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Five-Question Interview: Eric Larsen

After traversing the North and South Poles, Larsen is leaving Saturday for the final leg of his 365-day ‘Save the Poles’ expedition: the summit of Mt. Everest. His journey is aimed at promoting clean energy and global warming awareness, and showing the world how pollution is affecting earth’s harshest places.
posted: 08/26/2010
Eric Larsen
by Aaron Kahn

Climbing to the top of the world is no small task. Why did you choose Everest as your way of making climate change hands-on?
In 2006, I had just finished a summer trip to the North Pole and on that trip I was really surprised at how much open water and thin ice we saw. I also saw that the story of an expedition was a really dynamic tool to engage a larger audience. I thought about some of these iconic, cold, places that are really changing and Mt. Everest popped into my head.

You’re going where humans can barely survive to make global warming’s affect known, why are you doing it?
My goal is to create awareness of these areas, to connect people to these places, and build an understanding that their actions are ultimately going to affect not only the polar regions, but also the entire planet. One thing we’re trying to do with, and after, Everest, is get more engagement, commenting, and interaction, instead of just giving people the information.

How are you planning to connect Mt. Everest to climate change?
My goal is to write a book and make a documentary. Video is a really powerful tool and I look at what I do as more storytelling than exploring. My documentary will provide another venue to tell that story and reach people on different levels. So if I can provide enough outlets, then I can at least engage people in the conversation.

How do you hope your expedition will combat the skepticism about global warming?
You believe in the fundamental principles of science or you don’t, that’s what the argument really is. That said, I’m not trying to convince people on the science, I just want to say ‘hey, these places are amazing, they’re changing, and there are some options out here that are going to save you some money and create new jobs, why not do them?

You’re an environmentalist, I’m a car guy and I have to ask, do you drive a hybrid??
No, I don’t, I have a Kia Rio. I don’t think it’s too much worse, though.

Follow Eric’s expedition journal here.

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