Updated: Oct 2
Arctic Angel Sharona shares her learnings from the Whole System Science Workshop held for 10 Arctic Angels in Évora, Portugal, September 2023.
The Arctic Angel Workshop, held in Évora Portugal, served as a pivotal moment in my understanding and advocacy for the critical region. Gathered among changemakers, experts and scientists, the workshop delved into the current challenges facing the Arctic due to climate change and explored the far-reaching impacts these changes have on our global community. The workshop also equipped us with the tools to communicate the urgent need for a 10-year moratorium on activities in the central Arctic Ocean, such as deep-sea mining, transpolar shipping routes, seismic testing, radioactive waste dumping, and nuclear weapons tests.
"We can't plant ice," a simple yet profound statement that resonated throughout the workshop which emphasized the irreplaceable value of the Arctic ice shield. Polar ice, one of the nine active tipping points in our climate system, is rapidly approaching extinction due to rising temperatures. This loss has far-reaching consequences, as the Arctic ice shield plays a critical role in regulating the Earth's climate by reflecting sunlight back into space. Once lost, this crucial balance is disrupted, leading to amplified climate impacts worldwide. One of the workshop's central themes was the call for a 10-year moratorium on activities in the central Arctic Ocean. This moratorium is urgently needed to protect the region from the adverse effects of invasive human activities which require pursuing innovative legal and government frameworks to enforce.
A striking revelation from the workshop was that the Arctic is not merely a victim but also a driver of climate change. As the Arctic warms at an alarming rate, it influences atmospheric circulations globally, leading to shifting weather patterns and extreme events far from its icy expanse. This phenomenon has a direct impact on regions like my homes of Israel and Nigeria, causing changes in rainfall patterns, flash floods, and food security challenges. Likewise, the importance of media storytelling in raising awareness and driving climate action cannot be overstated. The workshop emphasized the need for compelling narratives that convey the urgency of the Arctic crisis and its interconnectedness with the rest of the world. I truly believe that effective storytelling has the power to mobilize public opinion and influence policy decisions.For example, the Arctic region faces a unique challenge with the highest percentage of nanoplastics in any region. These tiny plastic particles have infiltrated the ecosystem, impacting biodiversity and even entering the food chain. Indigenous communities are witnessing these changes firsthand, with nanoplastics found in their milk. This issue underscores the far-reaching and unexpected consequences of pollution in our world which the average person might not recognize.
The Arctic Angel Workshop expanded my understanding of the global consequences of climate change while underscoring the interconnectedness of our world and the urgent need for international collaboration to address it’s challenges. My commitment to advocating for climate action has been reinforced, and I am determined to use the knowledge gained from the workshop to communicate the need for a 10-year moratorium in my local communities and beyond. It is a collective responsibility to protect this vital region and, in doing so, safeguard the future of our planet. The time for action is now, and it is my hope that our shared commitment within the Arctic Angel network will lead to a more sustainable and resilient world for us all.