måndag 18 februari 2013

Save the Arctic training

A few weeks ago I had the oppurtunity to join Greenpeace International and their Arctic team on a 5-days winter training and camping in Norway. In total, we were 21 people coming from different backgrounds with different experiences, gathering as one team to Save the Arctic.

While the majority of the people were project leaders or part of the communications team at Greenpeace, there were also people who had many years of experiences from previous Greepeace actions and expeditions in the polar regions. I met some extremely talented photographers, video makers and people who know everything about logistics and techinical equipment. I was really impressed by all the knowledge and excitement that was collected in the same room!

As young ambassadors there were one girl from Greenpeace Canada, who also represented the indigenous people of her land and one Swedish girl from the Sami people. The person who travelled the furthest was a young man from the Seychelles. Even if he was from the tropical region he was one of the most committed persons to Save the Arctic. I will tell you why later. Then there was me. I was there as a representative of WAGGGS, but also as a young climate scientist. I am a PhD student in Atmospheric Science and Oceanography and I study the Arctic Region specifically.

But why were we all gathered now, in a cold place like Norway in the end of January? The goal of the training was to make everyone familiar with the cold environment including learning how to do cross-country skiing, practice winter camping and talk about the campaign. Even if I’m from Sweden I didn’t have so much experience from skiing before, but I actually learned pretty fast. As long as the surface was fairly flat, I felt like I had control over myself :)

Since I have been a girl scout for many years, I have a lot of experience from camping and outdoor living, so I didn’t think that would be a problem. However, sleeping in a tent when it’s -20°C outside, was a completely different story! Even if I had semi-professional gear and did everything that our Polar guides told us to do, I couldn’t keep warm. Despite that, it was a very nice experience, especially when we were gathered around the campfire exchanging ideas and thoughts about the campaign.

The campaign (Save the Arctic) has been going on for a while now and WAGGGS has been a part of it since we launched the Flag for the Future competition at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha last year.

In the beginning of April this year, this team of well equipped and well motivated people will ski to the North Pole(!) and deploy a time capsule on the bottom of the sea. In this capsule, all the names of the people (at the moment >2.7 million) that have signed the petition to declare a global sanctuary around the North Pole, will be written. Attached to the time capsule, will also be the Flag for the Future, design by a young person representing the future generations.

The Arctic region has experienced dramatic changes over the recent decades, more than anywhere else on Earth. Due to climate change, the warming has been more than twice as large as the global average. Last year there was a new record minimum of sea ice in the area and we will soon (50-100 years) experience summers with no sea ice in the region. This will not only affect the animals and wildlife in the Arctic, but will most likely also change our weather patterns.

These changes opens up for new possibilities in the Arctic Ocean. Due to less sea ice, it will be easier to cross the area by boat and explore it’s resources. Several oil companies have already starting drilling in the Arctic. There is a also a possibility to expand the industrial fishing into the Arctic Region where local people have been fishing in a sustainable way for a very long time.

By declaring a global sanctuary around the pole we wish to stop this exploitation and all multimillionaire oil companies, who only causes more oil, more emissions and a warmer climate. Instead, we need sustainable solutions to meet our energy needs in the future. This is also why this campaign is a global issue and why everyone can take part in it. Because the industry doesn’t only affect the Arctic, it affect the entire globe. This is also why a young man from the Seychelles will ski to the North Pole. He has seen what the global warming has caused in his country.

So, please join us to the North Pole and sign the petition if you haven’t already done so. Also, if you are younger than 26 years old, you can still participate and design a Flag for the Future, symbolizing Peace, Hope and Global community. The deadline is 27th February 2013.

Please, help us Save the Arctic!

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