Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From Kenya to Kikuru (Baffin Island)

Today Kuria reflects on his trip to the Arctic. He does so in Kikuyu, his native language, English and Swahili:

Rugendo raw guthii gitingi kia rugongo nirwacenjirie muturire wakwa na njira nene muno tondu uria nature ndiciragia riu tiguo ndireciria. Nihotete kuona mbere muno ota uria gikuyu kiugaga ati muthomi mugi aikagia maitho kabere. Mbere iyo itanathii rugendo ruru ndionaga mbere ya iniuru riakwa ndaturite ndikunikiire gikorogocaini kana njera nini handu ndirerorera muturire kamwanyaini na ritho rimwe.
Undu wa bata muno ndathomire ni ati no muhaka ngoragwo hindi ciothe ndugamite
wega ta njamba gatagatiini ka andu othe na hote gucenjia uria andu maikaraga muno makiria kuiga bururi wi mutheru na kuhanda miti nigetha ikahota kugucia mbura. Thi no kuhiuha irahiuha niundu wa kwaga kumimenyerera. Mbarabu iria iturite kuu riu ni yambiriirie guthira kwambiririe kugia na urugari thi yothe. Tugukirora naku twarega kumenyerera thi ino twaheirwo ni Ngai witu. Andu othe nondimorie maige bururi wi mutheru ota uria mahota.
Ningucokeria Ngai ngatho muno na andu othe aria mandugamiriire na magituma thii rugendo ruru. Aria othe maturugamiriire na gutuhe indo iria ciothe twendaga cia guthii. Na muno makiria njokerie Sebastian Copeland ngatho cia mwanya niundu wa wira munene andutiire wa kuona ati ndi na kindu giothe, kunumbuiya ta mwana wake, na kemenyerera hindi ciothe. Ngai aroromurathima.
ifundisha kutokana na safari hii ni kuwa na tumainifu nikiwa kwa jumuiya ili tuweze kubandilisha mazingila. Watu wote wapande miti na waihifadhi, na tena waweke nchi ikiwa safi. Mwenyezi Mungu alitupatia tuihifadhi.
huku wote walionisaidia nikaweza kwenda kwa hii safari. Shukurani nyingi Kwa wote tulipoenda na wao, wadhamini wote, hasaa Sebastian Copeland aliefanya chochote kuhakikisha nimeenda naye na nimepata chochote nilipohitaji. Alinifanya mwanawe na sitasahau kamwe.

This expedition changed the way I think about life and helped me arrange short term and long term goals.
I never really looked out of the bubble of my life and when I did it never took as much effect till I went on this expedition. One of the things I learned on this trip that keeps me confident while back in society is greatness in building consistency at all times not just a moment. It definitely changed my life in a positive direction. I would like to thank Sebastian mostly for including me in this life changing experience. I would also like to thank everyone that invested in this trip and all the sponsors that sponsored us also. I also want thank everyone that experienced along with me because every single individual taught something different. I wish we spent more time together in the North Arctic as a group because getting to be with a group of people for three weeks builds up the relationships tremendously. I loved every second of this trip. Seeing global warming with my eyes helped my ability of expressing the way I feel so now when I tell people of ways to help prevent global warming, it makes me feel great.

Safari hii ya boriti kaskazini ilibadirisha mafikirio yang ya maisha na ilinisaidia kubadirisha vile ninaweza kuona maisha yang ya leo na miaka ijayo.
Mbeleni sikuwa na ona mere, nilikuwa nimejisingila na mafikilio ya hapa na leo. Nilipokuwa ninajaribu kufikiria juu ya maisha ya miaka ijayo, sikuweza kwa sababu ya visuishi vingi mpaka nilienda kwa safari hii ya boriti kaskazini. Kitu ya maana sana nilijifundisha kutokana na safari hii ni kuwa na tumainifu nikiwa kwa jumuiya ili tuweze kubandilisha mazingila. Watu wote wapande miti na waihifadhi, na tena waweke nchi ikiwa safi. Mwenyezi Mungu alitupatia tuihifadhi.
Ninas nilipohitaji. Alinifanya mwanawe na sitasahau

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wally Broecker receives Balzan Award

Back in the spring, my daughter Flaam and I had the chance to have a very interesting guided tour of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory with Peter DeMenocal
We are happy to hear that Wally Broecker, who works there) has just won the prestigious Balzan Award for science achievement http://www.columbiaspectator.com/node/55639
He is also the author of the recently released Fixing Climate. He is famous for coining what many consider the first use of the phrase “global warming” in a 1975 article.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

La Société de la Terre Plate?

''Il nous reste sept ans pour inverser la courbe des émissions de CO2''

Rajendra Pachauri préside depuis 2002 le Groupe intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC) dont les rapports ont posé scientifiquement la réalité du changement climatique.

Le Monde : Que pensez-vous des doutes exprimés par certains sur la réalité du changement climatique ?

Rajendra Pachauri :
Ils sont marginaux et reflètent le plus souvent des intérêts particuliers qui redoutent d'être pénalisés par la transition à une économie décarbonée. Mais, objectivement, il n'y a plus de place pour le doute. La science a apporté tellement de preuves. Nous n'avons plus besoin d'aucune démonstration pour savoir sur une base scientifique que le réchauffement climatique est en cours et que l'essentiel de ce réchauffement est le fait des activités humaines. Mais il restera toujours des gens pour le contester. Il existe encore une Société de la Terre plate, dont les membres continuent et continueront encore pendant des siècles de nier la rotondité de la Terre...


Saturday, September 13, 2008

more on Gov. Palin and Alaskan Bears...

From today's New York Times:
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that it would cost $468,784 to process his request.

When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show. [...]

Full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?hp

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Drill, baby drill...

A great comment from my dear friend Fran Dorf's blog, re Thomas Friedman new book Hot, Flat and Crowded... (http://frandorf.com/)

On going green, Tom Friedman calls John McCain “bloody dishonest.”
Posted: 09 Sep 2008 08:50 AM CDT
Yesterday on NPR, in an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, Tom Friedman, Pulitzer Prize winning NYTimes columnist, told it like it is on the absolute necessity to go green. Although I definitely disagreed with him on the lead up to the Iraq war (which I always thought not only incredibly stupid but a strategic and moral catastrophe, and he originally supported), Friedman remains among the most brilliant commentators we have in this country. Friedman ought to be required reading (or listening) for every American. Here are a few memorable (approximated) quotes from that interview that drill down (you should pardon the pun) the problem with electing John McCain:

When I heard Rudi Guiliani lead that crowd (at the Repub convention) in chanting “Drill Baby Drill,” I thought, what planet are these people inhabiting? It’s as if on the eve of the advent of computer technology, the Republicans were out there saying “Let’s stick with the IBM Selectric Typewriter.” Type baby type. Type. Type. Type.

If the Petro-dictators–the leaders of the world’s most repressive, anti-modern, anti-woman regimes like Saudi Arabia, which we’re supporting by our addiction to oil, either foreign OR domestic–were up in the bleachers at that convention, they would have been giving each other high fives! They WANT us to remain focused on fossil fuels.

We ought to be promoting fuels from Heaven (wind, solar, etc) rather than fuels from hell (fossil based)

John McCain, whom I used to respect, has been ‘bloody dishonest.’ He’s making people stupid, and it’s frankly disgusting.

John McCain’s support for lifting the federal gas tax for a summer giveaway was absurd and misleading.

We ought to have 100000 innovators working in 100000 garages.

The current tax and production credits for wind and solar energy expire on December 31. A bill to extend them has been brought up in Congress eight times and John McCain didn’t show up to vote eight times. Obama showed up three times and voted to extend. So now, at this crucial time, the solar and wind innovators in this country are at a dead stop, frozen. Nobody is starting new projects. This makes no sense at all.

President Bush claimed we have an addiction to oil, but do you think he invited all these senators, Republican’s and Democrats, to Camp David and said, “Let’s work it out.” Do you think he lifted one little finger, one pinky to help?

Remember when Ronald Reagan pulled Jimmy Carter’s solar panels off the White House?

When Reagan canceled Carter’s tax credits for wind, Denmark bought the top American wind company and now has the largest wind company in the world.

Now WHICH party and WHICH Candidate are green? George Bush (and John McCain, his twin) don’t want to work it out because the Republican party (of which John McCain is a bonafide member, matter how much they try to distract you with their lipsticked Pitbull and claims of being energy savvy mavericks and change agents), is completely in the pocket of the big oil companies. Make no mistake. The only change they’re going to give you is to move even farther to the right than even George Bush. It’s amazing: Here we have a candidate John McCain who’s made a completely irresponsible pick for Vice President, and in addition has picked just possibly the most anti-green person he could have found. Apparently, in addition to her extremist views on religion, book banning, teaching creationism in school as science, her belief that you can turn gay people straight, and so much else, Sarah Palin also apparently believes global warming isn’t man made. Great. While the rest of the world is moving forward in science and technology and medicine, we’ll be increasing our deficits as Republicans always do; restricting the most promising line of medical research, stem cells; continuing to consume oil at a planet-killing rate; teaching Adam and Eve as science to our young people; arguing over gays; adding to the world’s overpopulation in a resource limited world by pushing abstinence only and restricting access to sex education, birth control and abortion. Now that would be a catastrophe. And the Republicans continue to live in a fantasy world and insist that America is still and always will be the world’s “leader,” and call anyone who would dare speak truth unpatriotic.

To hear the whole Fresh Air interview here’s the link on NPRhttp://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=4&islist=true&id=13&d=09-08-2008

Be afraid, people. Be very afraid. Bush calls us the angry left? But I’m not angry, I’m mostly just sad. I grieve for the demise of this country and this planet. But instead of fighting as we go down, some of us will be chanting “Drill Baby Drill.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Already, in 1897...

From Uncle Vanya (1897) - Anton Chekhov: A quote which could have been written today:

"Human beings have been endowed with reason and a creative power so that they can add to what they have been given. But until now they have been not creative, but destructive. Forests are disappearing, rivers are drying up, wildlife is becoming extinct, the climate’s being ruined and with every passing day the earth is becoming poorer and uglier."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Northwest Passage AND Northern Sea route BOTH open...

"Leading ice specialists in Europe and the United States for the first time have agreed that a ring of navigable waters has opened all around the fringes of the cap of sea ice drifting on the warming Arctic Ocean.

By many expert accounts, this is the first time the Northwest Passage over North America and the Northern Sea Route over Europe and Asia have been open simultaneously in at least half a century, if not longer"

Full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/science/earth/07arctic.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=northwest%20passage&st=cse&oref=slogin

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How did the bear die?

Remember this dead bear we discovered on July 15? We thought it may have been killed by an adult? Well here is a suggested explanation from Dr. Ian Stirling, one of the world's top authorities on polar bears:

"Without being there it is hard to be sure what happened to this bear but it seems unlikely to be the victim of predation as it appears the whole carcass is more or less intact and that the hair has just rotted and fallen off the skin beside the body. Usually, if a larger bear has killed a smaller one, it is dismembered and eaten or at least partially eaten, resulting in parts of the skeleton being spread all over. This animal looks like he might just have starved and died lying on its stomach or side. Males often chase 2 year olds away from their mothers in spring to free them up for breeding but killing the young one is rare."

Dr. Ian Stirling is a Scientist Emeritus with the Canadian Wildlife Service. His research has focused mostly on Arctic and Antarctic zoology and ecology. He is an adjunct professor in the University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences. Stirling has written three books and nearly 200 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has written and spoken extensively about the danger posed to polar bears by global warming. We thank him for his feedback.

Friday, September 5, 2008


A great article today (Sept. 5) on the NASA/Earth Observatory website, in part based on our field work at Ward Hunt Island this Summer. Thank you to all the Pax Arctica children for their hard work: Amber, Ashley, Alexa, Olympia, Mark, Kuria, Beth, Aïnhoa and Flaam:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Map of the expedition

This is a map showing the different locations where the Pax Arctica expedition did go this summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scientists Report Massive Ice Shelf Loss During Summer of 2008

As you may know our Pax Arctica team was the first on the ice to witness the dramatic events which have occurred on the Ellesmere ice shelves this Summer. They were even more dramatic developments after we returned. The losses have been terrible this season as described in the report below and on the maps and photos at the following links:
The photo on the right, taken by us on July 21, 008 shows the eastern portion of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf with Cape Albert Edward in the background before widely reported calving of roughly 20 km2 of the ice shelf. The photo on the left shows the same view in mid-August, 2008.

Canada’s Ice Shelves Lose 23 % of their Area, Number Reduced from Five to Four
Tuesday, September 2, 2008, Peterborough, Ontario

Following the widely reported July calving from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in the Canadian Arctic, massive changes have occurred to ice shelves located along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island. The entire 50 km2 Markham Ice Shelf broke away in early August and is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean. Two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, shrinking this ice feature by 122 km2 (60 %). The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf also continued to break-up, losing an additional 22 km2.
“These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic,” said expert Dr. Derek Mueller, who has been studying the far north of Canada as the Roberta Bondar Fellow in Northern and Polar Studies at Trent University. “These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present.”
This summer’s ice shelf loss totals 214 km2, which is over three times the area of Manhattan Island. The detached pieces of ice shelves have broken into numerous ‘ice islands’ (tabular icebergs) whose fate could take many forms. “They could circulate in the Beaufort Gyre and float along the northern edge of the Queen Elizabeth Islands toward the Beaufort Sea or they could enter the Canadian Archipelago,” explained Dr. Martin Jeffries of the US National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks, and who has studied the Ellesmere ice shelves since 1982. The Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada, is tracking the broken pieces.
“Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer” explained Dr. Luke Copland, Director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. “And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years”. This means that Quttinirpaaq National Park, Canada’s most northerly, may soon lose its last remaining ice shelf after the loss of its other ice shelf, the Markham, this summer.
Only recently named for a respected Arctic scientist, Harold Serson, the Serson Ice Shelf dammed a 76 km2 freshwater lake measuring approximately four meters deep that sits atop the sea water. The loss of this rare ecosystem is a possibility since it is dependent on the ice shelf staying intact. Dr. Warwick Vincent, Director of Laval University's Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet, has been studying the ecology of northern Ellesmere Island for more than ten years. He has just returned from his latest expedition to the area, where he observed dramatic changes along the coast. “These ice shelves are formed from the Arctic's thickest and oldest marine ice” he says, “and the extent of their loss this season is significant. Unique ecosystems that depend on this ice are on the brink of extinction.”
The Ellesmere ice shelves are composed of ancient sea ice and accumulated snow along with glacier ice in some cases. Up to 4,500 years old and approximately 40 m thick, these features are vastly different from ordinary sea ice. More than 90 per cent of Canada’s ice shelves have been lost over the past century, with most of these losses occurring during a warm period in the 1930s and 1940s. Temperatures in the Arctic are now even higher than they were then and a period of renewed ice shelf break-up has ensued since 2002.
This research was undertaken in collaboration with the Canadian Ice Service with logistical support from Polar Shelf (Natural Resources Canada) and the Canadian Rangers (National Defence). Luc Hardy of Pax Arctica, an initiative in collaboration with Green Cross International, provided photos and satellite imagery. Financial assistance was provided by ArcticNet, Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.

For further information including satellite images and photos, please visit: www.trentu.ca/iceshelf, www.ice.ec.gc.ca

Or contact:

Dr. Derek Mueller
Geography Department
Trent University
Peterborough, ON
Tel: (705) 748-1011, ext. 7153

Dr. Luke Copland
Department of Geography
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON
Tel: (613) 562-5800, ext. 2826
Canadian Ice Service, Ottawa, ON
c/o Environment Canada Media Inquiries
Tel: (819) 934-8008

Dr. Warwick Vincent
Centre d’études nordiques
Université Laval
Québec, QC
Tel: (418) 656-3340

Dr. Martin Jeffries
National Science Foundation
Office of Polar Programs
Arlington, VA
Tel: (703) 292-7442