Member Since: April 2009
Type of Member: Regular
In 1975 George started going to the northern end of the Americas to study black guillemots, an arctic seabird. The study initially began after discovering some of their nests on Cooper Island which was a rare setting for these cavity nesters. Excited by the find, he began spending his summers studying the birds with a focus on their breeding. As the study continued over the years it became apparent that the habits of the birds were changing and this was happening as a result of climate change. What used to be 200 fledglings a year is dwindling to single digits as food becomes scarce and other animals move onto Cooper looking for food and impacting guillemot eggs and chicks. The black guillemot population is hurt most by either becoming dinner for polar bears, or getting pushed aside by encroaching puffins. George shakes his head, “The birds are trying to raise their young. They did it in the past, the climate is changing, and now they can’t.” Sadly, these seabirds have become a clear indicator of climate change and as it gets worse for them, “things are getting worse and worse globally”.
George’s summers are spent tallying, weighing and compiling other necessary data. When he returns to Seattle he comes back to us at Office Nomads where he analyzes the data, does outreach regarding climate change and works to acquire funding for his research and NGO. After being alone for 3 months, a home office with nobody else around is incredibly unappealing. He finds calm when surrounded by other people. “An extended period of isolation does not give you mental peace,” George said. “It makes you uncomfortable.” At Office Nomads George has the opportunity to be part of the constantly buzzing community here and find the inner calm he misses on the island.
George can easily snag the title of “Coolest Nomad”. His stories of island life and of his work are rather fascinating, so much so that Darcy Frey wrote a cover story in New York Times Magazine about him. David Letterman found him just as awesome and had George on his show to talk. And anyone who can recommend headphones and at the same talk about chasing off polar bears with a shot gun is cooler than just about everyone else in the room.