Tag Archives: climate resilience

Ready? …Set? …Run!

The countdown is on — wheels up for Scandinavia on July 16th, and Climate Run 2017 gets underway on the morning of August 1st!

We’ve been scouring online and paper maps of Norway, Sweden, and Finland to make sure every one of the 800 kilometers is accounted for.

Much of the trail is visible in hi-res satellite photos, but it often disappears in low-lying woodlands and snowier highlands. Regardless, Den Norske Turistforening (DNT)Svenska Turistföreningen, and luontoon.fi all have fantastic map resources, which have been helpful in plotting daily mileage goals.

The Arctic Trail Google map is shared and accessible, too.

Those goals right now average 35 miles per day, with a long day of 41.6 and a short day of 30.6 over 12 days. However, only ground-truthing the route will reveal the reality of what I’ve spent month planning; there are just too many variables to try to account for everything in a schedule.

Join the 2017 Climate Run! 

Support and enthusiasm for this project have really helped to motivate the long weeks of training over the past year — from the 500-mile challenge to generous donations and in-kind support — and I’d love to keep folks involved even more while I’m on the run.

I will be running for 12-14 days starting on August 1st, and I’m inviting everyone who is able to run at least a little every day that I’m on the trail.

You don’t need to run 35 miles a day (but of course you can…), but here are some suggestions:

  • If you don’t usually run, try to run or walk at least two miles a day (28 miles total)
  • If you already run regularly, try to run 5 miles a day (70 miles total)
  • If you’re a marathon/ultramarathoner, how about 10 miles a day (140 miles total)

Whatever you choose to do, just

  1. Drop a #verbal and commit to participating — setting goals and having group accountability really works!
  2. Post updates, share your progress, and let people know what you’re doing and why!
  3. Check in on how Pavel is doing 🙂

I’m looking forward to having as many running partners as I can when I set off on August 1st! 

Thanks so much to LLB for this great idea 🙂 

 

 

Reindeer and Climate Change

reindeer line art.jpeg

During my run north along the Arctic Trail in August, I will pass through substantial sections of Norway, Sweden, and Finland en route to Kautokeino from Sulitjelma.

The trail’s 500 miles, which traverses much ofSápmi, the homeland of the Sami, can be divided according to countries, border crossings, biomes, topography, habitations, and, maybe most interesting, by reindeer herding districts. The route I’m following passes through 25 separate named herding districts, each of which supports the structure of a complex and dynamic cultural/ecological Sami tradition of herding semi-domesticated reindeer.

As I’ve been tracing the Arctic Trail on its route through much of  the different districts in Norway, Sweden, and Finland (the full list is at the end of this post), I have been falling in love with the names — the language delineating placenames, relationships, and a complex system of ecologies, cultural customs, tradition, regulation, and contemporary political boundaries.

The principal goals of the multi-year Climate Run project are to

(1) bear witness to changing ecologies and cultures in the face of a rapidly changing climate

(2) cultivate conversation and build community around climate resilience

(3) change the narrative about climate change from one of resistance to one of resilience.

One way that I plan to engage in these conversations is by understanding the impact of climate change on reindeer herds across Sápmi as well as Sami adaptations to traditional practices made necessary by ecological change. Reindeer herding has been and continues to be an essential component of Sami identity, economy, and cultural tradition. By some accounts, up to 40% of all of Norway’s land is open to reindeer herding, and there are an estimated 700,000 reindeer across three northern Scandinavian countries. With a Sami population of just over 58,000, that’s more than 10 reindeer per individual!

Sami herders have already noticed significant changes in foraging patterns and the predictability of seasonal changes, which has led to an actual decrease in individual reindeer size — for example an average 12% weight loss over the past 16 years among reindeer in Svalbard.

Heikki Hirvasvuopio describes the problem on the mainland this way:

During autumn times, the weather fluctuates so much, there is rain and mild weather.This ruins the lichen access for the reindeer. In some years this has caused massive loss of reindeers. It is very simple – when the bottom layer freezes, reindeer cannot access the lichen. This is extremely different from the previous years. This is one of the reasons why there is less lichen. The reindeer has to claw to force the lichen out and the whole plant comes complete with roots. It takes . . . extremely long for a lichen to regenerate when you remove the roots of the lichen.

As we move into a political era of renewed climate change skepticism, and, as of this writing, the U.S.’s continuing role in the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement is doubtful, it’s ever more important to demonstrate the real tangible impacts of a changing climate on not only global systems but on something as simple — yet devastating — as a reindeer’s ability to reach its food source — and the far-reaching impact this regional issue can have.

sapmi.jpg

Here’s a listing of the twenty-five herding districts along the Arctic Trail, listed from South to North through Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

Sjonkfjell
Svaipa
Semisjaur-Njarg
Luokta Måvas
Tuorpon
Hellemo
Frostisen
Skjomen
Sirkas
Sörkaitum
Baste
Girjas
Laevaas
Gabna
Altevatn
Dividalen
Tamok/Rosta
Talma
Saarivuoma
Lainiovuoma
Könkämä
Käsivarsi
Cohkolat ja Biertavárri
Fávrrosorda
Guovdageainnu cakcaorohat

Resonance

Over the past couple of months, I have been giving Climate Run: Iceland presentations around Vermont and the eastern U.S — from talks at Burlington, Vermont’s The Outdoor Gear Exchange, Mount Mansfield Nordic Ski Club, to a standing-room-only audience at The Catamount Trail Association, and to a packed auditorium at the Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hengill

descending from Hengill midway through day one

It’s always exciting to share my story of running across Iceland (which for me feels both recent and so very long ago), but I find even more rewarding the conversations that follow–about a range of topics grounded in concepts such as climate change, resilience, vulnerability, and endurance.

I’ve been asked, “what should we do” in the face of climate change? What roles should we as athletes play? How do you define resilience?

I have facilitated a conversation about the role of faith in climate conversations.

I have asked groups about how privilege can guide our thinking about vulnerability.

I have talked with students and faculty about how art, action, and science can help develop a resilient ecological and social relationship.

I have found that my story resonates with a range of different audiences — from skiers to conservationists to high school students — all of whom have different expectations and different relationships with and perspectives on the natural world.

John Meyer has recently written about the resonance dilemma, which points to the disconnect between systems as large and complex as the global climate with individual people’s actions. Meyer invites us to “imagine an agenda for environmental sustainability that emerges from everyday concerns and is … deeply resonant with the lives of” ordinary people.

I completely agree. In fact, Climate Run often resonates most strongly when I talk about the personal experience of being in the midst of wildness–and of realizing that as individuals we are inextricably part of a global ecology.

Nature can no longer be that place ‘out there.’ For the issues of a broader world to resonate with us, we need to recognize–and act as though–we are part of it all.

Of course, this is not at all a new concept, but it may be among the most difficult to act upon.

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki after 150 miles

Everyday Ecology

I am reading two things at the moment: Donella Meadows’ “Dancing with Systems” and Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Letter, “On Care For Our Common Home.” Disparate as these texts are—the first a reflection on decades of work with ecological systems by perhaps our leading evangelist of systems thinking, published in the year of her death, 2001–and the second, a provocation to more than simply the 1 billion followers of Roman Catholicism to think, discuss, and act upon issues of climate change in the context of our social and economic structures, choices, and philosophies.

I read “On Care For Our Common Home” on the urging of my friend, writer and activist John Elder, who wrote an Op Ed for the Rutland Herald about the recently released encyclical. In reading the whole of the papal letter, I had hoped to find a passage or two that epitomized the ecological sentiment—something I could draw from to write a pithy post related to Climate Resilience. Instead, what I found was paragraph after paragraph of rich, balanced, and nuanced engagement of many dimensions of climate change.

Here are a few examples:

I urgently appeal . . . for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. . . . We require a new and universal solidarity.   [14]

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. [23]

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. [25]

A delicate balance has to be maintained when speaking about these places [of great biodiversity—like tropical forests], for we cannot overlook the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them, can undermine the sovereignty of individual nations. [38]

Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. [63]

The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. [95]

There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[118]

Culture is more than what we have inherited from the past; it is also, and above all, a living, dynamic and participatory present reality, which cannot be excluded as we rethink the relationship between human beings and the environment. [143]

It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. . . .Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. [155]

As Pope Francis crafts an argument for an “integral ecology,” he outlines many concepts that are central tenets in the global conversation about climate change: the relationship between cultural and ecological systems, the role of politics and economy as a driving force for cultural and ecological change, the connection between our very bodies and the world we live in.

In short, the June 2015 encyclical proposes a model of thinking about our world that is based on systems, on ecology, and on intentional relationships among human beings and between humans and the world.

Donella Meadows’ short piece, “Dancing with Systems,” is a similarly accessible entree to thinking about systems. In her introduction, Meadows writes,

We can’t control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them! I already knew that, in a way before I began to study systems. I had learned about dancing with great powers from whitewater kayaking, from gardening, from playing music, from skiing. All those endeavors require one to stay wide-awake, pay close attention, participate flat out, and respond to feedback.

It had never occurred to me that those same requirements might apply to intellectual work, to management, to government, to getting along with people. But there it was, the message emerging from every computer model we made. Living successfully in a world of systems requires more of us than our ability to calculate. It requires our full humanity–our rationality, our ability to sort out truth from falsehood, our intuition, our compassion, our vision, and our morality.

There is a striking resonance here between these two different texts. On one level, it’s heartening that the once more marginal language of ecology and systems has made its way onto the global stage in such a significant way. On another, I am buoyed that we, globally, are thinking (or at least being asked to think) about how we related to and how we treat one another, ourselves, and the world we are both a part of and that is a part of us.

What better way forward for building a community of resilience?

 

Dispatches for Iceland #6: Wesfjords Reflections & Recovery

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At long last–the finish at Laugarbakki with my brother Michal and brother-in-law Brion.

It has been one week since I completed my run across Iceland to bring attention to climate resilience, and I’ve spent much of that time recovering, replenishing calories with seafood, lamb, and skyr, and taking some tentative and recuperative steps on the trails, snowfields, and beaches around Isafjordur and Flateyri here in the Westfjords.

 

The Climate Run was easily the greatest endurance challenge that I’ve ever faced. I covered 240 km (about 150 miles) in just under 45 hours of running (and a few hours of sleep), climbed and descended a total of 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), ran solo stretches of up to 35 miles, and consumed a steady diet of Pocket Fuel and Nuun, both of which turned out to be essential pieces of the endurance nutrition puzzle for me — particularly on the long stretch of tundra north of the Icelandic highlands.

The project–from planning to preparation to completion–would not have been possible were it not for a dedicated support team here in Iceland: family and friends who provided logistical and emotional support, foot massages and wraps, delicious sandwiches and soup, and and-of-stage pacing without which I may well have curled up by the side of the trail many miles before the finish.

I am forever grateful and humbled by all the help I got both on the ground in Iceland and from the project’s many sponsors and supporters over the past year.

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Looking back towards Eiriksjökull across Arnavatnsheði

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Climate Run route changed from my original plan to run the Kjölur Route to a route a little farther west across the Kaldidalur pass. This route took me from the start on a beach of black volcanic sand near Thorlakshöfn, over the crater of the Hengill volcano, through the national park at Thingvellir, across the Kaldidalur pass, and over the Arnavatnsheði tundra and to Laugerbakki and Miðfjöður on the north coast.

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Cooling my heels in the cold water of the north

I am more than happy with the outcome. Although the route was a few miles shorter than originally planned, the terrain was more challenging and included more trail (and even off-trail) miles.

As I write this post in the café at Borea Adventures in Isafjorður, I finally have some time to start to put together some thoughts about what I learned about resilience, running, climate, family, and community–all of which I believe are essential pieces of the broader ecological system of which we are always a part.

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rainbow from the top of Kaldidalur

I have already presented on Climate Run twice–once here at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Isafjorður, and once at the Arctic Encounters conference in Roskilde Denmark–and I hope this run and the stories, pictures and video (thanks largely to the tireless work of Jill Fineis Photography) that come from it are just the very start of an ongoing and powerful story of climate resilience and of our relationship to place and to one another.

58 days left . . . & I need your help!

There are 58 days left before I start off on my trans-Icelandic run!

58 days to goSpring has finally arrived — our long (long) winter’s snows are receding into the shadows as the streams and rivers swell and crocuses unfurl in the warming sun.

Soon, Orion and I will be setting off on our adventure in Scandinavia–from Bergen to Copenhagen to Reykjavik–and at 8:00 am on June 15th, I’ll take a last look at Iceland’s southern coast and turn northward toward the Kjölur plateau, some 60 miles inland, and to Thingeyrar, where I hope to arrive by the middle of that week.

As the months of training and planning start to come down to weeks and days, I’ve been looking ahead to after the run–to how I can best share the story of Climate Run and of climate resilience among the outdoor recreation community and among athletes the world over.

Part of telling the story will include photos and video to complement the presentations, web, and print publications that I have started to plan (already scheduled are talks in Denmark, Iceland, and across New England in late summer).

I am appealing to friends and supporters once again before setting off on this Great Adventure to help me tell the story of climate resilience, of the trans-Icelandic run to help us grow a resilience among the athletic and outdoor recreation community.

How can you help?

There are 4 ways you can help with this final push:

  1. Contribute to the ongoing GoFundMe campaign! Even $1 will help…and for $5 I’ll send you a personal thank you and a Climate Run sticker!
  2. Buy a 100% recycled U.S. made t-shirt from Atayne. $10 of every purchase goes directly to Climate Run!
  3. Use the link on right side of this page to make a direct donation via PayPal.
  4. Spread the word! Share the story of Climate Run on Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else you can think of!

Thanks so much for all the support!

-Pavel (& Dragon : ) 

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What Can We Do to Build Climate Resilience?

I wrote in my last post, “climate resilience is about our ability to adapt and transform our relationship to the larger natural world.” That said…

So…what can you do?

Learn

Educate yourself as much as you can about the manufacture of the equipment you use to the choices you make about travel, lodging, and food. Learn about how events and races are organized.

Act

Make decisions based on what you’re learning. Talk with event organizers about their environmental impact; talk with your favorite gear manufacturer about sustainable processes and social and environmental responsibility. Small choices can be transformative.

Build

Build community, build collaborations, build networks of people, and get them excited about the choices you’re making and the changes you can make together. There truly is strength in numbers.

Inspire

As athletes, adventurers, and others who are privileged to spend a whole lot of our time and energy doing what we love outside, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to spread the word, cultivate resilience, and make real change!