#Interview: Emmanuel Hussenet

What brought you to Bulgaria?
Mrs. Radosveta Krestanova, a French teacher, who is also very nature concerned, invited me to participate in a debate about COP21 in the French Institute and then in a debate with students of Sofia University.

Explain the purpose of “The Robinsons of Ice” project to the Bulgarian audience.
The aim was to organize expeditions to the east coast of Greenland to raise public the awareness of the disappearance of the glaciers in the Arctic Ocean. These glaciers play a very important role because they are the air conditioners of the northern hemisphere, our climates and the ocean currents depend on them.

In which other countries has the project been presented?
The project was created in France where it spreads step by step, and although its vocation is generally international, it has not yet been officially presented in another country.

Does it intend to overcome the barrier of the French language?
Currently, there is no translation project foreseen… We need to find a publisher in another country, and translation is a long and complicated process! The project aims mainly to overcome the barrier of national interests. What happens in the Arctic concerns us all.

How did you get interested in the problems related to the disappearance of the glaciers?
I organized a lot of expeditions in these areas, during the summer by sea with kayaks and during the spring – skiing. Global warming is three times stronger in the Arctic than in Europe or Africa. Its consequences are so obvious that they would often hinder my expeditions and those of my colleagues. The problems that we face most often are mainly related to the disappearance of the glaciers, which makes it impossible for us to cross some fjords on ski or dog sleds as we did before, and the increasing precipitation, which results in a much thicker snow that prevents the progress of the expeditions.

Do you think that the melting process is reversible and what can be done to restore the balance of nature?
I think, unfortunately, there is not much to do… We have changed the chemical structure of the atmosphere, this must not be underestimated! And our civilization, based on abundant energy provided by coal, gas or oil, doesn`t seem to be at all on the road to change, despite the great speeches and declarations of good intentions. If the world could stop avoiding the problem, we would already be making good progress…

Hans Island is disputed territory between Denmark and Canada. Your project “Hans Universalis” supports the idea that the island should belong to everyone. How can this be achieved and why is it so important? What kind of support do you need for the cause?
For the moment, we mostly need society to be captivated by the symbol, represented by Hans Island. If we cannot transfer, even imaginary, in this territory, we won’t have any control on what will be happening in the Arctic in a few years when the ice will already have melted. The great nations will share the last untapped resources of the planet and we will enter a, without doubt irreversible, phase of decline. The planet we all depend on will have been plundered. It seems to me that nowadays the least we can do is to be aware of what is happening, and to take a position as responsible human beings. This is what www.hansuniversalis.org is offering.

The film “Ultimate Glaciers” reveals the experience of “The Robinsons of Ice” during the expeditions. Is it difficult to make a film in the midst of harsh polar conditions?
Yes, it’s complicated… Not so much because of the cold, which is rarely extreme, or the batteries, which are very resistant, but because of the logistics, because we are very limited in terms of place and technical means. The environment requires us constant efforts to progress and avoid the dangers, filming simultaneously is not pleasant!

You are a writer and a journalist for the nature and the ecology. Why does the majority of your literary works address young people?
It’s not the majority! One might think, however, that addressing the young is preparing for the future, and I believe that nowadays we need awareness and action, so addressing the adults is actually my priority. But it is also more difficult.

What advice would you give to the future generations?
Not to rely on the decisions of those in power, not to seek reassurance in empty words, and to face reality. To make close relationships and to stick to what matters.

What would you wish the people reading this interview?
Above all, I wish everyone to find in themselves the answers to their own questions. We are not alone – the books, the travels, and the friends are there to help us.

LILIA IVANOVA

Lilia Ivanova#Interview: Emmanuel Hussenet