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These Climate Scientists Literally Brought Their Arctic Basecamp to Davos

The Arctic Base Camp at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: Facebook / ArcticDavos
The Arctic Base Camp at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: Facebook / ArcticDavos

A team of climate scientists decided to take the ‘What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic’ mantra literally and travelled to Davos, with their basecamp in tow.

The experts and researchers with decades worth of experience in the Arctic say the region is experiencing “dramatic changes,” as a result of climate change, and that unless action is taken it will result in “profound global consequences and risks.”

To draw attention to their presence at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland the group set up a scientific basecamp near the event in Davos. “The science community understands the gravity of the risk that Arctic change presents. But we need the message to travel further and wider,” they explained in an online statement.

The temperature in the Swiss mountain resort hovers around -20 degrees Celcius at the moment. But for Gail Whiteman, director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, that is not a problem.

Whiteman told the BBC that she, along with 10 other scientists, is willing to sleep in Arctic conditions to make sure they get their message across.

It Affects us All

Like Antartica, the Artic is more sensitive to climate change than the rest of the world. But in their statement the scientists warn: “What happens in the Arctic does not stay there, it affects us all.”

The Arctic includes the Arctic Ocean and neighbouring seas, as well as parts of Denmark (Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the United States (Alaska), Canada and Russia.

Shrinking sea ice coverage is already harming wildlife in the region and contributes to rising sea levels around the world. The Arctic’s thawing permafrost, meanwhile, could release large amounts of methane – an extremely potent greenhouse gas.

The European Union’s climate innovation initiative, Climate-KIC, has set up a special Nordic Centre near Copenhagen in Denmark to help entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses throughout the region develop business solutions to climate change.

Evidence-Based Decisions

Through a change.org petition, the researchers in Davos are calling on the United Nations and the leaders at the World Economic Forum to help create a global “Arctic Risk and Response Team” to make sure future policy choices will be “evidence-based, and not ideologically driven.”

The group says it is key “politicians, policy-makers, industry leaders and the public have access to up-to-date and robust science available.” Without extra help, the scientists say they do not have the “logistical capacity and budget to tackle the challenges that Arctic change throws up.”

Yesterday (18 January), former US vice president Al Gore and former UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres were among the WEF attendees to meet with the researchers for special discussion about climate science. You can watch a recording of the meeting on the ArcticDavos Facebook page.

Find out more about how Climate-KIC is working with entrepreneurs, researchers and the public sector across the Nordic region to find solutions to climate change.

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