The race to be last: Polar explorer Eric Larsen battles climate change

The race to be last: Polar explorer Eric Larsen battles climate change

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“I’m in a periphery sport that not a lot of people understand—nor the place I’m traveling to,” Larsen explains. He said this is especially true in the US, a country that doesn’t have a collective consciousness of polar exploration on a national level, compared to, say, Norway. “So many people ask me, ‘Is there land at the North Pole?’” he gripes.

However, he wants people to overcome this naiveté and understand. And his decades of experience and wisdom mean he has the credentials to be a true educator in his field, be it via his polar training courses or his many TED talks. It’s one of his life’s goals to pass his knowledge to others, just as explorers of the past have bestowed upon him.

It was polar explorer Will Steger—who led the first unsupported North Pole expedition in 1986—who really inspired Larsen. “He is probably one of the biggest modern-day pioneers of polar exploration,” he says. “The expeditions he did were almost directly similar to Shackleton’s, still using analog technology. They weren’t using GPS. A lot of the time, there’s no logistics. To me, he kind of represents the end of that classic era of exploration.”

Perhaps it’s coincidental that Steger and Larsen—now friends—both represent the end of an era in North Pole exploration. A 2017 report from the Arctic Council predicts that the ice in the Arctic will be completely melted by 2040.

“I’m basically a dinosaur,” Larsen tells me. “The pursuit that I had chosen may no longer exist in the very near future.”

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February 14, 2018 at 12:18AM

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