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Day two: Splish splash

Posted on 12 June 2008

Canadian Ambassadors for Change, Jeremy Brammer and Jayme Collins, write a Voyage for the Future blog update from the Aleksy Maryshev off the coast of Svalbard. 
Hello world from the Canadian Ambassadors for Change (Jeremy and Jayme)!

We are now aboard the Alexsy Maryshev and we are speaking to you from the Arctic ocean, off the coast of Svalbard at approximately 78 degrees north. We are steaming our way northward around Prins Karls Forland (an island off the coast) to our destination of Ny-Alesund. In time, we plan to reach 80 degrees north, turning around just a stones throw away from the infamous pole (so close!).

It is now approaching 12:00 midnight on a beautiful sunny day in the Arctic (there are NO nights) and we are seesawing are way across the ocean. We can look out the porthole beside us and catch a glimpse of our spectacular surroundings. Outside the sun shines brightly and its reflection glints off of the head of each wave of the tossing ocean. The combined cloudy and clear sky allows strong rays of this sunlight to filter through, creating shaded and illuminated regions of the surrounding landscape.

Combined, these conditions highlight the jutting edges and snow covered peaks of the immense mountains that flank our starboard side (I am sounding nautical already). In all, it is simply breathtaking.

This morning we went for an exploration of the area surrounding Longyearbyen. It was really interesting. We saw the old mines and all the houses were on stilts (to adjust to the shifting permafrost). It is hard to imagine what it would be like to live there. What was really telling on our walk was that everything appeared wind-beaten. There are tiny flowers practically hugging the ground for dear life, and trees that are about a centimetre high. These plants are so unique; not something you see everyday in Canada.

All the rocks and the grass are beaten up as well. Life here seems to be in such a fine balance- everything is working as it is, but if anything were to change, it seems like it would all fall apart. The beauty of the arctic is in its fragility. Our experiences thus far have highlighted the fragility of life here on the edge of the earth. We have learned that our mere presence is enough to render conditions unsuitable for sea bird reproduction or plant growth. It seems clear that the dramatic climactic changes that have already begun to occur could push this system over the edge and impoverish our planet of some of the most stunning and spectacular wildlife that she possesses. Yet we are full of hope and energy.

It is so exciting to spend all day talking about the environment, about climate change, about politics, and about people with all these amazing ambassadors from all over the world. Everybody comes with his or her unique life experiences and opinions, many of which are new are intriguing.

From these we have been able to expand our own horizons, and we hope to continue to do so as we push ever onward. It is also inspiring and exciting to be thinking of what should be happening and what actions we can take to shift humanity back on course. Yet all this sunlight and all this excitement cannot keep us awake for ever.

Good night world, and all our love, Jeremy and Jayme.
The Voyagers for the Future take in the scenery during a walk on Svalbard