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Wake up call

Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2011

Pen Hadow is a polar explorer and also runs a business - Geo Mission - which is an environmental sponsorship organisation. He talks about the work he does to highlight the devastation being caused in the Arctic, as well as his solo expedition to the North Pole in 2003

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Pen Hadow

I'm Pen Hadow, polar explorer and also I run a business, Geo Mission, which is an environmental sponsorship organisation. 

I think the biggest trigger, or the one that really tipped me over the edge into doing the work that I do now, is that when I did a, I did a solo expedition to the North Pole in 2003 from Canada to the North Geographic Pole, and that involved 850 hours of trekking and pulling a heavy sledge north.  And the remarkable thing that came out of it was that I spent nearly 50 of those 850 hours swimming. 

That was my wake up moment, when I thought, realised on reflection I suppose, after the project, there really is a state change taking place.  That’s when I thought I actually have a social responsibility to use my reputation and my interest in the Arctic Ocean to try and tell people who would not otherwise ever go there or see it, understand it and get it, what a massive thing is going on, that people really need to understand. 

I think what really is the focus of my life at the moment is this notion of modern scientific exploration, (prop plane noise) where I feel that explorers collaborating with scientists to generate peer-reviewed scientific work, never has that been more urgent or important, and I am fascinated by the intellectual challenge, if you like, of pulling it off.  My life’s work is becoming this notion of trying to develop modern scientific exploration, where scientists collaborate with explorers to access information that cannot be acquired by any other means. 

Geo Mission is an environmental sponsorship organisation, and what we do is we bring together major corporate organisations, global organisations, and we marry them up with major natural science research programmes, studying the big environmental questions for all of us around the world, bringing in the best scientists that we can attract, and all watch through the peer review process, and then communicating these, and we’re creating a major communications platform around these projects that can enable the scientists to reach who they want to reach, the sponsors to reach who they want to reach, and the media to reach who they want to reach.  And I think this is a, it is a new model for scientific research. 

I think that actually within 10 to 15 years, the contribution to natural science funding made by business will overtake the contribution made by the taxpayers through government agencies into natural science.  When I look out as far as 2020, which isn’t actually that far away, it’s only ten years away, I think am I an optimist or am I a pessimist about how things are going to unfold.  Honestly I fluctuate hour to hour, day to day, sometimes I feel yes, we can do this, we can bring about a sort of a societal change globally, and in sufficient time, and other times I just think the human condition is about having the best time that it can do in the short term.  So I don’t know, surprisingly, what the answer’s going to be, and I cling onto the, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know, how do I feel?  I am an optimist, or I'd go mad.






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