Sir Ranulph Fiennes calls for urgent action on climate change after witnessing Arctic melting

Sir Ranulph said it would be 'suicide' to put commercial interests over global warming

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Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has added his voice to calls for urgent action to tackle climate change after seeing the effects of warming on the planet first-hand during trips to the Arctic.

Sir Ranulph, the first to cross Antarctica on foot as well as to visit both the North and South Poles by surface, said it would be “suicide” to put commercial interests over global warming. He said he knows from personal experience that the warming climate has significantly changed the landscape of the Arctic, melting the ice and forcing changes to the design of the sledges he used to set records in the region between the 1970s and the 1990s.

“In the Arctic Ocean, we were travelling over sea ice in the mid-Seventies, which in some cases obviously breaks up under the pressure of the current and the wind. This meant that when we were trying to beat the Norwegians at breaking world records up there, we designed our man-haul sledges in such a way that, although we didn’t want to put any extra weight on them, they were at least waterproof,” Sir Ranulph said.

“By the time we were still trying to break records in the mid Nineties we were designing them to be like canoes. We noticed visually, without scientific instruments – it was so obvious that there was a hell of a lot more water,” he added. “That one particular aspect made it very clear to us that things were changing. I wouldn’t question [climate change campaigner] Al Gore. We must put a stop to things that we know are commercially and industrially favourable but are suicide in the long-run.”

“Because of the Arctic I’ve gone from ‘I don’t know’ to ‘oh dear, it’s not good’ to ‘we should behave ourselves better’, said Sir Ranulph, who climbed Everest at 65 and has been named by The Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest living explorer.

Sir Ranulph is writing a book called Heat about his adventures in hot climes – a follow-up to Cold, about his expeditions in low-temperature areas. He said he feels so strongly about climate change as a result of what he has seen that he will include an appendix about the issue at the back of his new book.