A professional adventurer named Alex Bellini has decided that he’s going to spend an entire year living on an iceberg off the coast of Greenland. His purpose: To show people that climate change is something they should pay attention to.
Bellini also says he’ll be performing scientific study: “My objective is reporting and investigating, by means of scientific methods, the entire lifetime of an iceberg. I want to prove how the pace of ice-melting has dramatically accelerated over the last decades.”
An obvious problem with this scientific aspect of Bellini’s project is that it would take decades to prove that the pace of ice-melting has dramatically accelerated over the last decades. Bellini’s observations won’t provide evidence of global ice-melting, either, just evidence of one iceberg melting.
It isn’t news that icebergs melt, nor is the melting of an iceberg necessarily related to climate change. Icebergs have been observed melting for thousands of years. It’s an expected phenomenon, even if climate change isn’t taking place.
People aren’t really concerned about icebergs melting so much as they are concerned about Arctic Sea Ice thinning, and ice melting on Greenland and Antarctica. Why isn’t Bellini going to watch the ice melting there? Because the scale of these melts isn’t as personal? Because the storyline is wrong?
There’s little drama to Alex Bellini’s trip. The iceberg he’s on will melt. Maybe it will melt away. Perhaps it will melt just a little bit.
In the meantime, there are real scientists doing well-designed, useful scientific research to track global patterns in ice melt. Among them are the people at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. They don’t showboat, but day after day they provide data that are then communicated to people around the world.
Maybe that isn’t adventure, but it is, in the long term, the best way to communicate to people that climate change is an issue they ought to pay attention to.