At 10am on December 19th, 2011 I received a call from Al Gore. I was at the gym when his secretary, Beth, who has a sweet Tennessee accent dialed me asking if I had a few minutes to speak with the Vice President. Of course I said, I don’t care much for squats anyway.
Over the next 3 minutes I listened with a dropped jaw as the iconic voice of environmental protection, conservation, and climate change invited me to join him on a once in a lifetime journey to the icy blue bottom of our warming green earth. Antarctica.
The goal he said, is to see for myself, up close and personal, one of the most important places on the planet, while learning from top scientists and researchers, all of whom have decades of experience in the region, how rapidly our climate is changing and what it means for the world as a whole. He kind of went on and on as if I needed to be convinced to go on a trip like this. I actually stopped him. I’d caught wind of this event a few weeks prior and was honored that I’d been selected to go.
And so, for the past 40 hours now, I’ve been earning my sea legs on board the National Geographic Explorer, a Lindblad expedition ship that set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina on Sunday. By the time this is posted, I will be on thin ice. Literally.
For the week to come I’ll be exploring the Antarctic Peninsula with The Climate Reality Project, an assembly of minds gathered here from all over the world that works as a kind of floating symposium, much like the TED talks series. In fact, a few of my favorite speakers from the TED series are here, like the brilliant neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor and the famed National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, who’s been giving me photography lessons.
Our mission is to download information and ideas from one-another in order to return home with stories and solutions, that which might wake up the world to the very serious climate issue.
What’s the issue? In my opinion, it’s food.
The moment the weather goes, so too does our food supply. Droughts, floods, rising sea levels, the change of ocean salinity, all goes against our ability to drink water, grow food, and sustain human life. Sure we can eat processed food, or each other, but I’d rather learn and apply the common sense ways to reduce and/or stop my carbon emissions altogether and live in harmony with the planet, the place that we are a part of, not separate from.
We are not passengers here. We are earthlings. This is our home. The mother from which we sprang. We can be as vital to her system as the sun itself. And we are! Yet, at the moment we’re acting more like a disease than ass-kicking white blood cells. What’s it going to take for us to collectively wake up and make a difference that actually makes a difference?
I’m here to find out.