Andrew’s Fourth of July

by Guest Blogger

July 6, 2005

Normally, the only ice I see on the 4th of July is in a beer cooler.

But this time I went for a walk on a big floating chunk of it.

What struck me most were the winding turquoise streams feeding in to

pools so blue it startles you. Maybe to a Greenlander this scenery is

perfectly common. For me, walking this frozen icescape was entirely

surreal. So, how to describe this scene for those of you who’ll never

get to walk on sea ice yourselves? Well, if I am going to be perfectly

honest, it was like the world’s best ever arctic themed miniature golf

course. Only better.

I will also say that it was surprisingly easy to get around on – not too

slippery at all. There was a light snowy covering, which made for good

traction, except over by the pressure ridge (where the ice has been

scrunched up on itself), which had large ice granules – maybe from

melting and refreezing.

Access to the ice was via a ladder rigged on the bow, which was wedged

up against the ice. Several times, but fortunately not while anyone was

on it, the ship drifted off – leaving the ladder hanging above open

water. Mental note: always good to look down before climbing down.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes we could have used the helicopter or

one of the boats to reach the ice, but in this case a ladder was more

convenient.

Why do it?

An entire ship, with a crew of 27, doesn’t stay parked for half a

day just so the web editor can stretch his legs. This week, leaders

from eight of the world’s wealthiest nations (the G8) are meeting in the

UK. We decided to send a message to help nudge the Bush administration

towards joining the rest of the G8 nations in committing to legally

binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s not an easy job at all, but we were resolved to give it our best

shot – mindful that we need to play our role as part of a much larger

movement towards renewable energy. After a brainstorming session in the

mess, and conversations with the U.S. office, the two messages pictured

are settled on. Polar bears are only one of the many species threatened

with extinction by global warming.

Personally, I liked the idea of using the U.S. flag, and doing this on the

Fourth of July. I’ve always felt that Greenpeace is also part of a much

larger movement of people committed to protecting and exercising freedom

of speech. That the artwork was actually done by a Canadian, the guy in

the polar bear suit is Australian and that there are a dozen more

nationalities represented on board, seems entirely fitting. After all,

people who really believe there are solutions to global warming, and who

really believe in the power of free speech, are not confined to any one

country.

– Andrew

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