I am an environmental scientist and I have taken a decision that can be described as utterly unsustainable. I followed my dreams and in a completely self-centred moment, I have booked an adventure for myself on the other side of the globe. Not exactly opposite, but pretty close. It’s going to take a long-haul flight to get there, probably several flights. It’s visiting a fragile ecosystem that is already under pressure from other people wanting their adventure holiday, from industry that exploits the natural resources in the sea, let alone the impacts of climate change. I am going to sail on the square-rigged tall ship Bark Europa to Antarctica – sadly not from the UK, where I live, but from the Terra del Fuego, where I will have to fly to.
I can’t blame you to call this frivolous, irresponsible, egotistical, hypocritical, after all I am talking and teaching about sustainability in my day job and doing THAT in my private life! No, I’m not going to find excuses for this by offering “aren’t we all doing stuff that harms the environment every day, although we know better not to?” I am not letting myself off the hook that easily.
So, as environmental scientist, the least I can do is to share my research, my thoughts and my actions that will attempt to offset that massive carbon footprint I’m about to add to my life, which is, I assume, already sizeable, compared to the average for the 7.5ish billion global citizen. I have also offered to contribute scientific talks and discussions on board. I’ll get my head around the ecosystems I’m visiting and the pressures they are exposed to and will share my points of view. Hopefully, I will find a way to engage everybody in some citizen science and share observations in a meaningful way … I’ve got 10 months to prepare.
And, against all better judgement and rational thought, I’m excited. Very!
Watch this space.
….new post on Carbon Footprint added 14/02/2020!
An afterthought (edited 15/02/2020)
Some of you may wonder what I am on about…what has an environmentally conscious individual to worry about when planning a great holiday? Well, there is pollution in general and the impact of burning fossil fuel on land, in air and water, in general, and its specific link to climate change. I am going to explore all of these issues in more detail in following posts, but to you are unsure about climate change, I’d like to refer you to a series of resources that are a good starting point for adults and children:
- NASA. 2020. What is Climate Change? NASA Climate Kids. https://climatekids.nasa.gov/climate-change-meaning/ [accessed 15/02/2020]
- Project Learning Tree. 2019. 12 videos to help us understand climate change. https://www.plt.org/educator-tips/videos-climate-change-middle-school [accessed 15/02/2020]
- IPCC. 2019. Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/
Detail of iceberg photographed while crossing Sermilik fjord, Eastern Greenland, in the sailing yacht Aurora, August 2017. (c) C Braungardt.