Ragnar Axelsson: These might be the last days of the Arctic
Ragnar Axelsson - Hunter Ole Neylsen looking for a polar bear on the ice in Thule
Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Hunter Ole Neylsen looking for a polar bear on the ice in Thule

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Hunter Ole Neylsen looking for a polar bear on the ice in Thule

Published on: Thursday September 26, 2019

Who is Ragnar Axelsson?

Ragnar Axelsson is an Icelandic born photojournalist who has been a champion for preventive measures against global warming. Born in 1958 in Iceland, RAX, as he is commonly known, has been a vocal person about the effects that rapid climatic change has had on the Arctic region.

Growing up passionate about photography, RAX has been a staff photographer for Morgunblaðið since 1976. Morgunblaðið is the largest newspaper in Iceland. Aside from working for this media house, RAX has also done freelance photography for major media outlets such as the New York Times and BBC.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Polar bear hunters, Hjelmer and Isak, on rough packed ice on the east coast of Greenland. The temperature was minus 35 degrees

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Polar bear hunters, Hjelmer and Isak, on rough packed ice on the east coast of Greenland. The temperature was minus 35 degrees

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Hunter Hjelmer Heimeken riding his dog sled on the way home from a hunting trip on the east coast of Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Hunter Hjelmer Heimeken riding his dog sled on the way home from a hunting trip on the east coast of Greenland

Last Days of the Arctic

For over 30 years, RAX has made been visiting the Arctic region frequently. What he has observed in the span of those three decades is the ever-worsening climatic conditions in that region of the world. What RAX is currently doing or has been doing throughout his career is to raise awareness about this.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Hunter Mikide Kristiansen fixing his dogs on the ice in Thule (Inglefield fjord)

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Hunter Mikide Kristiansen fixing his dogs on the ice in Thule (Inglefield fjord)

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Blizzard in Ittoqqortoormiit village on the east coast of Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Blizzard in Ittoqqortoormiit village on the east coast of Greenland

Three decades of photos

His photobook, The Last Days of the Arctic, is a collection of photographs that Rax has taken in the last three decades to detail effects of global warming. The book that went into publication in 2010 is available in English, French and his native Icelandic languages.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Comet Hale-Bop in the sky with dancing northern lights in the village of Tinniteqilaaq on the east coast of Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Comet Hale-Bop in the sky with dancing northern lights in the village of Tinniteqilaaq on the east coast of Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - A piteraq storm in the village of Sermiliqaq on the east coast of Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
A piteraq storm in the village of Sermiliqaq on the east coast of Greenland

Threats to the ecosystem

While this tug of war on who gets what in the Arctic region continues, the ice keeps melting even more rapidly. This change is threatening the ecosystem in that region. The locals who depend on the Arctic Circle for their survival are facing a probable economic downturn. The wildlife in the area such as polar bears is also facing likely extinction as human beings continue to plunder the earth.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Polar bear on the ice near Baffin Island

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Polar bear on the ice near Baffin Island

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Baffin Dog

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Baffin Dog

Why does this work matter?

In the 2018 version of the book, nothing much changes but rather, the journalist includes more photos of recent changes in the Arctic region. RAX’s book comes at a critical time when the Arctic region is not only faced with rapid climatic change but political turmoil as well. Many powerful states are trying to lay claim to the region that is rich in oil and other valuable resources.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - A hunter following polar bear tracks on the ice near Ittoqqortoormiit

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
A hunter following polar bear tracks on the ice near Ittoqqortoormiit

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Hunter cracking his whip on his dog sled, Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Hunter cracking his whip on his dog sled, Greenland

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

Conclusion

In the face of all these, one man, RAX, remains a beacon of hope. His book is available as a hard copy and a soft copy as well. Additionally, used versions of the same are available in major e-commerce stores around the world.

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic - Masauna Kristiansen, hunter from Qaanaaq on the ice in Inglefield fjord, Thule

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic
Masauna Kristiansen, hunter from Qaanaaq on the ice in Inglefield fjord, Thule

Ragnar Axelsson - Last Days of the Arctic

Ragnar Axelsson – Last Days of the Arctic

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