On 27 May in Paris, the French Sports Academy announced that Lewis Gorden Pugh had won the Sports Adventurer of the Year Award. However, he doesn’t think of himself as an ‘adventurer’ (nor a tree hugger) – but as a new breed of a hands-on, act-now activist.
“As a maritime lawyer, I have decided to combine my legal skills with a deep commitment to get my message through to decision makers and the media to achieve change within our lifetime. Because I’m not sure there will be another,” he says.
“Each time I return to the Arctic, I am shocked by how much ice has melted and how rapidly it’s happening.”
Lewis Gordon Pugh is an explorer and environmental activist who is quickly becoming a Voice of the Arctic. Do you remember the article I posted in September re his Arctic swim? 1 km in 18 mins, 50 secs. Brrr… I also mentioned how he was about to start kayaking to the North Pole.
He said he was undertaking the herculean task of paddling 1,200 kilometres to draw the world’s attention to the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
One of his sponsors for this expedition, and for others in the past, was Investec Asset Management. CEO of Investec, Hendrik du Toit, said “Our philosophy as a business has always been that ‘ordinary won’t change the world’. Lewis Gordon Pugh personifies this attribute, and it is an honour to support him in both his physical expeditions and his quest to raise awareness of the way climate change is affecting our world.”
“I hope I don’t get all the way to the North Pole because if I do get all the way to the North Pole, then that’s very worrying,” he said.
This information is a little out of date as the expedition did not take as long as was forecasted. However, if you read about his swim with interest you might like to hear that his trip ended at 81 degrees north, about 1,000 km from the Pole… He was stopped by a barrier of sea ice which blocked his route north, after a week-long, 135km paddle from the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitzbergen.
And if that ice barrier had not been there… if it had not been too difficult to manoeuvre around – how close does he think he would have got to the Pole? More on that later…
The expedition lasted 9 days in total – including a day returning to dry land.
They, Lewis and Robbie – the kayakers, and the members of the team on the back-up boat, assembled nearly 200 flags on the ice sheet to represent the fact that the Arctic belongs to no-one in particular but to all of us – and it’s importance to all of us is paramount to our survival. It was to demonstrate to us that this region, no matter how far away it seems, is an area that we all have to protect. It was to make us aware of the fact that in the Arctic, sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of predictions… that no matter how distant our home is from this place, we will be affected by what goes on here… that it is a matter for the entire world to sort out.
They then took the flags down, packed up and went home…