When I was a kid in Richfield, I loved to play hockey. Even though I loved it, I decided to trade my hockey skates to a neighbor for a wagon full of National Geographic magazines. They changed my life because they instilled my desire for adventure and exploration. I also remember reading Huck Finn in the 4th grade and he was my hero. I wanted to do adventures like him so when I was 15 I took my motorboat down the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans and back. That was my first and last motorized adventure.
Ever since I can remember, I was interested in exploration, pioneering, nature, and so forth. While I am known for many firsts on my arctic expeditions, I also have been one of the first eyewitnesses to the devastating effects of climate change.
In 1987 I was let in on some secret research. Scientists studying the ice shelves in Antarctica pointed out to me what they thought was the coming disintegration of the Larsen B ice shelf. Then they whispered so no one could hear but me, ‘It is going because the planet is warming.’ I crossed the Larsen B ice shelf on one of my Antarctic journeys. Then, in 2002 I was reading the Minneapolis Star Tribune and there it was on page nine – a satellite photo of the Larsen B ice shelf of western Antarctica just falling apart and floating away.
I have never seen such drastic changes in the Arctic as quickly as I have in the last twenty five years. Every ice shelf I have crossed by dogsled, foot or ski, has disintegrated into the ocean. We’re all seeing the evidence of a changing climate; and seeing is believing. We are at a tipping point. Scientists tell us we have ten years, if that, to make significant changes.But there is hope.
I think we’re finally reaching a consensus on the fact that the world is getting warmer, and parents are becoming concerned about the world their children will inherit. It is a very critical time right now to get the facts out, raise awareness and move people to action. And then, from there, there are a lot of great solutions.