Today, COP26 gets going in Glasgow. This conference will aim to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. Faced with the enormity of the task ahead, it can seem that personal experience and personal efforts are meaningless – that we are nothing more than ants. But, in this issue of Sidetracked – even though it is not a ‘climate change issue’ as such – we have showcased several features that refute this point of view.
Personal experience can bring truth to a wider audience and change opinions. In ‘Uncontrollable’, a story I found particularly powerful, Graham Zimmerman retreats from high on K2 when faced by astonishingly high temperatures, rockfall, and avalanche.
Personal efforts can also bring about real change. I had a fascinating conversation with Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer and ocean advocate, about his astonishing swim across the Ilulisat Icefjord in Greenland, and this conversation became the feature we’ve called ‘Window of Opportunity’. This fjord is filled with icebergs that calve from the fastest-moving glacier in the world, and while Lewis was there, attempting short and bitingly cold swims across the 7.8km neck of the fjord, he witnessed a colossal calving event – one unlike any he’d seen before in the polar regions. He will take his message to COP26, asking the world’s governments to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Other stories in this issue that resonate powerfully include ‘Overview’ by Martin Hartley, sharing a bewitching series of images (and a change of perspective) from Ellesmere Island. Michael Turek’s intimate images of Siberia are displayed alongside words from Sophy Roberts, and I also very much enjoyed ‘Mind Games’ by Jenny Tough, delving deep into what keeps us pushing forward and improving ourselves. There are many more superb pieces in this issue too, provided by our talented contributors. As a team we’re very proud of this issue.
Finally, this issue includes a Single Moment by me. ‘Sastrugi’ is an abridged extract from The Farthest Shore, depicting a moment of gratitude high on a Scottish mountain on the edge of a disappearing winter.