Travel Tales

Travel Tales - Expedition to Antartica

Climate Change Expedition to Antarctica 

 

“From now on, you will never look at the world map in the same way as before!” These were the words of Sir Robert Swan in his inaugural address to a group of 92 maniacs selected from around the world for the climate change expedition to Antarctica. Robert Swan, 62, is the first man to have walked to both poles. I felt extremely privileged to have a seat with my name in the room.

Image: The group of 92 Antarctic explorers with Sir Robert Swan. 


Image: An iceberg broken off from the glacier and now floating in the sea. Only 10% of the iceberg is visible above the water. 

 

As I boarded the ship, I got an opportunity to meet my fellow explorers. It was a highly diverse cohort including musicians, social entrepreneurs, radio jockeys, and business and social leaders with one thing in common: The hope to make a difference towards the fight against climate change. 

The ship left the shore and we bid adieu to Ushuaia. After “Drake proofing” our cabins, we were prepared to enter the Drake Passage, the roughest sea in the world. Countless men have lost their lives in this unforgiving stretch. Thankfully we survived it.

 

Image: Gentoo penguin colony on one of the Antarctic islands with an Argentinian research base in the background. 

 

Over the next 10 days, we did multiple zodiac cruises — landings in Antarctica including Petermann Islands, Plenau Bay, Enterprise Island, Portal Point and Deception Island. Each of these presented a learning opportunity about the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica. The snow coverage at these sites was less than it had been a few years ago. It was an emotional moment to see penguins, seals and whales enjoying their natural habitat. Little do they know that their habitat may not remain the same in a few decades. The human impact on the climate is shrinking these splendid, biodiverse landscapes and causing irreversible changes.  


Image: A crabeater seal taking a morning nap on the floating ice after a night long hunt.

 

Image: The tail of a playful humpback whale enjoying a swim in the Antarctic waters.

 

Increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere leads to greater absorption of CO2 by ocean waters, which in turn increases the ocean temperature. This is posing a great threat to all species, including krill, an integral part of the Antarctic food chain. 


Image: An adult Gentoo penguin feeding krill to a baby penguin.

 

Each one of us has a responsibility in this fight against climate change to ensure a better future. As Sir Robert Swan says, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. 

Planting trees is a great way to mitigate climate change as trees absorb CO2. I am sharing two simple ways to do this. First, use the Ecosia.org search engine. Ecosia donates 80% of its surplus income to tree planting, so by using this search engine, you are contributing to this effort. Second, plant a tree as a birthday gift for friends or family members using www.grow-trees.com or other similar organisations. 


Image: Sir Robert Swan, Barney Swan and myself with the ISB flag in Antarctica.

I got an opportunity to have my picture taken with Sir Robert Swan. In return, he asked me for a commitment on behalf of the ISB community. The following is our commitment:

The ISB community will:  

  • Optimise domestic usage of electricity: Switch off and unplug appliances when not in use 

  • Use glass bottles instead of plastic ones

  • Follow a vegetarian diet as much as possible

  • Reduce water consumption by 10% by being aware of running tap water either in the shower or in the kitchen

  • Use public transport and carpool whenever possible  

I urge you all to adopt these five simple practices in your daily lives.  For further details about my expedition and thoughts on climate change and sustainability, please refer to my blog www.travelpinsonmap.com

 

About the author :

Akshat Jain is an alumnus from PGP Class of 2014. He is currently working as a Market Development Manager at Facebook, Singapore.