On Wonder (Arctic blog)

I like hotel rooms filled with kit. They speak of independence.

I spread out in a spacious room on the fifth floor of the Southway Inn in Ottawa. Strip malls and apartment blocks spread through scrubby woods, five minutes drive from the airport. Tanning salons, hardware stores, petrol pumps and fast food. Tucsons, the local bar across the street offers drinks and dancing with live music on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It was Thursday.

Somewhere between the anonymity and dullness of the ringroad hotel, there is a freedom. I look down at the three kit bags lying on the patterned carpet. Down jackets, rugged weather proof computers, adaptors, tape, kit, thermals, bandages, medicine, back-ups, independence. This is the thrill: knowing that I have everything I need and nothing more. (more…)

On Certainty (Arctic blog)

The expedition to the Arctic has plunged me back into the world of science. Friends have enquired about what the expedition will be doing. The research focuses are on ocean acidification and thermohaline circulation. I understand these concepts little and look forward to learning more from the science research team.

Research on thermohaline circulation concerns the health of the world’s ocean currents. If these currents break down, it could have quite different impacts on the climate to those that we might be expecting.

I found it easier to understand in terms of property development. Where should I buy a house which would be future proof from the point of view of the changing climate? The answer isn’t as simple as I had hoped. Depending on which climate model or theory you listen to, it could be anywhere between the Canary Islands and Ullapool. (more…)

On Curiosity (Arctic blog)

In childhood we ask: ‘Why is there good and evil?’ ‘How does nature work?’ ‘Why am I me?’ If circumstances and temperament allow, we then build on these questions during adulthood, our curiosity encompasses more and more of the world until, at one point, we may reach that elusive stage where we are bored by nothing. The blunt large questions become connected to smaller, apparently esoteric ones. We end up wondering about flies on the sides of mountains or about a particular fresco on the wall of a sixteenth-century palace. We start to care about the foreign policy of a long-dead Iberian monarch or about the role of pear in the Thirty Years War.

from ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain De Botton

‘I’m going here.’ I pointed to an island in the Arctic.

‘Are you excited?’ (more…)

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