Posts from Thursday 2 Oct

The volume of one tonne of CO2

Global warming installation by Sunand Prasad

During the voyage I am working on two projects. The first is to put up in a suitable and sheltered spot further north, four balloons such that a volume of 540 m3 is delineated between their tether lines: the volume of one tonne of CO2; the average emission per person per month in the UK. Within a few years we must make that same amount last 6 month.

Lun’art by Creatmosphere
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Busy days

So much has happened onboard and on shore these last couple of days, that I find it very hard to keep up with my blog update. Sorry sorry!!!

Since I did my Carbon Emission piece on Monday, there has been quite a lot of debate on board, especially after I read my blog Justifying bad behaviour to the group after dinner. In response to Pie and Miss Lake’s comments, a few people on board were quite upset by my gesture, they thought it was outrageous. But generally I got lots of support for what was perceived as thought provoking and courageous. What I have consequently learnt, is that we usually get upset for what we can tangibly see and feel, not necessarily for what we know. Some of my fellow voyagers were upset about my piece because they could visualise that black ‘nasty’ cylinder full of CO2 in a way that they couldn’t, if I told them that every time they drive their car for 30 miles they emit the same amount of carbon dioxide. So I wonder if the societal shift that I was advocating with my performance could be achieved if we would find a more direct way to visualise the Carbon impact of the resources we use! Any ideas?
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Fjord Haven

Into the second half of the expedition the focus has moved on from assimilating masses of experience and information about the geography and culture of these parts, to what our own response to climate change might be. 46 is a lot of people to relate to but there are some interesting discussions happening at mealtimes, or in the bar or walks. Some of the musicians, like KT Tunstall, are already very conscious of their carbon footprint, reducing flying to a minimum and following a gold standard offset scheme. We don’t need an outpouring of climate change related songs and artworks; it could be embarrassing. The experience of this voyage is such a visual and sensory feast that its impressions will certainly influence people’s work, though not necessarily as climate change. Works like previous Cape Farewell expeditioner Ian McEwan’s forthcoming novel on climate change will be rare, and that is fine. What many in this crew have is access to a huge global audience that they are able to inspire. They are in a strong position to communicate not only the urgency of the condition we are in but also the huge scope for action that almost everyone in the world has, both collectively and individually.
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QA – the next answer

Juan’s question
You are all truly inspiring people. Now, I’ve just returned from the 
Youth expedition and I learned my fair share from the Arctic beauty 
and from the other voyagers, but what do you all have to say to the 
youth around the world?
 Any tips or plans for us to share with our schools?
 Truly appreciate it. I am excitingly following your trip, and I hope 
we get to talk about both of them one day.
 Good luck…

Hannah’s response
Hi Juan,
Thanks for your questions and for taking part in the youth expedition, please check the education section of for various resources, ideas and activities for schools, our ambition is that climate change is taught right across the ciriculum and not only restricted to being taught in isolation in say science or geography lessons. Climate change is a cultural issue which demands a cultural response – it requires a creative approach and we hope that our education programme will help achieve that in schools and young people. But you have to do your bit too! Now you have returned from the Arctic it is up to you to share your stories and lessons and help others to understand the beauty of what we stand to lose.
What do ‘we’ have to say to the youth? Perhaps the question you should be answering is what do ‘they’ have to say to ‘us’!

Perdlerfiup Sermia Glacier

Perdlerfiup Sermia Glacier

Woke up with a belly-full of metaphorical tequila. Still feel the shape of the balloon-dog heart in there, but feel altogether better about that. I know it’s good to feel this.

Snap, snap, walking in a Baltic alien landscape and still the grass grows through the snow, all that life that waits patiently beneath for endless sun. Dark red berries fresh under foot stain the powder like blood and trigger thoughts of the hunting that goes on here.

Blood on snow is a disturbing picture, and one that says much about our situation as humans on a planet straining to meet our needs and greeds. But the Greenlandic skill of using every last scrap of animal and knowing what to use it for is undoubtedly impressive.

Glaciers, gigs and giggles

Oh my gosh I am in the Arctic. It’s my third day here and I am still a little overwhelmed. And cold. We just went out in a motorised dinghy and I saw my first ever glacier. As we approached this giant wall of ice, there was a sudden explosion, a loud crashing sound, followed by a mini avalanche and a minor tsunami as a large section of ice cracked off the glacier.
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Deploying the Sparker

Carol Cotterill and Dave Smith deploy the sparker, which uses acoustic pulses to image the sea bed and sediments below the sea bed. Video: Matt Wainwright.

The first time I used in a text the words ‘climate change’

Yesterday I buried my mother’s jewels on Northern Glacier. I was Lucky. A few  meters further south and I would have landed on  Starvation Glacier.

She had a dream. Go to the North Pole. It was a part of our life: One day she would go. She died two years ago having preserved her dream. I guess  that’s why she never went.

I never had this dream. It was hers. But I was invited to go to the North Pole. And may be I went a little for her. To take her there.

In my suitcase : a photo, a necklace, a ring.

I chose a portrait of her in the snow. Winter holidays.
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Ship of Fuels

A trip to a glacier edge in small rib boats. At last geology lessons of decades ago make sense. Film and photos can’t begin to capture the scale.

Plenty of talk on responsibility and how (and whether) people manage to justify our own ‘climate tour’. I could do with some help from my colleague Stephen (that’s Stephen Peake: for the non OU readers – Stephen is a climate change policy specialist who used to work with the UN’s policy body the UN FCCC).

Read on and more of Joe’s posts, and his colleagues’ responses, on the Science, Technology and Nature Blog.
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Sermeq Avangnardleq Glacier

The Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier is retreating
Walking near the mouth of Sermeq Avangnardleq Glacier.

Sermeq Avangnardleq ice cave is affected by climate change
Ice cave formed near the mouth of Sermeq Avangnardleq Glacier.
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Successful Landing

Perdlerfiup Kangerdlua is a remote fjord at about 710 North and two glaciers discharge into its Y shaped end. The smaller of the two has retreated about 2 kilometres recently leaving a beach with a shallow foreshore. The larger still maintains a 100 metres high 3km wide calving face to the water, beyond which we can see the land based part of the glacier perhaps 500 metes above the fjord. It’s an amazing sight but always at the back of the mind is the possibility that the glacier may calve any second, sending out a very dangerous tsunami. Such an event left 20 people injured on one of the sister ships of the Grigory Mikheev last year and we maintain a respectful distance staying at right angles to the face as far as possible.
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A Search For The Meaning of Life

Today we went ashore and I directed a performance of my 365s: A Search For The Meaning of Life. It was beautiful and energizing to work with so many members of the expedition on a theatre piece. Laurie A was played the part of the “finder” which gave me a special joy.

Read about Suzan-Lori Park’s previous day.