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Expedition Around North America: Olivier Pitras and Global Warming

Cruisers from around the globe support Olivier Pitras’ newest adventure “Expedition Around North America,” a 12 month sail of some 18,000 nautical miles that will take place in 21 stages and over nine seas, but with only one goal: to testify on climate change while exploring options available now on our planet to lessen the impact of global warming.

To Pitras, a handsome Frenchman who has been sailing most of his life, global warming and the melting of the icecaps is a real problem with terrifying consequences for human beings.

I chatted with Olivier at Shelter Bay Marina in Panama just after he had gone through the canal with 12,800 miles (23,700 km) behind him in this expedition. He told me,  “Our planet is like a boat and we are all the same crew. In 1999, I made the same passage, circumnavigating North America, and have seen a tremendous change in the melting of the icecaps between 1999 and 2009.  It is the purpose of our expedition to provide necessary information that will educate the world as to our findings. Our aim is to help make the planet healthy through exposure as to what is happening.

“The philosophy of our expedition is to provide the knowledge that will be needed for our planet to act immediately to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to develop new technology about
sustainable energy that is cheaper than what we are now using. The
youth are very into this – France is leading in environmental education
and we would like to set an example, in education, for the world. We are now on the natural global warming cycle that is being accelerated by human industrial activities.

“Instead of denouncing what is happening, we are meeting with knowledgeable people – scientists, writers, business executives, etc., with solutions and are conferring with them. We are all looking into
new technology – now that corporations are aware of what is happening on a planetary level and we have every reason to feel that this approach will be most successful.”

Pitras and his crew started on May 17, in Tromsø, Norway,  where
his sailing vessel, Southern Star, a 75’ Aluminum Sloop designed by
William Tripp and built by Stephens Marine USA, departed with a crew of 12 scientists, educators and journalists aboard.

Stops then included Sitka, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia;
San Francisco, California;  Acapulco, Mexico;  the Panama Canal; Roatan, Honduras;  Miami, Florida; Newport, Rhode Island and Halifax, Nova Scotia. At each stop the team collects information, making scientific observations concerning the actual affects of global warming.

The team then speaks with local scientists and researchers
with whom they will collaborate in an effort to combine their findings at research centers or within individual fields of study thus leading to publication.

Since leaving Vancouver, conferences have been held at each stop
that are providing focus on different themes related to climate change
and thus emphasize the continuing need for international cooperation in
establishing foundations for a sustainable economic development for the
well being of our planet and all life living on it, for the future.

After my talk with Olivier I am convinced of the necessity of acting upon positive solutions immediately in this field and wish this expedition great success. For details: www.69nord.com/english

Nancy Terrell is a freelance writer who has lived in the Caribbean for 22 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Literature and is currently cruising on her trawler, Swan Song.

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