By David // Monday 8 Oct // 19:55:30 // View
A calm night entrance to Northern Iceland, my last ‘watch’ ended at 6am – a mixture of sadness (voyaging is addictive) and relief that yet again we have all travelled safely. It always feels like a ‘Shakleton’ moment, all accounted for and no damage to life and limb. This expedition will go down in Cape Farewell folk law as the extreme one – the longest sea passage, the hardest physically on all of us, the most violent weather and that dance with ice and more ice. Yesterday Greenland really didn’t want to let us go as we did one of our famous nautical circles to find a way through an endless band of icebergs and sea ice offshore. Eventually we hugged the coast and literally pushed blocks of ice the size of busses out of our way to emerge to seaward just as the night closed in.
Greenland has given us the extreme beauty to match the extreme hardship, days of unimaginable senses which have beguiled each of us. For me, the overall impression left from this expedition is a sense of awesome power; the power to shift a warm undersea river of water north that would take 100,000 nuclear power stations to generate, the power of wind and sea forces, the power of ice, how it shapes, melts and threatens. There is no human repost for this scale of activity, we have only just managed to witness and survive. We now know without doubt that our human activity and waste in the form of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is destabilising the status quo of the planetary systems – we are blindly stirring a hornets nest with our self obsession and greed and it is getting angry.
Here in the Arctic the temperatures are up 6 degrees Centigrade, weather patterns worldwide are destabilised: witness the floods in the UK, more violent hurricanes, drought in parts of the USA and Australia and recently a solid month of rainfall fell south of the Sahara from Ethiopia to Senegal. Each event on it’s own can be explained as a freak event but this is a pattern of events predicted as a consequence of our heating planet. The changes of climate will increase and become more unstable. If we have learnt anything on this expedition it is that the forces that will be released against us will not be manageable.
And then the magic rides in. We have not seen another human or even a trace of human endeavour for 17 days, we have been beyond any safety net, we have depended on our own resources and have engaged and become overwhelmed by the shear magic of bears, ice, light, emotions and our own shared company. Not totally true – we did manage to get close enough to civilisation to get Brian picked up by helicopter, satellites have fed us with information of position and weather and we have communicated using high tech devices. Escaping is not a desire but I am motivated to try to retain what we stand to lose. Small adjustments to our expectations of what defines our individual lives could achieve new technologies and ways of living that are sustainable.
Somehow embracing this change seems more fun and fulfilling than the status quo of more need, more aggression, more tension. I am doing what we all have agreed is futile – preaching. During this expedition we have all been inspired artistically, new works are in embryonic form and now we need to refine them, get them out into the public domain and hopefully engage, illuminate and inspire.