NORTH POLE – Minnesota explorers Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen became the first people ever to reach the North Pole in summer and released the first photo of their arrival today, in a Greenpeace expedition to save the polar bear from global warming. The two explorers, who began the expedition from Ellesmere Island, Canada on May 1, skied, swam and paddled 700 miles to spotlight the dangers of global warming to the polar bear.
"This expedition was never about making history and simply reaching the North Pole but about a journey that could spark a movement to combat global warming," said Lonnie Dupre, Expedition Leader. "Human activity has warmed up the earth and put the polar bear on the brink of extinction but it will take humanity to save this great creature."
The explorers have also been collecting important data on ice and snow during their trek for the National Snow and Ice Center. Scientists are calling these measurements the Holy Grail of global warming data because no one has ever taken accurate measurements of the Arctic ice during the summer.
On June 22, a panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is heating up at an unprecedented rate and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming. Although a recent Time magazine poll showed that 85 percent of Americans recognize that global warming is an urgent crisis, few people realize that the polar bear could become extinct in our lifetime due to the rapid changes in the earth’s climate. According to the latest scientific predictions, the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by 2050. Polar bears cannot survive without sea ice, which puts the species’ survival in jeopardy.
Greenpeace has been at the forefront of taking action to save the polar bear from extinction, including a groundbreaking lawsuit filed with other environmental groups to list the species under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming. More than 200,000 Americans urged the United States government to list the species and its recommendations will be released in December. If successful, it would be the first time a mammal has been listed as endangered and given protections as a result of global warming.
"These guys are Greenpeace activists in the true sense of the word, willing to go into the heart of an environmental minefield and witness firsthand global warming impacts where they are at their worst," said John Passacantando, Greenpeace executive director. "We all should be proud of what these guys have accomplished and thank them for going the extra mile and inspiring people across the nation to take action and protect the polar bear from global warming."