A few years ago, Lewis Pugh became the first person to swim across the North Pole. The reasoning behind the swim was to raise awareness on climate change. I had seen a few examples of people pulling off adventures to raise awareness of the melting glaciers and the polar bears lives being threatened, however, I had not seen an adventure quite like Lewis’.
He trained in freezing cold waters for years before he and his supporting team felt he was ready to endure the waters of the North Pole. The journey to the pole starts in Murmansk, Russia. On the third day of boating out to the North Pole they come across a polar bear and her cub. Lewis expressed that to think that in 30-40 years they could become extinct is frightening. On day 6 they have reached 90*N at 22h. Before his swim, Lewis is hooked up to a few core body temperature monitors. The temperature of the pitch-black water was -1.7*C and 4200m in depth. It would have been impossible for him to train in such freezing water. His team of polar bear guards, timers, mentors and coaches all encouraged him as he crossed the 1km mark without breathe while being almost unconscious. When water freezes it expands, so the water in Lewis’ body had froze and his hands were swollen so badly that he could not feel them for 4 months after the swim. He finished the length in 18 minutes and 50 seconds.
I sometimes question the drive behind these types of adventures. Is it to raise awareness or solely for the glory of holding a new title? Lewis’ adventure was a big expense that could have been used towards green awareness programs and the amount of traveling also released a lot more carbon into the atmosphere. Considering these factors, I still think Lewis’ North Pole Challenge was worth the damage and the pros outweigh the cons. It takes drastic acts like these for people to really pay attention.
Pugh, Lewis. "Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole." TED. N.p., Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Jan. 2013. <http://www.ted.com/talks/lewis_pugh_swims_the_north_pole.html>.