Understanding climate
for the benefit of society

On our way to Fiji, via the Greenland ice sheet. Photo: Kjersti Konstali

Going South

Charlotte Rahlves reflects on the contradicting aspects of the travel in this first blog piece.


In my ears the howling turbine of the Dash-8 Bombardier, taking me from Bergen to Helsinki, the first of three stops on my journey to Suva, Fiji. My laptop is vibrating as I type this first blog entry documenting our journey.

I’m traveling to the South Pacific with a group of thirteen people, ten PhD students and three lecturers. In a couple of days we will board the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a three-masted 98-meter-long tall ship.

We are joining the One Ocean Expedition, an expedition arranged to raise awareness about the crucial role of the ocean, its value and its vulnerability. For three weeks we will sail on the Statsraad from Fiji to Samoa, to Tonga and back to Fiji. We will be documenting our journey while teaching bachelor students to produce outreach material on the IPCC report on climate change.

Traveling to Fiji
Ready for takeoff: Our group at Bergen airport. Photo: Thomas Spengler

Traveling to Fiji... for the climate?

But before we can go onboard, we have to endure 24 hours of flight time, distributed over four airplanes, and more that 12 hours in transit areas. Time enough to let my mind wander and to mentally prepare for this trip.

There is this one big question that has been on my mind for weeks now, and that I again cannot escape: What exactly are we doing here? Why are we going all the way to Fiji to write about the IPCC report? The irony of us taking 4 flights just to write about climate change is more than obvious.

To unknown waters

No matter how I turn it, I can’t convince myself to dissolve this contradiction. So I guess for now I have to simply accept it. Instead I focus on what lies ahead. We are literally going to the other side of the globe. I wonder what to expect from this journey. At this point I have so many question marks.

I’m a bit skeptical, but mostly curious. What will we experience during this trip, what will we learn, what will we share? Most of all I’m looking forward to meet colleagues and students from the University of the South Pacific, who will join us onboard the Statsraad. Could it be that the greatest value of this journey lies in the exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences with these fellows? Whatever it will be, I guess the answer will reveal itself along the journey.