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This Man Plans to Live Alone on an Iceberg for a Year
If everything goes to plan, Alex Bellini could become the first person to live on an iceberg, where temperatures hover between 5 to −4 degrees Fahrenheit and gale-force winds blow.
The 38-year-old Italian public speaker and adventurer, who crossed two oceans alone on a row boat and ran across the U.S. in 70 days, recently spoke about his project, Adrift, a years'-long ambition to live in a survival capsule on a Greenland iceberg.
Once a suitable iceberg is selected, Bellini plans to conduct research on climate change's affect on ice sheets and to test the limits of human endurance and survival.
"I'm not in love with Greenland, and I'm not personally in love with ice, even though I was born in the mountains," Bellini told IFL Science. "[The reason I'm doing this] is exploring, knowing, trying to understand how you can cope with unpredictable situations."
According to the Adrift mission website, sensors and devices will be placed on the iceberg to collect real-time data about ice structure and its evolution as it drifts.
"This data, never collected before, will help scientists to understand important issues about climate change on Planet Earth," the site states.
Bellini plans to stay in a specially-designed aluminum capsule for up to 12 months or until the iceberg flips—a natural phenomenon that occurs from melting ice and an imbalance in frozen water.
The capsule was developed by a Seattle-based company called Survival Capsule, which designed its patented personal safety system to protect against tsunami events, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and storm surges.
According to a 2015 Outside article, the capsule will carry 300 to 400 kilograms of food, a wind generator, solar panels, and an EPIRB beacon if rescue is needed. It will also be equipped with Wi-Fi, a work table, electronic panels and a foldable bed so Bellini has room to exercise.
Bellini expressed confidence that the product would be strong enough to survive storms or getting crushed by icebergs.
"I fell in love with the capsule," he told Outside about the three-meter, ten-person version he selected. "I'm in good hands."
Other than living in an inhospitable climate and flipping off an iceberg into open waters, the adventurer said that boredom could be his one of his greatest challenges.
As IFL Science reported, Bellini initially wanted to kick off the mission around winter 2018. However, funding issues have stalled the project, and more than $500,000 still needs to be raised.
Learn more about the project in the video above and this FAQ link here.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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