News / Science & Technology

Teen Polar Explorer on Quest to Raise Climate Change Awareness

FILE - Parker Liautaud, 19, from the U.S., poses for a photo outside of a tent, during a publicity photo shoot for the launch of the Willis Resilience Expedition, in London, Sept. 30, 2013.
FILE - Parker Liautaud, 19, from the U.S., poses for a photo outside of a tent, during a publicity photo shoot for the launch of the Willis Resilience Expedition, in London, Sept. 30, 2013.
Reuters
— Parker Liautaud, the teenage polar explorer who set the record last year as the fastest unsupported person to trek to the South Pole, said he set off on the 314-mile (505 km) trip from the coast of Antarctica to draw attention to climate change.

The 19-year-old California native broke the previous record held by Norwegian explorers Ottar Haldorsen and Jacob Meland by almost four days when he reached the South Pole on Christmas Eve after 18 days, four hours and 43 minutes.

On the return trip Liautaud bored into the hostile terrain and took 6.5-foot-deep (two-meter) samples that he hopes will help scientists answer questions about global warming.

Researchers at GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, are analyzing the samples for changes in composition that could shed light on the pace of climate change in the region.

"What we wanted to do was to harness an engaging story that people could be a part of from a region that was being significantly hit by climate change," Liautaud, who had hiked to the North Pole three times, said in an interview.

It wasn't easy for the teenage explorer who ignored a chest infection, swollen ankle and the frostbite eating at his fingers and toes to finish the trek.

With visions of hotel beds and burrito restaurants dancing in his head, the Yale geology student persisted.

Every morning he and his teammate, veteran explorer Doug Stoup, hosted a live webcast on the expedition's website that brought climate experts and skeptics together for discussions on everything from food security to changes in the ozone layer.

"The problem with communicating climate science is that it is very complex and statistical and not something that can be experienced on a personal level," Liautaud said.

He hopes the expedition informs and convinces the general population about the real dangers of climate change.

"There isn't an awareness of the fact that there is a consensus in the scientific community" about the existence of global warming, he said. "People are not only divided on it, they are not talking about it. We have a long way to go."

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid