In this months Adventure with a Purpose I could have talked about Eric Larsen, explorer and climate change campaigner who recently became the first person to reach the north pole, south pole and top of Mount Everest in one year. An incredible achievement there is no doubt. As some of the past featured explorers demonstrate so well, Im always up for a bit of awareness raising and a good adventure to boot. This month however I discovered an adventure that went so much further than your classic awareness raising. Im talking about the fantastically innovative journey of the Atlantic Rising team. 15 months ago Tim, Will and Lynn set off on a voyage of discovery, to explore the Atlantic coastline and discover what will be lost if seas levels rise by 1 meter. Travelling, living and working in a Land Rover, they covered 32 000 miles and 21 countries, hopping on container ships for the Atlantic ocean crossings, and biking, sailing or walking in between. Travelling overland through West Africa, Latin America and the US they had no end of adventures, they returned to Southampton on the 7th December.
Not content with that, on their way they created a network between schools all along the route. This enables children from all over the world to build friendships, share stories, understand how climate change impacts us all differently and help the next generation to grow up feeling connected to distant places and people. In February, and again last week, the guys got to live out my own childhood dreams, launching a giant Message in a bottle, containing thousands of letters from students around the Atlantic, describing their local environments. It contains a tracking device so we can all also learn about the movement of the ocean currents and their role in distributing the earths heat. You can track it here.
Ever curious, I caught up with Lynn Morris, one of the 3 crew, to pick her brains on the purpose of adventure, climate change and my chances of hitching a ride on a container ship across the Atlantic,Alex: Adventure and exploration has been a common theme in raising awareness recently. Why do you think there is such a close connection?I suppose adventure and exploration is something that catches peoples attention and imagination and so it is a good way to raise awareness. But for us it was merely a means to visit the places we wanted to go.
The idea behind our journey was to find out how climate change is affecting people or could affect people around the edge of the Atlantic. To do this we needed to go to some pretty remote places so that was where the adventure came in. Getting stuck in the mud on a tidalestuary in Mauritania in the middle of the night was not something we set out to achieve!Alex: Did you follow the Plastiki voyage too? What do you think might be next in this realm of adventurous climate change campaigns?
Yes, I did follow the Plastiki and I loved what they were doing. Plastic in the ocean is a huge issue and I thought that was a very clever way of illustrating the problem.People have been asking us about Pacific Rising or Indian Ocean Rising but I think we might need a bit of a break before getting back on the road.Alex: How was the crossing on a container ship? Is it easy to ‘hitch’ a ride? Always wanted to do that…We were really lucky because all our shipping was sponsored by the shipping companies we used – Safmarine for the Africa to Brazil leg and Wallenius Wilhelmsen for Colombia to Mexico and Baltimore to the UK. So they kindly offered to take us as well as the car. I don’t think they routinely take passengers but there are exceptions. Crossing the ocean by ship is a brilliant, very calming experience – no distractions from phone or internet. Alex: Did you find different levels of concern and different views on climate change wherever you went, or was therea lot of common ground?When we spoke to students in the UK before we left they told us that climate change is a problem for the future – it is something for their grandchildren to worry about rather than themselves. But when you have
similar conversations with students in West Africa or South America they are under no illusions that climate change is affecting them today. They can give you examples of how things have changed.We were pretty shocked when we reached America – a country responsible for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions and one which could lead the world on climate change issues if it chose to.The US was the only country we travelled to where climate change was something people ‘believed in’ or not – elsewhere climate change is thought of scientific fact. There was plenty more talk of adaptation to climate change in the US, rather than mitigation. That is all very well for countries that can afford to adapt, but no help to people with little adaptive capacity.Climate change will affect the poorest first and worst and this is a terrible injustice because it is not these people who have significantly contributed to climate change. Alex: Sea level rise estimates seem to keep spiralling upwards. Does that mean you might have to go again before long?! How hopeful are you that as a global society we can tackle this?Yes it is true that sea level rise predictions seem to be going up which is only bad news. I expect as science progresses these are likely to become more accurate. It is important to remember that sea level rises are not uniform. In some places it will be higher and in others lower. Some US scientists are working on better ways to map this so we can project more accurately howdifferent areas are at risk.I am hopeful that we will be able to tackle this. I just hope that we don’t leave it too long. I think that there is a growing movement of people who are interested in climate change issues but we need strong leadership from politicians too to ensure that we as a society makebig changes.It is often hard to make the connection between our lives and climate change which is why I love what Atlantic Rising are doing – giving climate change a post code. Keep up the good work, and enjoy a nice cup of tea first!
Not quite sure how to get your head around it all? Nor were we, but check out this heartwarming BBC school report from a participating school on the south coast of the UK, and you will just what a great idea this adventure is.
Find out more on their site: http://www.atlanticrising.org
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