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Arctic Expedition

August 20, 2011

Next Saturday I will begin my trip to the Arctic.

Here is the project I’ve been lucky enough to join.

Tomorrow I will post the route by which I will arrive.

This is the boat!

Just so that folks know – although boats are horribly polluting, they would leave with all their cargo whether I booked a ticket or not – cargo ships are a necessary vehicle of our globalised world. The case isn’t quite the same for planes. Yes it is hard to not visit that loved one; not go on that adventure (though there’s more than one way to have an adventure); not to have a ‘proper’ break but… as the single most polluting thing one person can do – it’s worth remembering that we choose to fly, and that if we were to choose not to fly then aviation emissions just wouldn’t be a problem.

I know this isn’t a position everyone will race to take but – in a world where so many things are out of our control this is one personal carbon footprint decision that will actually make a difference.

Some facts about flying:

The average British person has a carbon footprint of 11 tonnes of CO2 per year (if you don’t eat meat, don’t own a car and don’t fly then yours will be considerably less). One return flight to Australia emits 7 tonnes of CO2. One flight can cancel out a year’s worth of carbon-saving routines.

75% of flights are leisure trips – for better or worse that makes them a luxury.

Nearly 50% of all flights in Europe are 500km or less – it’s a distance easily covered by the train.

Trains emit 20x less carbon than planes

In the UK the average income of people taking ‘cheap’ flights (i.e. easyjet and ryanair) is £47,000. Cheap flights are taken by rich people.

If Europe continues on current trends (and we show no sign of slowing down…) then the EU’s entire carbon budget will be taken up solely with aviation emissions by 2040.

As for the Arctic – I have a lot of reading to do before I can fact you up. If anyone has good websites please re Arctic sea-ice and other effects of climate change then please post them below.

And this is NICO singing about ‘frozen mornings close to mine, close to the frozen borderline’:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 20, 2011 5:22 pm

    I went to an excellent talk by Prof. Peter Wadhams entitled “Arctic sea ice
    and climate change” back in June 2008. He has close personal experience of
    Arctic sea ice including travelling under it in the submarine HMS Tireless:
    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/people/p.wadhams/
    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/pw11/
    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/research/pop/research/tireless.html
    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/research/pop/

    My guess is that if you contact him or the Polar Ocean Physics Group they
    would be able to suggest an excellent reading list.

    If your journey north takes you through Tromsø you might be able to find
    some books in the University bookshop or Polar Museum:
    http://www2.uit.no/ikbViewer/page/inenglish
    http://bit.ly/okwaAE

    The University of Tromsø has a great logo! Might be a good place to get
    some t-shirts or even something warmer.

    Tromsø is also home to the world’s northernmost brewery (and coca cola
    factory):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mack_Bryggeri

    Have a enjoyable and safe journey. Remember that to a polar bear you are
    fast food in excess packaging!

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