I'm writing this inside a small yellow tent on the frozen Arctic Ocean, while shoveling snow into a kettle. I'm on my way to the North Pole with a group of young people to declare it protected and call for a sanctuary there. Today was hard, with giant pressure ridges of blocky ice barring our way and a strong southeastern wind pushing us backwards. But we're not alone -- we have millions of people behind us, and instant satellite communications. Where past explorers faced the utter strangeness of this great wilderness, I can now reach any other person on the planet in seconds.
It's easy to think that we have overcome nature, that we have mastered the art of survival and will never look back. Meanwhile, the earth on which we live is once again announcing its supreme relevance. Since the invention of the mouse, we've lost three quarters of summer Arctic sea ice. This region is warming faster than any other on earth, marking the release of each new iPod with a new record in temperature extremes, habitat loss, environmental crashes.
Hashtags won't fix this. At some point we need to take action, to stand up and be counted against the brute force of the oil companies, lobbyists and politicians who willingly pollute our climate system. They repeat the same defeatist mantra -- 'we'll need those fossil fuels for decades to come' -- despite knowing the terrible human costs of this approach. They rely on passive acceptance of the fossil fuel age, despite the massive untapped potential of alternative technology.
I'm with four young people here in the Arctic to draw a line in the ice. We're putting ourselves in the way of the oil companies who want to drill here and exploit global warming to cause more global warming. We sense a great change in our culture, a renewed connection to our earth that is powerful, vital, and ancient.
Some people will call us naive; others hopelessly misguided. Many will patiently explain why drilling for oil in the melting Arctic is inevitable, others how future generations will thank us for ignoring the best science of our age to generate billions in profit for the richest companies on earth. But I hope many more will see what I recognize every day in my teammates here on the frozen Arctic ocean -- quiet integrity. They embody the words of Arundhati Roy, words that are inscribed on a special capsule containing nearly three million supportive names that we will place on the seabed:
Another world is not only possible, she's on the way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.