permanent human habitation, we really are in the heart of darkness.


The Joseph Conradish reference is kind of that I thought it sounded “bad-ass”, but also a quite a bit related to our current reality on a variety of levels. Also recently watched an old Miami Vice episode with same title about this “cop” played by the actor who later was “Al Bundy” on Married with Children. It was an appropriate title as Al Bundy was a seemingly rogue undercover cop, but wasn’t in the end. Anyways, major earthquake today in Anchorage, climate changing at an unprecedented pace in the Arctic and entire planet, current US gov admin is corrupt and chaotic, and its kind of crappy weather out and we don’t have much light to work with. Looking at the past though is often the key to the future.


Seeing the exposed bluff on Teshekpuk Lake today is our best indication of recent history around here. Lots going on over 100 kya. Records like this help put things into perspective. Coupled with current records of CO2 and climate (and mechanistic linkages for both types of observations), as scientist the evidence becomes obvious in terms of the major trajectory, though lots of details are being teased out. What is our role in bringing awareness and adaptive information to bear upon decisions? Are we negligent if we don’t say enough or say too much that may or may not be too uncertain? Important questions and probably one’s that lots of scientists struggle with professionally. Focused on the present darkness, we are a heart of lightness in the surrounding dark and both hues have their place.


We stopped by the NSB cabin, our nearest neighbors on the lake about 2 mi east. No one was home and didn’t expect there to be, but we were just checking in to see how it looked, plus looking for a half cup of sugar to make my (my Mom’s) signature cream cheese roles. No dice on the sugar, but they were well supplied with everything else. It’s good to have neighbors even if we only pass in the night. That’s a good start. Good neighbors passing in the darkness.