The Antarctic Series #1: Childishly Excited

If you were a fan of ice cream when you were a kid, an offer that someone will take you to an ice cream shop would brighten your day – and you got super-excited when you were actually on your way.

That same feeling -at a very different scale- happened to me sometime in early October last year when I received an email asking whether I would be available in the first two weeks of March 2011 to give lectures on an expedition to Antarctica. It was David Hone, a veteran climate change and policy expert that wrote such email to which I replied with a strong yes. It brightened my day just like an ice cream promise would when I was a kid – especially since I was in Tianjin, China attending the climate change negotiation round when I received that email. The negotiation at the time had little indication of progress; not even a modest progress -like what eventually happened in Cancun- was in sight.

It is exaclty this dynamics of global climate policy that will actually be the focus of my lectures. Why is it so difficult to get a robust and legally binding global climate deal? What is it that climate negotiators talk about for over 20 years? What are the key issues? How can businesses, society, and governments work together in resolving the biggest challenge modern humanity ever face?

But before addressing those questions, there are some critical areas that need to be covered beforehand. Firstly, an overview of the climate science which forms the basis of the discussions and actions. How has the climate science been shaping up? What are the evidence? Is it really anthropogenic (ie human-induced)? And then secondly, we will look at the energy landscape as a key sector that is powering civilizations – but also a major emitter of greeenhouse gases that drive climate change. Some understanding of these topics will make discussions -and therefore actions- on the policy elements much richer and meaningful.

This series of postings will touch upon the substantive materials mentioned above and also of course the expedition experience itself. The expedition is called “International Antarctic Expedition 2011″ and neatly organized by an organization called “2041″ (www.2041.com). Rest assured that the name has nothing to do with a doomsday prediction like “2012″, but it does signify an end of something important. 2041 is the year that the international treaty that protects the Antarctic as an untouched and pristine environment expires. The organization’s main objective is to create awareness, particularly to the younger generation who will become decision makers of the future, that lead into actions. The expedition is also packaged as a leadership enhancement opportunity with different lectures and courses scheduled during the two-week expedition. You can track the expedition on the map at http://expedition.2041.com.

I am now on my way to join the expedition team in Ushuaia in Argentina, the southern-most city in the planet, where we will then set sails to the Antarctic. I am super-excited, just like a kid going to an ice cream shop.

March 2, 2011
Amsterdam-Madrid, en route to Buenos Aires,
Michael C. Putrawenas

PS: by the way, I am still genuinely excited if I go to an ice cream shop.

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