Sustainable voices

Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm

Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm

Who, What, Where?

The idea for our project “Hearts in the Ice” (HITI) started in 2017 after we met at an ATTA Industry Trade show in Alaska 2016. Until you commit to a thing, you can never really know its purpose. When we decided to leave the job, home, hearth to overwinter, we both felt perfectly suited for this expedition. It was a decision to live with purpose, on purpose. Our entire life’s work and experiences have prepared us for this. Hearts in the Ice are Hilde and Sunniva- a name that speaks directly to our shared love for the Arctic and Antarctic to raise awareness about climate change in our polar regions and inspire a global dialogue it. As two women who have spent decades exploring and working in the Polar Regions we felt that we could add value to our understanding of climate change and also test the limits of our skills and abilities by over-wintering, collaborating with scientists, and being keen observers to the changes up here in the Arctic over 9 months from Sept 2019- May 2020 but then Covid came. Our goal is to take people out of Climate despair, a form of depression, and Climate optimism about hope and action. When Covid came in March, we had to cancel our pickup trip with an email we sent on Sunniva’s birthday (March 17) to roughly 100 guests- family, close friends, sponsors, science partners and Joss Stone. It was a decision that left us with so much uncertainty around how and when we could get picked up since we have a lot of equipment and logistically complicated. So we stayed through the summer and left in September, making it a full year. We came back in Nov 2020 and will remain until May 2021. Citizen science is a term given to any project that involves public collaboration in contribution to scientific research. The goal is to engage the public and use the data collected to increase overall knowledge on a given subject. “During several decades, the overall trust in science has declined globally,” says Borge Damsgard, acting director and department head of Arctic biology at the University Centre in Svalbard. He is one of the lead scientists for HITI. One of the challenges is that people find it difficult to connect to big-picture global data, Damsgard adds. “Citizen science is a way to close the gap between people’s perception and scientists monitoring climate changes.” Curiosity and interest were the catalysts for us getting involved. We also knew that to collect data for such an extended period of time from the same place was an absolute rarity and something the scientists were eager to have us do.

What was your a-ha moment that made you become engaged in sustainability?

Likely when we both met, shared stories and discovered that here were- two individuals deeply moved by the impacts a changing climate has had and realized- WE can do something to elevate awareness! We have both experienced profound changes in the Arctic and Antarctic. Temperatures rising above the average, melting glaciers, less sea ice, more “ice on land” due to rain during winter, wildlife struggling to get their food (ex. polar bears and reindeers) different biodiversity in the ocean and new species, more trash and plastic washed up on the beaches. We wanted to bridge the gap between the scientists and citizens and together with experts connect with thousands of kids regarding climate issues like sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, polar bear, food and community, technology. We believe knowledge changes behaviour. We believe that curiosity breeds engagement which leads to information that can inform new behaviour. This will create thoughtful users and engagement for changes both at home and in one’s community.

What is your single best tip for someone who wants to do more for the environment on a personal level?

“Awareness” from start to finish. Start to think of your habits and way of living. What is easy to do today -think about and be aware of where what you buy comes from, how much packaging is used, is what you are eating sourced sustainably? What do you eat and how much? Think of how much food you need and reduce food waste. Compost. How often do you have to shower or wash your clothes? Be aware of water waste. Is it possible to use solar or wind power? Can you ride a bike instead of using the car? Learn about our natural world! Be curious, get involved and find a citizen science project to get involved in. It will give you purpose and meaning. We protect what we love. Reuse, recircle, repurpose. Lend, borrow and repair. Use less.

What do you think will be the legacy of your generation?

Overconsumtion. Obsession with Bucket List travel at the expense of massive emissions. Rapid growth at the expense of a harmonious/balanced ecosystem.

What is the most critical technological breakthrough that needs to happen for the world to reach the 1,5 degree goal?

Power, transport, water and food. Carbon Drawdown ( ie #tomorrowsair)

What will this breakthrough demand from us as a society?

Financial investment. Inter-Governmental subsidies and incentives. Education. Awareness and a willingness to participate and change.

What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?

Our most impactful contribution is the inception of our project- Hearts in the Ice. We left home, family and all of our familiar comforts and ways of living to dive into the frozen Arctic and live in an uninsulated trappers cabin with no running water or electricity. We have been using two solar panels and a windmill to power our devices and our communication equipment. We had a stretch of NOT showering for 9months. We have not used a dish-washer, washing machine, flush toilet, refrigerator, watched tv, taken the train, car or airplane for over 15 months. We have lived a carbon-free existence for over 15 months. We have lived carbon positive as a result of Choose. We our contribution with data collection to researchers as Citizen Scientist and bridging the gap in understanding between science and ordinary people – and - Our monthly Educational classroom calls with experts reaching and engaging thousands of kids and followers around the world, our vast network and our growing Hearts in the ice platform.

In your industry, what do you think will be the most groundbreaking change over the next 10 years?

Travel and Co2 Drawdown and offsets! If we look at what we did before Hearts in the ice, it will be how we transport guests, where and how many and that our future guests will make more contributions. Like contributing as citizen scientists collecting data and plastic and make sure their travel is as sustainably as possible (buying co2 offset – climate quotas or investing in carbon drawdown)

Which brand (in general) do you think is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability?

Marlink, BRP, Telus, #TomorrowsAir, CocoMat, Infinitum, and in the car industry – Hyundai.

What makes you climate positive about the future?

We are stubborn climate optimists. We must have hope, or we are “hopeless”. We know how powerful the individual is, so we are working our butts off to inspire the individual- to share that every drop in the bucket of change matters. We are better informed as people; the science data is there so the challenge is to translate the hard science into stories that people can relate to and find relevant and meaningful- this will inspire action. Leaders are getting more involved, and technology is heading in the right direction- we have the ideas and solutions, and we need investment. We believe both in the power of one and the collective movement. We believe in humans as a species. People are kind and have reverence for our planet- they forget and need reminders.

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