Andrew Segrave's Blog
Hello one and all,
Much time has passed since my last entry, and a lot of things have happend.
Climate change is the word on everyone's lips, which is truely inspiring!
Now it's time to translate this awareness into action!
While working at a scientific knowledge institute in Utrecht, I've been undertaking future studies for the Dutch water sector.
As you can imagine, climate change and the imminent energy crisis are significant trends and hot topics!
I've also just bought a house! Which is significant because I've entered a whole new world of opportunites and obligations to consume.
When asked "What is the root cause of climate change?", a standard answer is "CO2".
At the moment it is crystal clear to me that the real cause is our lifestyes: our whole paradigm for existing.
But we can change this for the better!
This is what I wanted to share with you, along with a reference: http://www.thebreakthrough.org/images/Death_of_Environmentalism.pdf
they are forced to think about the basic things
like water, food and shelter
all the rest is meaningless
until these things are secured.
"For the last 10,000 years Earth's thermostat has been set to an average surface temperature of around 14°C. On the whole this has suited our species splendidly..."(1)
In this calm, mild climate humans have developed at an amazing rate, and have learnt to exploit Earth's resources in a highly organised way. This has allowed our population to increase exponentially (with our basic needs satisfied) and we now inhabit most of Earth's land surfaces. Amazing when you think about it!
We have also developed systems that can provide seemingly infinite 'things' for anyone who has enough money to buy them. By creating our own (anthropogenic) systems, which exploit and destroy Earth's resources without restoring them, we have unbalanced all of the natural processes (including the climate). Such systems, like those that use coal and gas, are called 'unsustainable' because the resources they use will run out. Luckily there are natural, renewable alternatives like solar and wind energy.
By disrupting Earth's natural processes we threaten our own security and livelihoods - particularly for the poor majority. Apart from being unethical, this process is irrational and uneconomical...but there is an answer! (o: Change how we think about energy, and then change how we make it and use it. This is easier and cheaper than many people think - we have many of the technological solutions already! This in one step in the 'Sustainable Development' movement that will become increasingly important and intense over the coming years.
See the film below for one example of how close people live to the environment in Greenland. These people are experiencing dramatic changes to their lifestyles caused by the initial effects of climate change. We will experience these significant changes later. Because, aside from the scientific reasons, we have abstracted ourselves from our environment with so many man-made systems. But by the time we are affected by these changes it could be too late to do anything about it. So let's act now!
(1)Flannery,Tim. 2005. The weather makers: the history and future impact of climate change. The Text Publishing Company. AUS.
Climate change is also and issue that is characterised by extremes. Some people say that we have already triggered the processes that will bring serious changes, like a 7m rise in sea levels, and there is nothing we can do about it. Others say that we don't need to do anything because the changes are natural. As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. One thing is for sure: The current rate of climate change is very extreme, and it is certain that humans have caused this by increasing atmospheric CO2 levels so much.
My stance on this issue is far from extreme. There is a serous chance of irreversible climate change occurring, and the consequences are too extreme to delay taking action until the scientists can exactly define them. We need to act now. Climate change amplifies the extremes we already experience here on Earth: Hotter summers, colder winters, longer droughts and more devastating floods. As a result, the poorer and more vulnerable communities will become even poorer and even more vulnerable. Extremes are amplified.
At the moment we are supporting the scientists in their brave endeavours to make more precise predictions, but the future always holds uncertainties. What is most important is RISK. When we return to The Netherlands we will begin our campaign to take action against serious Climate Change. For this we will need your help. But for now keep up to date with what we are doing here. This is an amazing place…breathtaking. I am learning more each day.
Eastern Ilulissat: Diskobay House is painted in the colour of the soft morning sun that scatters into blinding white light as it reflects of this raw and frozen landscape. The howls of huskies echo around the rocky snow-clad hillsides that stagger down to the icy water. Jagged icebergs define a dramatic horizon with soot-black clouds looming out from behind them. These colossal chucks of ice draw me in. Their breathtaking size is awesome, yet their significance is more than that. I feel a sort of spiritual reverence for these floating remnants of the ancient glacier.
We drive around the township in an old Toyota bus. Our Italian tour-guide, Silverio, navigates his way over the slippery roads. The bold spattering of houses painted in primary colours (red, green, purple, blue) make the pastel shades of Italy seem pale. The maximum speed limit is 40Km per hour, and there is a ‘splash-fine’ for anyone who drives through a puddle next to pedestrians. The brown slush on the roadside makes me realise that a warmer arctic just isn’t on - it’d be worse than warm beer!
In the overwhelming torrent of new experiences and impressions, there is one that I will never forget. On our first day here we took a boat-trip from Ilulissat to Rodebay; a tiny village with a population of 40. This astonishing place is only accessible by boat, and the trip there aboard a gorgeous little red fishing boat was indescribably beautiful. The soft ‘clunk’ of smaller icebergs knocking against the hull. Surrounded by nothingness. Gigantic ice cliffs shining in the sun. I feel like I’m moving through an oversized film-set like the ‘The Trueman Show’. When we arrive in Rodebay a recently slaughtered seal is being sold in chunks by the roadside. The smell of drying Halibut fish is strong, and our lunch is a bazaar seafood feast including chewy blocks of whale blubber. Life here is extreme.
Can you believe I saw energy efficient light bulbs for sale here in the tiny general store?
If they can do that here, then we can do it anywhere.
Dog-drawn sled trips over the mountains. The thunder of icebergs crumbling. The view from our hotel window. The flight here, when I realised how enormous Greenland really is. The humbling experience of standing on the edge of a fjord. A trip to the aquamarine Russels Glacier. This adventure is beyond words – so take a look at our film files! I will leave you with a short reflection. The bison-like Muskox here have a white patch on their backs, which they use to regulate their temperature by controlling blood-flow to this cooler area. Greenland is the ‘white patch’ of the northern hemisphere, and without it our climate will become chaotic
That is all for now, but I will update it soon from the ice-sheet! So thanks for taking the time to read this, and remember – Never whistle at the Northern lights…They are spirits in limbo.
The Royal Geographical Society headquarters in London has an ambience that echoes the presence of dignified masters. While gaping at the impressive list of names inscribed on the commemorative board of honorary members in the entrance hall, I am quietly handed a visitors badge. It is the first day of Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College colloquium, and my mind is tingling with expectation. Names like Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, Ernest Shackleton and David Attenborough stream though my mind as I humbly jot mine down on the visitors list. While ascending the wooden staircase that leads to our meeting room, I suddenly realise that the amazing artwork elegantly positioned around the place is real. Amory B. Lovins is to be our first speaker, and the organisers have forecast a factual storm.
No point was more meaningful, or more methodically made, than that demonstrated by the awesomely astute Amory B. Lovins: Reducing CO2 emissions saves money.
Quietly seated in a luxurious leather chair at the head of a long wooden table, Dr. Lovins merges into the grandeur of the place. From this relaxed position he commences in a calm methodical manner: "The whole political debate about climate protection is about cost, burden, and sacrifice, but essentially all of the experience with climate protection is that it's profitable, not costly." The sleepy aroma of my morning coffee is traded for cool, clear air as someone opens a window behind me. Dr. Lovins eloquently and thoroughly supports his point with a torrent of facts, statistics, and examples. He then proceeds to patiently refute the misconception that investing in nuclear energy is at all viable. By revealing the cold-hard facts, like that in "2004 micro-power options (wind, solar, biomass) added 28 Gigawatts of capacity worldwide, while nuclear only added less than 5", Dr. Lovins' makes it obvious that nuclear power plants are already an expiring sort, and that there are much better alternatives.
Besides being impressed by his adroit logical reasoning, my mind revels in appreciation of playful remarks, like his reference to oil in 'Faroffesdãn'. Dr. Lovins keeps it simple and appeals to our common-sense: "Renewables have less financial risk than things that use fuel, because fuel prices fluctuate, and that imposes a cost and a risk on you". He also personalises the presentation for his audience: "39 percent of dutch electricity in 2004 was micro-power, because they are faster and cheaper and have less financial risk." (See smallisprofitable.org). A listener interrupts to ask about the risks of hydrogen-powered cars and Amory assures them that petrol-driven cars are more likely to become 'Carbecues', before referring them to his report titled "Twenty Hydrogen myths". Dr. Lovins expertise in physics is especially evident as he elaborately explains the specifics of an ultra-efficient "Hypercar" CRV that he helped design at the Rocky Mountain Institute.
(Photograph: Marc Cornelissen introduces Amory Lovins)
In reference to the automobile technology of today, Amory declares that “less than one percent of the fuel energy is ultimately moving the driver. This doesn't sound very gratifying after 120 years of devoted engineering effort.” The Hypercar is made of carbon fibre and is more than fifty percent lighter, yet safer, than an ordinary car of comparable size. Dr. Lovins persists, point after point, and I am confident that his "soft energy path" is one genuine solution. When given the chance to pose questions at the end, my mind is curiously convinced – not questioning. I am thinking...We must focus on efficiency of use, and multiple, local, renewable sources, to resolve our energy problems. This will save us money. This is not an obstacle – it's an opportunity. Now that was a real environmentalist! I leave the room, abstracted from my surrounds; engrossed in these thoughts.
Full Name: Andrew James Segrave
Date of Birth: 05/03/1981
Nationality: Australian holding a Dutch Residence Permit.
Contact: [email protected]
My opinion on Climate Change
'Global Warming' is the tip of an iceberg
A WARNING sign:
A limit has been reached!
A brink is being breached!
The Earth is our only sustainable spaceship,
and we are taking a Titanic trip:
Heading for the bottom of the sea,
both literally and metaphorically.
The forces driving this phenomenon
need to be stopped or we will be gone.
Those flagship effects like polar thaw
are simple signs that we cannot ignore.
The connection can sometimes seem vague
between electricity and extinctions or plague.
But when islands and coastlines start shrinking
I say it's time that people start thinking.
Lights, cameras, action! Promote reforestation!
We need to cooperate with every nation!
To reduce the emission of methane and CO2...
It starts with small steps, from people like you!
We must also be wiser than to be mislead,
by companies and leaders who don't look ahead,
and promote some myopic clowns' quick fix,
like poisoning ourselves with nuclear tricks!
In the current climate of preemptive strikes,
with hurricanes and vulnerable dykes...
the 'Precautionary Principal' needs to be used!
At what price can our only ship's groans be refused?
Question of the month
Q. What is the link between polar bears and tissues?
A1. They are both predominantly white, soft, and associated with cold weather.
A2. Both are adversely affected by human emissions.
A3. Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
I choose A3 because:
Polar Bears' environment is destroyed by Climate Change.
Climate Change is caused by atmospheric CO2.
CO2 is absorbed by trees.
Trees are cut down to make Tissues.
Who is Andrew?
I was born and grew up in Victoria, Australia (Regrettably, quite a distance from Steve Erwin - the croc-hunter). After graduating from Secondary School with a TER of 93.4 and outstanding awards in English, Literature and Studio Art, I decided to study Environmental Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne. I love design and nature, and believed that becoming an engineer would ensure that I had a direct (green) influence the way my environment was 'developed'.
Apart from study, I've always enjoyed a wide range of interests ranging from athletics to music. I was also involved in the anti-logging campaign (organised by the Otway Ranges Environmental Network). This included a whole scope of activities from meetings with the government to protests and tree climbing. The beautiful 'Cool Temperate Rainforest' of The Otways is a community type that originated 140 million years ago. These forests carpet the water catchments and steep hillsides that roll down to the coast that is hemmed by the famous Great Ocean Road. Can you believe they were being logged for wood-chips and paper!
After the second year of Environmental Engineering I took one year of intermission to explore Europe and live with my lovely Dutch girlfriend (now wife) in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Following this eye-opening year I returned to Australia and completed the engineering subjects from the course. I then transferred into the 3rd year of International Land and Water Management at Larenstein University of Professional Education in Velp, The Netherlands. After completing two periods of work experience and a graduation project in India, I graduated from this study in 2005.
Work experience at Kiwa Water Research involved the identification of explicit chemical, temporal and spatial relationships between urbanisation and the quality of raw groundwater extracted for drinking in The Netherlands. During my second period of work experience I created manuals for some of the scientific research equipment designed by Eijkelkamp Agrisearch. Finally, after preparing Project Proposal Terms of Reference and generating personal sponsorship, I began my graduation project. This involved Water Resource Analysis research and the design of a Solution Strategy for the community's water-related problems. The experience of living for five months with eighty monks at the isolated Dzogchen Monastery in the mountainous wilderness of Karnataka's Chamrajnagar District, India, was incredible.
After returning from India I lived and worked in The Netherlands for a few months, before returning to Australia to get married. It was during this period that I learned of the Climate Change College and became involved in the selection process.
The Climate Change College
A close friend sent me an email with a link to the Climate Change College Homepage. I was curious about becoming an ambassador for Earth's climate, and quickly took the chance to apply. One characteristic that makes Climate Change particularly interesting to me is that it is directly related to most environmental concerns, and indirectly related to the majority of the worlds problems (E.g. The majority of Earth's population lives in terrible poverty, which has facilitated an ugly stretching of Earth's carrying capacity and enabled the rich to consume at an excessive rate, which has in turn caused climate change). I believe that a lack of critical awareness is the key reason for people's indifference, and want to be involved in spreading the information necessary to have people become actively involved in protecting our environment. People everywhere need to change their attitude towards the environment; from one of exploitation to one of synergetic, sustainable development.
The Climate Change College will provide me with a wealth of knowledge, from course material provided by the WWF to the physical experience of speaking with the local communities in Greenland and observing the direct effects of Climate Change on their environment. Beside this, I'm sure that the experience of being within the Arctic Circle and on the ice-cap of Greenland will be simply breathtaking.
At present I am working on the WWF's e-learning modules. These modules transform my computer into an active learning environment using Macromedia Flash. The information is offered in a clear, concise way with interactive graphics, movies and text. I found the 'Introduction to Nature Conservation' module highly interesting, and fell in love with the values of the WWF. Along with the other ambassadors I have also be learning about Ben & Jerry's Ice-cream; the history of the business and why they are involved in this project. It is truly encouraging to see that there are companies out there with a social and environmental conscience... so let's see some more!