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Arctic explorer visits Valhalla

Managing Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 11:02

Will Steger

Rachel Schnell The Racquet

Will Steger-Minnesota native, internationally famous polar explorer, arctic environmentalist and educator spoke on Tuesday February 22 about his life, travels and great accomplishments.

Maybe the days of dashing through the snow are gone for the Midwest, but in Antarctica the season's only started.  Will Steger, author and polar explorer, came to visit UW-La Crosse Feb. 21 to discuss his past endeavors and his research on climate change.

Raised in Minnesota, Steger grew up with a love for adventure. Taking his first trip at 16, he traveled down the Mississippi River from his home town to New Orleans on a motorized boat. Steger spent the summer there inspired by the novel Huckleberry Finn. "It was the last and only motorized trip I ever made, and ever will," said Steger.

Steger also had a passion for rock climbing as a young adult, "It was the 60's there wasn't Patagonia or North Face. I went the library, got a book, a rope, and a few friends." This lead the born explorer to his first real expedition at age 20 where he climbed the Peruvian Andes ranging in the area of 20,600 feet high. Around this age Steger also traveled on the Arctic Ocean via kayak. "The main thing is to have passion and freedom; you are young and should embrace it," Steger said to the crowd, "the obstacles come with thinking, you have to do it. It is the learning experience."

On Steger's first trip to Antarctica, he crossed the continent in 220 days. With a team comprised of six men and several dog teams Steger took the first un-motorized trip across Antarctica and he believes it will be the last one anyone will ever take. "With the carbon dioxide levels at what it is, and the ice melting as fast as it is, I doubt there will be any after me."

The problem is the increase of greenhouse gasses and, "The more you add, the more dangerous it gets", said Steger, "It's like a patient with high cholesterol; we're in a dangerous zone and have to drop it quickly."

The continent is become very dangerous. Steger explained that ice shelves, which are juts of ice that hang over the ocean, are breaking off. Sometimes in chunks the size of Rhode Island these have transformed the land. These are affecting the permafrost of Antarctica as well.

Steger recently has founded The Will Steger Foundation in order to create better understanding of what is happening in the poles. "Our biggest problem right now is that we [U.S.A] have a major denial problem," said Steger.

 With his degree in environmental education he hopes to promote the use of clean energy to monitor fossil fuels that are emitting the carbon dioxide into the air. Other issues he addressed were using solar energy to control the energy of houses. He believes that in five short years there will be a breakthrough in solar usage. "I'm concerned about your generation and your kids."

Climate literacy, energy literacy and emerging leaders are what The Will Steger foundation is working towards. "I have seen it in my life, the deterioration of the land in Antarctica. I am an eye witness," said Steger who explained how the land has changed in the four trips he has made in total to arctic in his life.

For more information on Will Steger or his foundation visit www.willstegerfoundation.org or www.willsteger.com.      

 

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