Uca Marinescu: I’ve seen the glaciers melting
Published 19th October 2009 - 2 comments - 2028 views -
Uca Maria Marinescu (b. May 15, 1940 in Gheorghieni, county of Harghita, Romania) will remain in history as the world's first sexagenarian who - in one year - reached both Poles on skis. 18 years ago she sold her properties and started an expedition to discover the philosophy of life. She traveled from Antarctica to Papua New Guinea, from the South Pole to Africa and Nepal, from India and Tibet to Europe, from Siberia to the North Pole. She met happy people in the most isolated places in the world, she became an environmentalist and a vegetarian. She saw how the ice caps melt every year, and Antarctica - the land of penguins entered deep into her soul.
You traveled around the globe. What's the place that impressed you the most?
My travels began in my own country and I filled my philosophy of life with the purity and beauty of the Romanian nature and people. Nature has created man, and man grew and developed within nature and things should go on like that. I have a vision of the globe and I believe that Earth is a gift that we, humans, have received, a gift that, unfortunately, we no longer appreciate. Everywhere I went, I found bits of nature somehow but not entirely similar to what we have in Romania. I found a bit of Rodna, Piatra Craiului (mountains), but nature as beautiful as ours does not exist anywhere in the world.
When was your last expedition?
It was in December and January, this year. I was invited by a group of Australian researchers to participate in an international project. The subject was the impact of global warming on the east coast of Antarctica and included the melting of the ice and snow, but also life there. It's the only place where penguins live and the expedition's goal was to protect them. In 2007, I reached the magnetic North Pole. It was one of the most beautiful places but also the hardest expedition I've been to. I had to endure temperatures of -52 degrees Celsius in an area where there is no life. I saw how much the ice is melting, how the ozone layer is broken in strips, and the sun is very strong. I spent 20 minutes on a plain, without any protective mask. So strong was the sun, that after two days, my scalp had started to peel off.
How do people adapt to these changes at the North Pole?
Imagine you'd take one of our men, one of the shepherds from the mountains, and you'd put him in the Sahara Desert. How can he accommodate? It's the same with the Inuit people, with populations that live all over the Arctic and can not bear the sun. Their bodies are developed to live in a cold enviroment. In addition, they depend on the animals there. They have to hunt to eat, and they don't consume more than they need, because they depend on what nature offers them. For example, they hunt one caribou per month. But before the hunt, they follow the caribou herd and choose the oldest one, so their actions do not disturb the ecosystem. Polar foxes disappear, as well as rabbits. Polar bears have to swim to find their food and, as ice is melting and they no longer have where to get out of the water and rest, they eventually drown.
You first reached the polar areas in 2001-2002. How have these areas changed over time?
The damages are obvious. For example, I was in Antarctica in 2001, in early December. One could only see a couple of coastline patches and few rocks at that time. This year, in the same period, one could walk miles away on the Antarctic shores, as there was very little snow left. In order to move on snow and reach the water to feed, penguins had to detour all around the green areas. Everything melts. In Greenland too, you almost can't believe it. I was in Alaska, everything changed there. Grass now grows where snow should normally be. People have their sleighs in front of their houses, they don't used them anymore.
How does the population react to this danger?
Ever since I returned from the last expeditions in 2007 and 2009 I have been very concerned, not that I care about my life, I lived some years ... but people do not realize, nothing is done, no drastic measures are taken to save nature. For example, bees are dying. The world does not understand that if bees die we will not have food anymore. All these things should be said, in order to create panic and then act on it and do something. A lot is written about global warming, but when you are there, when you see what happens in the polar areas, you realize that there is no escape. It is painful. The largest water reserves on Earth are in these two areas. And also in the glaciers of the Himalayas and Greenland, but they melt. The situation is alarming!
What future plans do you have?
I have a habit. I never toot my own horn when I want to do something. I just go, do what I planned and then I come back and say whatever's been done . My 2010 project is at its very beginning. I've been working for some time on the book of my life. It will have a chapter called "Among People", and my 2010 project is about it. I want to go back (or come back) among all the people I've met so far, a kind of tour of the world. The objective is to see what is the current status of life and of the planet, comparing to what I saw over time.
via Green Report
interview by Loredana Pana
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