Father and son plan to trek to South Pole on renewable technology

Posted: November 30, 2017 by oldbrew in News, Travel
Tags: , ,

A fine day in Antarctica [image credit: BBC]

We’re told: ‘Environmental champion, who was first person to walk to both poles, uses Antarctic trek as green wake-up call.’ But who really needs to be woken up? The polar night means Antarctica is a dead zone for solar power for six months of every year, highlighting the fact that part-time sources of electricity can never be relied upon.

“Thirty years ago, I was the first person in history perhaps stupid enough to walk to the North and South Poles,” renowned British explorer Robert Swan, 61, tells IBTimes UK.

“I had no intention ever in my life of ever walking anywhere cold again – this was definite.”

But that is exactly what he is going to do.

The two trips took a heavy physical toll, leaving him with smashed-up knees and hips and eye damage because of harmful radiation passing through the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.

Despite this, Swan is embarking on another adventure to the southernmost continent – this time accompanied by his son Barney, 23 – in what is planned as the world’s first polar expedition powered entirely by renewables.

What could have convinced Swan to undertake an eight-week trek through Antarctica, one of the harshest environments on Earth, at the age of 61?

“Barney persuaded me – much against my will at the time, I might say – that we really should make an effort to inspire people, especially young people, on the whole issue of their energy use – how are they using energy, how are they thinking about energy.

“And he convinced me that the best way of doing that was to walk 600 miles to the geographic South Pole in a matter of days. As we all know, over the last few years, climate change and the issue of sustainability has suddenly risen up.”

Their South Pole Energy Challenge is designed to showcase the power of renewables.

“Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is essential to reducing CO2 emissions,” Swan says. “By putting these clean energies to the test in Antarctica, Barney and I want to prove that they can be developed for use anywhere and therefore play a crucial part in helping the planet transition to a lower-carbon future.”

During this initial voyage, he relied on jet fuel to cook his food, melt ice into drinking water and keep him warm in temperatures of -40C.

Now the expedition team, which includes guide Martin Bennett and filmmaker Kyle O’Donoghue, will be utilising state-of-the-art renewable technologies designed to ensure that the trip is carbon neutral.

Nasa-designed, solar-powered ice melters, which will one-day be used on Mars, will provide them with drinking water on sunny days, while solar-charged lithium batteries will power all their devices. But as Swan points out, there aren’t too many sunny days when you’re walking to the South Pole.

“On many days in Antarctica I couldn’t see you so the other renewable energies aren’t going to work all the time,” he explains.

“So Barney and I will be relying on advanced biofuels to keep us warm and keep us fed on those tough days.” These biofuels are made from various kinds of waste biomass and have been designed to operate in temperatures as low as -60°C.

Continued here.

  1. TinyCO2 says:

    I assume that they’re going there by sail boat and will eschew fossil fuelled rescue?

    Can they seriously think that they will inspire anyone? These message based holiday trips to somewhere cold are annoyingly common. They’re just indulging in heir hobby.

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    Not only how are they getting there without using vast amount of fossil fuels, but what are their clothes made from and what energy is used in their manufacture? Likewise all the other kit – sleds, radios, food, stoves and so on?

    They will emit more CO2 than i will in a year I expect – all to highlight something we are all tediously aware of.

    The narcissism of these people is beyond belief.

  3. TinyCO2 says:

    Once all the geographical highlights had be discovered, this kind of travel just morphed into extreme tourism. Nothing admirable about it at all. If well off greens can’t give up their CO2 emissions, even for their hobbies, why should the rest of us bother to change our more modest lifestyles?

  4. Jamie Spry says:

    😅 Does that mean FF-powered choppers are out of the equation if they need rescuing?

  5. Ben Palmer says:

    How can you produce energy from bio-mass without burning it?

  6. ivan says:

    Virtue signalling gone mad.

    I doubt that they have thought about the possibility of other people being in danger if they need rescue.

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    “in what is planned as the world’s first polar expedition powered entirely by renewables.”

    I think Robert Scott did that in 1911.

  8. Curious George says:

    Instead of jet fuel, they will use a jet biofuel. A huge step for the mankind.

  9. Curious George says:

    He is a non-traditional ozone hole victim: eye damage. No sunglasses.

  10. oldbrew says:

    There’s a battery-powered sledge but Antarctica is a bit short of charging points 😐

  11. JB says:

    “Stupidity cannot be cured with money, education, or legislation. It is the universal capital offense. Execution is automatic without pity.”–Robert Heinlein

    I wonder if as a father Robert explained to his son that from his experience one or both of them may not come back, and if they did, likely permanently disabled? Would either one want to live with that on their conscience just to make the world pay attention to their stunt? Watching the life of a family member slip away because of foolishness is a terrible burden.

    Just this year one of the world’s most experienced skin suit flyers dashed his body against a cliff at Mt Everest. The Green purveyors just don’t get the connection between Nature’s unpredictability and the breadth of its power. There’s a colossal amount of energy in a single lightning bolt. But we don’t see anyone foolish enough to try and capture it for distribution (much less a repeat of a Carrington event).

  12. tom0mason says:

    I’d like some sponsors for the first all Hummer expedition to the South Pole.
    The plan is to have at least 100 military grade Hummers transport 180 party folk to the South Pole for a massive party! BBQ equipment, heating oil and coal, seal steak, and drink to be supplied. A special cold weather prepared 300kVA Caterpillar to be rented and dragged to site, prior to the gig date.
    No scientific research will be tolerated, so UK, US, Australian University students are welcome.

    Would be as useful as this reported stunt but probably more successful.

  13. Richard111 says:

    Just another re-enforcing symptom of the forthcoming human extinction event.

  14. oldbrew says:

    tom – they don’t make Hummers any more 😐


  15. Anoneumouse says:

    What are they going to eat, are pot noodles renewable?

    [reply] lots of freeze dried stuff probably

  16. tom0mason says:

    OB I know of about 1,600 Hummers that are available in USA.
    All known good condition, all proven technology and at about $10,000 to $16,000 apiece — bargain! So we could have 120; 20 for spare parts.
    Military versions (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV)) are a bit more expensive depending on version. About 2500 Humvees have been honorably discharged from military bases to be sold for private ownership, see IronPlanet website
    Now are you signed-up for ‘2018 Party at the Pole’ Kickstarter project?


  17. oldbrew says:

    Any pole dancers? 😎