400 PPM Documentary Released!

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.41.32 AM

 

It is with an unimaginable degree of excitement that I am announcing the release of my documentary on climate change, “400 PPM! After years of researching, filming, writing, fundraising, and editing, it is finally done. I never imagined that what started as a small project for me would end up receiving the support of people like author and activist Margaret Atwood, former astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, anthropologist and famed explorer Dr. Wade Davis, and Nobel laureate environmentalist Dr. Brad Bass, and I am so incredibly grateful to my friends, family, and community for all of the incredible support they have given me throughout this journey. 

Almost two and a half years ago, I traveled to the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic and witnessed climate change firsthand. In the days leading up to the expedition, I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to see polar bears, I wanted to cruise next to majestic icebergs, and I really hoped I would spot a puffin or two.

I wasn’t expecting to learn that the icebergs I was seeing could be some of the last, I wasn’t expecting to meet Inuit people whose livelihoods and lives have been taken away by climate change, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to learn that it was hardly their fault – it was ours. I realized then that those icebergs were our modern day dinosaurs and that we, as a society, were the metaphorical asteroid ushering their demise. 

The stories I was told of the devastating effects of climate change on the people who live in the Arctic while I was on my expedition struck a note inside me that the statistics I learned about at school never could. I wanted to do something, but when I got home, it seemed that others had become tone-deaf to the issue I cared so much about. So, I decided to share the stories of the Inuit people I met in an attempt to show others what I had witnessed during my expedition. 400 PPM tells those stories. 

The documentary is available to view at www.mayab.ca/400PPM. I hope you enjoy it!

An Hour With Chris Hadfield

***DOCUMENTARY UPDATE***

I had the incredible honour of interviewing Col. Chris Hadfield for my documentary on climate change in the Arctic and its impact on the Inuit. My favourite quote from the interview:

“It is always far easier to believe something than it is to understand.  You can believe something in a second, and then you don’t have to do any more effort. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to do the research. You don’t have to work. You can just believe something. But if you build the premises of your life on uninformed belief, then you’re going to make terrible decisions. Ignorance is blissful but ignorance is a terrible way to go through life.

The real key [to solving climate change] is education and awareness and understanding. What is it that is changing? Why do 97% of scientists in the world say it is changing?

As a young Canadian you have the job of learning.”

The documentary, 400PPM will be released in the beginning of November at http://www.mayab.ca/400ppm

An Interview with Col. Hadfield

An Interview with Col. Hadfield

A Rainstorm With Margaret Atwood

***DOCUMENTARY UPDATE***

I had a delightful chat, partly in the pouring rain, with the brilliant Margaret Atwood about climate change for 400PPM.

“No, it’s not too late. We’re realizing the danger, but we’re a bit behind. It would have been better to have done it in 1972, but I think the time for climate change deniers is over… It’s up to smart people like you to figure out what’s happening with our tax dollars … We’re going to have to become very inventive in the next few decades. We’re going to need smart people thinking outside the box.”

The documentary, 400PPM will be released in the beginning of November at http://www.mayab.ca/400ppm

A Conversation with Margaret Atwood

A Conversation with Margaret Atwood

An Afternoon with an Anthropologist

***DOCUMENTARY UPDATE***

Today, I had the honour of interviewing Dr. Wade Davis, arguably the world’s greatest living explorer, for my documentary on Arctic climate change. On the topic of ethnocide by means of governmental climate politics:

“Genocide is universally condemned, but ethnocide is not only not condemned, it’s effectively promoted as development policy…These other cultures are not failed attempts at being us – each culture is an answer to the fundamental question of what does it mean to be human and alive…When I hear about this stuff, I’m surprised that the Canadian people aren’t up in arms”

Wade has made many key discoveries, including solving he voodoo zombie phenomena – he’s literally known as the real life Indiana Jones. I managed to trap him in a room for two hours today to get his personal insights on a range of issues from ethnocide to climate change. Absolutely inspiring.

The documentary, 400PPM will be released in the beginning of November 2015 at http://www.mayab.ca/400ppm

A Trip to the Mountains

***DOCUMENTARY UPDATE***

I’ve spent the last five days travelling through Alberta’s Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, and BC’s Selkirk Mountains. I also had the opportunity to speak with local residents about how devastating climate change has been in the area. What an incredibly power experience.

The documentary, 400PPM will be released in the beginning of November 2015 at http://www.mayab.ca/400PPM

Ice, Bears and Inukshuks: My Arctic Adventure

It has been a whole 72 hours since I returned home from my amazing adventure in the Arctic and I’m still finding it difficult to tear my thoughts away from the north and return them to my regular life down here.

I was told that my trip would be “amazing” and “inspiring” but words like those can’t really describe just how powerful this trip has been for me. I don’t think words can describe how this trip has changed me and my perspectives on the north and on climate change.

Let me take you on my adventure.

Getting There

At CWSF 2012, I met someone who travelled to the polar regions through an organization called Students On Ice (SOI), which takes students from all over the world on expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic along with world-renowned scientists, educators and artists. I applied and got accepted for the 2013 Arctic Expedition!

The first step was getting to the Arctic. This is a lot harder than it sounds!

After getting accepted, I needed to raise $10,000 to pay the travel fees for the expedition. But, with help from sponsors like the Ministry of Education, the Rotary Club of Barrie, the Horseshoe Resort, the Lion’s Club of Oro Medonte, the Township of Oro Medonte and others, I managed to raise the money I needed.

After that, it was time to buy all of my apparel for the expedition! The gear I needed for the trip was a little more heavy-duty than the stuff I would wear during a typical winter back home.

Finally, on the 14th of July, I had to do the 7 hour drive from my house to Ottawa, the gateway city for the expedition. From there, it was off to the Arctic!

The Trip

There are a countless number of amazing things I could write about that I did during my two weeks in the Arctic.

We started our journey in Ottawa. We then flew to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and traveled to the Greenlandic towns of Itilleq, Ilulissat and Uummannaq by icebreaker boat. Next, we sailed across the Davis Strait to Canada, visiting Pangnirtung, Kingnait Harbour, Lady Franklin Island, Monumental Island and Iqaluit. Finally, we flew back to Ottawa for a welcome-home reception at the Canadian Museum of Nature (at which I had the privilege of giving a speech!), marking the end of our Arctic adventure.

On my trip, I experienced so many firsts: I went on my first zodiac cruise; I saw my first polar bear (we saw 11 in total), seal and walrus; I saw my first whale (throughout the course of our trip, we saw FOUR whale species!); I got to stand near my first glacier, iceberg and icefjord; I went on my first Arctic swim (I will admit, this was a little uncomfortable, but it was AWESOME); and I visited communities in Greenland and Nunavut for the first time.

One of my favourite experiences was our visit to the Greenlandic town of Ilulissat, home to the Jakobshavn Icefjord. While we were there, we were being swarmed by huge amounts of mosquitoes but we hardly took notice of them as we looked at the gigantic icefjord in awe. I was able to stand right next to this icefjord and experience just how massive it is. It was such an amazing feeling! The ice towered above me, making me small.

Massive amounts of ice are spewed out of this fjord and end up in Disko Bay. The expedition leader gave us the chance to ride in zodiacs (inflatable boats) around Disko Bay to see the icebergs up close! It was absolutely incredible to be so near to such large pieces of ice.

After Ilulissat, we visited Uummannaq, which was probably the most beautiful community I have ever been to. We did many things there on the 250th anniversary of the town including meeting the Prime Minister of Greenland and participating in the town’s anniversary festivities.

One thing that stuck out for me was a conversation I had with a local fisherman. He told me that the people of Uummannaq used to fish on ice that was once thick and strong but, now sometimes the water does not even completely freeze, meaning that the people of Uummannaq cannot fish. Fishing is the main industry in the community and without it, the locals have no means of making an income. For me, this really hammered in just how pressing the issue of climate change really is. Sometimes, we, living in the south, may feel far removed from the issues facing the people of the north, but speaking to this man made me realize that there are people, just like you and I, who are being affected by climate change in devastating ways.

But not only did I spend my two weeks visiting communities in the north, seeing Arctic wildlife and learning about climate change, I also spent those two weeks talking to some of the most passionate youth, scientists, educators and artists I have ever met. I was able to become good friends with incredible people like Geoff Green (order of Canada recipient and SOI founder), Stephane Dion (former Minister of the Environment and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada), Ian Tamblyn (Canadian Folk Music Award’s 2010 English Songwriter of the Year), Daniele Bianchi (oceanographer published in Nature), John Crump (former Executive Director of the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee), Meg Beckel (President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature) and so many other amazing people who I could just sit down with at a meal or during a workshop on the expedition and start talking to. My experience in the Arctic just wouldn’t have been so awesome if it weren’t for the wonderful people I was travelling with. I have made friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime.

What’s next?

This trip has really inspired the environmentalist inside of me. For those of you who have met me before, you know that I usually do stuff relating to antibiotics, neurodegenerative disease or fundamental physics, not environmental sciences! However, this trip has empowered me to do something about climate change.

So, I am currently working on filming a documentary on climate change from the unique perspectives of youth and Inuit elders in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Microsoft Canada and others. (If anyone would like to help out with the upcoming documentary, don’t hesitate to drop me a note – we need people who have experience in fund raising, film editing, copy writing, special effects and anything else that could be useful in the production of a film!)

I am also scheduled to make presentations at numerous organizations about the importance of preserving the Arctic.

Because of this trip, I have realized the burning need to increase our awareness, as a society, of how our actions are contributing to the decline of the traditional Inuit culture as a result of climate change.

But, it’s just been 72 hours. I have no idea what might happen next.