This story started with a girl called Katrina. It was a long-distance relationship to begin with. One morning she came to me and woke me out of a deep blissful sleep.
Her first words were, “Everything you ever knew up to this point is wrong. Well, maybe not wrong but certainly useless”.
Our office was on the third floor of the Michinoku Bank Building in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The Sakhalin Wells Project team was monitoring an exploration well off the north coast of the island. We were chasing Peak Oil, out in the back of beyond. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, referred to as “Yoozh-No”, is the capital of Sakhalin Island, Russian Federation and definitely a city at the back of beyond. The island is off the east coast of Russia and a stone’s throw from Japan. The joke amongst the team was that Yuzhno was the one place on the planet that took the longest time to get to, no matter where you started from. We had team members from the UK, Europe, US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, elsewhere in Asia and so on. We all took at least two days to get to Yuzhno. And two days to get home again, depending on flights and time zones. The place that had the title of ‘back of beyond and then some” was Okha, the city at the north end of the island. It’s entry in ‘Lonely Planet’ had the remark, ‘possibly the ugliest place in Russia’. It definitely was ugly. But I digress.
Katrina came to all of us that morning in August 2005. She had the same message for everyone. She was crystal clear: prepare to abandon everything you know. Like some Mafia hit-man, her calling card was to devastate much of the Louisiana coast and put 80% of New Orleans under water. Over a thousand people died.
While our team absorbed this message, some of us asked dumb questions like, “How?” or “Why?”
Others asked, “Is this Climate Change?”. I was quick to say something like, “I know Climate Change is real, but it won’t be a problem until the end of the century”.
Now drilling engineers are not known for being well-educated, but one guy knew his stuff. He said, “Why are we surprised? We’re burning eighty million barrels of oil every day. The CO2 has to go somewhere.”
That stopped me in my tracks. I refer to that day as My Awakening to Climate Change.
Later in the project, former Vice President Al Gore came calling. He wasn’t a Mafia hit-man so his card was more polite but just as forceful. His message came in a documentary film on DVD: ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. The message read, “You think you’re doing something useful and important. Not a chance. It’s time to really make a difference”.