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Happy Environmental Journalism price winner

Last year I became a runner-up for the Brian Black Memorial Award with my story about Gate to the Arctic environmental trip to Bear Island, a remote Arctic Island situated between mainland Norway and Svalbard.  And I was very happy and proud of that. But just like environmental work: You can’t give up. Never. So this year I sent in my story after witnessing the rapid climate change we saw on our expedition to Svalbard. And guess what? I won with the article The icy sound of climate change.

Bjonhamna på Svalbard
The climate changes on Svalbard happen four times faster than in the rest of the world. Photo: James Austrums

I’m of course very proud to receive the prize for Marine Environmental Journalism, and it gives me the inspiration to continue the work for a more sustainable ocean and the Arctic. My strong point is reporting what I experience sailing in the cold waters of the world, and combining it with research done by the scientific community. That way I can, hopefully, get more people to understand that the path we are heading down is getting us to disaster fast and that we have to change our consumption mentality, and how we treat the ocean and earth.

Sustainable is a buzzword loved by politicians and various decision-makers. Unfortunately, it’s just a word they seldom back up with action or funding (pretty much the same thing). Just look at the upcoming COP27. This is the 27th UN Climate Change Conference which started in 1992. That’s 31 years and 27 conferences, and we still see the temperature rising. The main winners of these conferences are airline companies that scuttle delegates to different conferences, and hotels that house them. The result for the climate is at best meager.

But we have to keep fighting.

Last year I co-founded the non-profit Gate to the Arctic. Our aim is to educate young people from all over the world about the climate changes in the Arctic, and what other challenges this pristine area faces. They are numerous: Plastic in the ocean, the decline in fish and bird stocks, oil exploration, and more.

Our hope is that the coming generation will be able to fix what we have destroyed: The climate. The really scary thing is that we know the consequences of our actions and lifestyle- and still, we keep on doing it.

The generous prize money (2500 GBP) from the Brian Black Memorial Award will be donated to Gate to the Arctic, and of course, the mandatory 1.500 GBP goes to the important work of Sea-Changers.

Winner of the Brian Black Memorial Award 2022
Winner of the Brian Black Memorial Award 2022

This is what Yachting Monthly writes about the award:

The Brian Black Memorial Award was established last year in order to commemorate the lives of Brian and his wife Lesley Black.

Brian was a lifelong sailor, a television journalist for RTE in Ireland, UTV in Northern Ireland, and later through his own production company.

He was also a passionate advocate for the marine environment, writing and filmmaking about the crises facing fragile Arctic ecosystems. He was also a regular contributor to Yachting Monthly.

His wife Lesley blazed a trail for women in sailing, becoming the first female yacht club commodore in Northern Ireland, and was an author in her own right.

The award is again being sponsored by marine electronics company B&G.

Jon Amtrup
Author, sailor and podcaster.


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