Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Treasuring Antarctica

Antarctica is a truly magical place. It has the power to change or has deep effects on most people who set foot there, in many different ways.

After our return to Punta Arenas, I pretty much hung out with Dong from Eric Larsen's team, a young Chinese Canadian business man, all the way to Toronto. He told me his journey to the South Pole has changed him a lot, to be a better person.

Before coming to Antarctica this time, I am proud to say I am pretty much environmental conscious. But I am also not so proud to say it is not all about the environment, but more about my own pocket.

For the last two years since I moved into my current place, no heat or air conditioning has been used, be it in the middle of the winter (albeit winter in the bay area is not that cold) or summer (we do have some super hot days). Every night after work, only one light bulb (CFL - I wanted to change to LED but they are not bright enough) is on in my place. Besides the energy star fridge, nothing else in the house sucks electricity on a regular basis. My PG&E bills are usually less than $25/month.

As far as trash is concerned, obviously we do recycling here. I go one small little step further - only bring out recycle bin when it is really full (and that's like two or 3 months worth of recycle-able materials). Each lift from the trash truck uses some gas!

The one thing I hate to say is I am driving my car daily. California's car culture is almost impossible to get rid of. Also it would take way too long and impractical for commuting using public transportation, at least 1 hour an a half one way. I did carpool before but schedules wouldn't allow it easily. Next car I get will definitely be more environmental friendly.

Back to Antarctica, I was really glad to witness ALE's efforts to protect and impact the least to Antarctic environment. All waste, including human waste in both forms, were brought back to Chile to dump at proper place. It is very difficult just to deal with these kind of issues, let alone others such as safety for the crew and clients. Kudos to ALE.

As for us, we happily carried our faeces in the skiing journey. I never knew I could produce that much. The weight of the sleds practically didn't change much, if not slightly heavier due to the moisture in the bodily waste matter. They only changed when Tanya and John left and we got to dump all of our un-wanted onto theirs.

So I brought along with me my version of environmental message: "Treasure the Beautiful Gift from Mother Nature". As much as I treasure the place, not because I have set foot there, but also because I want to impact the least on my bank account. I hope you share the view and if not already, start to practice ways to make less dents on your own wallet, and hence environment.

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