Arriving in Ushuaia turned out not to be our real finish. From the southernmost city in the world we were very fortunate to join our personal hero and inspiration, polar explorer Robert Swan OBE, and his team from 2041 to Antarctica. This last true wilderness holds roughly seventy percent of the world’s freshwater resources, and we were very anxious to see it in all its splendor, and learn about the effects of climate change on this; the White Continent.
While crossing the Antarctic Convergence and sailing into the cold, but highly productive, Southern Ocean; we see our first Wandering Albatross…
This is Antarctica; a continent twice the size of Australia, but with no permanent inhabitants, and no indigenous peoples. It has never seen war, and it is the only place on our entire planet that we all own.
Smelling the continent, tasting it, feeling it; it inspires wonder and amazement. It is an unexpectedly quiet place where humans are made very acutely aware of their own insignificance and vulnerability.
Animals and nature are in charge here… (photo courtesy of Jack Robert-Tissot)
And patrolling just below the surface in the frigid waters, there be giants… (photo courtesy of Jack Robert-Tissot)
Although they do not appear to be too vicious… (photo courtesy of Jack Robert-Tissot)
although they would regularly test our steadfastness by diving and gliding underneath the – suddenly very rickety feeling – rubber boats to show their immense shadowy outline in the cold, blue water (photo courtesy of Joseph Chan)
where we could participate in the first ever TEDx event held on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Nearing the end of our Antarctic expedition we sailed to King George Island on the South Shetlands. Here, at the Russian base of Bellingshausen, stands Robert Swan’s e-Base. Run solely on renewable energy, it is an inspiring symbol that if we can successfully use alternatives here – in the most hostile environment on Earth; we can use it everywhere, meaning that there will be no need to come to Antarctica to seek out its riches and destroy the last wilderness on the planet in the process.
our eyes were transfixed on this massive piece of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, which broke off several years ago. The shelf, roughly the size of Belgium (!), fell into the sea even though it shouldn’t have, and these gigantic tabular bergs floating around in the Southern Ocean are a powerful reminder that Antarctica – the planet’s early warning system – is telling us something. It’s telling us to slow down and think, because the biggest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will take care of it.