David Hempleman-Adams urges climate change action after Arctic voyage
The adventurer Sir David Hempleman-Adams has called on politicians to “grasp the nettle” on climate change.
The 60-year-old set off from Bristol in June to circumnavigate the Arctic polar region by boat, a trip traditionally taking about three years.
His team managed it in four months and one day which confirmed, he said, his “worst fears” about disappearing ice.
A government spokesman said the UK was committed to playing a major role in reducing global CO2 emissions.
“The UK’s commitment and leadership on climate action, internationally and domestically, is as strong as ever and we are recognised as the second best country in the world for tackling climate change,” a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said.
Sir David believes the disappearing ice and rising sea levels will have global environmental implications unless politicians act swiftly, and fears this could open the Arctic route to commercial vessels.
The explorer set off on the Polar Ocean Challenge aboard the 48ft (14.6m) yacht Northabout aiming to circumnavigate the Arctic via Siberia, Alaska and Greenland in a single season.
Packed ice previously would have slowed progress on the 13,500 nautical mile trip.
But Sir David – from Box in Wiltshire – said after encountering little ice in the Laptev Sea north of Siberia, the yacht reached the Northwest Passage, where they found almost none for 1,800 miles (2,897km).
“I think we’re all a bunch of ostriches, and what we’re doing is handing it to the next generation to sort out,” she said.
He compared the loss of ice to the cutting down of the Brazilian rainforests and said the Arctic had reached a “tipping point”, which could lead to major flooding and famines.
“It’s an absolutely depressing thought. I know it’s a well-used adage, but the Arctic is the canary in the mine,” he said.
“What we’re finding now is the ramifications of all this global warming, and it will definitely have an impact on us down in the south.”