The S-G will be traveling to the rapidly melting Arctic at the end of August. As a locale to symbolize the imperative of addressing climate change, he couldn’t have chosen better. Glaciers are melting at an astonishing rate (for glaciers, that is), and much of what once reasonably could have been considered part of Santa Claus’ land route from the North Pole will soon require reindeer that have learned to swim. (More seriously, the global warming of the Arctic does threaten to disrupt important ecosystems, not to mention cause the rise in sea levels that small island nations the world over are so rightly concerned about.)

The trip underscores the enthusiasm with which Ban honestly seems to have taken up the mantle as the UN chief who galvanized the fight against climate change, which he has called the crisis the “defining challenge of our time.” Ban will now be the first UN Secretary-General to have traveled to both of the Earth’s poles. Two years ago, he became the first S-G to visit the Antarctic (so really, he’s just showing off his toughness in the cold here). He did learn to dress warm on that last trip though.

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