When you're as far north as we are right now, communications come to you like telegrams; they're few and far between, and only the most important make it through. So when Steve, the radio operator on board the Arctic Sunrise, hand-delivered me a message today, I knew it was going to be good. "Two million people have now signed the petition to protect the Arctic!"
For those of us on board, this message brought warmth to our hearts. In just a little more than three months, two million people have joined Greenpeace to call for the protection of the very area that we are currently exploring and documenting. We are here on the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise in the Svalbard area of the Arctic bearing witness to the changes caused by man-made climate change. We are very close to where the summer sea ice should be, but isn't.
Up here in Svalbard, where we just had the warmest summer in 1800 years, one can now really both feel and see the urgency to protect this pristine environment. We are calling not only for a ban on oil drilling in the Arctic, and an end to unsustainable fishing in these waters, but also for the northernmost part of the Arctic to be made into a Global Sanctuary, protected for all life on Earth.
Documenting the glaciers and the sea ice is both extremely beautiful and very sad at the same time. The glaciers are absolutely beautiful but retreating quickly, and I don't have words to describe how it feels to see the seals and roaming polar bears on the Arctic sea ice, the same ice that has recently reached an unprecedented minimum.
Some scientists say the summer sea ice in the Arctic might even disappear completely within this decade.
The extremely fine balance that reigns in these harsh and cold conditions is under severe threat from climate change and oil exploitation. And we know that the melting of ice in the Arctic has severe consequences for both the wildlife and the global climate. At the same time, the Arctic nations are looking at the melting ice as a business opportunity rather than a warning sign of a planet in peril.
That is why we are here and that is why your support is so important. We need your help to continue the fight to protect the North Pole and the Arctic for the sake of coming generations. We need your support to send our world leaders a clear message: Act now to protect the Arctic before it is too late.
Together, with you, and with the Arctic millions, we will save the Arctic.
So on behalf of the crew on the Arctic Sunrise: Thank you!
Martin Norman is a campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic.
Photo: ©Naomi Harris/ Greenpeace