Main image of Tina paddling to the North Pole in 2002. Insert image from Lewis Gordon Pugh's website.
"The next time we got into the water to cross an open water lead the temperatures had raised to 40C/F below. Only this time we had not even our sleds to use as kayaks; we swam in plain plastic dry suits."
"We hit the ice just at the beginning of the polar sunrise, the coldest season on the Arctic Ocean."
"Explorers like myself have been paddling and swimming to the North Pole for decades, and now we'd like to know how come we don't get to speak to the US Congress about climate change and security.
ExWeb founder Tina Sjogren in Colorado last year.
Image by Tom Sjogren courtesy ExplorersWeb Files, SOURCE
ExWeb editorial: Tina about Pugh, media and global warming

Posted: Sep 09, 2008 04:57 am EDT
(ThePoles.com) "Aww, nothing about Lewis Gordon Pugh, and his staggeringly inane effort to paddle to the North Pole? It appears he's aborted, basically still within sight of Svalbard."

After we published our story last month, we forgot all about Pugh. Today, this reader's email made us check back on Gordon's site.

Following a few days out, Lewis attempt to kayak 1,200 km from Svalbard (Norway) to the North Pole ended somewhere outside the coast. It's not exactly clear where, as among "get the facts" links on his site, an actual map of his trip is nowhere to be found.

Cook and Nansen

"It has never been attempted before," Pugh wrote about his kayak attempt before he left.

Never? In the summer of 1895, Fridtjof Nansen and his partner used kayaks for open water crossings to the Russian shore from the 86th degree. Cook built his sleds exactly so they would make it possible to kayak the last degree back to the Canadian shore. I guess it doesn't count though - for there was no Global Warming back then.

Explorers like me have been paddling and swimming to the North Pole for decades, and now we'd like to know how come we don't get to speak to the US Congress about climate change and security.

When Tom and I entered the water for the first time in our expedition to the North Pole in 2002, we did it in 50 degrees below. You know how picky we are with facts here at ExWeb - sticklers I believe we were called in one magazine - enroute to the North Pole we even shot a pic of the thermometer to prove the cold.

Still, our trip was merely described as taking place in "below freezing temperatures" by a journalist while Pugh got the following on Reuters today: "He kayaked in freezing winds, horizontal snow showers, strong sea currents and with the constant threat of polar bears and walrus."

The next time Tom and I got into the water to cross an open water lead the temperatures had raised to 40C/F below. Only this time we had not even our sleds to use as kayaks; we swam in plain plastic dry suits.

Although we felt pretty cool afterwards we didn't call Reuters or CNN. After all, Norwegian Borge had done the same thing before. Besides, the procedure soon became routine, and with an average of 5-7 lead crossings each day, we paddled and swam about two hundred times all the way to the North Pole.

And there were others: Without any protection at all, Norwegian Rune jumped in to save his British client David Hempleman-Adams, and so did Canadian Denise in 1997 when her and American Matti's British clients were stuck on a floating island of ice.

The new religion

We got 15 seconds on CNN, Rune and Denise not even that. The difference perhaps that we were not British, we had no Prince for patron, and no PM vouching for us. Al Gore was just about to run for President and knew nothing about some frozen douchebags, swimming to the Pole only because they could. After we were done, the pilots came with a cake and that was that.

Nobody asked us about any warming, and they still don't. For the issue is not about facts.

The other day, someone said that Sarah Palin should be asked specific questions - such as that she "doesn't believe in man made Global Warming." Note the choice of words here, Believe. Global warming has gone from science to religion - you either believe in it or you don't.

That's why stunts such as Pugh's can give headlines such as "Explorer highlights melting Arctic ice cap" (AFP). Already before Pugh left, we alerted that there was too much ice for a kayak trip and we even posted live images from the place sent over Contact by a couple of solar eclipse hunters.

The pictures showed plenty of ice just North of Franz Joseph (600 km away) and a frozen solid North Pole. Besides Mr. Speltz and Contact 4.0, NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center) in Boulder confirms this in daily updates of the ice coverage right here.

Pugh had the maps, and he had the info. That's why we forgot about him after our story, for we were sure he'd abort the idea. But we also forgot what Pugh had said before the trip, "I don't observe the Arctic from satellite images, or from the comfort of a boat," he stated, "I get into the deadly cold water and ice."

In spite of all the evidence; Pugh decided to go ahead with the expedition, backed by massive sponsors and a large media following headed by CNN.

I'm not a lawyer like Pugh; but to me that's fraud.

Keeping CNN honest

"Expect plenty of media," we wrote already in our first story, "such as the countless headlines last year, screaming: 'Briton astounds the world by becoming the first person to swim to North Pole'."

Don't get me wrong, I used to love CNN. Already before Anderson Cooper (I even toured a Guilded Age Mansion on the east coast reportedly related to his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt) during the Gulf war I would sit glued to the screen, cheering CNN on for sweeping the floor with established media. But then they kicked Turner out and now the place seems something of a cooperative where everyone is in charge, mostly doing news about friends and each other with Cooper as the big Explorer.

It's the same all over. Last year, National Geographic's Best of Adventure award went to Richard Branson for a guided one week tour on Baffin Island.

Outside Mag ran British Bear Grylls on its cover; the British adventurer who was busted faking scenes in his Discovery survival show. According to Wikki; in 2005 Bear staged the world's "highest" formal dinner party with British Hempleman-Adams (the same guy that Rune jumped in for on the Arctic).

Outside mag ran Richard Branson on its cover as well, and today Pugh gets massive media for a few days kayak trip with Sam Branson on the support boat. I smell a monkey and to me, the real truth is that media is anything but.

They lie to you and steal from me

What bothers me is not only that people such as Pugh steal credit from real polar explorers who have used sleds as kayaks for many years on open water leads.

Various sources insist that Gordon's expedition somehow aided in highlighting Global Warming. I argue it's the exact opposite: stunts steal funds and media from actual research. And with so much crying wolf going on; when real facts manage to make news nobody is listening anymore.

"In normal years, there would be no open water north of Spitzbergen," Reuters puts down, just like that. Sorry to bore you, but here I go with the facts again:

Northern Greenland: 83.6N
Cape Arktichevsky: 81.2N
Svalbard Northern tip: 80.5N

According to media, Pugh aborted at 81 degree North. This means that when Finnish polar explorer Dominick Arduin died in her quest to reach firm ice outside Cape Arktichevsky; she paddled in brash ice farther out than Pugh. Not to mention the frequent kayak circumnavigations of Greenland; at 83 degrees.

Two British "green" polar expeditions = 800 US cars

Pugh kayaked alongside a reinforced fishing boat. A smaller ice breaker runs on bio-diesel and consumes 3000 litre (800 US gallons) of fuel per day on low speed. Pugh's "ice breaking fishing boat" was about half this size.

Had Pugh followed through; the trip would have taken some 50 - 70 days. It would have used around 100 000 liters for the trip to the NP and about 10 000 liters for the trip back. A total of 100 000 liters (25 000 gallon), or roughly the equivalent of 500 families driving their cars for 2 months - US style!

Another Global Warming Polar expedition is planned by British Pen Hadow thearcticsurvey.com. With HRH The Prince of Wales as patron, Pen's present expedition mission is to measure the ice from sledges pulled for 120 days by the expedition and to do "live monitoring of the team's physiological states."

This expedition will be heavily supported with about nine air resupplies planned, likely made by a Twin Otter with a fuel consumption of 340 liters per hour. For security reasons, two Twin Otters are normally used for each resupply. The planes have an average cruising speed of 150 miles/hours. An average resupply should require 10 hours of flight time for two planes and land on 60 000 liters or 15000 gallons of fuel. That's another 300 families driving American cars for 2 months.

Folks, there are no "green" expedition besides from the ones cancelled, and this is all big time bullshit.

About the melt

Some reports have suggested that the North Pole might be ice free this summer, which is false. There might be patches of open water on the exact location of the North Pole, but even last year - at record minimum - over 4 million square kilometers ice coverage was reported in September.

The average Arctic Ice coverage 1979 to 2000 on July 16 was 9.91 million square kilometers. This year it was 8.91 on the same date or app. 10% below the average of the year 1979 to 2000. The 2008 year had larger ice coverage than 2007, actually 1 million square kilometers more.

The ice will however continue to melt until September when the cover is expected to extend app. 4-5 million square kilometers (source: "Sea Ice Outlook")

Almost all scientists agree that the ice is melting and at an alarming rate (maybe 10% per decade). The University of Bremen does daily updates that can be followed here.

Only we still don't know why it's happening; the issue further complicated by the fact that other planets in our solar system experience warming as well.

The decreasing arctic ice coverage and thickness is a problem, but we are not helped by fake explorers getting million dollar sponsorship and a mass of resupplies to prove a lie or at the best something we already know. And by themselves adding to the "arctic meltdown." Prince Charles is a proud supporter of Pen's expedition and Tony Blair cheered on Pugh, who got stuck in the ice already after a half degree. It's mindblowing.

"He's the same dude who pretended to be the first person to swim at the North Pole, by the way..." wrote the reader who sent us the original alert. We know buddy. Long live the Queen - and God Bless the Internet!

This editorial was written by ExWeb founder Tina Sjogren who skied to both Poles back to back (without resupplies) in 2001/02.


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