Phang Nga, Thailand: As 2011 winds down and I savor a feeling of home-coming after an adventurous year all over the planet, two “penguins” — Fluffy and Ryan, created and named by my son — accompanied me to places far and near. Fluffy and Ryan even enjoyed their own home-coming last month in Antarctica.
Antarctica is a continent of superlatives: the coldest, windiest, driest, most remote place, and the largest wilderness area on Earth. My November kayaking expedition to Antarctica was extraordinary. I am one of approximately 25,000 lucky folks who will visit Way Down Under this year, which happens to be a bumper year because of the centennial of the Amundsen-Scott race to the south pole. Because I had not posted in nearly two months (“Antarctica, here I come…” was my last post until yesterday) I had falsely given the impression that I am still trying to find my way around the ice floes and brash ice.
I will properly blog about Antarctica soon. That’s one of my New Year’s resolutions. Antarctica is too special a place not to share it as widely as possible. For now though I remain in home-coming mode, and this post is about the penguin journey. Fluffy and Ryan travelled the same 5,847 kilometers that I cycled across Europe, and were spotted at various locations, including a French corn field ….
…. in Munich …
and even on the Croatian coast:
I also discovered that Fluffy and Ryan have a thing for attractive European blondes around bicycles.
Why penguins, you are probably wondering.
Because they are one of the species that will be most affected by climate change. That’s the other purpose for which I pedaled this year: to make noise about the urgent need to do something, as individuals, about climate change. This year even some of the scientists who disputed the science behind climate change have begun to come around, acknowledging climate change as scientific fact. And the Durban climate change talks, held earlier this month in South Africa, resulted in an agreement to extend the Kyoto protocol and for the first time unites commitments to cut carbon emissions from both the developed and the developing world (namely the US, China and India — the worst polluters of all). This is all good. But even if all the protocols are honored, there’s still a “gigatonne gap” between the pledged amount of carbon emission cuts and the amount of carbon reductions that are needed to stop global warming.
Ultimately it comes down to us, you and me and a whole lot of other people, to make a difference and make a dent in carbon emissions. But we have to start somewhere. With a season of new year’s resolutions upon us, I submit that individual action on climate change — whatever the form — deserves to be on The List at midnight on 12/31.
Make some noise on New Year’s eve. Happy New Year.