Most eighteen year olds aren’t willing to jump into politics. In fact, most of us know little more than the name of Canada’s Prime Minister and probably the name of the Queen of England. But about a year ago, I started wondering if being in politics might be able to change the world more than I had given it credit for.
Preparation to physically get to the arctic
I joined the arctic experience and it is playing like a movie screen at the forefront of my brain from time to time. Whether it was the conversations I had, the people I met, or the places I saw, I felt I needed to do something with what I was given. I could use the power of politics, specifically the policy paper, to help bring the poles message to the world. I was thinking.. Climate Change: Efficiency Makes all the Difference. What shall I need in order to start making a change. A will to do it, obviously. But what else should I pack to be most effective? Responding to extreme conditions requires relying above all on specific procedures to guarantee safety, efficiency and efficacy. First of all we need PPE – personal protection equipment, such as not having exposed skin to avoid skin burns from the cold, in addition to having special survival kits in vehicles (lights, water, blankets…), special clothing and work boots (footwear, overalls, coats, gloves, snow goggles) and chemical hand-warmer packets.
Writing the papers
The first thing my friends warned me about was the power of the citation. “Whatever you say, you have to back up. We need to make sure we’re credible.”
Then of course, they gave me the not-so-secret secret to writing something credible: “Read climate assessment reports. Read this. Look into that. Look for something we haven’t found. Look at these credible Recommendation papers. Really, just look everywhere.”
It was about 3 hours after working on the paper for the second night in a row that the true challenge of all the work started to sink in. Late at night with the buzzing of my computer screen giving me a headache, whilst trying to wade through carefully constructed politically correct language, I was beginning to struggle find the most compelling content. Then of course, I still had to make all the little pieces fit together. I kept thinking that the leaders that end up reading this should never have the chance to say, “Looks like a student wrote this, clearly.”
But just before I slammed my laptop shut in sheer frustration, I opened another report, and feasted my eyes on not words, but a centerpiece picture. Like a flashback, I looked at the picture of a toppling ice berg fronting a report, and I was no longer at my computer. I was in a zodiac, reaching out to touch the glistening stuff as it creaked and groaned over the soft growling of the motor. The sound of our friend’s throat singing filled my mind, and the laughter from a long forgotten joke lingered in my ears. I shook my head, cleared my mind, and instead of throwing in the towel, returned silently to my work.
And after getting over the initial hump of the citation hunt, I started to realize how much I personally liked writing the paper. I like to think that when my peers read this they won’t be able to guess that a student wrote this.
Running is my daily meditation. I love getting my runners on and getting through the door for my daily run. However, during the winter period snowfalls are quite common and unfortunately unavoidable part of the experience. And while I don’t actually pop out with the same enthusiasm as when I do in the sunny months, I have few tips that make the whole experience much more bearable, and to some extent, enjoyable.
- Clothing – get lot of layers – underwear, 1-2 middle layers, a jacket. Use gloves and a hat, and plan in advance your daily run. I found that preparing my clothes the night before makes it easier for me, so I prepare in advance and in the morning, I just put them on.
- Wear warmer shoes – nothing makes the experience more miserable than having cold, wet feet when you are few miles away from home. Even if you don’t commit to a full-blown winter running shoes, at least you should pick a warmer pair that addresses your feet health issues, if you have any. There are plenty of different models to choose: from the best possible running shoes for high arches or flat feet to footwear with wide toe box suitable bunions or shoes that care for the heel comfort and suitable for plantar fasciitis, the brands offer footwear for all conditions.
- Choose snow, not ice. Running on ice is tricky and slippery. It is super easy to slip, fall and break a bone or even a limb. Don’t risk it. Go skating if you prefer, but don’t run on ice. The most dangerous situation is when the snow below has melted but the temperatures fall again and a new snowfall begins. It is like a skate ring you can’t see. Stay away.
- Be prepared to fall anytime. It is not embarrassing, just a part of the winter traps. Take precautions like keeping your feet as close to the ground as possible, take shorter steps. If you find particularly icy area, slow down and walk through it.
- Wear high-visibility clothing. Wintertime is cloudy and visibility is reduced. Drivers are often times unable to see people due to the snow blowing everywhere. Consider wearing bright clothes and even flashlights if you are going to hit the road before sunrise or after the sunset. Stay away from troubles and avoid being injured. Just try to remember how difficult it is to spot pedestrian wearing black clothes at night. The same is with runners, except for the fact that they are moving much faster. Just stay safe
- Find the silver lining. Be the person that enjoys dancing in the rain. Enjoy your run. Make yourself little gifts when you reach certain milestones. Reward yourself with fancy bright running gear and footwear. Take lots of pictures and post them on your social profiles to make your friends envy your courage and toughness. Take a good hot bath when you return. Reward yourself with hot sauna once a week. Make snow angels on the way back. Throw snowballs at your buddies. Take your dog with you. Whatever you do, don’t get negative, find the good in the crappy weather. Being positive wins half of the battle. Being tough enough to run in winter shows you are born to be a winner.
Have fun running!
The economy of the US is driven by petrol and oil, and according to politicians and scientists the pipelines, pumping stations are perfect targets for potential terrorists. This is why a new energy plan for powering the country is needed.
One of the ideas discussed by the Congress is drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and at the same time, decisions to cut the funding for renewable energy research and other programs for energy efficiency.
To be able to reduce the dependability on foreign oil is the goal of all these discussions for a new energy plan, but according to the US Geological Survey, the reserves of oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will take 7 years to pump and will be sufficient only for 6 months for powering the US economy.
This is why, more people are opposed to plan to drill the last 5% of the north coast of Alaska which has been left without oil exploration and damaging this national heritage which plays an important role for the web of life in the arctic.
The fact is that there are a number of alternatives to improve US energy security, without damaging the natural heritage. A policy for energy saving and improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses should become a national one. Experts say that a good energy saving policy can actually cut the consumption by one third just for 10 years. This means that the Arctic Refuge can be left unharmed because the energy saved for just a year will compensate for twice as much oil which can be tapped from there.
The Union of Concerned Scientists also concluded in a report that a massive 20% of the energy needs of the US people and economy can be met by applying energy saving policies and using renewable energy sources in the next 20 years.
Also, managing to increase fuel efficiency for cars and other vehicles to about 40 miles per gallon for all vehicles in the US will help save 3 million barrels of oil. Unfortunately Congress refused to approve legislation for increasing fuel efficiency standards and requirements.
Using more renewable and diffuse energy sources like solar or wind energy can help reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on big power infrastructures, such as pipelines, power plants and refineries. The current vulnerability of the energy infrastructure is a fact. This was best proven by the incident with a gunman firing several bullets in part of the Trans-Alaska pipeline which led to the leakage of about 300,000 gallons of oil and closing nearly 17% of the shipment of national oil.
By making a faster transition to using renewable energy sources more the dependence on foreign oil will decrease dramatically and so will the risk of a terrorist attack on the energy system. Plus, it will protect nature and the natural resources of the country.
With the global warming causing severe changes in the weather around the globe, the effect it has on the Arctic is quite dramatic lately too. The temperatures there as well as everywhere are rising and the scary forecasts are that there will be no more ice left in the Arctic Ocean in the 2030’s.
Even though it has been normal for some ice melting to occur during the warm summer season, the shrinking per decade has reached 13%, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is already a global rise in the temperatures, stronger storms and draughts which are lasting longer, desertification and increased acidification of the oceans. The melting of the ice in the Arctic will also affect the climate and all of our lives. Here is why:
- The Arctic ice reflects the sunlight
The lower latitude is the main reason for the colder temperatures on the poles, but so is the fact that most of the direct sunlight there gets reflected directly back. This albedo causes limited heat absorption and keeps both poles cold. Now, the lesser the ice, the lesser it reflects back the sunlight and thus increased temperatures and melting.
- The influence the ice has on the ocean currents
Both the air and the oceans are constantly circulating the heat and looking for balance. This happens by the normal air circulation as well as the thermohaline circulation (THC). The melting ice affects both processes, and causes an overall increase of the global temperature, and it changes the normal wind patterns which cause pushing more ice to the Atlantic Ocean.
- The ice helps insulate the air
The Arctic Ocean is cold, but the air in the Arctic is even colder in the winter. The ice is actually like insulation and keeps the warmer temperature of the ocean from warming the air. This is another reason for the cold temperatures on the poles. Now that the Arctic ice is melting intensively, more het gets released.
- The ice keeps the methane safely away
The Arctic tundra and sediments have very large deposits of methane which is frozen and is safe at its current state. But if these deposits are released they could pose a serious greenhouse gas climate risk.
- The ice helps curb severe weather
It helps prevent longer and stronger storms in the Arctic with bigger waves which can pose bigger dangers.
- The ice supports the native people and wildlife
Living and hunting is more dangerous and difficult on melting ice, so the people are moving out and to higher grounds. Also, the melting of the ice threatens the survival not only of the polar bears, but arctic seals, walruses, whales and all marine life as well.