The office of Artur Chilingarov, the bearded polar explorer and anointed Hero of the Russian Federation, is at the end of a long hall in the Duma, Russia's parliament, where he is deputy speaker. Its entrance is guarded by a poster of a nuclear icebreaker, the Yamal, a 492-foot monster with rows of painted-on fangs, and inside is a knee-high wooden penguin and two chicks, a pair of carved walrus tusks, and eight miniature porcelain polar bears—an iconography of the Arctic and Antarctic. On a wall is a portrait of Vladimir Putin. Chilingarov sits in a leather chair in a dark suit with the Hero's gold star pinned to his breast, and next to him sits a four-foot-high globe, normal in every way but one. It has been spun off its axis, reoriented such that both Poles are visible: the Earth turned on its side.
Published: May 2009
Healy Mapping Mission
As rising temperatures melt the polar ice cap, five countries race to map their claims to a new energy frontier. The stakes are huge. Nearly a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas may lie beneath the seabed of this vast wilderness.
Photograph by Björn Eriksson