One of the hardest things to find is your raison d’être. The one thing you were put on this planet for. The one place which has been specially molded to your jagged edges, the one place where you belong. And one of the hardest journeys to undertake is the one of self-discovery. I am one of those lucky few that have been slapped in the face with their raison d’être. In a way I feel like the universe has conspired, throughout my sixteen years of existence, to bring me to this one moment in my life- to bring me to Antarctica. I remember watching a rock roll down an icy cliff and realizing that you’ve always been ruled by the fear of my own mortality, the fear of that ultimate failure. I could go on forever about the things I’ve experienced and the things I’ve come to terms with while on this Journey, but my words, my insipid, dry words don’t do justice to the complexity of my memories and my emotions. All I can say is that I understand Robert Swans passion for this place. Thank you for showing me what I want to dedicate my life to doing. Thank you for showing me Antarctica.
Business Responses to Sustainability
Another common question raised around the “Sustainability: From Concept to Action” lectures is about the role of business, and more to the point, whether business is for or against sustainability? Which kinds of companies are making the most progress in tuning their businesses for a sustainable economy?
Two charts help tease out some answers. The first, below, shows that almost all businesses have sustainability on their radar. Individual organisations react differently depending upon the extent to which sustainability risks and opportunities affect their core strategies and operations. Given that the concept has been around for a relatively short period of time, the vast majority of businesses are low down on the Axis of Action.
A few are at the leading edge, and some are turning their leadership to competitive advantage by redefining their sectors. Interface, the US office furniture supplier, has deployed its zero waste philosophy so well that many in the sector have follow-suit to maintain market share. Others like Puma are using concepts of Natural Capital to explore and communicate the full environmental and social costs of its products.
Another way of looking at companies on the pathway to sustainable technologies is in the chart below. The “C-anchors” in the lower-left quadrant of the matrix contains companies representing sectors with long histories in our traditional industrial (fossil-fuelled) economy. They have collectively and accumulatively invested US$ trillions in assets that have some time to run. They tend to be naturally protective of their investments. These are also the companies that have well defined competencies in managing highly efficient businesses.
Up at the top right quadrant are the “Creative Disruptors” – companies committed to developing businesses in tune with the principles of sustainability and specifically which embrace clean-technologies. In between are the “Explorers” and “Progressives” – established companies at different stages of responding to risks and testing opportunities.
When we discuss the relative merits of businesses scattered across this corporate landscape, we recognise that the skills and competencies developed in the more traditional businesses have real value in the less defined business models of the Creative Disruptors, and the Creative Disruptors have lessons in opportunity development to pass on to the C-Anchors.
So we see that business is neither good nor bad for sustainability, but at different stages of awareness and action, and all have valuable experience, knowledge, and ingenuity to bring to bear.
Due South: Whalesong
Something shifts after a close encounter with animals in the wild. That transcendental spell last triggered for me when I was sitting quietly in a tangled clearing in the high altitude forests of Rwanda. A family group of mountain gorillas tumbled out of the bamboo and sprawled out with abandon within metres of where I sat. After the initial adrenaline rush subsided, and we had settled into a companionable near-silence, the largest of the group turned to look me square on. For a moment that lasts to this day, I saw the world through those all-seeing brown eyes framed in a black furry face. Those tranquil pools somehow captured 4 billion years of evolution that has our two species sharing the same blue planet, suspended in an infinite cosmos.
It happened again on this expedition. We were sailing off the coast of the west Antarctic Peninsula. A silvered morning, deep steel cold blue waters scattered with sea ice and icebergs in a vast amphitheatre defined by the Antarctic coast’s snow covered mountains. Pods of humpback whales were spotted ahead. Inflated rubber Zodiac boats quickly launched, and we sped off to get up close and personal.
Some were pre-occupied with feeding. We saw them surface with steamy blows, their humped dorsal fins tracing a languid arc above the waterline. Then a down dive to get a baleen bloated mouthful of krill, launched with a massive jaw-dropping tail flip.
Across the bay, another whale — satiated, curious and playful fooled around a boat of entranced on-lookers, its rubbery, bumpy head spying out the visitors to its world. And as awesomely large as these whales are, as it slipped beneath the surface it triggered a connection to a vast watery world beneath that is its home, and which we can only begin to imagine and understand.
What do we know about that world? Probably that a changing climate is affecting its saline concentrations, its acidity, its temperature, its currents, its nutrient loads and the millennia-tuned balance that produces millions and millions of tonnes of krill to feed humpbacks and most other higher-order species in the Antarctic and way beyond. So, on this occasion, my encounter flashed fast-forward to an uncertain future and what we will make of it.
Reminded me of a poem I came across some time back.
By Sophie Stephenson-Wright, 2010
I boom-mumble I bass-blow
I hull-heavy I big/slow
I boat bump I limpet-skin
I soft-sink I sky-swim
I sea-search I salt-swallow
I bone-backed I fluke-follow
I gulf-cross I listen-talk
I moon-map I wave-walk
I tail-turn I time-keep
I ship-wreck I song-seek
I blue-blood I grumble-sing
I fish-heart I dream king
(Photos by courtesy of Jessie Westbury & Michela Michelotti)
Due South: Cold hard facts of Sustainability
My task on 2041’s International Antarctic Expedition is to deliver three lectures on sustainability – something “to make it real … a call to action … not just a bunch of words” entreats 2041’s founder, Robert Swan.
We kick-off the series of Sustainability: Concept to Action with a specially recorded video message from Jonathon Porritt, founder of Forum for the Future. While it may be a bunch of words, as always with Jonathon, they pack a punch. He challenges expedition members to view a sustainable economy as “future possible”. His recently published book “The World We Made” is a back to the future narrative written from 2050 to show how all the technologies that exist today can be deployed to create a safe and just economy that draws on and protects, rather than depletes, the natural environment up on which we depend.
To make it real, we examine the evidence. Over a period of 50 years from 1960 to 2010, the global economy grew from US$10 to 75 trillion, tracking a doubling in human population from 3.5 to 7 billion people over the same period. When Robert Swan’s mum, now 99 years old, was born the world population was 1.8 billion people and during her lifetime it has grown to 6 billion.
We note that 3 of 9 provisioning planetary systems – the climatic system, the nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity are stressed way beyond their sustainable carrying capacity, and so is the fresh water system in certain regions .
Demand for food is projected to rise by 50% by 2030. However, the world consumed more food than it produced in 7 of the 8 years between 2000 and 2008. Demand for water is likely to rise by 25% by 2025, but is already beyond sustainable use levels in many areas of the world, leading to depletion of both ground and surface water resources. Climate change will further exacerbate the problem. By 2025 up to two thirds of the world’s people are likely to live in water-stressed conditions.
Worldwide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) powerful “One Planet Living” concept explains that at current trends we’d need three planet Earths to sustain our projected consumption by 2050. We consider research estimating that natural ecosystems provide around US$50 trillion of free provisioning to our economy – in the form of clean water, air, food and raw materials and lots, lots more.
And then we take a more optimistic view of the future, guided by Hawken, Lovins & Lovins, masterful treatise — Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. The book makes the case that our economy operates according to a world view that hasn’t changed since the start of the industrial revolution. That was when natural resources were abundant, and labour was scarce. Now labour is plentiful and our ecological systems are in decline. Natural capital is being degraded and liquidated by the wasteful use of such resources as energy, materials, water, food, and topsoil. The authors make their case for the “Next industrial revolution” – a move to “Natural Capitalism” – one where the value of natural systems is priced into our market economy, and so appropriately managed at sustainable levels.
Business is aware that something needs to be done, and some companies like Puma and Interface as using Natural Capital concepts to provide strategic direction to the evolution of their businesses. The vast majority are only just beginning to explore the ramifications, awareness of the need to change is evident in Accenture’s 2013 research . They found that 68% of 1,000 global CEOs from 27 industries across 103 countries say the global economy is on the wrong track. But — companies are struggling to quantify and capture the business value of sustainability and to make the business case for action now.
Jonathan Shopley, The Carbon Neutral Company
Jonathans company assisted 2041 to become one of the first carbon neutral Antarctic voyages ever.
J. Röckstrom et al, A safe operating space for humanity, Nature, 2011 Costanza et al, The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital, Nature, Vol 387, May 1997
Hawken, Lovins & Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
Accenture, The UN Global Compact – Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, 2013
The bell ringing ceremony
The expedition was about to end, The expedition team was leaving Antarctica and their happy cheerful faces were slowly being replaced by determined ones as everyone contemplated the actions they would take and the results they would achieve back home. As I stood in the theatre listening to the final sessions on sustainability and climate change, I felt a tinge of excitement not only for what the new beginning held for me but for how the ending was going to take place. It is indeed an unforgettable moment when Robert Swan walks upto you and says” I want you to ring the ceremony bell, do you want to do it”. I instinctively replied yes having a desire to be a part but not completely understanding it. I was the bellman for the closing ceremony. An annual ritual, it was designed to pay respect to the Drake passage , the crew of the ship, the captain and 2041. I trained with Jumper as he instructed me and my two fellow members of the ceremony on how to march, where to turn and how to stand in perfect naval style. I stressed on every movement as I could see in his eyes the desire for its perfect execution. You understand the true importance of a ceremony, the expectations of the people behind it and the magnitude of responsibility you have to carry it out with perfection only once you are a part of it. Finally the moment arrived, I was handed a 2041 cap, told to dress in complete black and arrive on the deck for the ceremony. It was dark, windy, cool but not cold, the ship had a beam of light onto the waters in front and everyone huddled in corners for respite from the wind. For reasons unknown it reminded me of India, how the weather was so similar along our coastlines. It was the most beautiful sight I had seen throughout my expedition and I wanted to capture it.
I heard Jumpers command as he instructed the team to march down the steps. With high winds, low visibility, slippery steps and the eyes of more than 80 people concentrated upon me, I marched down the steps. I tried to make each step as decisive and stable as I could so as to not falter or fall. I reached the bottom of the stairs and looked onto the crowd before me, it seemed small yet powerful. Although I had my sights on them, I could not see any faces; I was straining my ears, trying to hear Jumpers next command, oblivious to all my surroundings except my team. I clasped the bell on hearing his rough voice. As I held the bells rope, I was amazed by how perfectly it fit onto my hand. My ears still straining to hear Jumpers voice, I heard him say something followed by ring the bell. In a fluid motion, I gathered all my strength and rung it as hard as I could trying to make the sound as loud as possible. I rung it nine times each time after jumpers command and stood perfectly still as the crowd cheered for 2041. Finally able to hear their voices and see their faces, I joined them for the group picture grinning the whole time with the bell still ringing in my ears.As I marched up the stairs I felt a sense of fulfilment, I had wished to ring the ceremony bell since I had applied for the expedition. It was the ending I had desired for my expedition and I had got it. In a totally non describable way, having the honour of ringing the bell made my resolve to launch a successful program on my return to India stronger. It was the ceremonious end to the 2041 expedition and a start to my own in India.
A hand up from the experts
I knew the routine by now: the day would start with a breakfast feast in the dining room – a mouthwatering buffet so lavish I rather suspect that they are stuffing us with the intention of feeding us to the penguins as a tasty meal at the end of it all. We sit and eat and laugh, lulled by comforts of the ship into a false sense of security, when in fact, outside our ship there is a beautiful, harsh, nothingness – no people, no cities, no hospitals, no lifelines. “Antarctica wants you dead,” Rob Swan reminds us.
After breakfast, I put on my final defenses against the elements – my outer shell, hat, gloves, and ski goggles. We queued for the Zodiacs (the rubber dinghies that would take us ashore) and before boarding dipped our feet in “Zirkon”, a pink disinfectant that helps protect the Antarctic environment from foreign seeds and pathogens. After a zip across the cold waters, we landed at Brown’s Bluff and “roped up”, meaning that our team of eight people bound ourselves together with rope so that if one person slipped on the ice, we could all catch their fall.
It was sad to think that this was the last time our “Team Tidal” (named after a renewable energy source) would be roped up for a hike, but I knew that in fact we would always be bound together. Spending two weeks together experiencing Antarctica is life-changing. I think in all of us it has awoken a childlike wonder and a desire to view our world and our lives for the first time. I have laughed at the antics of penguins, wondered at the eeriness of brash ice suspended in a deathly still sea, marveled as killer whales tracked our ship. A couple in our group have even pushed the metaphor of re-awakening further, and renewed their wedding vows at the top of the glacier. I had the distinct privilege of playing the part of maid of honour, and clipped a white, billowing pillowcase to the bride’s head as a token veil.
We slid back down the mountain and hurried back to the ship so that we could beat a storm that is about to hit the Drake Passage. I shed some layers and sat in the lounge drinking tea, eating the now famous chocolate chip cookies (more food!) and reviewing the photos I have taken. I am so pleased with my photos, but realize that their beauty is sadly not a result of my skill as a photographer as it would be an effort to take a bad photo in Antarctica. It is a surreal background against which to suspend your life: everything comes into sharp focus here.
Sri, Head of our Bain India office, and I sit down with a group of young students from Dubai who are looking for guidance on how to implement their ideas to reduce energy consumption in their school. We have spent much of our free time on the boat listening to people’s ideas and working with 2041 as an organization to chart a course and focus the mission so that their ships can sail in the right direction. It has been a privilege to apply our consulting skills in such a unique context.
Jumper’s voice comes on the intercom again: “Team Inspire! Team Inspire! Team Inspire! The staff have been hard at work preparing your lunch and the dining room is now open.” More food! I head down to the trough with my fellow adventurers as we collectively marvel what an inspiration this has been.
- Luba Mandzy Herring, Bain and Company
British Land a long way from Britain
￼Charles, Rob, Nicola, Aysha and Will from British Land are just over half way through the 2014 Antarctic expedition with Team 2041. Reflecting after an incredible night’s camping in the open air in sub zero temperatures exposed to all the elements followed by a days mesmerising whale watching in Zodiac boats.
The continuing beauty and isolation is growing day by spectacular day, as we have been fortunate enough to be so lucky with the weather…so far. The return journey across the Drake Passage is likely to be interesting! We are very grateful for this remarkable experience led by pioneer of leadership, Rob Swan and his very expert 2041 team. It has been a truly awe-inspiring experience to share time with Rob in Antarctica and will touch us for the rest of our lives.Tomorrow our new found leadership skills will be put to the test as we undertake our longest hike cross dangerous crevasses! Update to follow if we survive!
We came quite unprepared to this expedition for we only knew about us joining it for about two weeks. This would mean that by the time we crossed the drake’s passage and entered Antarctica, things seemed extremely unreal. It felt like as if we entered a fairy land, in which we’ve fell in love with right away. The message that we need to spread was clear straight away; we must preserve it. Because if we can’t save Antarctica, how can we save ourselves?
‘’The wildlife is just fascinating’’
‘’The experience of sleeping between the penguins & seals was absolutely amazing’’
- Robbin Drost
‘’The 2041 team is really supportive in helping you achieving personal goals’’
‘’The conversations with our delivery teams have been really inspiring but also quite confronting’’
‘’After this expedition I will need a few new dreams, most of them became reality in the last couple of days’’
- Micha Klaarenbeek
Shell on the ice
Just back from camping overnight on Antarctica – mind blowing! Shell was invited to join 2041’s International Antarctic Expedition as experts on the energy and climate challenge. We had presentations and slides galore – explaining the science behind climate change, its impact on human prosperity and the policy challenge it poses. But being here, and actually seeing the majesty of Antarctica, brings the words and the debate to life. It is now our challenge to take this experience and bring it to life for others. Being surrounded by people of different ages, nationalities and from a diverse range of backgrounds, it is enlightening to see the passions which we all have for protecting the last great wilderness on earth. Antarctica is invaluable to nations, companies and individuals and its fragile ecosystem is currently protected for science and discovery. 2041 recognises this and has set a mission of preserving this environment indefinitely beyond 2041. As Shell shareholders and employees, we believe it is in the best interests of the company to support Rob Swan in this mission and protect Antarctica for future generations.
Final rope training on the ice
Finding a path through the ice
Video- Nasser Al-Khanjari
A sense of place
We have been in Antarctica for just over a week now although it feels like a lot longer.It’s taken me a bout four days to be fully immersed in my surroundings. It’s not every day that you wake up to huge patterned, honeycombed or glistening baby blue pieces of ice floating beside you. The sun has been glorious and as one of my teammates mentioned yesterday it’s hotter than India. It was at Neko Harbour that the abundant beauty took me by surprise. For the first time my mind could fully register the enormity of where I was. I felt small almost insignificant as I looked out to the wide expanse of snow covered mountains as far as my eyes could see. Looking down I could just about make out my teammates and the penguins as everything looked minuscule compared to the vastness I was enveloped by. It was like the mist had finally cleared and I could see everything with such clarity. I could have stayed on that mountain top forever deep in reflection. Mesmerised by the light reflecting off the mountains, the vivid dark blue of the sea below and the clear powder blue sky. I felt a strong notion of just how special this place was. How it’s so amazing that it’s so unspoilt and beautiful. It was here that Antarctica finally captured my heart and here that I vowed to do everything in my power to help protect it. Aysha Sheridan, British Land PLC
First landing on the continent
UK Coal powers south
Marian Garfield and Ian Hunter are both employees for UK Coal who are extremely fortunate and privileged to have been selected to be part of IAE 2014. This includes young people, corporate leaders and leading environmental scientists, with one clear goal, to ensure the protection of the Antarctic continent. So, you might ask why are UK Coal invited to such a high profile, environmental campaign? Basically: to stop the lights going out! We still need coal in the current energy mix. The harsh reality is that currently, renewable energy can not supply the current craving and demand for energy. The reality is, in the UK if you walk out your door, and count ten houses, four of these houses rely on coal burning power stations for their electricity. UK Coal provides high quality, locally produced coal. Usually, within less than 10 miles from the power station, and generally transported by train. The alternative is that this same coal is imported from across the globe with greater carbon emissions due to the distance transported. With little effort companies and consumers should source more of their products locally, which could reduce the carbon footprint of the product. This ultimately reduces environmental impacts. Every child born must have the right to witness this truly unique environment. At UK Coal we must continue to have a passion for ensuring our company and the decisions made by our company do not undermine the principles of sustainability.
First bergs, safe crossing
Scouting the south
After two especially topsy-turvy days on the Drake Passage, that had a good portion of passengers (myself included) confined to their bunks, the waters calmed and we emerged to see our very first iceberg floating into view. Soon icebergs and mountains of every shape, size, and shade of blue surrounded us. Upon emerging to the ship’s deck as we entered out Antarctic scenery, the wildlife of Antarctica arrived to greet us. A mother and calf humpback whale surfaced off the ship’s bow welcoming us into the unfamiliar land. This incredible moment was capped when the mother whale performed a full breech, leaping out of the water and turning 180 degrees before splashing back into the sea! That evening, we heard exceptional speakers on the topics of sustainability, putting a new perspective in our understanding of the precious ecosystems that exist in Antarctica and the rest of the world, and the important role humans play in interacting with them.
Today we woke at the break of dawn and made it up to the deck to watch the sunrise, and witness our ship enter the Le Maire Channel. This channel is a famous Antarctic landmark, notable for its magnificent rock cliffs that extended hundreds of meters high on each side of the ship. The channel was full of both amazing geological scenery but as well as marine life. As we pushed along through the ice that clogged the channel in places, the boat witnessed its first seals, penguins, and more whales! At the channels end is the thinnest point less than ½ a mile wide, additionally due to a recent storm icebergs has been blown back the avenue, clogging the final passage. After scoping several paths, our captain proceeded with caution through the larger ice chunks and we emerged intact!
We then entered Pleneau Bay, and boarded our zodiac boats, for our first cruise around Antarctica. Right after leaving on our zodiacs, a massive leopard seal approached the boats. This incredible animal swam from boat to boat, curious and playful, acting very much like a dog! As we cruised around the bay, we entered an area known as the “Iceberg Graveyard”, here the currents and wind patterns pushed mammoth blocks of ice into a small cove where they would run aground and eventually break apart. This place was littered with massive icebergs that were carved into intricate and incredible shapes each a different shade of blue. Here, we shut the motor of our boat off, and took time to sit and revel in the scenery of the place we had finally reached. During this time, you notice not only the scenery and marine life that this place has to offer, but also its silence. Antarctica is solitary. Once the sounds of our motors died, total and utter silence crept over the bay, only interrupted by a penguin squawk, or the creaking of an iceberg ready to break. The wildness of this place is fantastic, I’ve been to many backwoods locations but none of them compare to the solitude or magnitude that this place has to offer.
As the cruise around the bay concluded, the sun emerged from behind the clouds, turning the chilly day into a more comfortable climate, perfect timing for the hike we were about to go on. The zodiacs steered us towards Port Charcot, where we made our first landing on the Antarctic continent. Once on land, we formed our hiking groups and proceeded to make our way up the steep hill in front of us. My group was the first to reach the summit and the view over the land was incredible. The sun made the temperature nearly balmy and we had perfect visibility as we saw the mountains rising to one side and a massive penguin rookery beneath them, on our other side was massive expanses of deep blue water sprinkled with icebergs floating amidst the water. We slid down the massive hill on our packs, and got up close and personal with some friendly Gentoo penguins who were considerably louder and smellier than one would imagine. This incredible day is now coming to an end as we’ve returned to the boat and the sun has just set, I am beyond excited for our hikes and cruises tomorrow, capped off by our survival night spent sleeping outside on the Antarctic continent!
Alex Houston, Eagle Scout
Extract from an Antarctic journal:
11th of March
In the Drake Passage, the outer decks have been closed off after the wind and waves have gotten too extreme, making the deck unsafe.
Barney and I had just been out on deck, me still in my shorts from Ushuaia… we moved to the bow of the ship, into the wind, layered up in clothes for the Antarctic, apart from my shorts. We marched to the front of the ship, spray from the sea battering our faces, the wind doing everything it could to stop us moving forward, but we made it. Once at the bow we met fellow team members who were there to experience the power of the ocean. Throwing our boat around like a dog with its new favourite stick. We pushed on to the railings, to see what the Drake Passage had to offer, it responded with a huge wave just as the ship dipped into another trough, causing a behemoth of a splash, which the wind subsequently picked up and threw onto the bow, pushing us up against the wall of the ship, by the time I could get a grip of where I was I could feel the water run passed my feet off the deck back into the sea. We had wanted to see the Drake, and it had answered us.
Now in my room, it feels like being rocked to sleep by an angry giant, all the rooms on my deck have portholes which have to be closed whilst crossing the Drake; I also think it wouldn’t help with sea sickness to see waves pass over our window! With these closed we are left to sense the sea around us, as the boat rises and falls we can feel the ocean smash into the side of the ship, just feet from our heads, it is loud, solid and never ending.
I can safely say I never thought I’d be battening down the hatches on a ship headed to Antarctica.
12th of March
Water, water everywhere ne any drop to drink. Today we got to experience a new sense of isolation; knowing the fact that if we were to leave our boat, and fly around the world, the first thing we would come to would be the other side of the ship, there is no land, no people, just water.
Followed by Albatross and erratic weather: from snow storms to glorious sunshine, the day ended with a vibrant sunset which we had a full view of, given the nature of our solitude.
13th of March
Land Ahoy, our first glimpses of the Antarctic world, icebergs floating past and Smith island revealing itself through the clouds. Those who brave the Antarctic winds have been rewarded with a display of Pelagic Birds that have been following the ship, but best of all the first sight of the true icy south.
Lessons learned from beneath the surface
My Story is not of a great leadership challenge I overcame but a personal experience that changed my life.
Hi, I am Sarita, an IT Business analyst and a deep-sea diver from India. Last year I was out fun diving at Tioman islands, Malaysia. I’m a certified rescue and National Geographic diver and what took me down in this incidence was my overconfidence. Diving is always done in buddy pairs and as a compulsory rule – we do a buddy check before we jump into the water. We check for the following five things -
1. B – Buoyancy/BCD (Check Inflation/Deflation)
2. W – Weight (Orientate To Quick Release System)
3. R – Releases (Orientate To Equipment Releases)
4. A – Air (Confirm Air Is Switched On & Sufficient Supply For The Dive)
5. F – Final Check
On that fateful day just before the giant leap from the boat my buddy asked me if I needed buddy checks, I casually said “Nah, not needed, am good” for I was excited to go down and explore a sunken ship from World war II – not knowing that this careless behaviour could potentially cost me my life.
So, this is what happened, within 5 minutes of my descend in water I found myself in a situation where I was out of air which was totally unexpected because no way I could consume 200 bars of air (which usually lasts about 40 mins under water) in just 5 minutes. It was bizarre and definitely not a joke because I was almost 30 feet under water.
I panicked big time, was disoriented, my mind blanked out, I forgot every single rule I was taught on dealing with such situations. At the freaky moment I thought this is it and I am going to die! But something inside me told me – No, its not going to end this way and I need to think of a solution. I pulled myself together, and knew I just had to hit the surface with whatever strength or oxygen I had in my lungs. So, I let go off my weight belt, which was almost 12 KG and was pulling me down into that death chamber. I held my breath and finned up as fast as I could. When I hit the surface I had very little strength and was struggling with the currents and could not see the boat anywhere. My BCD (Buoyancy control device aka the jacket) had no air, I could not stay on the surface, the strong current was throwing me in a different direction away from the dive site into the ocean and the weight of my cylinder was pulling me down once again!
It couldn’t have gotten worst than this I thought! At the moment – I remembered the last skill of CESA (Controlled emergency swimming ascent), which was to inflate the BCD jacket with my mouth instead of the regulator. When I recall that moment, I think it was no less than a miracle that I survived that bit and managed to inflate my BCD just a little so I could float on the surface and call for help
The boatman who did an excellent job of keeping an eye out for panicked divers finally rescued me. After spending some time in shock and trauma of what had just happened. My dive instructor asked me what went wrong to which I had no clue. We looked at the equipment and found out that I had actually forgotten to turn the air supply on before jumping in water.
I could have easily avoided this situation if I had done proper buddy check before jumping in water. I take this as a life changing experience because it taught me two things, firstly – no matter how good you are at what you do you should never ever be over confident or arrogant. It’s very important we stay humble and keep that head firmly on the shoulders and not think – I know it all!
Secondly, I have started respecting life, for I now know that it comes with an end date. I think most of us take life for granted and do not realise how precious it is because we are busy in the rat race and trying to make the two ends meet. We stay limited in our comfort zone and fail to look at the bigger picture. Since that day – I have constantly searched for my own purpose and meaning in life. This is when I heard about 2041 and its sustainable efforts to keep things going on this planet and decided to be a part of this spectacular movement.
Reaching new heights
The winds of the drake!
Click Here For a real time interactive map of The Drake Passage wind patterns!
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” – J.K. Rowling
And a leader would be someone who manages to find the magic within themselves, and then use it to bring out the magic in others. The one experience that really shaped me as a leader was when I performed my very first solo Bharatantayam (Indian classical dance) concert at the age of 15. Having been told my previous instructor that there was no chance in Heaven or Hell that I would amount to anything as a dancer, this concert was a very big milestone for me in terms of realising what I can do. I think that in order to empower others and lead others, I need to first understand that I can do what I set my heart to. And this has inculcated in me the one quality that defines who I am as a person and as a leader; passion.
Last stop before the crossing.
Early morning, Ushuaia, Argentina. The IAE 2014, divided into rope teams, ascend the Martial Glacier. The Southern Hemisphere is transitioning to winter, daylight hours are dwindling and snow carpets the ground. This is first contact with almost antarctic conditions, an important chance to test gear and perfect technique before the team makes landing on the continent.
Essential skills for the ice!
Team Australia in Argentina
Extreme lengths for the perfect shot
The expedition media crew was busy today testing the latest technology for IAE 2014; an airborne camera capable of jaw dropping footage. Expedition videographer Kyle O’Donoghue, recently returned from the arctic, said that ‘aerial cameras allowed access to areas previously impossible’ and unleashed ‘never seen before cinematic potential’. Operator Darrin Allen claimed that the risks of operation- primarily the loss or damage of equipment was well worth the pay off, describing the footage as the next logical step in Antarctic filmmaking.
Left: Oli Wheeldon assists with pre-launch checks
GEMS Modern Academy arrive!
￼So here it is! After 36 hours of gruesome travel, here we are, safe and cozy in the hands of the 2041 team. The vilifying changes that were seen in us have been quite remarkable, from the hopelessly sleepy to singing and being the loudest on the plane! But the journey didn’t start on 7th March, 2014. It started nearly two years ago when Robert Swann, OBE, came to our school, GEMS Modern Academy, and passionately talked about the continent that few knew about and many wanted to save: Antarctica. That passion remains undiminished in all 10 Buccaneers and the journey, we hope, will last over and beyond. When on October 6th, 2013, we got to know that we are the brand ambassadors of GEMS Modern Academy to Antarctica, we already had impressions of what we could hope to see. Till now, we have been surprised at every turn. For one, the hotel is on top of a mountain! Will keep you updated, Until next time, Vamos!
Serious weather on the glacier
The Martial Glacier hike has been a constant feature of IAE since the very beginning of 2041’s mission. Every year the tongue of the glacier creeps further north, retreating higher and higher up the valley. Today experienced hands Barney and Jason show new guides Christa and Alex the route and talk through the safety considerations and emergency protocols. Expedition mode on.
Scouting new paths
Accepting the Challenge- Aysha Sheridan
Wow! I have been chosen alongside four of my colleagues as part of British Land’s “HatsOff” staff recognition awards to go on a trip of a lifetime…. Antarctica the coldest, most remote place on Earth. The initiative was introduced by the company to recognise people within the organisation for their commitment and drive to make a difference both internally within the company and the wider community/society.
On 31st January I was lucky enough to be awarded The Chairman’s Award for British Land Citizenship. Elated, excited, completely shocked are just a few of the words that I felt when I was chosen, ok also a little overwhelmed to be undertaking such a challenge- although challenge is something I’ve never shied away from. Since working at British Land, I have been encouraged to engage in several community and charity initiatives. These have included running the London marathon and abseiling down our very own Broadgate Tower all 541 feet of it.
This trip and all the preparation for it have really warmed my heart. All my family, friends and colleagues have been so happy for me and have wished me lots of good wishes. Whilst this has been lovely the task at hand has been a little different.
I’m under no false illusions. Whilst there we will be fully immersed in all aspects of climate change and mostly how we can make a difference. This knowledge will then be shared with our colleagues, friends and family back home.
Climate change is something that affects us all and something we all need to take on board and do something about. So whilst I have been busy packing all my kit, making preparations for my dog Suki to be looked after for the 17 days we are away, I have also been counting down the days for the journey to begin, a journey that will start at the beginning but will know no end……I’m going to make a difference, wish me luck!
Jason Flesher, 2041 Expedition Director
He is the Sierra Outdoor Programs Market Manager for REI, Experiential Facilitator and Wilderness Instructor educating diverse groups of all ages and backgrounds in over twenty countries on all seven continents and throughout the United States.
Jason has been written up in numerous publications over the years for his work. He was featured in The New York Times, Readers Digest, Outfitter, Climbing and the National Speleological Society magazines to name only a few.
An experienced Search and Rescue manger, Mountain Rescue Coordinator and is also a Rescue Specialist for the international 1st Special Response Group.
Living and working with Indigenous cultures and studying Native American religions, Jason has an acute understanding of the spiritual side of wilderness. “An adventure is not of the physical, it is of the mind.” This is Jason’s 6 th expedition with 2041.
Where will you be in 28 years? Poojitha Janarthanan
From time to time we are approached by environmental activists that talk about big things like “the world will end if we don’t act now”. Living in the 21st century, we cannot argue about the gravity of the situation we are in now, however I must say that during the course of the past few years the world has definitely become more conscious. Recycling especially here in Dubai is becoming more and more common. So what is the problem?
I agree, we have become more conscious. But, is it enough? The non-renewable resources are decreasing drastically. Even the renewable resources such as water which we thought would never be a problem, is now turning out to be our biggest. There is a shortage in our resources, we are going to run out one day. These are all facts, but these facts you already know, don’t you?
Then why is the world being so lethargic about it?
That’s easy, it is because all these problem seem to be occurring in the distant future, it is a problem that will affect us “one day”. An average human being goes through multiple problems daily, why in the world would he/she spend time worrying about a problem that might not even happen during his lifetime?
So today as a future environmental activist, I’m telling you that the cause which I have come to talk to you about does have a deadline, 2041. There is a treaty that’s been signed by all countries that protects Antarctica from exploitation of land and water. However, this treaty ends in the year 2041.
Antarctica is the last untouched continent in this world. It is our duty to preserve the “last wilderness” of our world. as we prepare to embark on our one-of-a-kind adventure, the lead up has seen us preparing physically, emotionally and mentally. As global citizens, we have a life-long responsibility to make sure that this treaty is renewed in the year 2041.
That is precisely in 28 years, this is in your lifetime, this will affect you. I have no doubt in that, and what are you going to do about it?
- Poojitha Janarthanan, a Buccaneer joining us from GEMS Modern School in Dubai, U.A.E.
Where did you say you were going again? -Sarita Singh
“Where did you say you were going again? And how do you think you would raise the money that will go towards funding this expedition?”
“Dad, I am thinking I would like to go to Antarctica and be part of a global leadership program where I would build skills and leadership qualities to help make a difference to the community we live in and learn how each one of us can contribute towards protecting the environment “
“Hmmm – if you can manage the finances, which I doubt you would – then you can go! Just make sure you don’t get into the water” (he was worried because am a diver)
This is the conversation I had with my Father in October last year and life’s been spinning 180 degrees post that! Right from raising funds to convincing people that renewable and clean energy is the way forward has been a HUGE task. I have lived and breathed Antarctica in the last few months and the feeling that am actually going and will be on board the Sea Spirit and cross the legendary Drake Passage in about 40 days from now has still not sunk in.
It’s impossible for me to explain how ecstatic I am at the moment. I have watched the expedition documentaries and Robert Swan’s lectures on environmental sustainability numerous times and Antarctica is the only thing I am talking about with everyone I meet. Being in the Indian IT industry, it gets a bit difficult for me to talk to people and convince them to think about anything besides their work and never ending deadlines. Nevertheless – people have been very kind and encouraging in whatever way they could. Some gave ideas, some gave contacts to raise funds and some simply gave good wishes and told me to get them a penguin from Antarctica, of course, not a possibility.
India is not a very liberal nation like the West where people take risks and invest in their passion or talk about the environment – so, building a network of people who would support me has been a real challenge. There were moments when I felt – no, it’s not going to happen and I should give up, but with the support of my family and friends I kept working towards my goal. This whole exercise has built a lot of confidence in me and has been a good personal journey of believing in myself, it has given me a feeling of ‘belonging’ to a global community of like-minded people. I have no doubt become more responsible and feel committed to a cause which I would like to support all my life and encourage people and next generation to understand and support.
I have sorted most of my gear, bought my backpack, warm jackets and waterproof boots. I could not find proper snow goggles in Delhi – but I think I will pick that from Ushuaia. Fitness is another thing I would like to work on in the next 40 days. I need to build some good stamina and bring down my BMI for the hiking activities and surviving in the cold! Along with the preparations for the expedition – am also working on a yearlong project which I would take up post the expedition. The project would focus on rural education and use of clean/ renewable energy commercially. I am working very closely with an NGO called Sanskriti to materialise these ideas. Being a diver myself, I would also like to promote use of clean fuel in boats and removal of debris from the oceans.
I feel extremely lucky and just can’t wait to get the first glimpse of an iceberg and of course meeting and hearing Robert Swan in person.
Sarita Singh, IAE 2014 Team Member
IAE 2014 commencing in March
On 8 March, our team will join together in Ushuaia, Argentina and then travel together to the Antarctic Peninsula on our 2014 International Antarctic Expedition (IAE 2014) with our onboard experts and gain firsthand knowledge of the continent’s fragile ecosystem all while learning what we can do to protect the last great wilderness on Earth. Stay tuned for live updates from Team Member’s as they embark on this once in a lifetime opportunity.
For more information on how to join, please contact email@example.com
If you are a confirmed member of the 2014 Expedition and need access to the Exclusive Member’s Area, please click here.