Recently, I had the opportunity and privilege to join a group of 24 brilliant, accomplished women from 7 different countries to journey to Greenland and come face to face with climate change in real-time.
Now that I’m back, I’m grappling with how to process the multitude of emotions that are still flooding through me six days later. Our time together included presentations from scientists and global economists, deeply meaningful conversations, divine meals prepared with local fresh ingredients and new friendships that will last a lifetime – all in a rugged yet pristine natural environment. Yet, amid our laughter and storytelling, we witnessed up close and personally the melting of some of the world’s largest glaciers.
Two of the days were spent right next to one of the most active glaciers in the world – the Eqi Glacier. Every 5–10 minutes we would witness the glacier ‘calving’ – essentially dumping thousands of gallons of ice and sediment into the Arctic Ocean. Each crash sounded like thunder and was a reminder to us all of the huge impact this ‘new water’ would have on the world’s oceans – and on all of us. Greenland has lost more ice in the last 10 years than in the last 100. The glaciers’ demise is becoming deadly for humankind everywhere. We also learned about the dramatic rise in carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere, more than 50% of which has been added since the industrial revolution, directly contributing to a 1.2-degree global temperature increase. In the Arctic, that warming is three times greater. All this is creating a series of vicious cycles. The warmer the air’s temperature, the more the global sea ice melts.
This isn’t just happening in Greenland. Alpine and Himalayan glaciers are also melting at increasingly high rates. This year’s record-breaking glacial melt in Asia’s iconic mountain range has led to deadly flooding that has devastated Pakistan, submerging farmlands and cities and killing more than 1,500 people.
While Greenland itself experiences a lowering sea level, everywhere else we see the sea rise. Melted glaciers add water to the ocean, which immediately rises, because warmer water expands more than cold water. If Greenland melts completely, the world will witness a 7.4 metre sea-level rise.
This eye-opening trip was organized by Active Philanthropy and featured prominent leaders such as the The Club of Rome’s President, Sandrine Dixson-Declève; Apolitical Foundation’s CEO, Lisa Witter; renowned economist, Kate Raworth; and climate scientist Dr. Twila Moon. Each shared her wisdom and experience.
As we left, we were asked what concrete commitments we would make to play our part in helping our planet. Writing this piece is just one of the many actions I plan to take to play my part – and that is to share and share loudly what we witnessed.
Yes, this trip has made me even more committed to help drive positive change in the world and do everything I possibly can to turn the tide of our current trajectory. I’m hugely grateful for the experience.