Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

As I sit in my living room I can only imagine what is in store for me in just a little over 12 months and 3228 Kilometers (2006 miles) north of me in the Arctic Circle.

But before we look forward, let’s go back a few weeks to a conversation with my daughter. She is in high school and like any high school student; thinking about her future. She has decided that she wants to work with endangered animals. Doing her research she came across Coke and their program in working with World Wildlife Fund. She asked how they are making a difference. I couldn’t answer her and decided to do my own research to see what it is that they were doing.

The program is more about climate change than about the Canadian iconic animal, the Polar Bear. The real focus is on what threatens the Polar Bears. These large carnivores are sensitive indicators of ecosystem health. Polar bears are actually studied to get an understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic. A polar bear at risk is a sign of something wrong somewhere in the arctic marine ecosystem.

So, after my reading I talked to my daughter about what I found. I could tell her wheels were still spinning… but secretly so were mine after I read one line on the Polar Bears International Website. I read that by 2080 there may be no ice left in Hudson Bay. I thought to myself, “that’s major, as a kid studying Canada; Hudson Bay was the iconic frozen bay explorers crossed. Images of explorers breaking through ice and yanking wooden boats over ice immediately came to mind. Since 1670 when the King of England first granted the Hudson Bay company a fur trade monopoly for all the lands drained by rivers flowing into Hudson's Bay we have changed the climate that much?”

As a nature photographer I wondered how I could do my part. I made some calls, talked to a few friends and started to formulate an idea… and now, out of a simple question from a 15 year old high school student in rural Ontario a plan was formed that will hopefully touch people across Canada and around the world.

The team has been assembled… Ethan Meleg, John E. Marriott, Kevin Pepper and Tim Vollmer will be embarking on an expedition to the Arctic circle and stay close to the floe edge. The goal is to capture what we see in photos, talk to local Inuits about how the changes have affected their lives, interview scientists about statistical information and trends and have conversations with Canada’s leading conservation minds... out of this, an awareness story in photos and words that shows people just how much the arctic has changed.

Working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) our goal is not only to create awareness but raise funds that will be donated to WWF to help them continue their work.

While we are in the arctic we will be sending back daily blogs and twitter feeds about the day’s findings and sharing our photos through our media partners that will be helping us communicate to you what we are experiencing. You will be able to follow us in real time and share in our experience.

Right now we are structuring the actual expedition route and having conversations with numerous potential product and cash sponsors to help us achieve our goals.

Stay tuned, come back weekly, and you can follow us from today right through the next year as we prepare for our expedition.

Over the next year I will keep you up to speed on media partners, sponsors, our expedition plans and discuss what we find as we start our interviews and our personal learning’s about the cause that brings us together for the 2013 arctic expedition to the Arctic Circle.

Thanks for reading,
Kev