Originally published by Greenpeace Africa on April 9, 2013:
Africa and the Arctic.
It seems like all those two places have in common is the same first letter.
One is known for its abundant wildlife, almost year-round sunshine, and as the home of over 1 billion people. And the other, at first glance, is almost the opposite.
But even though it has its own unique wildlife and Indigenous Peoples who call the Arctic home, we have something much more worrying in common with that place at the top of the world.
Like Africa, the Arctic is at the forefront of climate change. And what happens in the Arctic is going to affect us here in Africa in ways many of us haven’t even considered yet.
Renny Bijoux, a youth ambassador from the Seychelles, considered this. He thought about how the melting Arctic sea ice wreaks havoc on our weather patterns, and that all that open water absorbs more heat (instead of the ice that used to reflect it back up into the atmosphere). The faster the ocean warms, the faster land-based ice sheets like Greenland will melt, causing sea levels to rise which could submerge the entire island he calls home. He considered all this, and then he went to the Arctic to plant a flag for the future of all 1 billion of us.
Renny is part of Team Aurora, the group of activists who are currently trekking to the North Pole to lower a flag 4km to the seabed. Attached to the flag will be a capsule containing nearly three million signatures calling for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole.
When you look at the vast, open ridges where the team is right now in the Arctic, the size of this fight is really brought home. It somehow seems poetic that it’s someone from our continent’s smallest state (that’s the Seychelles) who’s gone to face this fight.
But this time, it’s not a David vs Goliath battle, because although it may just be Renny out there on the ice, he’s carrying the hopes of millions of us, and he’s carrying that inimitable African sunshine in his heart.
Go well, Renny, we’re all with you!