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Posts Tagged ‘Arctic’

In my mailbox, this morning, news from my friend Luc Hardy, on his latest expedition in the Artic:

An international coalition of children exploring the high Arctic witnessed firsthand the latest dramatic development of climate change on Tuesday, July 22 as a huge chunk of ice was observed drifting off the Ward Hunt Island main ice shelf, forming two ice islands totaling 20 square kilometers. The children, assembled as The Young Ambassadors of the Arctic, are part of the Global Green USA and Green Cross Pax Arctica ’08 expedition.

I have followed from a distance, all the media reports on the Arctic front. My friend’s mail brings that reality closer to me, somehow. Climate change is no longer some abstract, future notion. It is happening NOW, and I feel moved. Turning global warming into  a personally relevant issue continues to be a challenge.

This morning’s experience with Luc’s email, confirms the power of word of mouth in persuading people:

Something to consider for the “we” and “Together” campaigns . . .

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The Experts are Unnerved by what’s been happening in the Arctic. Yet another article in the New York Times, complete with cool multimedia interactive window, where you can ‘see’ the extent of the Arctic ice melt over this last summer. Scary thoughts cross my mind, and that’s it.

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The opening sentence in this week’s Economist article on Drawing lines in melting ice caught my attention. It confirmed something I kind of already knew, ‘the Arctic has been a fashionable destination this summer’. Some members in my extended family went, and so did my friend Luc. Traveling to the Arctic has become the ultimate green chic, more than buying the latest Hybrid, more than building a totally green house. It is something to talk about at parties, and an experience only the very privileged can afford. If I had the money, I would probably consider it, never mind all the emissions from all the flying and buying the polar accoutrements for the trip. It is just so cool!

The same is at work when I go crazy for Target’s latest designer. Everyday, I go to the mailbox, looking for my Dominique Cohen jewelry shipment. It’s called fashion, and it is very, very powerful. Fashion has the amazing ability to change people’s perceptions and behaviors overnight. I remember as a child growing up, being so embarrassed by my parents’ lifestyle choices for our family. In the small town where we lived, we were the only vegetarians. How much I resented not being like the other meat eating kids in my school! I thought my father was a freak for having such unorthodox ideas. Years later, in California where I live, being a vegetarian is a statement of ultimate green coolness, and one of the ways that teenagers choose to affirm their independence.

I think about the lifestyle choices I need to make to become a truly green girl, the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – , the small acts in the privacy of my home, the not shopping bit, the driving less, the changing the light bulbs to CFB’s, . . . I think of all those things, and what strikes me is how unglamorous, how invisible they all are. Not to minimize No Impact Man‘s feat, my sense is it would probably be a lot harder, if not impossible, for him and his family to deliver on their promise, if they did not benefit from all the attention from the blogosphere, the movie in the making, and the book to come. For the commoner that I am, there are none of these immediate external rewards, only the satisfaction of a guilt-free green conscience. And that is not enough.

The challenge I see, is how to turn fashion on its head, and use it to our advantage? There can only be one No Impact Man. How can we each capture a bit of that same green glory, and claim it as our own?

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Greenland Ice Melt Speeds Up‘, reads the headline in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. According to the article, There was less sea ice in he Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported. . . “It is very strong evidence that we are starting to see an effect of greenhouse warming,” he (Mark Serreze, senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center) said. The puzzling thing, he said, is the melting is occurring faster than computer climate models have predicted.

The day before, I reconnected with Luc Hardy, one of my old classmates from Ecole Centrale, my engineering school back in France. Luc has been involved with the Sagax Revo Greenland Project. The goal of the July 2007 expedition was to assess the impact of global warming on wildlife and vegetation in Greenland. He told me scientists on the expedition have noticed a strange phenomenon over the last few years. Ladybugs have slowly made their way to Greenland, and are now a part of the ecosystem there.

More alarming facts, and the sinking reality that we are running out of time. Still, frivolity got the best of me yesterday. I ordered two pairs of earrings and a bracelet from Dominique Cohen for Target. And I took Catherine shopping for clothes at Anthropologie. I let myself become tempted by a cute dress, a pair of pants ,and a sweater. They were almost giving the stuff away. Part of me still doubts the clear connection between my spending behavior, and the mounting increase in greenhouse gases emissions. I still have not made mine the Reduce in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

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