Robert Swan spent more than five years planning the South Pole Energy Challenge Expedition (SPEC). He, along with a small team, would ski 600 miles to the Geographic South Pole – using only renewable energy, their thesis being, “If it could be achieved in the highest, driest and windiest place on Earth, there is potential to utilize renewable energy anywhere in the world.”
“The surfaces this year in Antarctica are different than ever before. It is a sign that we are changing even in the coldest parts of Antarctica. We cannot carry on as we are. The way that we are living is not sustainable.” Sixty-one-year-old Swan, who was the first man ever to walk to both the North and South Poles, said he couldn’t keep up. While he didn’t have health or equipment issues, and could ski an impressive 10 nautical miles each day, he couldn’t sustain the 12 to 14 nm required to reach the South Pole and test all the technology before the Antarctic winter began.
Swan discusses the outcome of the expedition in a new episode of Global GoalsCast during an in-person interview with “Journey Across Antarctica: the Swans and Climate Change,” a new podcast that shares the stories of individuals working to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.
Goal 13 is focused on climate change: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” In the podcast episode, co-hosts Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush note that a failure to curb climate change could undermine efforts to achieve the other goals.
“The surfaces across which we were travelling were surfaces none of us have ever experienced before. Not just me, five of the top polar travelers in the world who are making journeys in Antarctica have all commented on the fact that the surfaces this year in Antarctica are different than they’ve ever been before… We believe – all of us – that it is a sign that we are changing even in the coldest parts of Antarctica,” Robert said.
The session with the Swan explorers took place at the Arctic Basecamp at Schatzalp in Davos in an effort to bring the climate change topic into the centre of the World Economic Forum by reporting the global mind-set, igniting discussion, and sparking action on this key global issue.
This marks the global debut of the CulturIntel algorithm using machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to mine the sentiment and mind-set of the people towards the Global Goals from open digital discussions, across the G7 countries, Mexico, Colombia and India. This analysis was based on over 40 million digital discussions, making it one of the largest data sets ever used to understand the voice of the citizens and their relationship with the SDGs.
The CulturIntel Sentimeter reported a concerning split in global mind-set on climate change, resulting in 61% being “alarmed and worried” and 39% either “questioning the issue” or “being neutrally concerned,” therefore ranking other issues as bigger priorities. The analysis reports most discussions associated with the global climate change are 71% focused on the problem, with only 14% focused on solutions, and 15% predictions. This highlights a world that is concerned, yet finds it difficult to articulate or get engaged in positive and practical ways to bring solutions forward.
This finding confirms the need for platforms like Global GoalsCast, that was “inspired by and launched to deliver content and stories to demystify the SDGs and positively engage everyday citizens, giving tangible actions to contribute to solutions towards creating a more sustainable world,” said Romo Edelman.
The eight-week Antarctic expedition aimed to highlight to younger generations that there is no silver bullet to the challenge of climate change. It is up to all players in society – including governments, industry, entrepreneurs and corporations – to work together to develop cleaner energy solutions.
Barney, 23, took the baton from his father and completed the challenge. Robert believes his son’s courage “will resonate and inspire young people to act and say, ‘My God, I’m going to make an effort myself.’
“Our effort, yes, is extreme, but it gives us is a story that underlines and hopefully inspires people to make change because we cannot carry on as we are. The way that we are living is not sustainable. If we can survive here [in Antarctica] on renewable energy than we can do that anywhere on the planet – and that is the message,” Robert said.
“HARMAN is a connected technologies company with a mission to elevate experiences for people no matter where they are,” said Dinesh C. Paliwal, President and CEO of HARMAN. “As an innovation leader that creates sophisticated and sustainable solutions in Automotive, IoT and audio, we share Robert’s passion for exploration and learning and are proud to partner with Global GoalsCast in their quest to amplify and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals through inspirational and thought-provoking discussions.”
Additional episodes include audio from Malala Yousafza, Will.i.am, William Lacy, Louise Arbor and President Obama. The podcast will also introduce listeners to new, authentic voices such as Dali and Fin from the clothing company Nalu, who are creating alternative ways to provide education access to all. Listeners will also meet Brenda, who got an internship and then a job with Google when she was a student but might have to leave the country because of her legal status.
Both Lush and Romo Edelman trained as journalists and Global GoalsCast strives to adhere to journalistic standards of accuracy, fairness and transparency. The podcast is an initiative from the ‘We are All’ Human Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting diversity, radical inclusion and equity.
With the World Economic Forum as an ideal platform for global action on sustainability, the Swans will share their experience and message with world leaders and inspire action to reduce climate change. This climate change-centered conversation sparked accountability and action to preserve our world, led by the voice of the WEF and the 2018 Annual Meeting theme of ‘creating a shared future in a fractured world.’
“We hope this partnership between Global GoalsCast and CulturIntel in Davos allows us to not only inspires and empower leaders with human-driven-insights, but also engages everyday people to be part of solutions for a more sustainable world,” said Liliana Gil Valletta, Co-founder and CEO of CIEN+ CulturIntel and WEF Young Global Leader.
As the official sound of Global GoalsCast, HARMAN provides financial support as well as AKG microphones, and JBL and Harman Kardon headphones to help capture and communicate dramatic stories that will educate and engage listeners around the world.
Tune in to Global GoalsCast on Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts, to learn more.