JOIN THE CLIMATE FORCE CHALLENGE
I recently had a wide-ranging conversation with Robert and Barney Swan, of The Climate Force Challenge, discussing polar expeditions, climate change, inspiration and the importance for individuals and businesses to work towards carbon neutrality. Below are highlights and a few of my observations from that conversation.
In the early 1980’s, the famed French Oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, personally inspired a young English Cab Driver, Robert Swan, to adopt a long-term vision to preserve Antarctica.
Monsieur Cousteau convinced Robert that humankind still had a chance to leave one continent natural and unspoiled. There was just enough time to ensure that the home of 70% of the world’s freshwater, millions of penguins, whales and seals would not be exploited, but could be preserved and conserved for the good of all, if people were inspired to take action.
Antarctica could be forever dedicated to advancing science and education. No bloody mining, no colonization, no war. Full stop.
To achieve this vision, Cousteau inspired Rob to create a series of expeditions and to engage thousands of young people, businesses and industries to become part of the story. Connecting Cousteau’s advice to their recent ground-breaking South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) expedition, Robert said, “The basis of success is to have a great story. In a world of over communications and too much information, what people actually want today is inspiration not more information.”
Rob went on to say, “What young people, corporate leaders and educators need to do is show leadership. Inspire. Take a risk. In the Antarctic, we are in a survival situation. A survivor does not see a problem and do nothing about it. Leaders need to take risks to solve problems and do things that captures their people’s imagination. Take bold action that creates inspiration, not more information.”
Driven by mission madness, Rob became the first person to walk to both the South and North Poles, earning him the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). For more than 35 years, Rob has hatched and successfully completed a series of missions, inspiring thousands of diverse individuals across the globe to raise awareness and help save Antarctica. With each new far-flung adventure propelling Rob’s vision for saving Antarctica into clearer focus – to leverage his efforts to safe Antarctica to inspire others to take action. “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It.”
I first met Rob in June of 2002 and later that year helped staff his Mission Antarctica exhibit at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortly thereafter, I had the honor of helping organize and participate in the first two of ten annual, Inspire Expedition Antarctica (IEA) leadership and teamwork missions, partly sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.
Now, at the age of 61, Rob, this time inspired by his 23-year-old son Barney, decided to see if it could be possible to walk across the Antarctic continent without using fossil fuels for cooking or heating. Why? To set an example for the world, that if a small group of explorers could survive a 600-mile trek to the South Pole relying solely on renewable fuels, people back home surely could successfully transition from fossil fuels.
Dozens of sponsors, large and small, helped outfit, orient, fuel and feed the team. With the help of NASA, build solar devices to melt snow, bio-fuel made from waste materials from Shell and tons of intestinal fortitude, Rob, Barney, Kyle O’Donoghue and Martin Barnett set out on the South Pole Energy Challenge on November 15, 2017. One interesting culinary innovation was a tasty energy bar made by Atlanta based CSM Bakery. Packed with 1,000 calories and designed to stay soft even at minus 40 degrees C, the CSM bars were a safe and convenient snack, providing a blast of energy without risk of a broken tooth from biting a frozen slab of nutrition.
The first fortnight or so of the journey was typical Antarctic stuff. Minus 45-degree Celsius temperatures, frequent wind blasts of over 50 miles per hour, hauling 300-pound sledges 8-9 miles per day under a night-less sky, touches of frostbite, and massive chafing that comes from enduring ice in your underpants.
But as the days rolled on, the team was falling behind their hard and fast goal to cover at least 10 nautical miles per day, due to a nagging hip injury that reduced Rob’s speed and endurance. Rob knew physically and mentally, he could make it to the Pole, but deadlines would be missed, supply lines strained and an important rendezvous with several expedition sponsors, scheduled to march the final 60 miles with the SPEC team to the Pole, would be blown.
Rob was forced to make a key leadership decision. “I realized I was becoming weak, because of a hip injury, I was slowing the team down. I came to the conclusion that making it to the South Pole was not about me, it was about the team being the first expedition attempting an assault on the South Pole surviving solely on renewable energy.”
So, Rob flew back to base camp to rest and recuperate for several weeks before rejoining the team and sponsors for the final 60-mile push to the Pole. “While this was the hardest decision of my life, I realized this was now becoming Barney’s story, not mine. At the time it felt like failure. But now, reflecting on it, clearly, it was the best decision I ever made.”
Rob added, “The lesson for corporate people and NGOs is you don’t always have to lead. Sometimes you have to support. Sometimes you have to be a servant leader, not the leader that’s out there. The impacts of climate change are creating risks to business and commerce and corporate leaders are starting to get that we are facing a survival situation. Customers are beginning to truly make some choices. Reducing your carbon footprint, using renewables is now a serious business opportunity.”
Two years of maniacal physical, mental and operational preparation by the SPEC team enabled them to successfully reach the South Pole on January 15, 2018. I asked Barney if there was any key decision they made that ensured success. “In our planning, not leaving anything up to an assumption was the rule. We tried to avoid as much assumption as possible. Relentlessly double and triple checking systems, supplies, savage organization and to do lists was key to making it all happen.”
Looking back on the journey, Barney pointed to: Day 45, as a pivotal moment. “It was the toughest day of my life. I had frost bite on my feet and face, mega bleeding in my crotch from chafing. It was minus 45 degrees C. But I realized I was there by choice, not circumstance. This was my idea. I chose to walk to the South Pole using only renewables and I was going to finish it. People in life forget that they are often in their situation by choice. I was thinking of all of those people that suffer hunger, homelessness, or dehydration, due to circumstance, and don’t have a safety net. Focusing on the bigger purpose of fulfilling promises to sponsors and completing mission got me through. The greater goal drove me – and has now become the spring board for the next seven years.”
Barney added, “I am really proud we designed and made this expedition net positive from an emissions standpoint. It is a model I want to help adventurers, small business, and families replicate. People need to feel like they can have attainable solutions to balance out their emissions and work toward a carbon neutral future. We really need to make it happen a lot faster than 2070 if we want to have any hope of keeping our planet’s temperature rise under 4 degrees.”
I asked Barney what was next for Climate Force Challenge? “We proved it was possible to survive with renewables to get to the South Pole. Now we are setting out on a journey to scale what we achieved. Over the next seven years, we are going to create and promote a series of projects and convenient solutions, that added together, will be responsible for cleaning 326 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.”
“We are working with individuals and organizations to set goals to reduce their carbon footprints. First step is to identify and commit to a series of simple changes to reduce your footprint. Like using efficient light bulbs, planting trees, reducing consumption of meat, carpooling or purchasing paper made from sugarcane waste. Then progressing to more difficult and impactful efforts, such as buying green power from utilities, installing renewable energy systems, starting kelp and algae farms.”
“During the summer of 2019, we will be taking 90 people from around the world to the Arctic.” Base camp will be Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. “We will take Industry leaders, blend them with a mix of students and educators, and create a shared vision of doing a bit more for the planet. Integrating an experience with commitments – inspiring folks to become ambassadors – creating an incubator to bloom and scale. Two weeks of leadership, teamwork and setting goals for sustainable solutions.”
“We want to help folks set and achieve goals. Promote sustainable business solutions that make meaningful contributions to reducing CO2. If you can’t join us in the Artic, we will be visiting many locations across the US over the next seven years where you can join us in setting convenient goals and implementing simple solutions and impactful innovations to save our planet.”
For more information on SPEC checkout this CBS documentary:
Meet Mike Nilan of TreeZero – http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-mike-nilan-treezero-vinings/
CDP’s 2017 Global Forests Report – Up to US$941 billion of turnover in publicly listed companies is dependent on commodities linked to deforestation, including soy, palm oil, cattle and timber. https://www.cdp.net/en/research/global-reports/global-forests-report-2017
2017 Was the Second-Worst Year on Record for Tropical Tree Cover Loss – according to new data from the University of Maryland, released today on Global Forest Watch. In total, the tropics experienced 15.8 million hectares (39.0 million acres) of tree cover loss in 2017, an area the size of Bangladesh. That’s the equivalent of losing 40 football fields of trees every minute for an entire year. Colombia faced one of the most dramatic increases in tree cover loss of any country, with a 46 percent rise compared to 2016, and more than double the rate of loss from 2001-2015. https://bit.ly/2KifxLH
Going green with Wildlife Works! – As part of Wildlife Works’ commitment to increasing the forest cover, Wildlife Works has been providing local farmers with tree seedlings and potting bags. This provides a valuable source of income for some community members and also reduces the tendency to exploit forests and animals for economic gain. https://bit.ly/2MkwvWi
International Day of the Tropics is observed on June 29 – According to the UN, the tropics account for 40 per cent of the world’s total surface area and are host to approximately 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and much of its language and cultural diversity. https://bit.ly/2MCENsI
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
CDP – 115 organizations, including CVS Health, Target Corporation, Tesco and Walmart representing over US$3.3 trillion of spend, request environmental data from more than 11,500 global suppliers to cut supply chain emissions. https://bit.ly/2N1dpFF
Allergies, Glaciers, Pikas: Climate Change in Action – Seas rising, wildfires spreading, allergies increasing: Climate change is measurable globally. https://bit.ly/2tBtclS
Bloomberg’s annual New Energy Outlook (NEO) report has been released, and projects that the global energy mix will be 50% renewables by 2050 https://bit.ly/2KwuyFE
US Renewables Nearly Tied with Nuclear At 20%, Coal Falls To 27% Renewable energy sources accounted for a fifth of US power generation over the first third of 2018 according to new figures from the US Energy Information Administration ‘Electric Power Monthly‘. https://bit.ly/2MxIgJ8
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and California Bioenergy, LLC (CalBio) have launched a first-of-its-kind collaboration to support the financing, installation and management of on-farm methane digesters to generate renewable compressed natural gas (“R-CNG”) fuel in California. https://prn.to/2tMag4T
Volvo Trucks and FedEx Successfully Demonstrate Truck Platooning on N.C. 540 (Triangle Expressway) – The tractors and trailers traveled at speeds of up to 62 mph while keeping a time gap of 1.5 seconds, maintaining a closer distance than what is typical for on-highway tractors. Drag accounts for up to 25 percent of a truck’s total fuel consumption, and the closer the trucks drive to each other, the greater the fuel-saving potential. Reducing the traveling distance between vehicles also allows for greater highway utilization, helping alleviate traffic congestion. https://bit.ly/2KhD9zQ
Housing and car industries should be ‘ashamed’ of climate record – according to Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The CCC’s annual report, published on Thursday, found the UK is on track to miss its legally binding carbon budgets in 2025 and 2030, due to lack of progress in cutting emissions from buildings and transport. https://bit.ly/2KdEIih
Climate predictions should include impacts of CO2 on life – https://bit.ly/2NdBKbJ
Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for a New Economy is a first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder pilot project aimed at increasing the current EPA-reported 34% recycling rate in the U.S. https://bit.ly/2yIHFSQ
New Polymer Ups the Ante for Recycling – A team of chemists have produced a polymer that apparently has all the benefits of today’s plastic but can be recycled an immeasurable number of times. https://bit.ly/2NdbXA2
Morrisons Supermarkets to reintroduce paper bags for fruit and veg – https://bit.ly/2KoeRn2
China’s Recycling Ban Costing North Texas Cities Millions – Last year The City of Fort Worth’s recycling program netted $999,000. This year Fort Worth’s program is projected to lose $465,000, and next year the recycling program is expected to cost the city $1,668,000. https://cbsloc.al/2Kzoxs1
Think you know how to recycle? Take the quiz – https://bit.ly/2IGQYSX
MillerCoors, Global Water Center achieve firsts in water stewardship – SCS Global Services (SCS), a leading international third-party certifier of environmental claims, has certified that MillerCoors Milwaukee Brewery and the Global Water Center conform with the requirements of the Alliance for Water Stewardship International Water Stewardship Standard (AWS Standard), the first-ever comprehensive global standard for measuring responsible water stewardship across social, environmental and economic criteria. https://bit.ly/2yKVLDb
The World Heritage Committee decided to remove the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the List of World Heritage in Danger. https://bit.ly/2tQebfU
Argentina’s economy shrank 0.9 percent in April from the same month the year before – Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne has said the drought will reduce 2018 growth by 1.5 percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) and reduce the country’s exports by hundreds of millions of dollars. https://bit.ly/2lFOqvj
Federal report: Americans conserving water like never before – In per capita terms, domestic water use has plummeted from 112 gallons per day in 1980 to just 82 gallons in 2015, a 27 percent decrease. https://bit.ly/2Kwwhyc
The Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC) designation is ideal for financial professionals seeking fundamental knowledge and pertinent skills related to SRI investing and impact portfolios, in order to serve a broader network of clients as well as strengthen existing client relationships. http://www.cffpinfo.com/web/csric.html
Will ESG Die with the Bull Market? – https://bit.ly/2lBnXiq
HOK Partners with BRE to Launch BREEAM New Construction Standard in USA – https://bit.ly/2Kkj3o0
Webinar: Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals Thursday July 12th | 2pm BST | 3pm CET – http://events.ethicalcorp.com/reporting/webinar/
Office Depot launched their 2018 Sustainability report – Sustainability A Way of Business for Us A Resource for You. https://bit.ly/2MssAXm
The GRI Standards on occupational health and safety (OHS) and water and effluents have been updated – https://bit.ly/2KxqfNM