A two week voyage into Canada’s high arctic has changed the life of a Port Moody engineer who now plans to spend more of her life talking about climate change and working on a business she hopes will make a difference to the health of the planet.
The trip aboard the Ocean Endeavour with the 2017 Students on Ice Expedition taught Amelia Trachsel a lot about how climate change is affecting the polar ice caps and changing the lives of Canada’s northern indigenous people.
Along the way, Trachsel came to admire the barren beauty and isolation of the high arctic.
“The mountains are in scales that you would never see down here because in the absence of trees the entire geology is just bare before you. You can see the workings of time very clearly, and there is hardly any people,” commented Trachsel in an interview with The Tri-City News.
The 15-day trip which began Aug. 8 took Trachsel, teachers and students to the site of the doomed Franklin expedition, several migratory bird sites, indigenous communities, Baffin Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Greenland noted for producing the most icebergs of all glaciers in Greenland and the the Greenland ice cap.
They also participated in some invigorating hikes and workshops on subjects such as arctic geology, oceanography, ocean biology, indigenous history and arctic sovereignty, including activities led by Trachsel on women in science and engineering.
There were some dramatic moments as well, such as when Trachsel saw ice crashing into the fjords of Greenland.
It was a jaw-dropping experience, the former Port Moody city engineer recalls.
“The glacier discharges contain more ice per day than New York City drinks in a year,” she said.
Although conditions aboard the Ocean Endeavour were somewhat cramped and sleep was hard to achieve with daylight lasting so long into the night, Trachsel said the experience was amazing both for herself and her young charges, whose ages ranged from 14 to 25.
The food was also good, much better than Trachsel expected, and better than most trips into the field, where the staple food is dried meals heated up with water.
Now that she is home, Trachsel plans on giving talks and slide shows on the trip, likely with other students who went on the expedition. As well, she plans on devoting herself full-time to her software company called C-Change Labs, which helps companies measure their carbon footprints so they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
“I think when you have the benefit of such a privileged experience and the ability to see and learn things with your own eyes, there’s an incumbent duty to communicate that with people — either that’s about the wonderful people I met in the north and experiencing the foods and traditions or seeing how much the glaciers have retreated and seeing people’s stories about how they can’t rely on sea ice anymore being safe to hunt off of and see how it’s changed in generations,” Trachsel said.
With one story, one company and and one photo at a time, she hopes to make a difference.
Trachsel will be presenting a travelogue at the Port Moody Public Library this Monday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. Call 604-469-4577 to reserve a seat.