Photo provided by Natalie Caine
Q&A with Natalie Caine, Arctic campaign organizer for Ice Ride Toronto
The ICE RIDE takes place across Canada on Saturday, Oct.4
by Jenna Campbell
"What happens in the Arctic, doesn't stay in the Arctic."
Pre-ride activities begin at noon at Greenpeace Garden at 33 Cecil Street. The convoy will depart at 1 p.m. and stop at various “climate change landmarks” across the city. The tour is inclusive to all ages and levels of ability.
How did you first get involved with Greenpeace and the Ice Ride?
I have been working with campaigns and with volunteers at Greenpeace for about six years. So this project, Ice Ride, originated last September. We did one in cities across the world and this year, we continue to see impacts of climate change in the Arctic and governments and corporations are still making plans to go into this fragile region and drill for oil, plan for commercial fishing and other types of large-scale heavy industry that is detrimental to the environment.
How will this year differ from last year's Ice Ride?
Last year was sort of our first attempt to mobilize the cycling community and get environmentalists and social justice activists on the streets, speaking out for this issue. We visited oil companies, such as Shell — companies that are actually planning to drill (in the Arctic) -- so this year there is more of a focus on the political future and decision-making power of our politicians to actually make this sanctuary possible. We want to build on the momentum and excitement from last year.
Just this month, we did an international poll that revealed 74 per cent of the world population support the creation of a protected sanctuary in international waters. So a huge majority of the world agrees with the principals of this campaign and we need a political solution to make it happen. We want to draw attention to that.
What is an Arctic "sanctuary" and why is it important?
It's one of the last untouched places on the planet.
What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. As sea levels rise because of the Arctic melting, we know climate change is affecting us all and that is why we believe this is an international issue.
We should be using the Arctic as a warning sign and instead, our governments are enabling corporations to go and exploit this fragile ecosystem for the same resource that is causing global warming in the first place — and that would be oil.
One other point about why it's so urgent: we know corporations don't have a responsible record when it comes to oil drilling. We've seen humongous drilling-spills disasters around the world and we know if it happens in the Arctic, they don't have the proper plans in place to clean it up. It's an extremely dangerous and reckless endeavour and we need to prevent that with a sanctuary.
What is the biggest challenge to save the Arctic right now?
Climate change is a global problem that should be number one on our political leader's agenda. [Eds Note: Look at what just happened in NYC with the People's Climate March: 400,000 protesters!] Continued efforts to drill for oil in these areas is really dangerous and the impact would be irreversible.
Is Antarctica under threat as well?
Greenpeace has been involved with similar campaign efforts in the last decade in creating a similar type of protected area in Antarctica. There's things politically speaking that are different like sovereignty issues in the Arctic, but the principle is the same with these pristine areas, especially when we're developing and expanding all over the world.
We call the Arctic the refrigerator of the planet. It's what keeps regulating temperatures and climate around the world so in particular, the south pole is also important, but in particular now we're seeing the Arctic really under threat and prioritized in corporate and political agendas as a place that they want control of [for oil].
Before the ride, there is a Greenpeace's geothermal system tour offered. Can you tell us about that?
Another reason Ice Ride in Toronto is different than last year is that we're partnering with Green Energy Doors Open, which is an event that is taking place across Ontario to showcase sustainable energy. The tour of the geothermal system in our office building is just one aspect of the tour and we hope to visit a couple other locations with the Green Energy Doors Open buildings to show people that green energy, renewable energy, are viable solutions and they are actually all over the city.
How many people are you hoping to attend to event?
We're hoping for hundreds of people to come out. We know that about 40 countries around the world are going to be organizing Ice Rides - so we're thinking of it as a global goal and that together we're riding in solidarity with each other, with people on the front lines in climate change in the Arctic, and more generally, those working towards greener and more renewable energy sources. So we're hoping thousands and thousands when we add up those participants around the world, but in Toronto, specifically, we are hoping for hundreds.
Participants at Ice Ride Toronto 2013. Photo by Brett Gundlock.
Who will be speaking and performing during the event?
We're going to have a couple of speakers from the Greenpeace office: climate energy campaigner, Shawn-Patrick Stensil, and Arctic campaigner, Farrah Khan, and we've also been endorsed by Toronto350, which is another climate-focused organization in the city [that just took 3,000 people to represent Toronto in NYC at the People's Climate March] so we'll be having another speaker from there and more details to be confirmed soon.
How would you describe the event for someone who has never been?
They should expect to learn more about the Arctic. We welcome people that have a background in environmental issues and those that are new and curious and just care about the planet! They should expect a family-friendly, fun and festival-like atmosphere that will leave them inspired, educated and ready to jump into more action to defend the Arctic.
Why is the event a "ride"?
We know that people who do love cycling and being outside tend to be more aware and care about the planet so we want to invite that community to come with us on this journey, but we also know there are other people who enjoy unicycling, rollerblading, skateboarding, BMX biking, running, etc., so we're inviting all sort of active participants to share their love of being active and the outdoors by creating that sense of community on the street.
Who can come?
We are asking people to bring their own wheels, but also the spirit of knowing that not everyone has access to bicycles nor does everyone have the same physical ability level, so I want to emphasize that the ride is for all levels of riding abilities and it will be a non-strenuous ride.
If anyone has accessibility needs, we will be arranging for an accessibility vehicle to go along with the ride if it is needed. People just need to get in touch and make that request:
Individuals can call Natalie at 1-647-588-4195 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
See you on Saturday, October 4!
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