There is no Planet B: Why I decided to run 3,000 kilometres          

erland_NorwayErlend Moster Knudsen is part of the climate awareness campaign Pole to Paris. He is speaking at a seminar at Imperial on 12 November. In this guest blog, he writes about how his PhD on climate change in the Arctic inspired him to run almost 30 km a day, for months in a row, to draw attention on climate change and the COP21 meeting in December this year.                                               

Most people book a plane ticket when they want to go to Paris. I decided to run instead.  This is my story.

Temperatures in the Polar Regions rise twice as fast as the global average. Every year, land ice on Greenland and Antarctica melts faster in summer than it refreezes in winter, contributing to accelerated sea level rise.

The sea ice is diminishing and thinning at an alarming rate in the Arctic and in parts of the Antarctic. For some, this means new opportunities for resource exploration or easier access to new markets; for others, this means a livelihood destroyed (see our blog – The future of the Arctic).

Raising awareness

For a climate researcher, it opens up for new job opportunities as oil and gas companies are looking for people who know when the sea ice opens up or closes down their opportunities to drill in the Arctic. But I can’t accept their offers, because there is something more important to me. So important that I decided to run 3,000 kilometres, supported only by the backpack I’m carrying and climate neutral parcels sent to me every week. So important that I’ve risked sticking my neck out. So important that I will run on average 30 kilometres per day, suffering from aching muscles and Hobbit feet, in pouring rain, eight degrees Celsius and headwind of gale force, over soggy marshes, hard asphalt and ice-cold rivers.

That something that drives me is the determination to act on what I believe in. I believe that we can and will act on climate change if we understand the issue. So my task is as simple as it is nearly impossible: make people realize that we have only got one planet, and that our way of living is making it sick. Sometimes I think about my unborn children and grandchildren. I want to be able to tell them that I tried my best.

The road to COP21

Earlier this year I launched the climate awareness campaign Pole to Paris with my friend Daniel Price. We are both climate researchers; Daniel has a PhD in Antarctic climate and I have a PhD in Arctic climate. We want to share our passion, concern and knowledge about climate change and push the need to reach a binding agreement at COP21 in Paris. We strive for a common voice – a voice that says that the time to act is now. This voice will be heard by our global leaders in Paris only if it sounds from all corners of the world.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m speaking at a seminar at Imperial. The following morning I head back out into the wind and rain, on my way to Paris with my climate message for a better future. Will you join me?

Erlend is speaking at “Pole to Paris”, taking place Thursday 12 Nov, Royal School of Mines, room 131 at 6pm. Read more and register to attend.

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