“What the hell are WE supposed to do about it?” was the first thought that came to mind on a day last summer when I stumbled across then-and-now photos detailing the demise of an enormous chunk of Greenland’s Petermann Glacier. The pictures, time-lapse photos taken in 2009 and 2011, chronicle the complete disappearance of a Manhattan-plus-sized ice island—some 77 square miles of the frozen stuff— that had broken off from the glacier just two years earlier.
“Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gobsmacking scale of the breakup, which rendered me speechless,” British researcher Dr. Alun Hubbard told the BBC in an online report about his return visit to Petermann last July.
Gobsmacking, indeed, I thought while digesting yet another warning sign of what the future likely holds for the seas we sailors relish. For the record, 2011 was again a year that brought no silver-bullet cure for ocean acidification, warming temperatures, changing climate and storm patterns, or the burgeoning population growth. In fact, those supposedly in charge still can’t even agree on whether WE have a problem, never mind what WE might do to fix it.
Sailors, though, are a creative bunch who, when beset with seemingly overwhelming obstacles, find creative ways to correct what’s repairable and work around what’s not. And it’s that spirit that we celebrated in last month’s Sail Green issue, when _CW_ profiled three individuals, Mike Horn, David Malkin, and Harry Ruppenicker, who each decided in his own way to do what he could to give Mother Earth a helping hand. I, for one, found their stories to be as inspirational as the demise of the Petermann Glacier was overwhelming.
It was in collecting their stories that a seed was planted for a new CW feature that we’re calling Green Wakes, which we’re kicking off in Shoreline this month. This being the start of a new year, it’s the time to be optimistic, no?
Inside, on page 26, you’ll read about Wanderbird, whose crew turns a walk with local Inuit children in Nain, Labrador, into a village-wide cleanup effort. We’ll feature similar stories in future issues, along with tips about how we can all live and work on our own boats and leave less of a footprint behind. Will this save the rest of the Petermann Glacier? Maybe, maybe not. But if your boat’s filling with water, how long are you going to wait to start bailing?
So this is where you can help. If you see a fellow cruiser, local organization, or some group on some far-flung island—or close to home—that’s found an inspiring way to lend Mother Earth a hand, send us a note at [email protected] world.com and we’ll share those stories throughout the year.
After all, the health of this planet is OUR problem, and it’s a big one, maybe too big for any one entity to solve. But break it down into little parts, and maybe WE can find ways to set things right. That would make 2012 a very good year.