Today, 22 April 2021, is Earth Day – what a better day to take responsibility and launch our footprint audit!

Collectively, humankind use the ecological resources as if we had 1.73 planets, which means that each year sometime in August, we exceed the Earth’s capacity to regenerate what we use or damage in terms of soil, water, agriculture, fisheries, forests and so on …) in one year. Anything we collectively do after this ‘Overshoot Day’ is not sustainable with respect to the biocapacity of our planet.

In addition to these ecological resources, we extract natural resources, our ‘material footprint’, the tonnage of materials extracted to generate our consumer goods (raw materials from which we derive petrochemicals, metals, fertiliser and so on…).

We also generate huge amounts of waste, ranging from the obvious and very visible (e.g. domestic, food and electronic waste, sewage) to the more obscure or invisible (e.g. greenhouse gases, microfibers, pre-consumer industrial waste).

The Antarctic Quest 21 team are preparing for an expedition that supports very important climate and pollution research. But we are also using resources that would have otherwise remained untouched, including

  • energy for global communication, transport and information technology
  • equipment, instrumentation, specific expedition clothing and food
  • hosting information and education events

The least we can do is to find out and be honest about the footprint of Antarctic Quest 21. This process will call upon the whole team for information over the next weeks and months and hopefully lead to practical actions that reduce our expedition footprint and mitigate the remainder.

I fully expect that our sustainability audit will also feed into our personal lives: it will teach us all how we can reduce our everyday footprint. Overshoot Day is not someone else’s problem, and Antarctic Quest 21 leadership is about so much more than completing the scientific mission and bringing back the team safely from Antarctica. We are going to share our insights with you.

Written by Charly Braungardt

Featured Image Credit: adapted from “Abominable Snowman” by  doegox is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


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