Heather McElhatton: I’m Heather McElhatton and this is a beautiful world.
President Obama: “Now Climate Change is no longer an abstraction. It’s not an issue we can put off for the future, it’s happening now. Let’s partner in the Arctic to help give its people the opportunity they deserve, while conserving the only home they know. And building on the idea that began in Montreal three decades ago, let’s finally phase down dangerous HFC greenhouse gases. This is the only planet we’ve got and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it.”
Heather McElhatton: In June President Obama delivered an historic speech to the Canadian Parliment, where he called for a renewed global effort solving climate change in the arctic, and that call has resulted in the first ever ‘White House Arctic Science Ministerial,’ taking place this week. 300 science ministers, high-level officials and indigenous community leaders from 25 nations around the globe will gather in washington DC to discuss arctic health and climate change.
Ann Bancroft: We endured the hardest work and most hostile conditions. At times there were tears of despair when obstacle after obstacle seemed to spell defeat.
Heather McElhatton: The keynote speaker at the ministerial will be arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, first woman to reach the northpole by dogsled. Here she is reading an excerpt from the diary she kept on that fateful expedition:
Ann Bancroft: At times we were overwhelmed with exhileration as we made major breakthroughs, but most of the time we just worked really hard, wrestling every mile of forward progress from the sea ice. We experienced pain, cold, hunger and fatigue. For us the signifigance of this, is that we were better able to empathize with people all over the world for whom these daily experiences much of their lives and who deserve the worlds attention far m ore than we do.
Heather McElhatton: Bancroft wrote her journal at the North Pole, before internet connections or satellite phones were available. She was isolated in way that some feel is no longer possible. And yet she says she felt completely connected to the entire world.
Ann Bancroft: That’s what we experienced at this apex at the top of the world, where all the lines of longitude come together, that connect all human beings. We didnt expect to feel connected to humanity in that isolation but we did. It was profound and it remains that way for me today.
Heather McElhatton: Bancroft will share her 30 years of expedition experience, and education initiatives with a high-powered audience of world leaders and decision makers – who like her are focused on a message of education, collaboration and most of all – hope.
Ann Bancroft: My idea of a beautiful world is where we have a population of students, from kindergarten to eighty who are engaged and curious. They are explorers wether they leave their home, or venture far away, they’re curious. they’re that kind of person that makes those connections, that understands the world is a really beautiful place in all its diversity, from its night sky to its beautiful 24 hours of sun. To the snow, to the greenery. Explorers always go away and we learn those lessons, but what do I have in my journal, I have a picture of green at home, because I want to come home because thats where those lessons get applied. It’s full circle.
Heather McElhatton: You can find out more about Ann Bancroft and the ‘White House Arctic Science Ministerial’ at ARCTIC-dot-gov. There you can submit your ideas for climate change solutions and find ways to help save the arctic. After all, this is the only planet we’ve got and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it. I’m Heather McElhatton, and this is ABW