Reflecting on 2017, one word comes to mind: unbelievable. It’s unbelievable that I should be so fortunate; to have friends and family of whom I draw so much from and am eternally inspired by. These people within my sphere seem incapable of thoughtless compromise and live under their own enchantments. My vibrant, supportive, and engaged community is filled with unbelievable brilliance, creativity, and steely-eyed determination to fight the good fights.
It is unbelievable that I was, again, able to experience so many new, wild, and remote areas of untamed Alaskan wilderness. Traveling through Arctic Alaska last summer was one of the most rewarding and eye opening expeditions of my life. The shorter ventures by bike, packraft, and kayak were all, also, unbelievable.
The flood of support, input, and collaboration regarding the Alaskan climate change education campaign has been unbelievable. Three years ago, I made a New Year vow to become a better climate change communicator and not miss opportunities to learn and share. That vow still stands. Perhaps it runs.
In 2017, we have had to march and protest against systemic and swelling racism. Unbelievable! We had to march, organize, strategize, and mobilize to protect and stand up for science. Unbelievable! We have had to march and stand up for the rights of women. Unbelievable! We have a racist, anti-intellectual, sexual predator for a president who endorses pedophiles. Unbelievable!
Late in 2017, the UN released a report claiming that America—despite being one of the wealthiest countries—is the most economically unequal society in the world. My country spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined and has been at war for 16 years! Unbelievable!
2017 was the warmest year on record without an El Nino. Each of the 10 hottest years on record has occurred since 1998. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus as to why rapid global warming is occurring, 2017 set a record for fossil fuel consumption. Unbelievable!
One of the hardest things for me to reconcile about 2017 has been the disparity between the micro and macro. On the micro level—meaning my community—the fight for justice and right-headedness was in overdrive. On the macro level, autocratic, small-mindedness, with strong overtones of fascism, clutched our national politics.
This observation brings to mind Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” This, I believe.
Happy New Year, everyone. May your optimism wear big boots and be louder than ever.
Below, is smattering of photos from 2017.