This town, people are not allowed to die here
Located in Svalbard, Norway, there is a small town called Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is located at 70 degrees north latitude, only 1,300 kilometers away from the North Pole. It is the northernmost city in the world marked by the Guinness Book of World Records, so it is also known as the “North of the World”.
The permanent population of Longyearbyen is about 2,000 people, covering more than 50 ethnic groups. When you go to this small town, 60% of the land is covered by snow and ice. The roads in the town are covered with snow all the year round, and the roads are lined with colorfully painted houses: there are post offices, banks, libraries, hotels, churches, gas stations, restaurants, shops and bars, but there are no trees in sight.
From late October to January of the following year, there is almost no sunrise in the town, and the local temperature will drop to -40 to -50 degrees Celsius at the lowest. Because the night is too long, when the sun rises on March 8 every year, people in the town will celebrate the arrival of this day like a festival—under such climatic conditions, only some moss and lichen can survive.
The high latitude not only brings extreme cold to the local area, but also leaves some strange traditions, such as not accepting death.
It is reported that there is only one hospital in Longyearbyen, where the equipment is simple, and there are only a few medical staff, and they can only deal with some simple injuries.
Pregnant women will go to the Norwegian mainland three weeks before giving birth; when someone is dying, the Svalbard government will airlift them to the warmer capital Oslo for treatment; The bodies were flown by plane or boat to Oslo for cremation. However, cremated ashes can be transported back to Longyearbyen.
Yes, Longyearbyen could not accept death, but there was another reason behind this unnatural attitude.
In 1906, an American businessman named John Monroe Longyearbyen developed a coal mine here, and later he sold the mine to a Norwegian coal company, which named the town where the coal mine is located “Longyearbyen”. “.
Over the next decade or so, due to the rich local coal resources, many conflicts occurred in the fight for the control of this small town. In order to calm the situation, in 1920, the Norwegian government simply declared that it would directly exercise administrative sovereignty over Svalbard. Soon, an accidental discovery made the local government realize that death is a dangerous thing in this place.
In the 1950s, well-preserved corpses of miners were discovered in the permafrost. This incident made the researchers take a breath, because it means that many viruses will also be permanently preserved with the corpse.
Before that, in 1918, a Spanish flu swept the world, killing at least 50 million people worldwide. Later, researchers found virus from that flu in remains found in the Alaskan permafrost. That flu has also killed in Longyearbyen, and local officials fear the viruses will spark a new epidemic as the permafrost thaws.
These worries are not superfluous, because similar nightmares have been played out in other places.
In August 2016, an anthrax outbreak in northern Siberia caused one death, about 90 people were hospitalized, and 2,300 reindeer died. The virus dates back to 1941, and it took 75 years for the region’s high temperatures to thaw the carcass of a reindeer that had died of anthrax before it was re-released into the environment, causing widespread contamination.
Fearful of a new wave of the pandemic, Longyearbyen has decided to close the cemetery. Now, there are still crosses in the local cemetery, but underneath are the ashes of the dead who were cremated in the past 70 years.
Now, a more dangerous signal is coming: Longyearbyen has become the most significant place for global warming. According to a report released by the Norwegian Environment Agency in February 2019, the temperature in the area has risen by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius since the early 1970s, which is two to three times faster than in other parts of the world.
To make matters worse, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, this small town, and the entire Svalbard archipelago, will be warming by 10 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Norway’s climate and environment minister said the region would surely experience a “devastating change” in the future and that this was only the beginning.