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Surviving climate change in the Arctic

Arctic landscape in East Greenland with Igloo

The Last Igloo arrives on BBC Select on April 19th and is just one of many acclaimed documentaries available to stream. Start your free trial with BBC Select today on the Apple TV app or Amazon Prime Video Channels. Restrictions apply*.

Here is a taster of some of the most breathtaking moments from the documentary.

What does a life entirely driven by nature and the wilderness look like? This beautiful, meditative 90-minute documentary follows the daily routines of Inuit hunter Julius Nielsen, whose lifestyle centres around navigating wondrous artic landscapes. Whilst his two children have grown up in an age of technology overload, the life known to Julius, traversing glacial terrain is much more stripped back. Through exquisite drone footage and a transportive soundtrack, we journey to East Greenland to learn more about how he travels, hunts and sleeps on such an extraordinary terrain.

“Somehow nature controls me. It’s a very strange feeling. The sensation is overwhelming.”

Julius stays true to the traditions of his ancestors. He chooses to navigate the frozen North by dog sledover using a snowmobile, emphasizing that his snow dogs offer much more than a form of transportation for him. As much as they serve as loveable companions, they are also able to warn him from imminent dangers through their movements. If he is approaching unstable land, they collectively spread out to warn him of upcoming hazards. 

Patience is a fundamental quality required to survive in such harsh conditions. We witness Julius hunting for fish, rhythmically going through the motions with a quiet unflappability. With layers of tough ice to break through, bitterly cold weather and bracing winds, it is by no means an easy feat. “The most important tool is patience,” he reflects. 

However, hunting traditions have dramatically changed over the last 100 years as a direct result of climate change. Whilst he was able to travel to all of the surrounding villages in his youth by dog sled, he is now only able to visit some of these places by boat – a geographical manifestation of theworryingly fast pace of change. This documentary is a stark reminder of the reality of climate change, with Greenland’s ice sheets melting at an alarming rate of 270 billion tons a year. 

Following on from the traditions of nomadic ancestors, Julius has sought to keep rituals alive in spite of the radically altered landscape. In one stunning scene, we witness his process of building an igloo from scratch. In the right conditions, Julius is able to create an igloo in the space of one hour. He informs us that the best type of snow for creating igloos is known as “Pugaq”, formed by a strong wind which hardens the snow on the ground. Tragically, as a result of global warming, it is much harder to build an igloo today. Like many other hunters, Julius has been forced to find ways to adapt and make the most of his situation. As the sun sets over his stunning natural creation, and he hovers his hands over the warmth of a small fire, his remarkable story comes to a close.

The Last Igloo invites us to reflect upon the wider picture. In a time where technological advances and climate change threaten the survival of local indigenous cultures, Julius plays a vital role in keeping these traditions alive.

The Last Igloo: streaming on BBC Select on April 19th via the Apple TV app or Amazon Prime Video Channels. Restrictions apply*.

Start your free trial today

In the US BBC Select is available on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app for only $4.99 a month. Start your free 7-day trial today to enjoy BBC Select on Smart TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Restrictions apply*.

Big ideas.
Fresh takes.

BBC Select is a brand new streaming service featuring hundreds of critically-acclaimed documentaries. From politics and culture to history and travel, you’ll find many programs never seen before in the US and Canada.

The Drop is a weekly, curated collection of three documentaries that offer different perspectives on a particular theme, as well as an exclusive thinkpiece from influential voices such as Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay and Padma Lakshmi.

This Week’s Drop

Start the week as a rookie and end it as an expert with BBC Select’s brilliant voices. We bring together global experts and enlightened thinkers.

Malcolm Gladwell looking into camera in front of a dark background

Malcolm Gladwell

Listed in the TIME 100 Most Influential People List and author of five international bestsellers, including global blockbusters Blink and Outliers.

Roxane Gay looking into camera in front of a dark background

Roxane Gay

Multiple award-winning author and New York Times contributing writer, whose takes on identity and culture traverse literature, journalism and film.

Alicia Garza looking into camera in front of a dark background

Alicia Garza

Principal at Black Futures Lab and Co-founder of The Black Lives Matter Global Network, Alicia empowers communities to be a force for change.

Ai Weiwei Select Takes

Ai Weiwei

Trailblazing cultural icon, Chinese architect and activist; Ai Weiwei’s multimedia artwork invites audiences to reflect upon societal issues in real time.

Elif Shafak

Multi-award winning British-Turkish novelist, fierce LGBTQ+ advocate and twice TED global speaker whose writing has been translated into 54 languages.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Writer of the first ever debut novel to win the Norwegian Critics’ Prize, Karl’s merging of genres and philosophical insights have led to critical acclaim.

Lionel Shriver looking into camera in front of a dark background

Lionel Shriver

Multi award-winning writer, journalist and author of critically-acclaimed We Need to Talk about Kevin, Shriver is unafraid to unpack all things taboo.

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi

Emmy-nominated food expert, producer, host, The New York Times best-selling author and civil rights activist; Padma is a true multi-hyphenate.