Two Day Catch Up: Swimming, 350 and Solutions

June 17, 2008

Every morning at 6.30am, Troels – our Danish ship leader – gives the whole boat a fascinating explanation of exactly where we are (including coordinates, predicted weather conditions etc) in order to make sure that none of us can fall back to sleep after the lengthy wake-up call. The last two days, I’ve managed just that – so breakfast has been at best ‘hurried’ and my morning gymnastics have been left wanting…

If I thought the lecture on geology (rocks) and paleo-climatology (climate over the last million years) was stretching my GCSE Biology, the lecture on macro-algi (large plant life) and marine biology was another matter! Again, what struck me more than anything else is that science is a living thing in itself. It does not give us only answers. In fact – it just asks more questions!

This doesn’t mean that the science of climate change is in doubt, but it does cause potential issues when you want to clearly and easily explain a very complex issue. ☺

Most of today we spent with my old boss who is a Sustainable Development Communicator – so someone who makes a living from finding the best way to get people thinking about, and acting on climate change. Communication strategy might sound like something boring, but when the lecture is called ‘Naked on a Beach’ (referring to something INSANE that happened yesterday…) and involves powerful examples, humour and anecdotes about shoes and pornography – it’s a lot of fun!

On returning from a closer look at sea-ice ecosystems yesterday afternoon, a crazy idea from Oslo came to fruition – we swam in the Arctic. The ocean might be warming up, but let me tell you – it is still bloody cold! The two degrees water wasn’t the worst of it, the standing in my trunks – waiting for the girls whose boots wouldn’t come off, the heavy winds and the ten minute speedy zodiac journey back to the boat, that was when I truly thought I had lost the feeling in my feet forever.

Only this afternoon have I begun to think about time again – tomorrow is our last day on the boat. On Friday I’ll be going back to the UK, with a memory stick full of photos, new ideas and plenty of fire in my belly. Meeting these people – not only the other participants, but those working for WWF, the scientists and the people who work in the Arctic has really given me a sense global community. All of us care about climate change – its about finding which role we play in the solution.

Here’s a little ‘Casper is serious about fighting Climate Change’ photo ☺, where I’m holding up the number 350. Why 350?


Before the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuel emissions were minimal (we burnt some wood – but not coal, gas and oil). Over the last century and a half we’ve been pumping carbon dioxide into the air and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has shot up. Because the amount of carbon dioxide as a percentage is actually quite small (compared to nitrogen and oxygen) we measure the amount of carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm).

Before the Industrial Revolution there were 280 ppm in the atmosphere, the top American Climatologist who works for NASA says we need a maximum of 350 to avoid dangerous Climate Change.

For more information check out

We’re now at 387. And rising.

But we have the solutions!

Renewables. Efficiency. Reducing consumption. Green jobs. Better land usage. Changing behaviours. Binding international legislation. New values. Micro-generation. Local food. Slow travel. Regrowing mangroves and rainforests. Moratorium on Arctic oil and gas extraction…


2 Responses to “Two Day Catch Up: Swimming, 350 and Solutions”

  1. Casper – this 350 photo is awesome. Great post – both articulating the problem we face and the ways to solve it, not to mention the crazy swimming crusade. I’ll shoot you an email from, but just wanted to say this is great.

  2. […] 27, 2008 Wow, I thought we were brave swimming in the Arctic Ocean – but this is just that one step […]

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