Eric Larsen

SCA 1993, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK

Polar Explorer | Boulder. CO

“My most incredible SCA experience was a close encounter with a wolf where we actually howled back and forth at each other!”

No matter how many good days you’ve enjoyed, it’s doubtful you’ve been on top of the world as often as Eric Larsen. The arctic explorer and Minnesota native has trekked numerous times to both the North and South Poles to raise awareness of climate change, and in 2010 Eric reached both poles plus the summit of Mount Everest within a 365 period. Why? You’d have to ask him – and we did.

You could have measured rising sea levels at some tropical island – why take the extreme (and extremely cold) route?

I would love to go to some tropical island. However, I have always loved cold places and enjoy the physical and mental challenges of traveling in the cold.  Most importantly, the polar regions and Everest are where some of the most dramatic changes are happening right now.

They are also perhaps the three least-visible locations on Earth.  Wasn’t there an easier way to illustrate your case?

I wanted to add a human story to these places in a boots on the ground, grassroots manner.  And because they are so distant to most people, the issue of climate change seems less relevant to many people even though it stands to be one of the defining issues of our time.

Climate change remains a topic of great debate; what evidence have you seen that ought to convince the skeptics?

First of all, either you believe in the fundamental principles of science or you don’t. The principles that are used to describe gravity also are used to describe a human-caused warming of the planet. As far as specific evidence: thinner ice at the North Pole and more open water, unusual weather patterns in Antarctica, retreating glaciers in the Himalayas, the list goes on and on.

What contemporary figure do you most admire and why?  What historic figure?

Today there are many people I admire and respect.  Most use their notoriety or talent for a greater good. Historically, I’ve always been fascinated by the explorers of the past: Shackleton, Amundsen, Peary.

You are reaching out to young people in particular: why? 

I have been involved in education for many years and realize that change often has to come from younger generations. More than anything, my goal is to really educate people about these places.

How did your SCA experience impact your life’s trajectory?

My SCA experience was probably one of the biggest turning points of my life.  I realized that there was a whole big world out there just waiting to be discovered and if I worked hard and I would be able to see it. I also learned that stewardship of our planet could come in many forms.

What’s your single most vivid memory of those days?

It’s hard to pick just one. I had so many amazing adventures. I do remember a lot of encounters with wildlife: getting chased by a moose, seeing grizzly bears, but probably my most incredible experience was a close encounter with a wolf where we actually howled back and forth at each other! 

In the future, what do you hope to look back on as your greatest accomplishment?

I hope that people were able to use my story to gain a better appreciation of the world around us and feel empowered to protect our planet for future generations.

That said, would you recommend anyone invest today in seaside property?

Definitely not. I think we all need to invest in renewable energy.

Eric completed his latest trip to the North Pole just a few weeks ago.  Read his blog here.

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