Archive for June, 2008

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A: Knock, knock.

June 30, 2008

B: Who’s there?

A: Lettuce.

B: Lettuce who?

A: Let us in with our petition!

Dreadful joke, we know.  But it’s the best we came up with at the time…personally I needed a wee and was wondering if Number 10 would actually let me us their toilet…=)  Nah.  Never would they!

Today we visited Number 10 Downing Street.  We took our classic photographs in front of the famous black door, behind which one of the most politically important men, certainly for the next 18 months lives – Mr Gordon Brown, our British Prime Minister.

But it wasn’t all about standing and looking pretty, we were there to hand in WWF’s ‘Get on Board’ petition – which urges Gordon Brown to strengthen the Climate Change Bill by setting at least 80% reduction targets, and including the emissions from international aviation and shipping from the outset.

There were over 8,300 signatures, so thank you to everyone who signed!

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Who Accepts Failure?????

June 30, 2008

We won’t.  Young people will not accept failure from global governments ‘acting on our behalf’.  Failure by global governments, including the UK means not meeting necessary targets to REDUCE POLLUTION (carbon emissions need to fall by AT LEAST 80% of 1990 records by 2050).  So far we have a poor record, but this is not good enough and young people from all around the world are speaking out to voice that this is unacceptable.

We are seeking a shift from a restricted representative democracy which essentially seems to make our views redundant apart from voting every 4-5 years to a participatory democracy where we want to actively be part of the decisions that are made that affect us.  (To read more on democracy check out this cool article.  And nothing is going to affect us most that the issue of climate change.  Yes, politicians have a responsibility to make the right decisions, but if we do not act now and today to ensure they do so, it won’t happen.

So welcome to the UK YOUTH CLIMATE COALITION (YCC).  We are not the first one and we won’t be the last.

YCC’s exist already in the USA, Canada and Australia as far as we know, and Casper and I, now that we have returned from the Arctic are getting the ball rolling for the UK’s one.  It’s great.  We spent all Saturday brainstorming ideas (or ‘thought-showering’ if I’m going to be PC) and eating the world’s best chocolate biscuits, thanks to Marks and Spencer.

 

This is the deal:

We are setting up a united coalition of diverse young people, from a wide variety of organisations voicing our generational concern on climate change.  The coalition is not just for young environmental organisations, but is going to be cross-sector, demonstrating that this matters to all of us, no matter our interest.  We won’t take this issue lying down! =)  It’s going to be true to our generation and organic and OPEN!

Any thoughts or ideas welcome.  The more brains the better.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it in coming weeks…

“We will see each day that we work on this as a victory in itself and know we are part of a wider movement!” – Casper Ter Kuile

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My Arctic Family

June 30, 2008

My Arctic Family compiles of every single inspirational person I met in the Arctic.  The people I was privileged to meet: the other 17 young people on board, the WWF staff, Icentials, the media teams, the ship staff, the lecturers who shared their knowledge and experience, everyone who supported us and read our blogs and Dr Neil Hamilton – the director of the WWF Arctic Programme.

Last Wednesday Casper and I had the privilege to share a platform with Neil talking to WWF-UK staff about our trip and the outcome.  It was fantastic to be able to talk to our first warm audicnce.  I was more nervous than I had anticipated, and I think I was most afraid of being unable to convey what this trip meant and the urgency of the challenge we are facing.  But for a first attempt, I think it went well.

I’ve realised that TALKING is the most important thing we can do.  People learn most and are most influenced by the people around them.  So although I find it difficult to condense our experience in such short spaces, that’s the trick to nail.  So I’m trying just that – to nail.

But I want to talk briefly about Neil.  Neil is one of these inspiring people who works tireless on fighting the damages we are doing to our planet.  Speaking to him makes you understand the urgency of this issue.  And I was pleased to hear his presentation once again at Panda House because his concern and passion is unmistakeable.  To meet Neil is to meet a man who is deeply concerned and troubled by this issue and works tirelessly to share his message, that few know about – this year might be the first ice free Arctic, which means you could sail across the north pole.  The implications of this are devastating.  I admire his devout commitment and love him for having faith in us to carry on the message.  If you met him, I think you’d almost want to fight this issue for him.  He, like many other champions, need a global team of citizens, fighting a game that we simply can’t lose.

I’d recommend you watch a short lecture he made to the Arctic Frontiers 2008 Conference if you want to know more about the implications of the Arctic from the man himself.

We finished our day at WWF-UK with Green Fingers all round the office, people naming their children and polar bears and making bread as things that would be protected if we stopped climate change.  I wonder what would be protected for you if we prevented global warming hmmm?  For the CEO of WWF-UK, David Nussbaum.  That day, mine was my Arctic family.

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You ask the questions

June 30, 2008

So the blogs been a little slower than usual, which is poor show, but that’s mainly because Casper and I have been busy follow up voyage activities.

One of these activities, revolves around BBC Question Time – the Thursday night BBC political panel debate on current affairs where it’s the public’s turn to ask the questions.  For only the second time ever, members of the public have been invited to sit on the panel.  I’ve been lucky to be shortlisted to the last ten to appear on the programme and fingers crossed I get the opportunity.  But I can only do so with your support!  So I encourage you all to take a peak at the website and watch the videos that all the candidates have made.  I would of course love it if you were able to back me by leaving your opinion comment on the web.  I think it is excellent that such a popular political programme is encouraging youth engagement, as an important contribution to participatory democracy.  Something I feel we lack too often.

Here’s my video for your own viewing:

I’d like to highlight that although I highlight that I am in the Arctic, I talk about climate change as an EXAMPLE of one of the most important issues of today that we should be discussing.  I am aware that this programme is about current affairs and I look forward to discussing issues such as Zimbabwe, education and what ever pops up that week!

To leave a comment and watch the other candidates’ videos, please go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/schools_question_time/7460834.stm

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The Green Finger never fails to make you smile…=)

June 24, 2008

Being back home inevitably means the highs of such a voyage will slide at least a little down a slope, if not a lot.  So as I’m feeling a little low and I’m about to go to bed after vigorous climate discussions this evening, (provoked by Arctic stories), I watched the short but sweet GREEN FINGER video.

It never fails to make me smile.  I simply love it.

What would you save from global warming?  You too can make a Green Finger video…

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Time to Score the Biggest Goal of Humankind (19.06.08)

June 23, 2008

Whilst everyone else is pushing for the goals for the country they are supporting for the European Cup 2008, I’ve found my own goal.

It’s called COPENHAGEN 2009.

Since disembarking the ship, we’ve been wrapping up our voyage with a final lecture on marine mammals, finding out about the effects of melting sea ice on more animals than just the polar bear.  So many animals are reliant on sea ice, including fish, seals and birds.  The warming of the oceans has also seen an increase in the number of present sharks in the Arctic who are also affecting the food chain – ravenous, they are gobbling up seal and fish populations.

Even more so, we’ve been brainstorming where we go from here.  As I’ve said above, our ultimate goal is to secure a legal global binding agreement within the next 18 months at Copenhagen 2008.  Here, crucial talks by the United Nations Convention for Climate Change will take place to decide the follow up to the Kyoto Protocol.  In coming years it will run out so we need something bolder and stronger internationally to cut carbon emissions.

For me we need to work hard for a social movement that will put pressure on governments worldwide to make long-term decisions about people and planet.  They have a responsibility to make the right choices, and we have a responsibility to encourage them to do it.  Politicians are so scared of a backlash from voters, but we need to let them know that this is what we want them to do and what they have to do.  This is is their opportunity and their legacy.  Being green does not mean bad cut backs.  It can mean an easier and more economical lifestyle, and greater community relations.  Never before have we been faced with such a challenging task – asking politicians to plan now for effects that we will see most strongly in forty years time.  But its possible.  We just need to get all our friends, family, and peers on board.  It doesn’t matter how we do it, as long as we do do it.

As for our voyage group, we now have a valuable network between us that we plan to exploit.  We want to share ideas, keep up each others motivation and spread our message globally.  I can truly say I am a privileged individual to have had such an eye-opening experience and met such committed and energised people.  It is sad for our group to move on.  But we are only sad because it has been so good, which means this voyage has been a success.

With every one of us with our personal strengths, together, we hope to make Copenhagen a historical moment.  Bring it on! =)

 

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Basic is Beautiful (18.06.08)

June 21, 2008

I love meeting down to earth people.  I think we all do.  And today I met two people who gave me faith about world leaders.  What a perfect way to end this chapter of the voyage.  I learnt from them that more people than just me believe that simple life can be a wonderful life.  Being in the Arctic, commodities are not as widely at your access and humans like us who are especially not used to these conditions are challenged in a way that makes basic needs almost your only needs.  I’ve not been a Polar explorer but, I’ve heard stories from people who have been and suddenly things such as food, water, sleep and security become your most important things.  Indeed, you don’t even have to be a Polar explorer, you might be a young climate refugee from Bangladesh having to look after your younger brothers and sisters, fighting disease and find shelter having lost family members and all your possessions.  Your basic needs might well be similar.  Only you didn’t choose that course of life like an explorer did and you’re not half as prepared.

We left the ship today, (I’m still rocking).  This has been sad, but from a positive point of view.  It has been sad only because it has been so good.

We had one of our last lectures today from the God of glaciology.  He told us about the trends of glaciers.  Their global recession = rising sea levels, and this is due to warming global temperatures.  And there is no evidence of any glaciers gaining any extra mass.  This is a problem.  On average glaciers in Svalbard are receding by ½ a meter per year, but individually, some are receding as much as 2 meters per day!

And despite my poor results of whale spotting (everytime one was seen, I was never around), we did see a 3 year old whale skeleton on a beach.  It looked like a minky whale and was massive.  It was just fascinating to take a look at its jaw and spine.  Just imagining how big it must have been – a spine I couldn’t even get my two hands round.  A polar bear had been spotted a year before around September eating the remaining meat off it – this is because of the lack of summer sea ice, therefore the bear was likely to be hungry, unable to hunt for seals.

To finish off today’s blog, why don’t you check out the video made by our wonderful camera crew about the voyage…