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We owe it to Sir Robert Falcon Scott and the tragic polar party to protect Antarctica

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On this day 102 years ago, Sir Robert Falcon Scott and the Terra Nova expedition arrived at the South Pole. Having finished behind Roald Amundsen in a race, the polar party – of Scott, Edward Wilson, Lawrence Oates, Edgar Evans and Henry Robertson Bowers – perished on their return journey.

Financed by the Royal Geographical Society, the expedition intended to be the first to reach the South Pole – thus conquering the world’s only untamed region at the time. The expedition is perhaps more recognised for its recovered documentation.

Scott’s journals, which recounted the expedition from beginning to end and gave a personal account of the polar party’s demise, were recovered on Scott’s frozen body several months after Amundsen had reached the pole first.

More recent trips to Earth’s most southerly point includes that of Ben Fogle and James Cracknell, who competed against other entrants to reach the South Pole in 2010. Last year. Meanwhile, only last year, Sir Ranulph Fiennes had to withdraw from a six-month winter expedition across the Antarctic due to severe frost bite.

Robert Falcon Scott and the polar party's ship, Discovery, is now a visitor attraction in her home, Dundee

There has been an increasing frequency of Antarctic visits in recent years, primarily due to tourism. Since the 1960s, private trips have been available to sightsee the Antarctic boundary. For between $3,000-30,000 (the upper amount being almost the exact figure it took to fund the entire Terra Nova expedition), customers can fly from Australia to Antarctica, viewing the world’s most southern continent.

Originally, expeditions were embarked on for scientific exploration and discovery. The former still holds true nowadays, with many trips to Antarctica focusing on learning more about climate change.

Studying the Earth’s coldest regions and the rate at which they are warming gives a good understanding of climate shifts across the globe. Weather stations manned all year round are now situated across the continent, monitoring ice melt and sea levels.

Meanwhile, the ozone hole, first noticed by the British Antarctic Survey in the 1960s, is also continually monitored. Its depletion received much interest due to its connection with increased human fossil fuel emissions and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Over Christmas and into the new year, the Russian Akademik Shokalskiy vessel became stranded in thick ice while attempting to reach the Antarctic to study climate change. A rescue mission took place to remove the scientists from the ship. The cause of this was attributed to unexpected ice densities, which were predicted to be much lower than they actually were.

Antarctic ice sheet levels have been the focus of many studies since the 1970s. But while sea ice around its northern cousin the Arctic has fallen to its lowest ever levels in recent years, the Antarctic is experiencing an entirely different trend, with sea ice reaching record highs in 2013.

Scientists have attributed the difference to the regions’ contrasting geographies (the Arctic is mostly ice and surrounded by land, whereas Antarctica mostly land and surrounded entirely by ocean) with some researchers saying the Antarctic’s strong winds are to blame for the increase in its sea ice. But while the Antarctic may be gaining sea ice, it is rapidly losing land ice, meaning it is certainly not immune to the warmer world we are creating.

With manmade climate change likely to see warmer winters and summers, and with some estimating the global population will increase to over 10 billion by 2050, a better understanding of ice extent decrease is vital.

The Arctic and Antarctic are beautiful, pristine and vulnerable regions and it would be a great shame if Robert Falcon Scott and the brave polar party’s legacy was rubbed out because of humanity’s commitment to polluting sources of energy.

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution with a degree in English, he is currently studying for global environmental change MSc. 

Further reading:

Climate change may ‘green’ Greenland by 2100, say scientists

Climate scientists ‘95% sure’ that global warming is manmade, says leaked IPCC document

‘Unprecedented’ warmth of Arctic in 2012 saw ice melt to record low

Greenland experiences ‘record high’ temperatures

UN agency reports on ‘decade of climate extremes’

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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