Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Teenage explorer undertook South Pole trek to raise awareness of climate change

Eli Duke via flickr

Parker Liautaud, who arrived at the South Pole unaided on Christmas Eve after an 18-day trek, said he undertook the challenge in an effort to “reignite the dialogue on climate change”.

The 19-year-old Californian broke the record as the fastest young person to walk across Antarctica. He did so in 18 days, four hours and 43 minutes.

When the expedition was over, he said, “Over the past several weeks I have learned a lot and am very thankful for the support of the team around me that made this expedition possible. I now hope to work with our scientific partners in the next phase of the research from this expedition and continue to contribute to reigniting the dialogue on climate change.

What we wanted to do was to harness an engaging story that people could be a part of from a region that was being significantly hit by climate change.

Liautaud and his expedition partner, Doug Stoup, broadcasted their adventure live, hoping to stimulate the debate on climate change in the polar regions. They had previously been part of a team collecting snow samples in Antarctica to analyse climate patterns.

The problem with communicating climate science is that it is very complex and statistical and not something that can be experienced on a personal level”, Liautaud said.

“There isn’t an awareness of the fact that there is a consensus in the scientific community about the existence of global warming. People are not only divided on it, they are not talking about it. We have a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, a student from Bristol, 16-year-old Lewis Clarke, returned to school on Tuesday after becoming the  youngest person ever to ski to the South Pole at the beginning of 2014.

Further reading:

Antarctic Pine Island glacier will continue retreating, scientists say

Penguins scale cliffs to escape climate change

North Pole ‘drifting’ because of manmade climate change

Proposed Antarctic reserve downsized after government opposition

New Zealand Airlines to run Antarctica flights for scientists

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