ThinkProgress Green is reporting live from New York City, headquarters of the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality event. The event is nearing its conclusion, with this hour’s presentation from Rio de Janeiro.
In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress Green, Climate Reality Project CEO Maggie Fox explains why her fight against climate change is more than just a job — it’s personal. A lifelong expeditionary mountaineer, Fox spent years leading Outward Bound trips for teens and adults, exploring some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet, from Alaska to the Himalayas. A lot of the time was spent climbing and teaching in Glacier National Park, learning to survive amid some of the biggest glaciers in North America.
Recently, she returned to Glacier National Park, flying over the park with reporters. The impact of what she saw left her almost unable to speak:.
Glaciers are bigger than big. Glaciers are worlds. The notion that a glacier could disappear in my adult life was incomprehensible to me. The vastness of them. The depth. The huge massifs they encompass. To be able to not just go back into the Himalayas but also here in the United States and actually fly over a national park whose name will have to be changed very shortly, because there are almost no glaciers left, and to see things that I climbed, and was fearful of my life in, are gone, virtually gone — had an impact on me that’s hard to describe.
Fox explained that what happens to the glaciers isn’t just an unfortunate consequence of our actions, but is also connected — like the rest of the natural world — to our fate as humanity.
“We inhabit the natural world,” Fox said. “We are of the natural world. It is a source of unbelievable joy and connection.”
“It doesn’t really matter if you don’t care about a particular finch or a glacier,” Fox concluded. “There are parts of the natural world that connect to all of us. Our connection to our planet is part of who we are as a people. Changing our planet is also changing us.”
Hours 20 To 22 Of Climate Reality: Across The Atlantic |
Nearing its conclusion in New York City, the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality travels across the Atlantic Ocean to Husavik, Iceland, Cape Verde, and Ilulissat, Greenland. These two Arctic islands and one island chain of the coast of Somalia are tied together by their relationship to the Atlantic Ocean, now changing dramatically because of greenhouse pollution. Iceland is a hotbed of renewable power, especially geothermal energy, but has an economy in tatters because of extreme economic deregulation. Cape Verde’s precious rainfall is disappearing. And Greenland’s huge ice sheet is melting at a frightening pace, with terrifying consequences for the world if the melt is not reversed.
A video from 24 Hours of Reality on the power of the grassroots:
Hour 19 Of Climate Reality: London |
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in London, England. Great Britain is already starting to abandon its coasts as sea levels rise, and extraordinary floods in recent years are reshaping the island country’s landscape, as it endeavors to shift away from dirty fuels. Presented by Evan Williams, the former head of Economics and Sustainable Development for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and the founder of the Environmental and Resource Economics consulting firm.
Hours 17 And 18 Of Climate Reality: Istanbul And Durban |
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in Istanbul, Turkey, and then to Durban, South Africa. Separated by thousands of miles and very different histories, both nations are facing similar struggles over water as population increases demand and greenhouse pollution disrupts supply. In a few months, Durban will host the UN climate negotiations, where diplomats will face the challenging task of finding a path forward despite an intransigent United States and a fragile global economy. The host in the New York City headquarters is Renee Zellweger.
Hour Sixteen Of Climate Reality: Dubai |
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The desert city is rife with contradiction — an intense experiment in consumption and construction in one of the most inhospitable climates on Earth, one growing ever hotter because of global warming. There are efforts to create a low-carbon city of the future in the Arab desert here, but it is also home to extravagances as refrigerated beaches. Presented by Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, a civil engineer and environmental adviser to the Dubai government.
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality travels through the capital cities of the vast Asian continent, with billions of people, including the emerging superpowers of China and India. The presentations start in Seoul, and go to Beijing, Jakarta, New Delhi, and Islamabad. Each nation faces unique challenges from the climate crisis, and is devising innovative and hopeful responses:
SOUTH KOREA: Deadly floods are striking the Korean peninsula with increasing fury, devastating not only South Korea but its impoverished and isolated neighbor, North Korea. South Korea’s government is making a massive investment in renewable energy.
CHINA: China is undergoing an almost unimaginable degree of economic transformation while epic floods and droughts brought on by global warming add to the pressures on the most populous nation on earth. China is home to both extreme pollution and is also becoming a world leader in renewable technology, with investments in clean R&D that far outstrip the United States. The government is racheting up restrictions on carbon pollution while trying to maintain rapid economic growth, an exciting and dangerous balance.
INDONESIA: Home to vast rain forests and underwater forests of coral that are being destroyed at a frightening rate, Indonesia is acutely vulnerable to sea level rise, with most of its population at or below sea level. Efforts to save its forests are key to keeping the rise in global carbon pollution in check.
INDIA: The vast subcontinent of India is fighting unprecedented droughts, floods, and heat waves. The Himalayan glaciers that water the nation are receding, even as sea level rise and unpredictable monsoons are engulfing lowlands. The government of India has set ambitious renewable energy targets and commitments to carbon pollution reductions as it struggles to ensure its poor do not starve.
PAKISTAN: For the third year in a row, Pakistan is facing devastating floods, though 2010 remains the most extreme. The fragile nuclear nation is struggling to rebuild from the extraordinary flooding of last year.
Hour Ten Of Climate Reality: Canberra, Australia |
After crossing the International Date Line from 7 PM Wednesday to 7 PM Thursday local time, the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in Canberra, Australia. The island continent, populated almost on the shores surrounding the inland desert, has been wracked by deadly fires and droughts as the climate warms, the Great Barrier Reef threatened with extinction from warming, acidifying, and rising seas. Australia’s government, like that of the United States, is whipsawed between responsible politicians fighting for action and and oppressively strong coal lobby. Presented by Vanessa Morris, the founding Executive Officer of SEE-Change.
Hour Three Of Climate Reality: Victoria, British Columbia |
After Mexico City and Boulder, the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, Canada. On Vancouver Island, where Victoria is located, the average low winter temperature has increased about 1.5°C in just 13 years. In British Columbia’s interior, the mountain pine beetle has already damaged an area more than twice the size of New Brunswick. Meanwhile, Alberta’s tar sands deposits are poised to become the next man-made carbon bomb, if Canada’s conservative government and oil companies have their way. Presented by Peter Schiefke, co-founder of Youth Action Montreal.
Hour Two Of Climate Reality: Boulder, Colorado |
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in Boulder, CO, a hotbed of clean-energy innovation, climate research — and of climate change. Boulder is home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Meanwhile, Colorado’s forests are under siege by pine bark beetles in a global warming infestation, and its water supply under threat by the combination of warming and overuse from the fossil fuel industry. Presented by John Zavalney, one of the top science teachers in the nation, and a graduate of Liberty University in West Virginia.