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Arctic Update from Johannes

Johannes, 16.06.2008

Before answering the questions readers of our blogs raised, I want to give you a quick summary of today.

Our 6th day started as usual, with a lecture, this time Solitair Townsend, a communication-trainer from London, told us how to talk to leaders in politics and business. I think that was quite important, because we all want leaders using their power for combating global warming.
In the afternoon we landed at Snatcherpynten, Recherchefjord and walked up to a moraine of the Renard Glacier. We climbed the glacier and had a magnificent view of this nature.

In the evening the crew of the ship prepared a surprise: we had a barbeque (!) in front of a great landscape with glaciers and high snow covered mountains. While eating we just had nice conversations and enjoyed the sunshine.

But now I want to answer your questions:
“Gerry B” asks which “submarine” we used and if it is something special about the Arctic.
I think you have seen the photos of our first Onboard-Day. On this day (Wednesday) we had a safety and lifeboat drill. So we had to embark in the narrow lifeboats, which probably on the photos look like submarines.

Gerry B also wanted to know whether we had special fitness training and tests.
Although some trips are a bit exhausting, we did not partake in fitness trainings or test. When we applied for the voyage there was only the note that every participant has to be healthy and fit enough to go to the Arctic.

Ann likes to see photos of the seal and the reindeer(s).
Unfortunately we currently do not have the communication possibilities to load up extra pictures. But as soon as we are back in “internet territory” we will make sure to show you more pictures. Until then check out
Pictures on German blog
– our German blog for more photos.

“Tom” wants to know why the Sami are suffering from global warming and why they aren’t happy about things warming up.
As I/ we already mentioned in the blog the Sami have several problems probably caused by global warming. Let me give you an example which was given to us by the Sami Olav Mathis Eira, reindeer-herder from North Norway. In the 1990s several times it rained during winter. The last time that happened was in 1918! This caused several problems. As the rain froze on top of the snow cover forming a thick hard layer, the reindeer where unable to dig through the snow and to find food. Furthermore reindeers had trouble to walk on the frozen rain. According to Olav Mathis Eira this probably led to a severe decrease in reindeer during the 1990s. Nearly everybody sees global warming as the cause for these incidents, which occurred several times in the last 20 years.
Another example is that oil-companies began to exploit the nature because global warming makes it easier and, of course, cheaper to use the natural resources in Norwegian and Swedish arctic regions. This industrial development destroys valuable nature and at the life of the Sami people because they depend on the intact nature here in the Arctic.

And a PS from Irene, your Ice-Blogger in the background:
The Inupiat in Arctic Alaska are another indigenous group affected by climate change, as you may have read on this blog.
If you listen in to this week’s edition of Living Planet, you can hear a feature about my visit to the Inupiat with a field trip from the Ben and Jerry’s Climate Change College.
Here’s the link
Radio Feature on the Inupiat of Arctic Alaska and Climate Change
Cara,Erika, Jakob, Aart – you’re all in that feature, you were great, and I hope you’ll be listining in!!!
Marc and Michel from the Climate Change College (currently up there in the Arctic!) – you’ll be proud of them!!


June 17, 2008 | 10:03 am



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The Polar Bear and the Prime Minister

Greta, 14.06.2008

Still we are here in the Arctic, the place which occupies one sixth of the Earth’s surface.
And so many things have happened since the last time we blogged.
Actually the things that you would most expect to experience in the Arctic happened to happen to us.
We saw him, the big white fluffy one – as our guide always uses to say. The polar bear. It was an unbelievable experience which we will probably never ever forget until the rest of our lives. Another unbelievable fact that the head of the WWF Arctic program had told us in the morning in his lecture is that if we don’t take action on climate change now and all the ice will melt the polar bear is not going to be able to live in the arctic regions anymore. Until 2040 two thirds of the polar bear population will have vanished. We should not let this happen.
In the afternoon we still had a lot of other great “arctic-experiences” like seeing a walrus and having a zodiac trip in between a lot of sea ice and glaciers. Incredible how beautiful this is.
Today we were taught how to talk to climate change critics.

Some people might try to tell you that: “Global warming is natural. There have already been a lot of other times in the Earth’s history where the same thing happened just as now.”
Here is what you might answer him: ”You are absolutely right that there have been changes in global temperature over time! But what is happening with our planet at this moment is definitely not natural. The speed of increase in greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented and we know that these are man-made. If we burned all he fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal it would take the Earth’s natural system 100,000 years to store the carbon we have blown into the atmosphere.”
At the end of our trip we were planning on meeting the Norwegian prime minister. Unfortunately he told us that he will not have time to meeting us the day we will be back in Oslo. So we were thinking about ways how we can try to convince him to give us some of his time.

Dear Jens Stoltenberg,

We are the students of WWF’s Voyage for the Future, a 10-day boat voyage in Svalbard, Norway. We represent nine countries with vested interests in the Arctic. We have come together because we are concerned about the many issues regarding the Arctic region, including climate change. On our trip, we have come face to face with these problems and discussed many potential solutions that we would like to share with you.

You take a break for summer. Climate change does not. This summer, Arctic sea ice levels are predicted to be the lowest in history by far. Youth in every corner of the world consider climate change to be the defining issue of our time. Thank you so much for your help so far in tackling the climate crisis, particularly your pledge of 15 billion NOK to end deforestation. We propose a meeting with you to discuss your continued role in a sustainable future on Friday, June 20th, before we return home to our respective countries. Would you prefer a meeting for breakfast or lunch? Thank you for your time.

The WWF Voyage for the Future:

Maria Waag – Norway
Karl Oskar Teien – Norway
Evanne Nowak – Holland
Michiel Jansen – Holland
Greta Hamann – Germany
Johannes Barthelmess – Germany
Emma Bierman – United Kingdom
Casper ter Kuile – United Kingdom
Jeremy Brammer – Canada
Jayme Collins – Canada
Sven Heijbel – Sweden
Nanny-Maja Anderback –Sweden
Ekatarina Levitskaya – Russia
Dmitry Vladimirov – Russia
Yuriko Murakami – Japan
Shunta Takagi – Japan
Ben Wessel – United States
John Monaghan – United States

If you want to see our open invitation to the prime minister (which is pretty cool though) check out this video. We want to reach as many people as possible. So be part of our climate change movement!



June 17, 2008 | 9:34 am



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Ship, Snow and Svalbard

Our first day onboard of the ship „Aleksey Maryshev”:

In the morning Dr. Martin Sommerkorn a WWF-scientist gave us some interesting facts about “Arctic and global warming”. For example the arctic permafrost stores large amounts of methane. If the permafrost would keep on melting this would cause big problems for our planet, because methane is about 22 times worse for our climate than carbon dioxide.
Although the facts are quite important to understand the topic “global warming” a walk to a snow-covered mountain was my today’s highlight.

After going off-board by zodiacs-boats we had a walk to a snow-covered mountain. While walking we saw some reindeers running on the snow, admired a young seal swimming just in front of us und had a great view over several glaciers.
This nature we, the 18 “Ambassadors for the Future”, want to be saved by the whole world by combating global warming. Therefore I say to you: let’s act together now in order to conserve our unique planet!

Bye for now!

PS: If you want to have some more information about our trip go to Voyage for the Future (in German!)


June 13, 2008 | 11:44 am




First Steps in the Arctic

First steps in the Arctic
written by Greta

Hello from Svalbard, Spitsbergen.
Now it is already our second day up here in the arctic. “We”, that is Johannes (18) from Bavaria and Greta (19) from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. We are the two so called “Ambassadors of Change” chosen out of lots of applicants from Germany.

On Monday we set off for our “Voyage for the future” – a trip together with 16 other young people from all over the world (Great Britain, Russia, United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Japan and the Netherlands). We all came here to find solutions and ways of combating global warming. As we are all young adults between 18 and 21 years we all are very concerned about our future and what the head of states are planning at the moment.

If we make a difference maybe our governments will start to make a difference, too. That is what we want to show the world out there. Making a difference is not that difficult! During our journey we will talk to a lot of scientists and other people who are very involved in climate change and in the arctic so that we will have a good basic knowledge about the arctic and climate change.

So probably you might already be very curious about what we have been doing until now. On Monday we went from Frankfurt to Oslo where we spent our first night and met all the other highly motivated Ambassadors of change. The next day, on Tuesday we finally arrived in the arctic. Even the view out of the airplane window was already stunning.

After we checked in at Mary Ann´s Polarrigg we went to the University of Longyearbyen.
Longyearbyen is one of the very few settlements of Svalbard – a town with almost 2000 inhabitants coming from 40 different nations. There we listened to a lecture by Olav Eira, a reindeer herder from the indigenous Saami people. (Reindeer photo in previous entry, scroll down the page). He told us a lot about how climate change impacts his everyday life. It was so interesting to see how he and the other Saami live and at the same time it was sad to experience that exactly those people who contribute such a little to global warming suffer more from its impacts than we do.

In the evening all of us kept working on our blogs and most of us totally forgot to go to bed. That is because there is no night. Or let’s say there is no darkness since the sun never sets.
So people got a bit confused and all of us were really tired today in the morning. Of course this did not stop us from having our next adventure.

A local guide showed us a bit of Longyearbyen and its landscape which is just sooo beautiful.
Of course we used that opportunity to take a lot of pictures. As for example in front of the “Be aware of polar bear”-sign. The guide had to carry a gun because there is always a slight risk that a polar bear could find its way to Longyearbyen and then you would be facing a tough problem.

In a few minutes we are heading off for the ship. That is going to be the main part of our journey and it is definitely going to be very exciting. And you guys should just keep on following our cool and interesting blog where we will tell you about all our adventures.


June 11, 2008 | 3:54 pm




Arctic Svalbard

Greta and Johannes should now be on board their ship.
Sounds like they’ll be busy for quite some time today before they get time to blog.
In the meantime, I’d like to respond to Eliza Honey, who says she loved the photos on the Ice Blog but dreads the message. “Early reading of books re;Antartica and the Arctic were a formative experience in the late 40’s. As old age approaches and the chaotic world continues on its path to destruction I wish strength to your arm and those dedicated people around you. Keep up the good work and more photos please”, says Eliza.
Well, Eliza, while we wait for our dedicated young “ambassadors” to send us their first report from Svalbard, Spitzbergen, here are some more pictures which I took during a trip to the scientific research base in Ny Alesund, Spitzbergen, this time last year.
There is a “flash gallery” with more if you click here:

Pole to Pole Slide Show

The runway at Ny Alesund – cleared of snow in June.

The “3 Crowns” at midnight

Views from the Monitoring Station above Ny Alesund

A Svalbard reindeer, in Longyearben.


June 11, 2008 | 9:38 am



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