I just submitted an application to be part of the Institute on Science for Global Policy’s Climate Change Arctic Program, possibly for the second time.
Several months ago, there was an article in the Tampa Bay Times about the excursion and how it would include 15 residents from Pinellas County. While the program piqued my interest, I think I only half-heartedly completed the application, I might not have even submitted a complete response, which made today’s email from one of the local leaders regarding conference planning that much more surprising.
Here’s a bit more detail about the program. Throughout 2015, the institute (ISGP) will hold conferences in various U.S. and Norwegian communities with a focus on how climate change will affect personal and community choices. The conferences will allow regular-ole-citizens like me to debate and converse with scientists and policy experts. In 2016, one hundred of these conference participants will be invited to sail on board a Lindblad National Geographic Expeditions vessel on a trip to the Arctic.
Without a doubt, it’s the chance to travel to the Arctic that is most exciting for me. In researching some travel destinations, I had come across a cruise to the Antarctic (other side of the world, I know), and I thought it was absolutely fascinating. However, as I researched further, I discovered that these cruises are contributing to the destruction of an already fragile environment, and as a person who wants to travel responsibly, I crossed that destination off the list. To have the opportunity to visit a place on the planet like this, and with scientists specializing in climate change, is honest-to-goodness a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The lead-up to the trip, the conferences in 2015, will include debates with those scientists. The ISGP is looking for a variety of viewpoints to include on their arctic expedition, and I’m suspecting these conferences, with their discussions, will be used to flush those opinions out. I’m not at all certain where I’ll fall within the spectrum of conference attendees. I remember learning about climate change in the third grade, but being told by Mrs. Morris that I didn’t need to worry, because any effects were a good 50 years away. Here it is almost 30 years later, and I do worry. I worry about our house, our neighborhood, our city, and our state. Florida is such a vulnerable region and to be living on the peninsula within the peninsula makes it doubly so. On a more emotionally charged level, I struggle with the idea of having children in a world that could change so drastically in the matter of a single generation. Could I handle the guilt of bringing a child into the world if that world is destined to go down the crapper?
So I’m looking forward to the conference, which according to today’s email will be in October. Could it be a coincidence that I started this blog AND got a gift subscription to Scientific American for Christmas AND made it on the ISGP’s email list (even if I didn’t complete the full application the first time around)?
Let’s hope not.