It is Day 41 of the expedition and we have arrived at our northern most destination Lands Lokk, which is Otto Sverdrup’s furthest north which he obtained on May 6, 1902, so just a few days before we arrived.
2012 was a year for the record books. It was the hottest year on record in the U.S, the Arctic sea ice shrunk to a record low, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are now losing three times as much ice each year as they did in the 1990s, and global sea levels are rising faster than predicted.
As the signs of a warming world become increasingly evident, our work becomes even more critical. This is why we are investing in innovative solutions to climate change by working directly with people on the ground – from educators, to youth, to decision-makers.
Our annual report is now available which covers our activities and impact from September 2011-August 2012. In it you will find a host of examples of how your support of the Will Steger Foundation translates into climate action and leadership. The report includes stories of youth leaders taking action on their high school campuses, at climate conferences and in their own non-profits. There are examples of educators inspiring their students to connect with the outdoors to understand what a changing climate means for their region, as well as engaging them in climate adaptation and mitigation activities. Finally, the report shows how our elected officials responded to citizen support of clean air policies administered by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the health of our children and families.
2013 will be the year we take climate action seriously. On Friday, the third National Climate Assessment was released. In short, this draft report reinforces the certainty within the scientific community that the climate is changing, and makes a compelling case that significant and urgent action is needed to address the root causes. This federal climate assessment projects temperatures risings as much as 10°F by the end of the century if emissions aren’t reduced sharply.
Reducing carbon pollution and switching to clean energy is the way forward. We already have the technology, the ingenuity, and the solutions to modernize our energy system. Numerous polls report a significant rebound in the recognition of climate change by Americans over the last 3 years, particularly among Republicans and the skeptical. Surveys also reflect growing public support for action by Congress and President to address climate change. Surveys also reflect growing public support for action by Congress and the President to address climate change. This is going to be a major year for progress on climate.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
Carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic have now reached 400 ppm and climate scientists consider 350 ppm to be the safe level to avoid catastrophic changes. What does this mean? It means a number of important things – but what stands out is that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today is the minimum level we’re going to live with for the indefinite future since it will stay there for hundreds of years. It’s as though you gained the most weight in your life, and knew you’d never weigh even a single pound less, ever.
Yes, this is a very alarming reality. However, at the same time we are finding ways to reduce our energy consumption and empower action at the local level. We were part of a group that brought former Colorado Governor Ritter to Minnesota to learn and share ideas on how we can continue to lead on a clean energy economy through strong policy, including areas like energy efficiency, conservation and renewables. We also took a tour last week of the Audubon Center of the North Woods – an education partner and potential host-site for our educator professional development opportunities on energy and climate change. We were impressed by their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by 80% in 10 years! They have made a variety of simple, inexpensive energy savings measures like insulation, low-flow water systems, and replacing all of their lighting prior to implementing renewable energy sources. Once they reduced their energy use as low as they could, they then implemented a geo-thermal heat pump system, solar PV arrays, solar hot water heating, solar air heat, and a wind generator. With these changes the Center has already reduced their energy use by over 70% and drastically reduced its dependence of fossil fuel sources of energy. We applaud their efforts as an example of what can be done to lessen our impact.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
Updated: Watch videos from The Changing Arctic Event! Over 80 people joined the Will Steger Foundation and partners for a thought-provoking conversation on The Changing Arctic on October 27th at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
This weekend and into next week we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Will Steger's North Pole Expedition. The reunion will be an opportunity to reminisce and remember their unbelievable journey and "...accomplishment; the first confirmed trek to reach the Pole without resupply, [which] was deemed by National Geographic "a landmark in polar exploration." It is also, however, a sobering reminder that due to unpredictable Arctic ice conditions attributed to climate change, it would be very difficult for the North Pole expedition to be completed successfully today.
If you plan on visiting the Minnesota History Center's Family Day (May 15 from 12-4) dedicated to the North Pole Expedition Reunion, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the Arctic, how it is being impacted by climate change, and why it should be of concern. If you are looking for more resources about the Arctic and climate change you can learn more through our Arctic Community Curriculum. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report is also very comprehensive if you are looking to go more in depth. Finally the NOAA Arctic Report Card is a great succinct update of the most recent environmental changes to the Arctic.
- Topic Arctic
- Expert Kristen Poppleton, WSF Director of Education
- Resource Type Blog
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