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Back in Germany – How I feel now

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Back in Germany I did notice that i finally got my idea of distance back! You don’t have any clue in Greenland about distance so that an envisaged 15 minutes way can take up to one hour or even more. In addition the ambient noise is totally different what is easy to imagine. Cars, the subway and roadworks are the daily sound effects in Germany.

Especially in conversations with my class, with my family or in other groups where nature or the climatic change was part in I feel more certain to comment. Furthermore I noticed that I intervene more often when friends don’t show respect for Nature and the raw materials they bought by throwing rubbish on the ground or throwing plastic bottles in the bin instead for recycling them because it is more convenience. (In Germany you get like 0,28$ per bottle!) What really is noticeable is that particularly the point of convenience is a thorn in the flesh of the improvement in climate change. If the most convenience way was the environmentally friendly one we would have less problems right now.

It is our assignment to get people out of their convenience in which they are right now and to find new ways to make actions for nature more easy and attractive. What really caught my attention in school was when we learned about so called „Nudges“ in economy class. A Nudge should affect the behavior and action of people without them noticing. A succeeded example for a Nudge is that the rubbish on danish streets got reduced for about 40% just by drawing green footprints on the ground who tend to guide to public garbage cans. Nudges find more uses by changing for example the former habits like reduce the wastage of paper by printing double-paged. Printers can therefore be set on double-page from the first. Only people who have an objection against has to change the setup then. Summarized, Nudges are changing habits and are improving them in many ways.

Right now it is important to teach young people and children more and earlier about the topic of climate change and the consequences and also what to do to help.

For the people who already have their own (selfish) opinion about the importance of nature and a lifestyle my message is: turn off your egoism. We are not the only creatures on planet earth and we have the responsibility for the future generations!

Did you know…

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Greenland is the 12th largest country in the world, with a size of 2,166,086 square kilometers, making it the world’s largest island that is not a continent. But also Greenland is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with a population of approximately 57,000. 

landscapeMost of Greenland (about 81%) is covered in ice, except for a narrow strip of coastline around the island, where all Greenland’s cities are located.

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest ice sheet on Earth, behind the Antarctic Ice sheet. The weight of the ice sheet had caused much of Greenland to sink about 300 meters below sea level!

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest ice sheet on Earth, behind the Antarctic Ice sheet. The weight of the ice sheet had caused much of Greenland to sink about 300 meters below sea level!

 

Green exploration in the Arctic

taken at Kangerlussuaq airport

We were lucky enough to be given the chance to stay at a hostel which is own by the world renown polar explorer, Ramon Hernando. Travellers from 10 different countries shared the place. Ramon is known for exploring the Arctic and the Antarctic by using a wind powered sled, which he designed himself. He designed his first wind-sled in the early 21st century, and from then on, it kept evolving. His latest design has 3 parts in it, a transparent tent in the front of the sled for the driver, a supply tent right behind it for equipments and resources, and another tent at the back for people to work and sleep in. He combines the old technology of the Inuit sled with the modern technology of incorporating wind energy. The design is so simple that not a lot of people are interested in it, commenting on it as if it’s not high-tech enough. He feels that using clean energy is the new era of exploration.

A combination of ancient and futuristic technologies is the new way to attain sustainability in this world. Our ancestors knew what they were doing when they first explored the planet. The difference is, their way was only sustainable in their era alone, when global population was not even half of the current status. With rising global population, we can’t simply follow the old ways and assume the planet will still be able to sustain them. I believe the current youth generation has the capability to innovate the old ways into a much a sustainable version for our world.

Nature knows no borders

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When you think about trees, the high arctic isn’t the first image that will pop into your head, let alone tree planting. You might be surprise to hear that some parts of Greenland do have trees. Although they are usually very small and don’t grow very tall due to the harsh climatic condition. In recent years, Greenland’s ice sheet has been retreating up north due to climate change. This increase in temperature, especially in south greenland and the coastal region, has caused a massive growth spurs on the trees around the area.

In the past year, there has been a program to plant more trees in Greenland, for the sake of helping mother nature along in climate change. Young trees which grow on similar temperature and condition in other parts of the world have been transported to greenland for replantation. There has been a total of around 300.000 trees planted in the forest area of Nasarssuaq.

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Prof. Jason Box has personally bought 2000 trees from the US and wanting to plant them in the amount of time we were there. With the help of forestry students from the University of Copenhagen, whom are having the same project of planting 15000 trees in a span of 10 days, we were able to plant all 2000 trees in just 5 days. It was not an easy task as this was a job done by not more than 20 people in total, but the feeling of knowing that in 5 years, those baby trees will grow big enough to reduce the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, was heartwarming.

Planting trees is one of the easiest thing we can do for the planet right now. I personally reckon that it doesn’t matter whether you’re planting trees in your home or foreign country, mother nature knows no borders, your tree will still be acknowledge. So lets start getting those hands dirty shall we.

Climate change – a worldwide problem

About one week ago we came together as a group of 5 people from 3 countries. A mixed group from Australia, Indonesia and Germany. But why is it so important to be that international? It is because we are all affected by climate change, but each of us in a different way. We all have similar fears because we all suffer from it in a special way.

Even when Germany is not one of the countries which is being affected the most by climate change (due to its location in the temperate zone), changes happen. Except for the year 2003, 2015 was one of the hottest years in Germany with a big and long heatwave and record-breaking temperatures from about 36 degrees. This also means that the harvest times for farmers, e.g. for the wine growing will change. Soil erosion will get worse and storm tides will happen more often.

One of the worst things due to climate warming is that the Asian tiger mosquito, which can transfer illnesses like malaria, reached Germany this year.

Aedes Albopictus - the tiger mosquito can be infectous with Malaria and reached germany for the first time this year

Australia is already affected more and stronger by climate change by droughts, tropical cyclones, sea-level rise, heatwaves, bushfires and heavy rainfall. Heatwaves have become longer and hotter. The number of record hot days in Australia has already doubles since the 1990s! Those hotter and drier conditions have contributed to increase bushfire weather risk in southeast Australia. That means that the continued increases in hot and dry weather will likely increase the frequency of extreme fire danger days. In southwest and southeast Australia droughts are also likely to happen more often.

Global sea level has risen 0.2m over the last century and still continues. This will drive major impacts to costal cities.

Indonesia is also hit very hard by climate change. Such as severe droughts, annual floods and intense tropical storms. Floods in Jakarta used to be once every 5 years, but now it is every year.

The increase in seawater temperature is causing major stress on Indonesia’s marine life. Coral bleaching has been spotted throughout Indonesian waters. Deforestation has cause more soil erosion and mud floods across Indonesia’s rural areas as well.

Home away from home

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Coming to Greenland has been insightful and very enriching. We’ve been introduced to a whole new perspective of this vast and remote country. Before it seemed so far away, it was something out of a biology or history book. The ice, When landing in Narsarsuaq we were introduced to a landscape of mountains covered with bushes and trees. Sailing across the fjord at full speed, in between melting icebergs, gave the first real impression of how massive this place actually is, these incomprehensible horizons revealed their true nature while we still went 40 knots across the fjord, now towards the village that seemed only a short trip away from the airport. This village is called Qassiarsuk, now feeling like a second home I have developed a stronger sense of responsibility towards protecting this land. The consequences of carbon dioxide emissions has become a more realistic and urgent issue to me now, rather then a distant and irrelevant problem as i am watching and learning that this landscape is experiencing many negative changes regarding the climate.

 

Capturing Greenland

catching fish

The river, Kuuk, divides two parts of the village in Qassiarsuk. Before it meets the fjord, it intertwines through the farm land, providing the locals with water and food. On the river, I was guided by a local inuit as he taught me how to capture the trout in a traditional way. Although fishing is familiar to me, the experience of catching the trout with my bare hands was a new adventure. The excitement of actually catching an Arctic fish over ruled the cold temperature of the water, and this direct contact influenced me to develop a stronger connection with the water here in Greenland. I often find myself comparing the inuit culture with my own aboriginal culture back in Australia. Surprisingly a few factors of the landscape remind me of my home in the Kimberlies, Western Australia. In contrast, the cultures are different but the importance of fishing remains constant and vital as these rivers feed the local people.

Agricultural hazard in Greenland

photo credits: kevin hendrawan

Sheep farming is the main occupation in the little town of Qarssiasuk. Although in recent years, climate change has causes several problems to the farmers. Droughts are getting more common than ever and it’s been causing a surplus in the quantity of grass for the sheeps to feed on. This results in the farmers having to kill their sheeps and a decline in their income for the next season. Due to temperature rise, the heat has been causing heat stroke to the animals as well.

What an amazing experience!

It was a bitter sweet moment yesterday as I departed the group in Narsarsuaq three days early. It’s been a short but remarkable journey this past week working with four fellow young changemakers from around the globe and a small team of producers, videographers and Professor Jason Box. The last few have been both surreal and eye-opening, and I’ve gained experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

The short film that will be created from this trip will be shown at COP21 – the next global UN climate summit in Paris in December. The team will then come together in the Arctic again next year to shoot an 8-part TV series. I can’t wait — see you all soon!

Greenland’s natural beauty – up close

On our first visit to the tree planting site in Narsarsuaq, we were given some time to explore the area. The surroundings are so magnificant — from the grand mountain ranges to the turquoise blue waters peppered with icebergs — so I quickly whipped out my camera to capture the location. I soon realised I’d spent so much time appreciating the remarkable landscape that I hadn’t looked down at my feet to examine the finer beauties of this unique place — so here are a series of macro shots I took on the surface of Narsarsuaq in Greenland.

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