CAMPAIGN HERO: Mark Wood, solo skiing the North and South Poles for climate change awareness
8th November, 2011
Mark Wood, who today begins a 2,000 km solo skiing expedition to raise awareness about climate change, talks to the Ecologist about why the best way to support his cause is through action, not donations
Why did you decide to do this expedition?
Three reasons are driving me to do the North South Solo Expedition: education, the environment, and the personal challenge.
I have a long-standing education project back home in Coventry - this expedition is a great way of engaging those kids with the world around us. I'm also reaching out to the corporate world, encouraging them to look at the environmental credentials of their businesses, with a climate change workshop in Norway once I reach the North Pole. As for the personal challenge, this will be my twenty-sixth expedition, and almost certainly the most daunting!
What are you asking people to do to support your mission?
I'm using the online sponsorship platform The DoNation, asking people to support me not with cash but environmental action. It's the perfect complement to my expedition, and a real motivator to know that when I'm out on the ice alone, people at home will be doing their part too. Combating climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation, and only by acting together can we hope to succeed.
It's simple to get involved; you can pledge to eat less meat, use less plastic, cycle to work, or even install solar panels - there's loads of options, so something for everyone. At the end, the carbon saved from each person's individual action will be added together. I know it's ambitious but I'm hoping to reach my target of 100,000 kgs of carbon dioxide, so I really need people to get involved. Ask your friends, colleagues, everyone to spread the word and pledge their support! They just need to visit my page on The DoNation's website.
How can people follow your progress?
My website is markwoodexplorer.com, which I'll be keeping updated as best I can from the ice. The content is going to be varied: there'll be voicemails from me, conference calls to various different organisations and students following my progress, blogs, photos and films. I've also got some great guests bloggers signed-up.
Something that's really cool is that we've set it up so there'll be a Google Earth tracking system so you can follow me on my journey. Followers will be able to see how I'm coping out there alone, and also share their experiences of The DoNation and how their pledges are going.
What are you hoping to achieve by this?
Sir Ranulph Fiennes says it's the toughest journey on the planet; it's a world's first attempt, which is pretty epic in itself.
But for me, the expedition is about the connection, the mass communication to students and companies out there. If I can share my journey, showing how the Poles have changed and inspiring others to act, then that's a massive achievement. It'll be the biggest achievement of my life but it will only work if the other projects alongside it are a success too. That's why it's so important people get involved.
What will be the most challenging aspect of this exhibition?
I think just being alone for so long with nobody around, completely detached from humanity. People ask me how I will cope with, but all I can say is ask me again in six months!
What is the best way to motivate people to act on climate change?
Hopefully we haven't gone past the point of no return. Technology is developing so dramatically these days, so maybe things can be flipped around in the future.
We need to stop arguing and keep communicating: communication is a key. When I talk to students about climate change they don't bat an eyelid because it's an acceptance of how they've been brought up. People who are my age, (I'll be 45 next month,) we are still in a learning process. Some people my age run big corporate companies, and they have a real opportunity to make the change, but it's the kids of today who will be left with tomorrow's world, so they need to act too.
What is the most important thing to avoid when campaigning?
You've got to have a clear vision and a game plan. I use as this as a strategy for sponsorship and talks and it's worked so far!
What is the most important thing individuals could do this year?
They should go on my site! No seriously, that's why I'm doing this after all. They should look at my journey and they should spread the word get involved through The DoNation. This is not about me living in Coventry in the centre of the UK; it's a message that everyone is carrying. So they should look at the website and they should share it on Facebook and all the social networks sites and spread the word; it's very easy to do. What will come of this is that people and governments will say "well this guy did this, so we are thinking of doing this, we should put more money into this." The voices that come out of it can express what is happening globally. So, I would say, log on to the expedition and see the pain I'm going to be going through and let that inspire you to act!
Who is your campaign hero (past or present)?
The person I admire is 'the second man'. What I mean by that is the person behind 'the face.' So for Sir Ranulph Fiennes, there's Mike Stoud who went with him. Ranulph Fiennes gets all the glory and Mike Stoud is the second man. In the Scott and Shackleton expeditions there's a guy called Tom Crean who was an Irish explorer, a real work horse, a real animal of a man who just got on with it!
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