Heading North

by Mike Dillon

posted on 06-30-2017

This story originally appeared on Mike Dillon’s personal blog.

Later this week, I’m heading north for more than a month. Really north. My travel itinerary looks like this: San Francisco to Toronto to Ottawa to Iqaluit to Resolute to Fort Conger. Fort Conger was established in 1881, by Adolphus Greeley as part of the first International Polar Yearwhen scientists around the world traveled to the Arctic for collective research and study of the environment. (As an aside, Greeley’s expedition is a classic example of the dangers and travails of early Arctic exploration grippingly recounted in The Ghosts of Cape Sabine.)

My journey is for similar reasons. Along with my son and a few friends, we are traveling to the high Arctic to witness and better understand the impacts of the decline of sea ice on our climate. While the calving of glaciers presents dramatic visuals, what is happening with sea ice is far more harmful and insidious. Sea ice serves as a shield that reflects the sun’s rays from the planet – referred to by scientists as the albedo effect. An easier way to think of it is that sea ice is sunscreen for the planet (SPF 10,000). Human activities resulting in the rise of greenhouse gases are removing that layer of protection and our planet is rapidly getting “sunburned”.

Our plan is to start at Fort Conger and kayak south through Nares Strait – the channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Over the course of five weeks we will paddle south measuring the sea ice and the impact of climate change on the Arctic where the temperatures are rising at a frightening pace. There will be just five of us: a biologist and cinematographer, a climatologist, an organic farmer, me and my son. (The latter invited because I am massively out of shape and need someone to paddle my kayak. He’s also pretty good behind a lens – see the picture above.) A major part of our effort will be to create a documentary film about what we see and experience. We are calling the project “Enduring Ice.”

All of our team (along with a host of wonderful sponsors) have contributed to the effort, but we will need additional support especially in funding production of the film. Here are some reasons you might consider being a part of Project Enduring Ice:

  1. Mike, I’ve witnessed your weight gain from the last few years sitting behind the desk. Happy to contribute to help you shed a few pounds through weeks of daily kayaking.
  2. Mike, I’ve been angry at you ever since (fill in the blank). I will gladly contribute to see you suffer through five weeks of arduous activity.
  3. Mike, I’ve been dismayed at the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and I’d like to contribute as a sign of my disapproval.
  4. Mike, I know climate change is real and that human created greenhouse gases are a significant contributor to the problem. I’d like to contribute to raise awareness in others.

Personally, I hope most of you chose no. 4, but contributions for any reason are warmly appreciated.

To learn more, contribute and track our progress, go to the Enduring Ice website.

Lastly, a big note of gratitude to my friends at Adobe. It’s wonderful to work at a place that supports sustainability and allows employees to take sabbaticals to do crazy things like this.

Topics: Leadership, Sustainability