The Explorers Club
This week I met with some truly remarkable people through my role as Chair for the Explorers Club – Great Britain and Ireland Chapter.
The Explorers Club is an American-based international multidisciplinary professional society with the goal of promoting scientific exploration and field study. They have Chapters based around the world with Fellows, members and associates joining the closest Chapter.
These people are a mixture of explorers of all disciplines, educators, scientists, film makers, photographers and others! they all have to fall into a certain criteria that can be found on the website https://explorers.org
GB and Ireland event
We had our first event for the Chapter this week in the Frontline Club in London. https://www.frontlineclub.com We hold four events a year with guest speakers, an open bar and room for all our members and their friends to meet up.
Explorer Benedict Allen fresh back from his so called controversial expedition to Papua New Guinea gave the first lecture of the year. It was the first time he was able to speak to an audience about the journey which was over shadowed by his delayed pick up mixed with the fact that he got malaria.
The press focused on his lack of communication to extract him from the area but after listening to Benedict that night the real story, for me was based on the his will to find the indigenous tribes he had met many years before – he did reach them but after ploughing through new mining areas on route.
Anybody who listens to a speaker will pick up on at least one thing that sticks in their mind – I have people say to me – you were the chap who shows students the polar bear tooth. This is true, I do! and I am the same, how mining was gradually pushing towards tripes who have rejected modern civilisation in Benedict story really stuck out for me.
Catch the Next Wave; Frontiers of Exploration
The following morning I represented the Great Britain and Ireland Chapter at an event in the Excel centre in London. The concept was to understand the research of the Oceans from the sea bed to sea level and then to space with speakers through out the day. An explorer would speak about their own experiences and reasons for venturing into these areas followed by a scientist who would cover the research their teams are doing in the same regions.
Our own GB and Ireland committee member Rory Golden talked about his dives to the Titanic followed by Blair Thornton an ocean engineering scientist. Rory was the first Irishman to reach the Titanic and also spotted the ships iconic wheel.
I was fortunate to introduce another one of our Chapter members Pen Hadow who spoke about his recent expedition sailing a non icebreaker 50 foot yacht into the arctic ocean around the North Pole – this was to highlight the affect mining, fishing and pollution is having on the area with a view to protecting the ecosystem.
In 2016 I had been on an expedition to the North geographic pole and witnessed for myself the environmental destruction of rapidly melting sea ice and this was during the hottest season ever recored. Pen’s lasting memory for me was the amount of life within an iceberg and also the un measured quantity of sea life within the ocean itself. The loss of this life due to sea ice melting would be catastrophic.
Finally, astronaut Michael Gernhardt spoke about his experiences on the space station. Listening to Michael was something that will live with me – his attention to the smallest detail in preparation can make an incredible difference to the success of a mission.
He did something which I was hoping he would do – explorers no matter what area they work in are basically all story tellers at the end of the day and Michael is no different. He told the story about his first space walk from the space station.
As he stood alone looking down towards earth he noticed a hurricane below him and at that point he was engulfed by darkness. As this lifted a thin blue line of earth appeared as he looked into the void of space. He thought at that point to thank NASA for putting him above the eye of a hurricane as a Terminator crossed through him…
What sticks in my mind
… I have had the privilege of watching some remarkable people speak over the past two days – my thoughts go to the tribes of Papa New Guinea, the wheel on the Titanic, the life within an iceberg and how an astronaut told me that the dividing line between the illuminated and the unilluminated part of a satellite or planet, especially the moon is actually called a Terminator.