New blog launching for March 2011

24th February, 2011

IAE 2010 Photo Retrospective

5th May, 2010

A Call to Action from Robert Swan

20th March, 2010

Call to Action from Robert Swan

The Drake Redux

20th March, 2010

The Drake Passage lives up to all our worst estimations, with most of the team completely bowled over by the rolling seas and hurricane force winds. Once we reach the calmer waters of the Beagle there is a collective sigh of relief and like so many climate change refugees the team emerges from cabins to complete the final wrap-ups of the program and consolidate any final questions from our resident experts before our final departure. It is with a sense of melancholy that goodbyes are said on the quay in Ushuaia, as we all wake up from the dream that is Antarctica.

The E-Base

19th March, 2010

As the morning sun illuminated the Russian station of Bellingshausen, we prepared to make our final landing and launch the coiled spring of China Light and Power (CLP) on their critical rescue mission of the E-Base. The station was eerily quite, without a breath of wind and the team who spent a month living exclusively on renewable power in 2008 when the E-Base went live are cautious of this uncharacteristically benign weather.

The CLP team worked hard to ferry the equipment and food they will need over the next five days to repair the solar and wind power systems that were destroyed by a huge storm system in November 2009. The rest of the expedition hiked deep into elephant seal territory and was rewarded when the wallow the animals use on the far side of the island is well stocked. Once we wave goodbye to CLP, Jumper takes us through the traditional Antarctic departure ceremony with the youngest members of the team standing to attention with ice-axes and ringing the ships bell.
Meanwhile final communications are sent before the homeward bound crossing of the drake that looms ahead. This time there is to be no “drake lake” as a force 10 storm is predicted to cross the path of our brave ship. Even the hardened sailors amongst the team consume seasickness pills and press patches behind ears.

We are glad of the power of our ship, its heating systems, warm beds, and advanced stabilizers, which made our voyage comfortable. Yet none of this would be possible without fossil fuels. Shackleton, Amundsen, Scott and Mawson inspire us; they went forth with such adventurous spirit and tenacity into the unknown, in wooden ships powered by wind, with little knowledge of what lay ahead. We glimpse for a moment that it is this same spirit we must carry with us, as we begin the last great adventure on Earth, to survive on Earth.

Jack Robert-Tissot

Team Member interview: Malcolm Lynch

17th March, 2010

Who are you?

Malcolm Lynch, I’m 22, born in Darwin, my ancestors hail from the Tiwi Islands (north of Darwin), moved to NSW (New South Wales) for school when I was 12. I made the AFL draft after school, where I spent three years with the Western Bulldogs. I’m now doing an AFL apprenticeship which is how I came to be in Antarctica.

Why are you here?

Because the AFL was sending two people to join the expedition and they wanted to encourage indigenous leadership. I work in game development which uses football to improve our communities, gives young kids a voice through sport, and improves lives through community involvement. I was selected to come onboard given my experience in community development.

Before you came, what did climate change mean to you?

Honestly, I had no awareness of climate change. It wasn’t really on my radar.

How has this changed since being on the expedition?

Massively. I’m now really aware of my energy consumption at home, as well as my lifestyle. We’ve had leadership talks, talks on the environment, climate change and now I understand the ramifications of our actions on the planet. It’s opened my eyes not only to the issue, but the lack of understanding and ignorance at home.

What have you learnt so far?

I’ve learnt that as the polar ice melts in Antarctica and the north pole, this is displacing the residents of coastal areas as their homes flood and the land they live on disappears. Ive learnt the impact of climate refugees as the climate changes and makes their homes uninhabitable.

Before you came, what stuff did you do to protect the planet?

Nothing really. But this has opened my eyes. It has been a big wake up call. I’ve learnt ‘we’ve not inherited the earth from our parents, we’ve borrowed it from our children.’

How will you behave differently when you get home?

I’m aware now of the impact my lifestyle choices have on the planet, and I’m aware I’m in a position to try to influence others to act more diligently.

How will you spread the message to your mates who don’t really care about climate change?

Sharing my experience with my mates, they will be involved a little bit in my journey and take on board my experience. Through my story they will listen and learn. As far as others, I reckon people need a real connection to the issue. To be inspired by a leader who gives the issue meaning, puts it in context and gives you the encouragement to make a change yourself is far better than a disconnected marketing campaign.

Have you got a message to send out to others about what we need to do now?

I want to remember a poem I learnt at school. It was along the lines of taking the road less traveled. This trip has shown me I can be a leader, and encourage others to walk a challenging road, but there are obstacles ahead that we must forge through. I remember from Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, him describing reaching the top of a mountain he had climbed, only to symbolically see the mountain range ahead he had yet to conquer. We have a an enormous mountain range ahead of us. This trip has changed my attitude. I’ve taken the first step, but I need people to walk with me.

Climate Change in Antarctica

17th March, 2010

Departure Reflections

16th March, 2010

As we navigated around monolithic, tabular icebergs—remnants of the former Larsen B Ice Shelf—many of us pondered the effects of climate change. Here, in the Antarctic Peninsula, rapid, harsh, and complex changes are interrupting fragile systems. Cleverly entitled, “Krill Bill,” this morning’s presentation introduced many participants to the vital role of krill. Each year 34 to 43 million tonnes of krill are consumed by some of the world’s largest species: whales. In recent years, however, krill biomass has been reduced by 50% to 80%—in large part, due to the melting sea ice on which these species depend. As the water temperature warms, salp—an aquatic species typically found in warmer regions—move in, feeding on much the phytoplankton upon which the krill depend. This situation leaves the future of many species higher up in the food chain in jeopardy.

Shortly after lunch, we loaded ourselves into the zodiacs. As we bid farewell to continental Antarctica, we prepared to gape at and be stunned by iceberg architecture. Little did we know that these giants would serve only as a backdrop for what would happen next.

A pod of orca appeared in the distance…and we followed. Respectfully keeping our distance, we watched as they surfaced and resurfaced. Minutes later we realized we were in the midst of a hunt! As seals and penguins were tossed through the air, we speculated that the pod was training younger Orca in the hunt, as the game was not killed quickly. Within moments we were surrounded with the scattered whales probing the Crabeater seals now fearfully perched on flimsy icebergs.

Each day our guides and team leaders have told us how fortunate we have been on this trip. We have had penguins waddle up to us and leopard seals skim by our zodiacs. We have seen an unprecedented amount leopard seal kills. We have seen glaciers calving and humpback whales sky-hopping. As of today, we can add an orchestrated orca hunt of seals and penguins to our list. Many people wait years or even lifetimes to witness what we have witnessed in the past few days. Antarctica has revealed itself to us and the only thing that could possibly make this trip any better is our own ability to deliver on our commitments when we return home.

Tara Hadler

Team Member interview: Darcy Winslow

16th March, 2010

Who are you?

Darcy Winslow. I spent 21 years at Nike, where I started working in sustainability concepts in 1997. I established Nike’s 2020 goals such as zero waste, closed loop systems (google this!) etc. and started the conversation around what does sustainable growth mean? How do we change our lifestyle and consumption? With those goals, the intent was to understand the entire systems in the world, how we operate, the positive or negative impacts we have and where we have influence to affect long term change on the environment.

Why are you here in Antarctica with 2041?

I left Nike to start my own business, Designs for a Sustainable world, where I continued working with Peter Senge at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the Society for Organizational Learning. BP was part of the Society, and BP had come on a previous 2041 expedition which I was invited to join. I was invited to come on my birthday. It was the best present I’ve ever had!

I’m back on the ship to work again with the corporate and youth coalition teams. Antarctica is such a dynamic geography; Antarctica is speaking to us through melting glaciers, changing wildlife. All the things we’re seeing are challenging us to ask are these things occurring naturally or are we having impact?’ If you believe the scientists, the most dramatic changes are happening at the poles. The indisputable reduction in ice cover, for example. With smaller ice masses to reflect the sunlight, data shows that over time the average atmosphere temperature is increasing, and CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing. Is this in normal cyclical boundaries? Science is saying no. We’re in a climate place we’ve never been before. What does this mean for human sustainability on the planet? We’re not walking away from Antarctica with the answers, but being here is generating the questions to spark action.

What changes are you seeing out there in the ‘real world’?

The awakening of business leaders, students, community groups around the world. The global population is taking action to reach a sustainable, regenerative world, and this drives me on. Even if you’re a climate change skeptic, what’s wrong with a renewable world with greater social equity? Let’s just get on with making the world a better place for everyone!

What is a closed loop system?

One example of a closed loop system is like at Nike, where they’re taking all tennis shoes, grinding them up and creating sports surfaces. it’s about taking finite resources and using them infinitely. There are so many of these systems out there that you wouldn’t be aware of, where people have been working and investing to implement fantastic change. Google “Nike Considered” for more about these programs. It will inspire you!

What’s been inspirational for you on the ship?

We asked some of the students do you believe in climate change? The answer was ‘not until now’. This was a signal of hope. We’ve seen awakenings on board the ship, which makes the trip worth it. That’s why we’re here.

What’s inspirational off the ship?

I work with students at Boston University and MIT, from a range of walks of life and there’s an ever increasing number of students, mid careers professionals and business execs seeking this information to implement this into their work and personal lives. People really care and are taking up the reins. In 2003 it’s estimated there were around three higher education sustainability programs or certificates, as of 2010, this number has grown exponentially as has demand and interest in this area.

So how do you remain optimistic in the face of some pretty dire statistics associated with climate change?

We have a choice. We can do nothing. We can follow the leader or we can do everything in our power to make a difference. I choose the latter.

Team Member interview: Sat Swarley

16th March, 2010

Who are you?

I’m from Prince Charles’ personal charity, The Princes’ Trust. It works to help young people who’ve had difficulties or troubled pasts to help them turn their lives around.

Why are you here?

Robert came to talk to the Princes Trust, and I was blown away by his message that anything is possible to achieve. The Princes’ Trust ran a competition and we had to write an article about why we wanted to come and how we would use this experience to inspire others after.

Before you came, what did climate change mean to you?

I’m passionate about coming up with sustainable solutions so we can continue to progress but in a way that doesn’t impact the future. I love technology, I love flying and I want to be able to do these things, not go backwards, but progress in a modern way that uses our resources more efficiently.

What have you learnt so far?

I’ve learnt different perspectives from the others from all over the world and it’s been great sharing ideas and seeing things for real. Like seeing whales, penguins and the landscape up close, brings the issue home. I now see the connection between climate change you read about in the news, and the real effects we’re seeing here.

Before you came, what stuff did you do to protect the planet?

Normal stuff, recycling, turning off lights. Nothing big.

How will you behave differently when you get home?

I believe turning off lights is what we needed to be doing twenty years ago. Now we need much more action. A group of us on the ship are developing a solar panel concept engaging UK and Aussie football stadiums where they can capture solar power, put it back into the grid when they’re not using it and use the money generated to put into community activities. So we’re using sustainability to profit and improve the lives of people in the community. I’m also going to get more involved with groups working to protect Antarctica, as I’m now so passionate about this.

How will you spread the message to your mates who don’t really care about climate change?

I believe that by getting into a campaign and demonstrating my commitment to my friends, I will inspire them to get involved. But I don’t want to preach. No one listens to preaching.

Have you got a message to send out to others?

I would say to young people, you’ve got to work out if you’re a leader or a follower. This is a choice. It’s up to young people to decide if they want to be responsible for our future.