I am a sustainability and climate change...
It’s amazing what you need to do to keep even the most critical issues high on the media agenda. Take my latest adventure, for example. With the support of a brilliant crew and a host of generous sponsors and supporters, my six-person expedition has just finished recreating Ernest Shackleton’s famous Antarctic rescue.
In the process, the team sailed from Elephant Island to South Georgia, travelling 800 nautical miles across some of the most inhospitable waters in the world sandwiched in a tiny boat. And staying true to the spirit of the original mission, we then undertook a harrowing three-day climb across South Georgia’s mountainous interior facing blizzard conditions to reach the old whaling station at Stromness – the same place where Shackleton and his men raised the alarm that the crew of the Endurance needed rescue almost 100 years ago.
It was a gruelling challenge. And we did it using the same clothing and equipment that was available to Shackleton and his men way back then. But we’ve all come back to our families with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
Since we completed the Shackleton Epic, we have come back to a lot of media coverage and many journalists have all asked the same question – why did we do it?
I can’t speak for the others on the crew, but I’m quite clear why I did it.
For the personal challenge; yes.
To pay tribute to one of the truly great leaders of modern time; no doubt.
To set a positive example that working together even the most ambitious goals can be achieved against the odds; absolutely.
But perhaps most importantly, I spent four years of my life putting together the Shackleton Epic expedition to raise awareness of climate change and how the way we all choose to live affects the planet we share.
The sad, but true, fact is that we all need some sort of spectacle or event to attract attention and get people talking about an issue. The environment may well be one of the most important issues we face together on the planet, but without a ‘hook’ it remains difficult to keep the issue relevant and newsworthy.
So for me, one of the greatest achievements to come out of the Shackleton Epic is that we put the environment back on the agenda in the mainstream press and on TV news shows. Not in a hectoring or lecturing way. Not with reams of data that leave many people cold. But quietly and effectively, for example, pointing out that even in just 100 years, the Antarctic landscape has changed dramatically.
The adventure may be over for now, but the story will continue to be told – Shackleton’s mission was to rescue his men from the Antarctic; my mission is to rescue the Antarctic from Man.