Donor Profile: An Interview with Carol Sontag

I.  Tell us about yourself!

I was raised by amazing parents in San Carlos, CA. Involved in numerous environmental causes, Mom and Dad taught us to be stewards of the land and that conservation was of the utmost importance. I guess you could say that concern for the environment is in my blood.  I am an avid hiker and am working on completing the Bay Area Ridge Trail with a group of local women. My husband, Mark, and I realize how lucky we are to live in an area where conservation and preservation is a primary focus, and we support many environmental causes. I became interested in climate change after seeing Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" and installed solar panels on our home after seeing the movie. I follow news stories closely and try to learn about the many causes of climate change.

II. Why do you support Ice911?

This is a great question and one that goes back to my days at a registered nurse at a county hospital. Nurses are trained to prioritize care and make those with life-threatening ailments a top priority. I have tried to use these skills in determining where to put my time and resources. I support many worthwhile causes, but Ice911 addresses the most important and pressing environmental issue: global temperature rise. If the earth continues to heat up, the effects will be catastrophic.  I often use the analogy of moving deck furniture on the Titanic. Instead of shuffling chairs around, someone needs to focus on sealing the hole in the ship! In a sense, our planet is sinking, and we need to address the loss of the Arctic ice NOW.

III. What is the most compelling aspect of our work?

I think the most important park of Ice911's mission is their defining principles. The first of these is, "Do no harm." Ice brightening sand used in your work is safe for humans and animals and is reversible. This is something of utmost importance to me.

IV. What gave you the idea for the letter-writing campaign?

I receive numerous emails from many worthy organizations, but they lack direct human to human appeal. I thought if I could reach people and write a personal message, they might take the time out of their busy day to read and respond to the importance of what Ice911 is doing.

V.  What would be your advice to others who might consider doing the same type of campaign?

I would highly encourage them to do so. It has sparked some incredible discussions and also offered hope to many who are paralyzed with fear at the thought that, "there is nothing we can do." There are many things that can be done, and Ice911 buys our planet time to switch to greener energy sources and work on reducing CO2 emissions. By reaching out to friends and loved ones, you offer them the chance to help, to act. This type of support could help leave a world for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

VI. Any last thoughts?

I want people to know that Ice911 might just be the single most important environmental organization of our time. You would be joining forces with a movement that could alter the course of the earth in a positive direction. Ice911 has taught me to be optimistic, to stay positive and keep my eye on the ultimate goal: slowing the Arctic ice melt. There are many bumps along the road of research and development, but we must never give up hope. We must continue to fight for this beautiful world we live in.

Journey to the Top of the World by Paul Walter

I stepped off the plane to be greeted by a frigid wind. To say it was cold would be an understatement; to say it was freezing, though accurate, would still not be enough. The temperature was subzero. To be specific, the temperature was about -18°F without considering wind chill (which easily pushed the temperature below -30°F). The Ice911 team had entered another world called Barrow, Alaska.

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast and met with the local science organization who provided us with myriad forms of assistance: snowmobiles, personnel, advice. We were anxious to get to the test site promptly since our time was short and the work abundant. Before departing via snowmobile, one worker opened a gun safe, retrieving a 12-Gauge shotgun from within. “In case of polar bears,” he said.

I quickly learned one thing performing field research. The field does not care how careful one’s plan is, nor does it mind how intelligent one’s fellow scientists are, nor does it appreciate golden intentions and noble goals. Despite trying to save a piece of Nature, it made every effort to hinder our progress. Extreme conditions create extreme challenges. However, Nature played a dual role of antagonist and source of inspiration. Gazing upon miles of barren ice expanding in every direction, I felt as if I were commingling with a frozen infinity. These moments reinvigorated me with a sense of duty and purpose. Returning to my work, I realized that our work at Ice911 was not only about preserving environments for the sake of human civilization. We also worked for the protection of beauty, the protection of life in the Arctic, and the protection of a special place at the top of the world.

Why it's time to act. A letter from Leslie Field.

Since I started Ice911, there has been a worry that policy-makers and the populace would be tempted to not make any of the needed long-term changes to decarbonize because work like ours could be used to undo the harms from our current energy mix, CO2 emissions, etc. This is an argument based on the concept of moral hazard: the lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from its consequences.

I think things have changed now, however.  Several reasons prove to me that we need to get the word out now, and get it out widely, about our work.

1. If people think that it's absolutely hopeless to adhere to the agreed-upon 2 degree limit, it's demotivating, and there's a certain part of the population that will just give up and not do anything because they don't think there's any point to acting.  I think that if we can give the world some time, and some hope, that the long-term sustainable energy and conservation efforts are very -much needed and that we could make some more time to have a chance to get those longer-term solutionis out there and working, it can empower and motivate some great efforts and great work to get there, rather than resigning ourselves and our children to a very grim future.

2. I think we are clear enough in our messaging that our own work at Ice911 is NOT the whole answer, that it simply buys the world time for these longer-term solutions, and that those longer-term solutions are very much needed, and by being VERY clear about this, that we can avoid some of the moral hazard risks and confusions.

3. I think it is VERY worthwhile, and necessary, to get our ground-rules well-publicized, of insisting that geoengineering solutions be eco-friendly, reversible, and first-do-no-harm, in order to prevent people from desperately choosing some irreversible options with terrible potential side effects.  There are better ways out there, and it's necessary to highlight that fact for the populace and for decision makers before some really regrettable decisions are made.

Stay cool,

Ice911 Successfully Hosts its First Annual Water & Ice Cocktail Party

On Thursday November 17th, 2016, Ice911 hosted its first annual Water & Ice Cocktail Party to raise awareness for arctic ice melt and its devastating impacts. The event featured world-renowned arctic photographer, Camille Seaman, who graced the crowd with hauntingly beautiful images and anecdotes of her travels to both the Arctic circle and Antarctic.

The team at Ice911 would like to extend a thank you to those who attended the event, and a warm welcome to those who were not able to attend to come to our next event for more food, drinks, laughter, and conversation about our collective power to stop arctic ice melt.