My love for nature was the original reason for going into climate research. When I was a child, my parents used to take me out hiking, skiing or simply being in nature. I learned to love and respect nature. It did not take long until I experienced how vulnerable a little human can be against its forces, but I also learned how little it takes to damage it.
I wanted to know better. Now, I do. Now, we all do. Still, we keep degrading the environment, although we have all the tools readily available for paving the path for a sustainable society. Our task is to highlight the initiatives making use of these tools. There is no better opportunity than COP21.
So when people ask what I do, I say that I run, communicate, interact, give media interviews and work on social media. That is my daily life. I only rest when I am at sleep. It might sound tiring, but it all makes sense when you do just what you believe in: leading by example on climate action. Besides, the feedback I receive energizes me.
The Norway section is over. Whats next?
Exactly three months after our first event in Tromsø, the Norway section of Pole to Paris ended in my hometown Sandefjord. And what a finale it was! Three school presentations, a radio interview, a fun run and a joint event with partners in the local cinema made it a worthy end.
Just like November 3rd was a marathon in regards to events, the Norway section overall was a marathon of running distances. In fact I covered 1889 km over the 65 days I ran (7 days of rest) between Tromsø and Bergen. That is 45 marathons.
But these marathons were not as flat as in Berlin, London or New York. 58,155 m of climb is similar to climbing Mount Everest nearly seven times – from sea level!
It might sound unnecessary to climb this much, but truth to be told, it was strictly necessary. Running on paths meant less stress on knees and joints, while also reducing exposure to traffic. More importantly, the stunning surroundings in Norwegian nature gave motivation to keep going, even when my legs felt like falling off my hips.
Energy is important on the Road to Paris. In addition to the run itself, the Norway section has included 51 presentations and events and 63 media stories – so far. Diversity is key, with talks given for ages 2 to 92, for ambassadors, heads of police and fire authority or sewing clubs, in Norwegian, English, German and Swedish.
No media is too small or big, where the monthly newspaper Elgposten marks one end of the spectrum and the news channel TV 2 Nyhetskanalen the other. However, the spectrum is wider internationally, with CNN claimed the “best known media”. Now, UK lies ahead, with The Guardian following up.
Most things are bigger outside Norway. This goes for media, but also for the number of people, university sizes and culture for event participation. This makes me pretty excited as the Northern Run now continues from Cambridge to London, with talks in Cambridge University, Imperial College, Royal Holloway University of London and Oxford University, and a run through the parks of London to hand over a renewable energy petition in 10 Downing Street.
The biggest event outside Paris will nevertheless take place in the capital of the European Union. A whole team of Belgians has been working on an event in Brussels November 21st. Rumor has it that they have omitted the three things they are best for from the plan: chocolate, beer and comics. Instead, they go all in on making climate change adaptation challenges and mitigation opportunities as familiar as Tintin.
Just like my Belgian counterpart, I am now facing many new adventures. I was very much in my element when running through the Norwegian mountains. The upcoming program will leave me on thin ice, but that is also my expertise. With a research background on diminishing Arctic sea ice, the road ahead lies open.
Luckily, I will not run it alone. The whole Pole to Paris team is doing a tremendous job, and the runners of us hope the Forrest Gump effect soon will take off.
Take off with climate pledges.