Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Make Money In the Arctic

"The People of the Land Beyond the Land Beyond"

The Winter Olympics are upon us, giving us a perfect opportunity to point out something unique about Canada.  I never knew this before and I think there's a significant reason for that, but more on that later.

Alert, Nunavut in Canada is the northernmost settlement with permanent inhabitants in the world.  It's gently nestled within the arctic circle on Ellesmere island next to Greenland.  Despite being very cold and covered in snow 10 months of the year, the climate is actually quite dry, averaging only 6 inches of total precipitation per year.  There are 5 months of total sunlight and 5 months of total darkness.  The only time the temperature is above freezing is during their 2 month summer season when it reaches all the way into the upper 30s.  Downright balmy.  The place is so charming that two of the most significant events in its history were catastrophic plane crashes.

This is definitely not one of the most inhabitable places in the world, but yet, at last count, up to 5 people may actually permanently reside in Alert.  There are many temporary inhabitants of the frigid hamlet due to the presence of the Canadian Forces Station Alert facility, a weather station, and an airport, which is presumably the only way to get there.  Unless you ride a moose by the light of the aurora.  Why, then, does anyone choose to live there?  To man the weather station?  I don't think you need a permanent weather station to know that it's going to be yet another cold, dark day (unless of course it's the half of the year with total, relentless, blinding sunlight).  Something just doesn't quite add up.  Which brings me to my earlier suspicion of why I never heard of this place before.  My guess is that the residents have discovered, through sophisticated weather monitoring (and with a little help from Al Gore), that the ice caps are going to melt sometime within their lifetimes, transforming the icy outpost of Alert into a pleasant, tropical paradise.  They're just claiming their beachfront property now.  Luckily, we here at howtomakeadollar have discovered their secret and are sharing it with you, dear loyal reader, so you can be one of the few, lucky opportunists to claim a tract of land in one of the remotest parts of the earth that will eventually be worth millions.  That is, of course, assuming that you can stand to live among muskoxen, caribou, and Canadians, and are resilient to frostbite, depression, and insomnia (24 hour sunlight can be excruciating).  On the plus side, I bet baby seal tastes pretty good.  And it'll all be worth it in the end.  There may be easier ways to make money than this, but I doubt it.

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