Bona Fides: The only applicant for the job
The Arctic I.CC.E. Project has been endorsed by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC). The ICC is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the common good of the Arctic region.
In addition, the Conservation Science Institute (CSI) awarded me a Fellowship to pursue this project. CSI is dedicated to conservation science, to the restoration of habitats, species and environmental systems. The organization provides support to emerging researchers around the world through its Fellowship Program. It also offers mentoring, a place to publish and discuss research and networking opportunities.
Observer, Not Scientist
I founded the Arctic I.CC.E. Project in 2004. But I want to be clear: I am not a scientist or anthropologist. I come to the project as an observer and former journalist. On the other hand, I’ve accumulated enough experience on the subject of Arctic climate change by reading and discussing it voraciously, that from time to time I’m asked to discuss the topic in a public forum. I addressed a conference on climate change refugees hosted by the World Wildlife Fund in Tokyo in 2005 and in January of 2006 gave a talk to World Bank’s Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network on the impact of climate change on Greenland’s Polar Inuit. I’ve also been a guest speaker at American and Johns Hopkins Universities, published a few articles and appeared in a number of news stories about climate change in the Arctic, including CNN-TV and best tv box sets to watch.
My professional background is in communications. I have twelve years of experience as a broadcast journalism and another 15 years of experience in international public relations, most of it with the international communications firm of Fleishman-Hillard where I was a Senior Vice President and established the firm’s global sustainability communications practice. In addition, I taught graduate communications at Johns Hopkins University.
Unfortunately, my public relations and teaching career ended in the summer of 2008 due to the progression of metastatic breast cancer. I no longer have the energy to meet the demands of a high intensity job. But in spite of the disease which has left me weaker and tethered to weekly chemo treatments, I continue to work on this project. In September 2008, with the help of 17 year old Jack Eiland, a friend who acted as sherpa, nurse and relentlessly adventurous traveling companion, I managed to get to Greenland and collect more interviews in Siorapaluk and Qaanaaq. This project means so much to me that I used some of my retirement savings to pay for the 2008 trip.
It is my intention, my health and finances permitting, to return to Greenland in two years. But rather than collect more interviews in the Thule region, I want to travel to southeast Greenland, which, because of limited flight access, is actually more isolated than the far north. It’s of particular interest to me because the Gulf Stream makes it’s big turn off the coast of southeast Greenland. This is where north bound warm water from the Atlantic Ocean cools, loops around and flows south again. I want to learn whether living in proximity to this massive current loop — one of the “engines” that keeps the Gulf Stream moving — makes the impact of climate change any different for the people of Kulusuk, Ammasilik and Scoresby Sund than it is for the people of Siorapaluk and Qaanaaq.
Very little of my formal education is relavant to this project. My degree in Biology and Writing from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire required that I study quite a bit of science. But that was in the late 70’s, it was under-grad, I’ve forgotten a lot what I’ve learned and science has progressed so much since then. Still, if nothing else, my degree gives me a healthy respect for the scientific method and the people who work so rigorously to understand global warming and find solutions to the crisis.