Polar Explorer Will Steger spoke at MCF’s annual meeting last week. An enthusiastic supporter of his 1988 North to the Pole expedition, I was interested in learning more about his current work with the Will Steger Foundation.
First and Last
Despite Steger’s career of firsts — 1986’s first confirmed unsupported journey to the North Pole, 1988’s longest-ever unsupported dogsled expedition and 1995’s 1,200-mile expedition by dogsled and canoe-sled from Russia to Ellesmere Island — he thinks he’ll be remembered instead as the last.
Due to climate change and melting ice, it is now impossible to travel to the North Pole by dogsled.
“Having traveled for 45 years in the Arctic, what I’ve seen the last 15 years is shocking. We need to finally face up to the fact that we have an issue here and we need to get back to solutions.”
Educate, Inspire, Empower
Steger’s work today revolves around: educating, inspiring and empowering people to engage in solutions to climate change. He believes the solutions will have economic and renewable energy implications.
Creating Inner City Jobs
His foundation works with HIRE Minnesota, an organization that trains workers to increase energy efficiency in housing by adding insulation and installing new windows and lighting. Especially in the older homes that make up our inner cities, he believes this work will come to employ many.
As far as renewable energy goes, Steger says solar energy is starting to boom right now. He also believes that more and more often, community members will be able to invest in community solar — meaning our investment will stay in the community versus fossil fuel where we spend much but retain little.
He also mentioned Minnesota’s recent, significant and continuing increase in wind power.
Free Climate Change/Energy Webinars
If you are looking for climate change/energy education resources for your classroom or elsewhere, the Will Steger Foundation is offering a four-part 2014 webinar series. These webinars are free and open to anyone with a computer and internet connection.
For more on the foundation’s work and a look at 2012-2013 highlights, check its web site.
- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate