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EXPEDITIONS

We aim to cultivate values of sustainable and social innovation in younger generations, with the hope that they might be inspired to champion sustainability wherever they may end up. It is an investment in the future of our planet.

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Tan

Chee Wee

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Nhan

Quong

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Aq

Qing Sheng

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Wang

Haizhou

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Jessica

Cheam

GGEF 2014 SPONSORED STUDENT AMBASSADOR : TAN CHEE WEE

Hi! My name is Chee Wee. I am the very first GGEF ambassador to participate in the 2041 Antarctica Expedition with Robert Swan. 2041 is a pivotal year for Antarctica as it is the year when the international treaty to keep Antarctica untouched will end. This expedition builds leadership skills among 81 people from 26 countries to inspire the next generation to take responsibility for a sustainable world. I am very honored to be part of this global family and take pride in being able to share highlights of my experience with you; my journey to a warming Antarctica.

Pre-expedition preparation and expectations

I was really excited preparing for this expedition that every day, hundreds of thoughts would race through my mind during work, at school and even while I was conversing with my wife! These questions ranged from whether I had the necessary cold weather equipment, if I was physically knowledge, engaging an international crowd effectively, to the sheer anxiety of landing on a new continent - Antarctica. Along these preparations, I had high expectations of this trip; that the very best people would share their experiences, facilitate different viewpoints on global issues, stimulate thoughts among the international participants, and of course, very importantly, get me safely back home. With that, I embarked on this trip with an open mind to embrace the full spectrum of experiences awaiting me.

Of melting ice and rising seawaters

This question popped up very often during discussions, both during and post expedition. What should I do next, now that I am one of the few people in the world who has ventured into Antarctica? Well aware of the carbon footprint that took me across the world to this adventure, I take it upon myself to share my experience at business forums, with my colleagues and clients, academic universities, environmental NGOs, Scouts movement and anyone who is interested to know about the last pristine place on Earth. And through another 2 days on board Sea Spirit, the ship which took us across the infamous Drake Passage, a gigantic tabular iceberg greeted us on the third day out at sea. It was the unrestricted and is melting in the Antarctic sea, contributing to the global sea levels. It had always been theoretically explained in classes, but standing on the deck, staring at the inconvenient truth, brought it to a whole new level. That is the same truth that we often overlook because of our hectic lifestyle, remembering it occasionally during days of uncomfortable weather. A chilling thought ran across my mind: that the days of beautiful seashores may not last beyond another generation.

 

GGEF 2014 SPONSORED STUDENT AMBASSADOR : TAN CHEE WEE   

Written By Tan Chee Wee

Hi! My name is Chee Wee. I am the very first GGEF ambassador to participate in the 2041 Antarctica Expedition with Robert Swan. 2041 is a pivotal year for Antarctica as it is the year when the international treaty to keep Antarctica untouched will end. This expedition builds leadership skills among 81 people from 26 countries to inspire the next generation to take responsibility for a sustainable world. I am very honored to be part of this global family and take pride in being able to share highlights of my experience with you; my journey to a warming Antarctica.

Pre-expedition preparation and expectations

I was really excited preparing for this expedition that every day, hundreds of thoughts would race through my mind during work, at school and even while I was conversing with my wife! These questions ranged from whether I had the necessary cold weather equipment, if I was physically knowledge, engaging an international crowd effectively, to the sheer anxiety of landing on a new continent - Antarctica. Along these preparations, I had high expectations of this trip; that the very best people would share their experiences, facilitate different viewpoints on global issues, stimulate thoughts among the international participants, and of course, very importantly, get me safely back home. With that, I embarked on this trip with an open mind to embrace the full spectrum of experiences awaiting me.

Of melting ice and rising seawaters

After more than 22,000km of connecting flights and another 2 days on board Sea Spirit, the ship which took us across the infamous Drake Passage, a gigantic tabular iceberg greeted us on the third day out at sea. It was the unrestricted and is melting in the Antarctic sea, contributing to the global sea levels. It had always been theoretically explained in classes, but standing on the deck, staring at the inconvenient truth, brought it to a whole new level. That is the same truth that we often overlook because of our hectic lifestyle, remembering it occasionally during days of uncomfortable weather. A chilling thought ran across my mind: that the days of beautiful seashores may not last beyond another generation.

Future leaders and our decisions

Team Yang had 9 future leaders who bonded and explored Antarctica together. Coming from different countries, different upbringings and different perceptions on topics. We discussed about expedition objectives, working/ academic experiences, motivation factors and national experience where we engaged and debated while at the same time, behaved like children when surrounded by wild penguins for the first time. But what was important is that, we all believe developed and developing countries alike have a role to play to preserve Antarctica for future generations. Each one of us, in our own capacity, would spread the message of sustainability when we returned home.

Lectures and discussions

Equipping ourselves with knowledge was important to appreciate the depth of discussions and experience. We had on board with us numerous speakers who were energy choices and the progress of the upcoming Paris Climate Change 2015 while Matthias urged us to tap on our inner motivations, identify the sweet spots and follow the principles of leadership. There were other sharing sessions on transportation and sustainability, plastic pollution in the oceans, history of Antarctica expeditions, identification of Antarctica mammals, and public speaking classes throughout the entire voyage. Last but not least, Robert Swan himself inspired us to do the right things.

Wildlife in Antarctica

Nope, a common question but polar bears really do not live in the South. The animals we sighted were simply captivating and I was heartened to know that they are thriving well because Antarctica is left untouched. I saw Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins, Black-browned Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels, Antarctic Terns, Humpback Whales, Leopard Seal, Crabeater Seal and the most priced of all, the Sperm Whale. Every new day brought along exciting surprises as the Zodiac carried us to photo-hunt these magnificent creatures. For this, I learnt that you need an excellent eye for movements, stable hands, a sophisticated camera, tons of patience, a good navigator, and lastly but most importantly, just plan good luck.

Personal Moments

I could never end this article without sharing some of the most defining moments of this trip. The most memorial excitement was when my heart pounded wildly while I stood at the deck getting ready for the polar plunge. It stopped momentarily when I dived into the icy Antarctica waters and luckily resumed when I next grasped for air. It was pure stupidity driven by adrenaline but yes, I am glad I got that box ticked. The most memorial pictorial scene was when I glazed out of my sleeping bag into the Milky Way above. Surrounded by natural beauty of snow and mountains, I saw the colors, the stars and the waves. It was so beautiful that I recall mumbling to myself “This is it. This is THE picture to remember.” The best memory of the entire expedition was my private conversation with Robert Swan. Peeling away layers of experience gap and cultural differences, we encouraged cause. We are privileged that our work, our motivation and recognition are aligned to this great cause. That set purpose of my existence.

I had the luxury of time to reflect on this expedition as I made my flight back to tropical home. Those tight leg spaces and my feeble calls for drinking water reminded me that we could all face the same situation if seawater continues to rise. My expectations on this expedition are now fulfilled and in many aspects, exceeded. By experiencing first-hand the effects of global warming during this expedition, it took me onto a new level of urgency and recognition of climate change forces. I am convinced that it is my responsibility to react strongly, to influence people and to act now! Only when the vast majority believes they each have a part to play, would we stand a chance for an improved sustainability outcome. I believe relating my Antarctica experience to young people and future leaders same cause. It is vital to engage them effectively right now, so that they could propel meaningful changes in future.

What’s next?

This question popped up very often during discussions, both during and post expedition. What should I do next, now that I am one of the few people in the world who has ventured into Antarctica? Well aware of the carbon footprint that took me across the world to this adventure, I take it upon myself to share my experience at business forums, with my colleagues and clients, academic universities, environmental NGOs, Scouts movement and anyone who is interested to know about the last pristine place on Earth. And through it, I hope to inspire and engage people (individuals, corporate entities and government) to acknowledge the environmental impact of our activities and to take action to mitigate these impacts. I hope you can join me in this cause. For a start, individuals can estimate their carbon footprint using online calculators which are widely available. By doing so, one would be aware of the main activity that contributes to the bulk of the emissions and seek to reduce that impact. Finally, do join me at the upcoming 3rd annual Global Green Economic Forum themed “Sustainability Practice – The Game Changer” in Singapore on 10 September 2015. I will be sharing my Antarctica experience. With this, I wish to leave with you the following quote, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we merely borrow it from our children”.

 

GGEF 2015 SPONSORED STUDENT AMBASSADOR : WANG HAIZHOU  

Written By Wang Haizhou
Photos By Wang Haizhou, Oliver Wheeldon

我是命运的宠儿

2015年的春天,我在中国云南省怒江州兰坪县的一个中学教书,那里的天空很高、很蓝,那里的云朵很白、很多,那里的孩子很黑、很可爱。学校的一封通知,让我在心里种下了一颗关于南极的种子,我没有想到它会有机会成长发芽,就这样默默地扎根在了我的心底。2015年的夏天,我在新加坡参加全球绿色经济论坛(GGEF2015)的志愿者工作,被演讲嘉宾的发言所激励,被刘易斯先生的故事所震撼,被GGEF青年大使志伟的分享所感动……我发现“绿色”的理念已经注入到我的血液里。

2015年的冬天,我在北京与中国的青年代表和老师交流分享,我们畅谈可持续发展,我们碰撞出青春思想的火光。当北京开始飘雪,当大风吹走雾霾,当蓝天作伴白云,我打开窗深呼吸,感谢自然给予我们奢侈的馈赠。我发现,我们已经开始将蓝天白云装进自己的回忆里。2016年的春天,四季的一轮变换,我成为了命运的宠儿,带着云贵高原孩子们的希望,带着GGEF的绿色梦想,带着北京的灰色雾霾记忆,带着心中关于南极的种子,登上了飞往南极大陆的飞机。在飞机上,我发现,我做了一个关于蓝色星球的梦,一个关于南极的梦,这个梦似乎离我很近,近的你可以触摸它的颜色,近的你能听到寒冷的呼吸,而它就在日夜星辰的变换中,在环绕地球的万米飞行中,逐渐成为了现实。

我是2041团队的一员

2041年,《关于环境保护的南极条约议定书》将会到期。2041,同样也是我们的团队名称,我们的团队成员共有140人,我们来自30个不同的国家,我们一起为2041年以后的南极保护积极努力。我和我的搭档,来自新加坡国立大学的Nhan,在迪拜汇合,开始了我们的南极之旅。我们在飞机上和空乘人员畅谈我们对南极之旅的期待,我们在机场偶遇从未谋面的团队伙伴,我们带着欢声笑语一起飞抵“世界的尽头”——美丽的阿根廷乌斯怀亚市,我们坦诚交流忘记了自己的肤色和文化,我们只为一个共同的目标——2041。登船前,紧张的准备时间,我和Nhan加入了Earle小组,和来自美国、英国、新加坡、印度的朋友们一起学习培训,互相帮助。我从未感到我与这个世界这么近,就像2041的标志一样,世界很大,它是宇宙中的一颗星球;世界很小,它让我们从世界各地汇集在的这简单的4个数字里。

勇敢者的游戏——罗伯特·斯旺

2041,是由罗伯特·斯旺先生发起并组织的,因为他,我们才有机会去南极探险。出发之前,我简单了解了斯旺先生的人生经历,他喜欢勇敢者的游戏,他喜欢挑战自我,他用行动一次又一次证明自己,他用演讲和公益活动一次又一次激励我们:你可以改变这个世界。


在乌斯怀亚,他带着微笑给每一个队员有力的拥抱,他强健的臂膀给每个队员温暖的鼓励,而我不能忘记的是他深邃的蓝色双眸。他的蓝色眼睛仿佛早就注定了与蓝色星球、蓝色极地有不解的缘分。为了此次2041的南极远征,罗伯特先生向保险公司抵押了自己的财产来租用我们的邮轮,他是团队的精神领袖,充满了人格魅力和领导力。

值得一提的是,我们的2041团队中,最小的队员只有11岁,最年长队员的已年过70,年龄、职业分布十分广泛。图片中的小女孩叫伊莎贝尔,她跟随爸爸一起加入到我们的团队,父亲是吉他演奏家,女儿初学小提琴,他们把音乐带到了冰雪南极,把快乐和幸福带给我们所有人。而小女孩也是我们此次远征中唯一受伤的孩子,在攀登冰川的过程中,她不小心摔倒,下巴受伤缝合了6针,但是她依然坚强勇敢,完成了所有的挑战。

有人问罗伯特·斯旺:“为什么会选择让一个11岁的小朋友加入我们的探险队?”他说:“我们可爱的孩子今年只有11岁,25年以后,就是2041年,她36岁。我就是希望她能在36岁的时候还能回到这里,还能告诉她身边的朋友家人,可以告诉她的孩子,她在美好的童年时光里留存了最美丽的南极的记忆……”这份答案让我久久不能平静,我在这简短的回答中找到了一种情怀,找到了一种精神的鼓舞,更找到了我们为什么参加2041的理由。


短短十几天的生活和交流,让我从各个方面重新认识这个了不起的男人,让我记住了罗伯特·斯旺先生的名言:“人类最大的威胁,就是你会相信别人会去拯救这个世界。” 2017年,他将挑战“使用可持续能源再次徒步穿越南极点”,继续“勇敢者的游戏”。

大自然的调色板

说到南极的颜色,你首先应该想到的是白茫茫一片雪地,是的没错,南极大陆确实白雪皑皑,但是不仅仅只有白色。虽然短短两周我们只对南极半岛进行了简单的探险,但是我却发现南极其实是一块大自然的调色板,总在不经意之间绘制出震撼的艺术巨作。从乌斯怀亚出发,我们航行在魔鬼西风带,穿越了著名的德雷克海峡,历时一天半抵达南极半岛。在大洋中航行,狂风卷集着乌云,海浪在甲板上撞击出白色的浪花。在灰白色的天空中,偶尔有金色的阳光刺透云层,一束束的打在海面上, 就像是天堂之光一样圣洁美丽,而广阔的大洋为深蓝色的海水汲取每一束阳光,孕育着无数的生命和希望。这,并不是电影,而是大自然最美的创造。

 
抵达南极半岛后,我们经历了各种各样的天气,感受到了大自然令人敬畏的力量,也用镜头记录下了这里丰富的颜色。在南极,有湛蓝色的海洋、有黑褐色的火山、有纯净洁白的冰川、有洁净如洗的蓝天、有五彩斑斓的岩石、有灿烂鲜艳的朝霞、有黑夜里皎洁的月光。你可能很难想象南极陆地上会有绿色的植物,然而,鲜绿的苔藓依靠顽强的生命力和极强的环境适应能力,在南极大陆上点缀着一抹绿光。大地为布、风浪为笔,生命和时间调制出最美的颜色,绘画着一幅幅梦幻的南极。


我们的团队领导Mr. Jumper 有一句名言,“If you are inside, you are in the wrong side.”在南极的每天清晨,Jumper都会用他极具特色的声音为大家广播,鼓励大家去舱外欣赏最美的朝阳。在南极大陆的最后一天,大自然仿佛是馈赠给我们一幅离别的礼物,将天空染得鲜红绚烂,所有人都惊叹从未见过如此奇幻的自然,它比油画更动人,它比照片更震撼。我将它设为手机屏幕,时刻提醒我,为了这颗美丽的星球,行走、思考、行动。

南极的主人

说到南极,大家首先想到的一定是企鹅,是的,它们是南极白色陆地上的黑色精灵,它们身着黑白相间的燕尾服,它们伴着憨态可掬的脚步和灵活跳跃的泳姿,告诉我它们才是南极大陆的主人。我还记得第一次看到企鹅时的激动,拿相机捕捉下它们成群结队在海洋里游泳的镜头,看似笨拙圆滚的身体在水中却是那么的自然流畅,每次跃出水面露出白色的肚子好像在和大家打招呼。

企鹅在每年10月至次年3月繁殖,我们到访的时候看到了很多约三个月大的小企鹅,它们在风雪中嗷嗷待哺,渐渐褪去身上的灰色绒毛,换上黑白相间的燕尾服。近年来,在《南极条约》的保护下,南极企鹅的数量也在不断地上升,种群数量保持在良好的规模。也是由于《南极条约》的保护,才使得企鹅宝宝不惧怕人类,可以和我们这些“外来游客”和谐共处。幸运的我和两只企鹅宝宝有了亲密接触,当它们向我走来寻求食物时,我不禁感慨这里才是它们的家,在这片土地上,它们遵循着自然法则和生物链的严酷挑战,它们是勇敢又可爱的“胖子精灵”。

我们还见到了各类的海豹,例如毛皮海豹、豹海豹等等。它们看似慵懒,三五成群地躺在沙滩或者冰山上,享受着南极夏季的阳光;但是它们在水中却是游泳健将,可以扑杀企鹅和鱼类。曾经人类大肆捕杀海豹以获取它们的脂肪和皮毛,场面残忍血腥。现如今,我们看到海豹呆萌的眼神,我们真心的希望它们能够安逸健康的生活在这里,守护这一片宁静而洁白的大陆。


此次南极之旅,我最期待的,也是我最喜欢的就是和鲸鱼的近距离接触,在广袤的大洋当中你根本不会知道它在哪里,它们是深海精灵,它们强有力的呼吸声和庞大的身躯让我们感受到了生命的震撼。在探险过程当中,我们发现了座头鲸、逆戟鲸、小须鲸,还有海豚。最让我们惊叹的就是座头鲸,当我们乘坐冲锋舟飘在海面时,一个座头鲸家族就在距离我们几米远的海面呼吸、浮潜,充满好奇地探索着我们这些陌生的物种。那一刻世界都是安静的,安静的只能听到它们划出水面的呼吸声。它们挥动着胸鳍向我们招手,最后像致谢一般用那美丽的尾鳍划出一道完美的弧线,和我们道别。我相信鲸鱼是有智慧的,在它们面前人类是渺小和无知的,它们是友善的生物,几十年前,人类却在南极大量捕杀鲸鱼以获取鲸油和鱼肉,虽然现如今鲸鱼数量得到了保护,但仍有像日本这样的国家大肆捕杀鲸鱼,仍有《海豚湾》这样的暴行被纪录。鲸鱼才是南极海域真正的主人,我们不愿意看到更多的生命在这纯净的海域被伤害。

在我们离开南极返程阿根廷的时候,我们非常幸运地与一群海豚结伴而行,它们伴随我们的邮轮一起畅游在浩瀚的海洋,兴奋地跃出水面在空中翻转着漂亮的身体,然后自由地落在水中,溅起白色的浪花。在那一刻我们感受到的是生命的美丽和壮观。Nhan和我说,这里之所以这么美、这么感动就是因为这里没有人类,我不能同意更多。远离城市喧嚣和手机网络的日子里,我仿佛将自己置身于“探索发现”频道的纪录片之中,我安静地听着动物的脚步和呼吸,我仔细地听着海浪拍打着水岸和沙滩,我张开双手抚摸着极地的海风从身边吹过,这里的自然是静谧而和谐的,这里的自然是纯净而神秘的。我听到自己内心最真实的告白:愿这里的土地依旧它的色彩,愿这里的生灵自由繁衍后代。

 

最后引用世界野生救援组织的一句话,提醒所有人类:“没有买卖,就没有杀害。”保护野生动物,你我都能做到。

历史与未来
在过去,短短两周的时间内,我们在Deception Island了解学习南极火山地质地貌特征,在Whaler Bay探寻捕鲸炼油业的历史遗迹,在 Brown Bluff Glacier考察冰川冰架构造,在Dollman Bay学习团队协作与冰雪户外救援,在Lemaire Channel感受南极暴风雪并观察企鹅海豹等野生动物,在Petermann Island亲眼看到冰山消融的瞬间,在Neko Harbour突破自我挑战零下2摄氏度的极地跳水。

我们与环保专家、NGO发起人、能源企业代表、教师、青年领袖等项目成员一起,听取了来自美国国家航空航天局(NASA)关于可持续建筑与循环能源技术的报告,学习了壳牌石油公司(SHELL)关于碳回收及未来能源的解读以及虚拟现实技术(VR)的体验;了解了国际非政府组织为水资源保护、太阳能利用、妇女平等、儿童教育所做的努力;通过科考实践、记录观察、团队合作、极限挑战等多样的方式,学习讨论思考了南极资源开发、极地野生动物保护、全球气候变化、可再生能源利用等重要环保议题,积极提升了青年国际领导力并开拓了可持续发展视野。

在未来,也许我们还很年轻,也许我们的能力很小,也许我们的影响力不大,但是我们希望通过自己的努力为环境保护、为南极生态做些什么。就像在此次2041项目中,我和我的搭档一起拍摄了视频日记、一起勇敢的挑战了极地跳水、一起在暴风雪的天气中完成了团队挑战、一起在冰川冰面上摔倒搀扶,一起和团队成员分享我们的故事,这些经历都成为了我们人生当中最宝贵的财富,这些故事可以让我们去分享,讲故事给你们听。


一个人的力量是很小的,但是当一群人的力量汇聚起来,就会产生无穷的力量。我说,短短的14天,30个国家,140名队员,为了2041的共同目标,一起生活、合作创造,项目结束之后我们像萤火虫一般散落在世界的各个角落,虽然渺小,却可以在黑夜里发出微光,为你带来希望,“聚是一团火,散是满天星”,我们将会影响更多的萤火虫加入我们,闪耀更多的光亮。

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我们不希望地球上的最后一滴水是人类的眼泪,我们更不希望我们的孩子以后只能在动物园、博物馆看到南极的野生动物。回国后,我和我的搭档在学校网站、当地媒体、国家报刊、个人微信平台、各大社交网络都分享了我们自己的经历,我们的活动得到了上万人的关注,我也受邀参加了TEDx&Suzhou的演讲活动,我们都在努力做得更好。

我们能做的很少,但是重要的是你做了,行胜于言。借用费孝通先生“差序格局”的创想,我将我们每个人的努力比喻为“一颗石子掉进一汪水潭泛起的涟漪”,这颗石子无论大小,都会在平静的水面泛起一圈圈的波纹,向四周传去。我想起斯旺先生对伊莎贝尔的鼓励,10年以后,20年以后,30年以后,我们可能会从一颗小小的石子变成一块巨石,甚至是划过黑夜天空中的一颗闪亮的流星,它可能会坠入湖泊、可能会坠入江河、可能会坠入海洋,并一定会在最初的一瞬间迸发出越来越大的涟漪,不断将影响扩大到身边的人,再由身边的人传播出去,这就是我们的力量。未来的日子,我们是学生,我们是职场新人,我们是环保志愿者,我们更是青年领袖。

致谢
中国古代诗人王安石曾说,“世之奇伟、瑰怪、非常之观,常在于险远,而人之所罕至焉,故非有志者不能至也。”纵观历史,南极大陆也定是这世界上最远的“非常之观”,我是命运的宠儿,我愿在如此青春的年华做一名“有志者”,把我的故事讲给你们听,和你们一起分享关于环境保护的快乐与感动。

最后,我要衷心地感谢GGEF的所有老师和朋友们的信任,感谢我的母校中国人民大学的培养,感谢中国光华科技基金会、赞助商燕庄油脂公司的支持,感谢罗伯特·斯旺先生的鼓励、感谢我的伙伴Nhan和2041南极国际远征的每一个人。

梦幻南极,是一个关于地球的梦,等着你去想,等着你去看,等着你去做!

GGEF 2015 SPONSORED STUDENT AMBASSADOR : TUONG NHAN  

Written By Tuong Nhan
Photos By Tuong Nhan, Oliver Wheeldon, Simon Bottomley

A Message of Hope

What will happen when a river dies? There is no fish. Water is polluted. Riverbed is full of waste. A lot of people are unhappy. It was what happened in Vietnam in 2008. Thi Vai River near my hometown was dead after a company discharged untreated sewage into her for 14 years. I was unhappy. And I wanted change.

Taking up the course of Environmental Management at National University of Singapore (NUS) is the start of my wonderful journey to seek for the change I want to see. It indeed gave me endless opportunities. The greatest of all is undoubtedly the chance to be Global Green Economic Forum Ambassador to go to Antarctica to witness the climate change effect. An adventure to the last wilderness place on Earth for environmental causes with like-minded people, I knew it would be the adventure of my life. The reality is actually far beyond my expectation. I went to Antarctica to find extraordinary adventure but in the end, I found myself.

It was a long journey to Antarctica with 41 hours of air travel and 1,000km of Drake Passage – the roughest open sea in the world. Its nickname is the “washing machine”. Everything in my room; including chairs and drawers were thrown to the air.  The bed kept sliding up and down during the first night. I could not stand up straight without feeling dizzy. However, all the hardship paled in comparison with the excitement when we sighted our first ice berg. We ran outside and cheered for the moment of great success. A sense of accomplishment washed over me. We have made it to the last wilderness place on Earth.

And Antarctica is truly beautiful beyond what I can imagine.

 

Her beauty is majestic. In our first landing at Pendulum Cove, we trekked up to the mountain and gained the vista view of Antarctica for the first time. Overwhelming is the understatement. Never before in my life, have I witnessed such a vast landscape. The vessel that could easily house 140 of us looked tiny against the backdrop of Antarctica Mountain. In front of her vast landscape, I feel small and insignificant. It reminds me that no matter how advanced we as a species have become, we are still only one small part of the great system.  As all parts are interrelated to each other, our actions have consequences beyond our own defined boundary and we need to be mindful of that fact.

Antarctica beauty is so simple. She only has three main colors; blue, white and black. Still the result is breathtaking. In her embrace, I felt light hearted and free. Her simplicity clears my mind and calms my soul. As I immersed in her beauty, I realized this simplicity makes her beauty special. And if we unclutter our lives, we may discover the beauty in our everyday life too.

Her beauty is pure. With little human disruption, she has no fear. We can walk freely among the seals and the penguins without them running away. The animals here don't perceive human as threat. A trust cannot be felt anywhere else in the world. The close encounter with wildlife had also rekindled my connection to nature and left me with many fond memories. The most memorable encounter is with Antarctica royal resident – the whales. As we cruised around Dallman Bay, I saw a pack of six Humpback whales “logging” – the whales simply made it to surface and hanging out for a short while. As we sat there quietly and observed the whales floating side by side, it came across my mind that the whales are just like us. They have their friends, family and community. They are capable of emotions; including pain and sadness. As we do not want to feel pain, why would we inflict that on animals? I have always known this but this encounter made this understanding completely sinked in. This simple truth has been lost as we lost touch with nature.

Before the trip, as an Ambassador, I thought I would bring back the message of distress. However, Antarctica has other plan for me. As Mr. Robert Swan – our expedition leader and he is an inspiring leader has said “People don’t get inspired by negativity. So be positive!”, the message I received from Antarctica is also the message of hope and resilience.

Hope comes from Antarctica herself. At Whaler Bay, I learnt about her dark history. Hundred thousands of whales were killed when whale oils were used for lighting. But electricity came and whaling industry vanished or at least it was not what it used to be. And today wildlife is abundant and flourishing. Nature is perseverant and resilient. It is never too late to take action. We can save it. But we have to do it now.

Her beauty is pure. With little human disruption, she has no fear. We can walk freely among the seals and the penguins without them running away. The animals here don't perceive human as threat. A trust cannot be felt anywhere else in the world. The close encounter with wildlife had also rekindled my connection to nature and left me with many fond memories. The most memorable encounter is with Antarctica royal resident – the whales. As we cruised around Dallman Bay, I saw a pack of six Humpback whales “logging” – the whales simply made it to surface and hanging out for a short while. As we sat there quietly and observed the whales floating side by side, it came across my mind that the whales are just like us. They have their friends, family and community. They are capable of emotions; including pain and sadness. As we do not want to feel pain, why would we inflict that on animals? I have always known this but this encounter made this understanding completely sinked in. This simple truth has been lost as we lost touch with nature.

From this story, I also learnt technology can bring breakthrough solution. We have to believe that this time, renewable energy can replace oil and a more sustainable future is possible. It is not a utopia dream. We just have to give it a try.

And Hope comes from the people. Our expedition has 140 people from 30 countries. We all have different backgrounds; social activists, environmentalists, businessmen, students, teachers, scientists, artists.

I have never met such a diverse, talented and motivated group of people. Amazing friendships and unforgettable memories were formed as we spent times walking over the glaciers and climbing over snow hills. Not only we made up a great team, we became a strong community.

The best memorable team activity is for us to jump into -2C Antarctic water. I had a fear for deep and cold water; however, the excitement of doing it with my friends and their encouragement overshadowed everything else. When I walked back to the room after the jump, I heard the thundering cheer. We shook hand and high fived all the way for our accomplishment. It was simply the best moment ever! I realized when we are together, we are hopeful. As a team, we gave each other courage to take the leap of faith. We supported each other ideas. We cheered each other on.

 

We inspired and got inspired! We may be different in many ways but we share one thing in common; dedication to Mother Earth and determination to make change. At the closing ceremony, Robert has told us “After this trip, you are never alone. You have the whole community supporting you.” This message has since become my inner motivation. Global climate change is a huge challenge for mankind but we do not have to face it alone. With each other, we can overcome this challenge.

 
 

GGEF 2014 SPONSORED YOUTH AMBASSADOR : JESSICA CHEAM   

Written By Ping Manongdo
Source : Eco-Business.com

From Asia to Antarctica: Eco-Business joins expedition to uncover climate change threats

For the first time ever, Eco-Business embarks on an expedition to Antarctica to uncover how warming temperatures are altering fragile ecosystems there, and how this could endanger Asia.

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As Asia Pacific braces for worsening climate change threats, Eco-Business, the region’s leading news organisation for sustainable development, clean tech, and responsible business, joins an expedition to Antarctica to document first-hand how ecosystems there are changing fast in the face of rising temperatures, and how this could have a negative domino-effect on vulnerable cities in Asia.

 

Along with 80 global changemakers, Eco-Business founder and managing editor, Jessica Cheam, will embark on the two-week journey which departs Singapore on February 25 and returns on March 14.

The expedition, dubbed “Climate Force: Antarctica 2018,” will be led by renowned environmentalist and explorer O.B.E Robert Swan, the first man to walk to both North and South Poles.

Cheam is joining the expedition as a prize she won in a competition organised by Singapore real estate developer City Developments Limited (CDL) called  E-Generation Challenge 2017 last November, organised in partnership with social enterprise Global Green Economic Forum (GGEF).

More than 100 young professionals from Singapore participated in the challenge, which involved writing a 3,000-word essay on proposed solutions to climate change. Finalists also had to deliver a 20-minute presentation to a panel of distinguished judges from the sustainability sector.

Climate change is not an abstract concept but a reality confronting millions of people today.

Jessica Cheam, founder and managing editor, Eco-Business

“It is a huge honour to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the most pristine, last wilderness on the planet. It is visibly suffering the effects of climate change, and though it may be too remote a location for most people, what’s happening in Antarctica has a very real impact on our lives and societies,” said Cheam, who founded Eco-Business in 2009.  

Esther An, chief sustainability officer, CDL, said: “CDL has been a long-time advocate of sustainability and climate action for more than two decades and this is reflected in our business operations as well as community outreach initiatives like the CDL E-Generation Challenge, which we have run for the past eight years.”

“CDL is proud to support Jessica’s expedition to Antarctica. We look forward to seeing the exciting climate solutions and new perspectives on the issue that will emerge from this journey,” An added.

Christina Lee, founder and chief executive officer, GGEF, said: “GGEF believes that women and the youth have immense untapped potential to deliver actionable solutions to climate change. We are proud to support outstanding young people like Jessica Cheam, to join the International Antarctic Expedition.”

Cheam, who was formerly environmental and political correspondent at Singaporean national daily The Straits Times, has been documenting the impact of climate change for a decade.

“I’ve witnessed how it affects businesses, societies and individuals around the world. It’s not an abstract concept but a reality confronting millions of people today,” she said.

Eco-Business also launched Changing Course,  a visual storytelling campaign on climate change, which will topbill an independent short documentary that Cheam will produce in partnership with filmmaker Fraser Morton about the impact of climate change in Antarctica’s wild, untouched landscape.

The documentary will be screened at the Changing Course exhibit to be held from June 1 to July 12 in Singapore. The exhibition will also feature a photo collection from the expedition and will be open to the public.

Going beyond the exhibition, Jessica and Fraser are also separately producing a documentary with Asian broadcaster Channel NewsAsia on climate change, told for the first time through an Asian lens. More details will be announced later this year.

Eco-Business is also launching a global photography competition, where winners will get a chance to see their works displayed at the Changing Course exhibition.

To join the competition, interested individuals can send in photographs documenting climate impacts or solutions in their community, or upload them on Instagram with the tag #changingcourse. Three photos and three Instagram posts will be chosen for the exhibition.

“There is no shortage of solutions to the climate crisis—these range from renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure to more sustainable diets and consumption—but these solutions are not being scaled up fast enough… In Antarctica, I hope to chronicle the impact of climate change from a different perspective, and tell stories that will inspire change,” said Cheam.