EPIC Expedition Ends

GW 101Global Warming 101, a three month expedition across Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle, has completed its mission.

The purpose of the expedition, which was sponsored in part by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) and Fagen, Inc., was to draw attention to the effects global climate change is having on native Inuit population in some of the coldest areas of the world – the first to see the impacts of the warming of the earth.

DogsEPIC executive director Tom Slunecka and Fagen president Ron Fagen both traveled to the small remote fishing and hunting community of Iqaluit for the conclusion of the expedition.

“Most people wouldn’t think that there’s a connection between biofuels and the Arctic circle,” Slunecka said. “But as we’ve discovered, ethanol’s ability to reduce harmful gases that contribute to global warming is dramatic, and there’s no more dramatic place to see it than to go to the North Pole.”

Slunecka says world-renowned explorer Will Steger talked with the Inuit people to find out about the changes they have been seeing. “The elders in the tribes have seen a large change in insects, birds and plant life now being introduced in the region,” he said. “With the warming climate, they are very concerned about new diseases being introduced that will ultimately affect everyone who lives in the region.”

Listen to an interview with Tom here:

Arctic Mission Continues

Steger TeamWill Steger is now half way through the Global Warming 101 Expedition across the Arctic. As Steger and his team continue their journey, they are seeing drastic changes in the landscape.

Recently, the team passed through the Pangnirtung Pass. This area has often been known as “the land where ice never melts,” but over the last 40 years the overhanging glaciers have been disappearing or becoming significantly smaller due to melting.

The area of Pangnirtung also relies on the sea ice for its livelihood, because the ice allows the people to hunt for seals and fish. Nearly 80 percent of their food comes from hunting and fishing. Due to the thinner and breaking sea ice, the people of Pangnirtung have had to change their lifestyle. This has greatly disrupted the culture that has been carried down through generations.

Steger notes that the ethanol industry, through the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, is an important sponsor of the expedition. “It is important to focus on the solutions that are currently available, and EPIC is helping with that solution by spreading the word about ethanol,” said Steger. “It’s essential to lower our carbon emissions to help save areas like Pangnirtung.”

Bush on Biofuels

During a White House press briefing on Monday with European leaders, President Bush commented on his goals for renewable fuels and the current research in producing ethanol from sources other than corn in response to a foreign journalist’s question about global environmental concerns:

I have said we’ll have a mandatory fuel standard, not a voluntary fuel standard, but a mandatory fuel standard that will reduce our uses of gasoline by 20 percent over a 10-year period of time. We believe that ethanol and biodiesel, the spread of ethanol and biodiesel are — the goal of spreading ethanol and biodiesel is achievable, that’s what we believe. And we’re spending a lot of money to achieve that goal.

Now, the spread of ethanol in the United States is not going to be achievable if we rely only upon corn. There is a limit to the amount of ethanol we can produce with corn as a feedstock. So our research dollars are going to what they call cellulosic ethanol, and that means the ability to make ethanol from switchgrasses or wood chips. And we’re spending a lot of money to that end.

White HouseAnd it is a mandatory approach. And the reason why I laid it out is because, one, I do believe we can be better stewards of the environment; and, two, I know it’s in our national interest to become less dependent on foreign sources of oil. The fundamental question is, will America be able to develop the technology necessary for us to achieve the goal. I think we can. It’s in our interest to share that technology, not only with our partners who are wealthy enough to spend money on research dollars, but also with the developing world.

Now you talk about helping alleviate poverty in the developing world — wouldn’t it be wonderful if the developing world could grow crops that would enable them to power their automobiles, so they wouldn’t have to be dependent on foreign oil, either. And that’s the message I took down to South America, with Lula, and to Central America. For example, sugar cane is the most — you’re learning about ethanol here, but sugar cane is the most efficient way to make ethanol. It turns out in Central America there is a lot of land and opportunity to continue to produce cane, which means that the Central American countries could be eventually net exporters of energy. So we’ve got a lot of common ground and a lot of area to work on.

Earth Day on Baffin Island

Global Warming 101 logoThe latest update from explorer/environmentalist Will Steger comes from Earth Day (this past Sunday) on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. As you might remember from our previous posts, Steger is leading a team of three other explorers and educators and four native Inuits on a four-month-long, dog-sled expedition across the island.

Listen to Steger’s Earth Day audio update:

Will Steger“This is basically Ground Zero for global warming. It’s being played out to a large degree in the sea ice. As the ocean warms from the carbon dioxide blanket effect heating the globe, heat goes into the ocean. Because of this, we’re getting later freeze-ups.”

Steger says the local culture is really starting to feel the effects because the Inuits rely so much on the ice as a means of transportation and as their hunting platform.

But Steger points out there is hope. He says even the little decisions we make everyday can make a change… energy efficient light bulbs, using less power, etc. He says, however, the time to act is now, because there might be less than 10 years before the effects are felt worldwide.

“Some of the native people up here say ‘Global warming is affecting us here, but what people in the South don’t realize, it will soon affect (them)’ ”

The expedition and its educational efforts are being supported by the ethanol industry through the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and Fagen Inc.

See Steger’s Earth Day video here.

Arnold Pumps Biofuels

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about making biofuels cool and sexy during two speeches last week on the East Coast.

Schwarzenegger spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations Board in New York on Thursday and at the Global Environmental Leadership Conference at Georgetown University on Wednesday, making nearly identical speeches comparing the environmental movement to bodybuilding and the need to make being green sexier.

Arnold “You have to make things cool, you have to make things sexy and cutting edge,” he said. “And so we don’t have to take away the cars from the people, the SUVs, the Hummers, and the muscle cars. No. That formula is a formula for failure. Instead, what we have to do is make those muscle cars and those SUVs and those Hummers more environmentally muscular. That is what we have to do. This is why now one of my Hummers runs on biofuel, and the other one of my Hummers runs on hydrogen fuel.”

At the Georgetown conference, which was sponsored by Newsweek, the governor appeared on stage next to a large poster of the current Newsweek cover, which portrays a smiling Schwarzenegger balancing Earth on one finger above the headline, “Save the Planet – Or Else.”

Full text and video of Schwarzenegger’s speeches available on the governor’s website.

Global Warming Education

GW 101 One of the goals of Will Steger’s Global Warming 101 expedition is to educate students about the impact of global climate change on the people living closest to the Arctic Circle.

That’s why there are two educators on the expedition, which is currently traveling across Canada’s Baffin Island. One of them is Abby Fenton of Boston, Massachusetts.

“Right now we have six lesson plans that are all aligned to national standards that are available for free, easy to download, for junior high through high school and then we have a set of over 50 activities based on global warming and those are also free,” said Fenton. There are also a variety of other educational materials on the website, all of which will be updated on a regular basis throughout the expedition.

AbbyFenton says the lessons on the website will document the affect of global climate change on the Inuit people to educate young people about a culture they often learn nothing about in school. In addition, the educational materials on the website include actions that individuals can take to make a difference, such as using ethanol-enriched fuel.

“It’s not that ethanol is the end-all solution to global warming, but it’s a step toward a whole new way of thinking,” Fenton said. “So, we’re really excited about that partnership, something people can do that is out there now and available.”

The expedition and its educational efforts are being supported by the ethanol industry through the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and Fagen Inc.

Global Warming 101 invites anyone who would like to learn more to download lesson plans from the website, www.globalwarming101.com.

Listen an interview with Abby done in Ely, Minnesota shortly before the team left on their expedition: Listen to MP3 File Abby Fenton (6 min MP3)

“Hood Up, Head Down and Alone with Thoughts”

Will Steger Those are the words of Will Steger, famed Arctic explorer, now on a four-month-long, 1200-mile expedition across the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island.

Global Warming 101 So what is Steger trying to prove as today he and his sleddog team approach Iqaluit, Canada through -50 degree wind chills? Ironically enough, global warming.

Listen here to his audio dispatch from Day 5 that might be one of the most telling accounts of what global warming seems to be doing to at least this part of the world:
“The terrain is noticeably different than it was before. In particular, the snow conditions have changed. Very, very hard-packed snow conditions.”

“We didn’t see any tracks of wildlife… the migrations have changed.”

Meanwhile, his Global Warming 101 web site is providing updates on the effects to the local Inuits as his team travels from village to village:

During the week-long visits to each Inuit village, the team will listen to and document the Inuit’s experience with climate change. These collected images, sounds and stories will illustrate the dramatic climate-related changes happening in the Arctic: starving polar bears, retreating pack ice, melting glaciers, disrupted hunting and traveling, and the unraveling of a traditional way of life.

EPIC The ethanol industry, through the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) and Fagen, Inc., are natural sponsors for Steger’s expedition as both try to show there are better ways to treat the planet than our dependence on fossil fuels.

Check out updates including interactive maps, pictures,and even audio updates from Steger at the Global Warming 101 web site!

UN Panel Recommends Increased Biofuels Use

UN FoundationThe United Nations Foundation has released a report outlining a “roadmap for reducing risks from climate change.”

Among the report’s recommendations are “mproving efficiency in the transportation sector through measures such as vehicle efficiency standards, fuel taxes, and registration fees/rebates that favor purchase of efficient and alternative fuel vehicles” and “expanding the use of biofuels through energy portfolio standards and incentives to growers and consumers.”

The final report of the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development was prepared as input for the upcoming meeting of the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development.

Ethanol Enhances Explorer’s Education Efforts

e-podcastIn this edition of “Fill Up, Feel Good” we explore an explorer’s efforts to educate people about global climate change and how ethanol is helping.

Artic explorer Will Steger is leading a 1200-mile, four-month-long dogsled expedition across the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island. Ethanol plant builder Fagen, Inc., and the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council are the primary sponsors of Global Warming 101. More information, regular updates, and educational information from the expedition can be found at www.globalwarming101.com.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. (5:00 MP3 File)

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Freezing to Report on Global Warming

Ely MeBeing a Floridian at heart, if not by birth, I can honestly say I have never been in weather as cold as last weekend in Ely, Minnesota when I had the opportunity to attend Ely’s Winter Festival and visit with the community’s favorite son, arctic exporer Will Steger.

Fortunately I did dress for the part, but I still had to wear fairly thin gloves to take pictures and there was one point that my hands went numb and it took 15 minutes of warming over a pot-bellied stove to get them to stop hurting.

It is a little difficult to operate a camera in sub-zero temperatures. Each of my two digital cameras froze up once on me during the picture taking at the Steger homestead.

Ely Col The official low Saturday night was 32 below zero, but it had warmed up to a balmy 25 below when we left Ely on Sunday morning to catch a plane out of Duluth.

It was a beautiful place and an interesting experience. Maybe I can go back there in the summertime!

Explorer, Environmentalist, Educator and Ethanol Evangelist

Will and Bear The dogs may be pulling the sled when world-renowned arctic explorer Will Steger departs on his latest expedition February 14, but the trip will be powered by ethanol.

When Steger was looking for sponsors to support his Global Warming 101 expedition, he decided that the ethanol industry would be a natural choice.

“I’ve been talking up the benefits of ethanol for 18 years,” Steger said. “I wrote a book in 1988 and in that book I talked about ethanol as being one of the solutions.”

So, Steger approached Ron Fagen, president of Fagen, Inc. in Granite Falls, Minnesota, about the idea last year and Ron not only jumped at the opportunity, he brought the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) on board as well.

Fagens Will and Jeff“The world has become acutely aware that the use of fossil fuels is warming our planet at an alarming rate,” said Fagen. “We are honored to support his efforts to document these effects and inspire changes that will halt this trend.”

Steger says he really believes that if Americans use more ethanol it will make a positive difference in the global climate situation and it has other benefits as well. “It’s best for our economy and our national security and above all supporting our people in the rural areas,” he said. Steger is pictured here with Ron and Diane Fagen and Team Ethanol Indy Car driver Jeff Simmons.

Listen to a brief interview with Will done at the Mukluk Ball this past weekend in Ely, Minnesota. Listen To MP3 Steger Interview (1:30 min MP3)

To help support the Global Warming 101 expedition, EPIC is selling cute little polar bears in ethanol t-shirts, like the one Will is holding in the top picture. Go to www.drivingethanol.org and click on the e-mart link on the right side of the home page, then choose “polar expedition” under merchandise categories. They also have t-shirts.

Global Warming at 28 Below

A quick Google news search for “global warming” today turns up nearly 2,000 articles in the first heading, thanks to a new study that says global warming is “underway right now, humans caused it, and it will continue for centuries, no matter what we do.”

The study was released in Paris by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

<br />
BodmanAt a press conference in Washington, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said, “Human activity is contributing to changes in the Earth’s climate. That issue is no longer up for debate.”

Bodman said the Bush administration’s energy policies “go hand in hand with our efforts to address climate change,” with an emphasis on more research for hydrogen, solar power and ethanol production technologies.

That echoes the views expressed just last month by arctic explorer Will Steger in a press release announcing that the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council will be sponsoring his Global Warming 101 expedition this year. “There’s never been a more critical time to act. The debate is over,” said Steger. “Ethanol is available now to consumers. A renewable fuel, it’s a critical part of the solution.”

<br />
Ely MNSteger’s expedition is scheduled to head off to the Great White North on Valentine’s Day, but this weekend he will be celebrating with a send-off party in his home town of Ely, Minnesota. The event will be held at the Mukluk Ball, part of the Ely Winter Festival.

This Domestic Fuel reporter will be there, decked out in faux mukluks and a brand-new down coat, hoping to survive the frigid festivities. The AccuWeather forecast calls for a low of 28 degrees below zero Saturday night.

Global Warming Expedition Kickoff

GW 101Legendary explorer Will Steger kicked off his Global Warming 101 Expedition this past weekend at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Jeff and DogTeam Ethanol IndyCar® Series driver Jeff Simmons was among those on hand to see the expedition off, since the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is a major Global Warming 101 sponsor. He got a chance to make friends with one of the huskies who will be leading the four month, 1200 mile dogsled expedition across the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island.

Dogsled TeamSteger also introduced his team members, Abby Fenton, Elizabeth Andre, and John Stetson, as well as documentary filmmaker Jerry Stenger and photographer and webmaster Jim Paulson who will accompany him on the expedition. The team is pictured here with two of the expedition dogs, and the banner is being hoisted by EPIC Communications Director Joanna Schroeder and Simmons. Steger is the one in the middle.

This weekend, the expedition will be in Steger’s hometown of Ely, Minnesota for another send-off event at the Mukluk Ball.

Ethanol and Global Warming 101

GW 101In an effort to bring attention to the issue of global climate change and the role ethanol can play in the solution, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council has joined the team for explorer Will Steger’s Global Warming 101 Expedition, according to an EPIC release.

StegerSteger, who has long been a proponent of alternative energy in the fight against global warming, will begin a four month dogsled expedition next month across the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island.

“There’s never been a more critical time to act. “The debate is over,” said Steger. “Ethanol is available now to consumers. A renewable fuel, it’s a critical part of the solution.”

E BearEPIC is offering a way for everyone to help in the effort. Visitors to www.drivingethanol.org can purchase an expedition T-shirt or a cute and cuddly polar bear stuffed animal. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Will Steger Foundation.

Domestic Fuel will be on location in Ely, Minnesota February 3 when the Steger expedition prepares to cross the border into Canada to get up close and personal with Will and his team of 24 trained dogsled pullers. Stay tuned for more.