Guest Post: Journey to the Top of the World — Arctic Expedition – 2041 ClimateForce
We had the pleasure of having Fidan join the team on the ClimateForce: Arctic 2019 expedition. Fidan is originally from Azerbaijan and has dedicated her life to environmental sustainability. Recently, Fidan released a children’s book titled: The Invasion of the Perilous Plastics.
In this post which was produced in July 2019, she talks in depth about her experience on the expedition and how we, collectively, can contribute to managing climate change. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The Explorer’s Passage
By Fidan Huseyni
Once upon a midnight sun, 86 change makers from all four corners of the globe embarked on a journey to the top of the world, the icy Arctic circle. Our mission to go north was a simple one. We had the ambitiously uncomplicated goal of uniting in the iciest classroom in the world to learn more about the current climate crisis, brainstorm on actionable solutions, and further ignite the fire in our bellies to translate our learnings back home. Little did we know just how profound (& unimaginably fun!) this grand adventure would be. The expedition leaders had carefully crafted a potent formula to take us through the journey of a lifetime, bound to change us forever. Like an amateur food connoisseur, I tried to pick apart the recipe and I identified some core ingredients…
Team Inspire in full force! © Trent Branson
Firstly, pick 86 green hued beings from diverse backgrounds with an insatiable appetite to preserve our planet, and mix together in an isolated vessel in the great wilderness, preferably totally out of reach from the outside world (little to zero internet connection is essential) and leave them somewhere pretty darn frosty. Let the mixture set for 12 days.
Each day fold in 4–8 portions of insightful lectures & workshops. A colorful variety of topics are recommended, such as climate science, leadership workshops, storytelling exercises, renewable energy innovations and motivational talks. The critical element here is for the program to be delivered by a powerful team of experts.
In our instance, the founding member was a captivating gentleman named Robert Swan, after all he was the reason we all got together in the first place. The polar explorer, and the first man on earth mad enough to walk to both the south and north poles!
Here I am with Robert Swan, The Polar Explorer & Founder of 2041 Foundation © Kyle O’Donaghue
Other stellar members of the team included an empowering corporate sustainability expert, a mighty knowledgeable climate change advisor, a mysterious professional storyteller, an uplifting purpose-driven entrepreneur, an inspiring leadership coach, a supportive school teacher, an artful photographer, a charismatic Environmental NGO founder, a scary ex-marine to keep us safe and a wonder woman ops leader who weaved the entire tapestry to life.
Hiking in the Arctic Tundra © Trent Branson
To allow for easier digestion, it’s essential to throw in 1–2 tablespoons of daily activities to lock in the flavors. Hiking in the pristine tundra surrounded by glaciers will connect the beings closer to mother Earth, and further intensify their mission to bring positive change to their society.
© Trent Branson
Kayaking amidst the icebergs to immerse the beings in their environment will energize them beyond belief.
Mama Polar bear with 2 cubs! © Ahmed AlDhaheri
Providing up close and personal encounters with fuzzy Polar bears, blubbery (& smelly!) Walruses, 300 year old whales and fluffy reindeers will bring their inner child out to play and emphasize the fragility of wildlife, and the importance of doing our part to protect them.
© David Hone
The most sensational ingredient of all was in fact witnessing with the naked eye, the ice melting 5 times faster than two decades ago.
© Trent Branson
Discovering the environment where climate change is felt most acutely is a call to action like no other. This tipping point with potentially catastrophic implications for humanity will instill a sense of urgency to drive change imminently in these 86 individuals. In fact some may argue that managing the climate crisis doesn’t concern the planet at all, mother Earth knows how to take care of herself, us humans however depend on this planet alone (until Mars becomes a viable option).
Whilst the formula was almost perfect, I’m sorry to say there was something vital missing. The missing ingredient was the magic key to unlocking the power of the collective. Here is where you come in, yes YOU the wonderful person reading my diary entry, you have the key! We can only change the tides together, for individually we are only drops in the ocean, but as Rumi puts it, together we are the ENTIRE ocean.
We don’t need to live in caves and change our lives drastically to manage the climate crisis. Small changes in our daily lives amount to BIG differences, especially when 7.5 billion people collectively take action, that is where the magic truly happens. So do NOT underestimate the importance of each step you take. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution, it’s as simple as that. Here are THREE ways we can apply a conscious filter to every step we take and make deeper lifestyle changes.
- Adjust your DIET
Consume less meat. Why? Many reasons, including deforestation to make space for cattle, and high methane emissions of animals (they emit terrifyingly high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that causes global warming). I know this is hard, it’s a big challenge for me personally but I am now committed to sticking to locally sourced seafood where possible and eat meat once a month only. Burgers and steak, I love you but I love our planet more. I’m not saying you need to go vegan, you can just cut down on your meat intake to once a week or even less and already make a difference!
Meat aside, we also need to be mindful of consuming produce that is locally sourced and sustainable (to reduce the carbon emissions of its journey to your plate). Get curious with your food, and ask questions!
- Reduce your CONSUMPTION
Consume less disposable and material items in general. We’re really simple beings and the more we spend time in nature, the more we will realize how little it takes for us to be happy and healthy. Marie Kondo your life and keep the bare minimum that truly sparks joy. Apply it to every aspect of your life, your home, your car, your handbag, your office and watch your life positively change.
From a food perspective, we all are starting to *hopefully* kick our single use plastic habit which is great (if you need pointers click here!). Plastic aside, disposable paper cups and other seemingly “recyclable” materials are the next habit we need to kick. Sadly, recycling is NOT the answer. A frightening statistic shows only 5% of recyclable items are ACTUALLY recycled. Imagine that! Where does the rest go? It pollutes our parks and beaches, overflows landfills, creates garbage patches in the ocean, and heartbreakingly invades the homes and the bellies of delicate wildlife.
Get into the habit of carrying your own eco kit to cut down your single use disposables habit. Remember you don’t need to be perfect about it, but continuously trying is what matters.
Pack your backpack or car with a refillable bottle, a portable Tupperware and cutlery set, a tote bag and anything else you might need, and watch the world smile at you.
- Live a more CARBON NEUTRALlife (or carbon negative for the hardcore!)
What on earth does that mean? I’m going to oversimplify here but basically our modern lifestyle means we emit a whole lot of greenhouse gases (that contribute to global warming, mainly CO2) just living the way we do, so we need to calculate our carbon footprint regularly, reduce them where possible and offset the rest (for example by planting trees! Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide!). There are so many easy lifestyle choices we can make and improve over time.
Think about how you can reduce emissions with your food (and where it travels from), your household (and if you can integrate renewable energies to run it), your car (share rides or go electric!), your domestic and international travels, your office and everywhere in between.
There are areas that are hard to compromise (for me it’s traveling and all the flights I take!), and this means we should take responsibility for our actions through balancing our carbon emissions and offsetting them. You can calculate your footprint online (for example THIS website is great at calculating everything from your flight to your food!) You can then decide on HOW you’d like to offset your emissions, either through planting trees (or paying someone to do this for you), or investing in clean energy technologies or other green initiatives.
I hope these tips help, and if you have questions I can’t promise I can answer all of them (I’m still learning too :)), but I will try to point you in the right direction…
Thanks for tuning in Earthlings!
P.S. One central element to this expedition’s success was physically being stuck on a ship in the middle of nowhere, with no escape routes! This natural dynamic set a foundation for respect and allowed us to start conversations, and pick up where we left off throughout the 12 days we were together. It allowed for us to evolve our ideas and continue to synergise from the moment we set sail until this moment and beyond (thanks to WhatsApp groups!). This was such a special factor in brewing our ideas, processing our thoughts and walking away with concrete action plans (and maybe even the reason why we accomplished so much in such little time, as the results wouldn’t be the same sitting in a boring conference centre in a big city with plenty of distractions (e.g. wifi and other people!). Do not underestimate the power of experiential learning.
P.P.S.Disclaimer: A lethal combination of the midnight sun (daylight 24/7) plus the after-school evening fun, means we are all lacking MAJOR sleep so please excuse any madness/delayed reactions/general weirdness whilst we come back to our senses.
P.P.P.S. I am beyond grateful and indebted to every single person who made this experience possible. From the generous souls who supported my journey to get on this expedition in the first place, to each and every person I met on the ship who humbled me with their knowledge and shared their precious time with me, to the hard working people who kept us safe and physically organised the entire expedition, I cannot thank you enough for such a soul-enriching journey. We’ve all made commitments on this expedition, now watch this space as we make things happen!