Following this week's G8 Summit, during which world leaders addressed the pressing issue of global warming, Gov. Bill Ritter (Colorado) announced he is embarking today on a weeklong climate-change expedition to the Norwegian Arctic.
The expedition, which runs through July 19, was organized and is being hosted by the Aspen Institute, National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions. Gov. Ritter will be joining dozens of climate experts, Arctic specialists and leaders of industry, government, culture, religion and philanthropy aboard the National Geographic ship Endeavour.
The expedition sponsors invited Gov. Ritter to attend, present his Colorado Climate Action Plan and participate in policy discussions throughout the trip, including a panel on innovative leadership and climate change.
"Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time," Gov. Ritter said. "This is a challenge that requires unprecedented global cooperation and partnerships. This expedition offers a unique opportunity to exchange information, strategies and insights with a very diverse group of experts and leaders, and to see the impacts of climate change first-hand."
Gov. Ritter issued the Colorado Climate Action Plan in November. The Plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
"Addressing climate change is extremely important to Colorado because our quality of life and so much of our economy – such as tourism, the ski industry, rafting, fishing and agriculture – are tied to our climate," Gov. Ritter said. "With these challenges also come opportunities, including economic and job-creation opportunities. Colorado's future very much depends on how we move forward, and it's vital that we have a leadership role."
Over the past two years, the National Geographic Society's explorers, experts and photographers have participated on several Lindblad Expeditions trips, with a special focus on education and conservation. The Aspen Institute also has created a "Dialogue and Commission on Arctic Climate Change" to identify how action can be taken to strengthen and enhance responsibilities for a shared and sustainable future of the Arctic.
Some of the scientific experts on the expedition:
· Sally Benson, executive director, Global Climate & Energy Project, Stanford University.
· Robert Corell, director, Global Change Program, Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, and former chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.
· Julian Dowdeswell, director, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University.
· Professor Thomas Heller, Stanford University.
· Henry "Jake" Jacoby, professor of management and co-director, MIT Joint Program on the Science & Policy of Global Change.
· Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Princeton University.
· Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam University, Institute for Climate Impact Research.