Right now I am in the Russian Arctic as part of a Greenpeace factfinding mission. We are near a town called Pyt'-Yah, in the Khanty-Mansi region of Siberia, which is surrounded by Rosneft oil fields, the largest public oil company in the world. This is the oil producing capital of Russia, a country where oil provides 25% of the national budget, while creating terrible inflation and total dependence on oil markets.
As a small team of youth ambassadors for Greenpeace's Arctic campaign begin their trek to the North Pole, I'm reminded of the campaign to save the Antarctic (below), which I led on behalf of Greenpeace in the 1980s.
This weekend, a team of 16 explorers is going to the North Pole to declare it protected on behalf of all life on Earth. Backed by millions, they will plant a flag for the future on the seabed and call for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole.
In just over two weeks I will be standing on the frozen Arctic ocean, preparing to ski to the North Pole. I'll be wearing four layers of fleece and a special hat that someone knitted for me. In my pockets I'll carry some almond chocolate, an iPod, and a declaration of hope for future generations.
So we all know the Arctic is cold and white and in danger from exploitation by oil companies including Shell Oil, right? Not only is the critical ecosystem in dire need of our protection, it also has an endlessly interesting “About Me” section. Here’s what we think are the coolest things about the Arctic we found pretty surprising.
The Arctic has always been a place that inspires the imagination. A great frozen ocean at the top of the world where the northern lights illuminate the sky and huge white bears swim in the icy waters is a place like no other on Earth.
The email was one of those ones that stop you in your tracks: “As a Greenpeace supporter, and newly elected member of the local Greenpeace General Assembly, would you be interested in spending a week on the Arctic Sunrise, investigating the largest summer melt of the polar icecap recorded since observations began?” Despite the short lead time, my answer was a quick Yes!