Barney Swan is a sustainable development accelerator, wilderness steward, and artic adventurer. Tuck in!

Barney Swan

August 12, 2020

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Editor credit: A big thank you to our editor Jakub Marzec (Kuba) for his work on this!

Barney Swan is on a mission to make the world a better place. He's not only an eco-advocate but also an adventurer - the perfect guest for the Call to Adventure Podcast.

In 2018, Barney became the first person to ski to the South Pole using renewable energy. Traversing 1000 kilometres over 65 days, he survived using NASA designed solar ice melters, lithium batteries, and biofuel made from waste. The incredible journey marked the launch of the ClimateForce challenge, a solutions-driven mission to clean up 360 million tons of CO2 before the year 2025.

He's full of enthusiasm and energy. Barney's can-do solution focused attitude and expertise is exactly what we need to inspire the massive change needed to fight climate change.

I loved talking with Barney and know you'll enjoy this one if you're also an eco-adventurer. Get listening.

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Coronavirus
  • The power of the outdoors
  • Growing up off grid in Australia
  • Appreciating food
  • South Pole Energy Challenge - training, a typical day, impact
  • Climate Force
  • What can corporations do to fight climate change
  • What can individuals do to fight climate change
  • The need for a green revolution
  • It's not about preaching to the choir
  • The opportunities climate change brings
  • Every little helps - leaving places better than you find them

FULL transcription

Barney Swan  
I felt like a bit of a kook token explore walking around Davos and slippers.

George Beesley  
Hey, it's George and welcome to the call to adventure podcast. We are on a mission to help create happier people and a healthier planet. So let's get after it.

Hello, hello. Welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me George Beasley the founder of call to adventure. We've just added a few more trips for you guys to join us on one of which I'm super excited to go on is key to Basecamp track in June 2021. It's 22 days in total through the Karakoram in Pakistan. And whilst Nepal has become really popular destination for trekking and mountaineering in the Himalaya, and rightly so I love that place. It's amazing Pakistan has remained largely untouched. And I think that's part of what makes this one so special. It's led by Rolf, a world class mountaineer with 30 years experience of climbing and mountaineering. We've actually had him on the show, so look out for that one for some truly crazy stories, all international travelers carbon offset and funds the 1% for the planet mission Coronavirus, has obviously turned things upside down. So you've got the option to move your deposit to a different trip and all bookings are fully financially insured so your money safe not going anywhere. There's also no extra cost payment plan. There's a link for that on the page. If you want to become or have a look at any of the other adventures head over to call to adventure.uk. But now on to today's guests. Back in 2018 Barney took on an immense challenge becoming the first person to ski to the South Pole powered by renewable energy traversing 1000 kilometres over 65 days. He survived using NASA designs. Ice melters lithium batteries and bio fuel made from waste. The Incredible Journey marked the launch of the climate force challenge a mission to clean up 300 and 60 million tons of co2 by the year 2025. In this episode, we talk about growing up off grid in rural Australia and the impact that had on Barney's appreciation for the comforts of modern life the realities of spending two months dragging a sled to the South Pole facing minus 40 degrees frost by wind and sunburn on a daily basis. Barneys nonprofit climate force, its mission and the importance of framing climate change as an opportunity and what companies and we as individuals can do to make a difference. enjoy today's episode of the call to adventure podcast with Bonnie swan. It's been quite unbelievable to see how things have escalated out in the states and necessarily so but the reaction from Trump has been a whilst I don't want to make it just all about race. against Trump, not what you'd expect from like a first world democracy. It's very much like kind of old Eastern European or autocratic rule kind of quashing any civil dissent, even though it's clear that something needs to change. So, yeah, it's pretty scary out there. I think so cuz you used to live in California, right?

Barney Swan  
I've been there for seven years. So Basecamp has been out there. But yeah, I know, the, I know, Silicon Valley in Chicago and Dallas and Los Angeles, San Francisco very well and got a lot of friends and colleagues out there who are struggling and right of press and write of opinion and you know, seeing these reporters from Australia and you know, all over just being attacked not by protesters, but by people in riot gear. It's quite concerning. You know, I saw one of this gentleman, Australian reporter who was put to the ground and he was submitting and he just got pepper sprayed right in the face, and he was lying down, saying he was pressed and he got pepper sprayed, and that's Just for me something straight out of North Korea or or you know, backwoods Russia or something, you know, that's not what America should be producing right now. And, but yeah, at the same time, like I said, you know, just keeping that relevance and that and that good news goings really important but a challenge right now because I think our generation, you know, that mid 20s to, you know, mid mid 40s is one thing, that demographic, but, you know, imagine being a 14 year old or a 12 year old or a 70 year old or an eight year old, you know, those far spectrums of our society right now, I think a feeling it more than us, in a sense because the young people are concerned that this is what they're inheriting. And the old people are frustrated that they've worked their teeth off, and it all just seems to be crumbling beneath their feet and they're having to change rapidly and wear masks and you know, do all of this stuff and, and I'm really want to help both of those kind of fire the young and the far old. Feel valid and up to date and feel like their opinions are heard right now because I think a lot of them just feel like they're getting left behind, which is not a nice feeling.

George Beesley  
Yeah, it must be very strange. I was just thinking when you said that being very young then if you're kind of 13 or 14, just old enough to know, like the severity of what's going on from Coronavirus and then the riots if you were a kid in America, you must just be thinking that we live in this world of anarchy. It's a very strange time to be maturing now. Very different to when we were growing up, I think in terms of stability,

Barney Swan  
and just access You know, I think over information is needs to be managed. I've been struggling this past few days and so the riots and everything have been heading back into gear. just reading the news all the time. And you know, you've got to get stuck into a good for our work session and then you end up getting sidetracked and 30 minutes of it's reading articles about stuff that you can't control and then you just feel negative about it and I think having ways that we can make the story of engaging in sustainable development and engaging in equal discourse between cultures and ideologies and religions and skin color and all of these things need to be of utmost importance and just keeping it positive because even though it bleeds, it leads cells you know, fundamentally no one's sustainably inspired through negativity and fear and that's what we need to be shifting this towards you know, and I really enjoy seeing the peaceful protests and people taking a knee and getting cops and military to take a deed to and that's beautiful but at the other end of it, you know, seeing these people looting and stealing stuff and and you know, on the inverse of that people being frustrated by that looting and the violence and it just creates that that vicious cycle, you know, fire does beget more fire and we need to be cooling things down in one way or another. So I hope in our discussion tonight, we can have a good chat about what is possible and what is hopeful and just the power of Going for a bike ride or going for a gardening session or just sharing the outdoors i think is a beautiful equalizer right now, especially in the heart of all of this online distress for the most part, you know, so much of us are not connected directly to these riots and this looting and this bad behavior and uprising, but we feel like we are through the internet, just having one foot in the soil and one hand on the keyboard is so important. You know, we need to be informed. But we also need to be grounded right now, that's definitely been a huge focus of both my nonprofit and just how I manage my life is to make sure that no matter how hectic no matter how many emails or zoom calls or meetings or consultancy gigs or whatever it may be a happening that I structure and manage making sure that I keep connected to the outdoors, whether it's a short walk or going on a two month expedition to the South Pole. It's so important that we just keep people connected to the outdoors and the power of just being in that space and listening to what comes up. Yeah, just the power of being a part of that ancient process. You know, I'm sitting right now and the oldest rainforest in the world 100 million to 180 million years, this forest has been unchanged. And when you start talking about millions of years of evolution, it just puts things totally into perspective. You know, humanity as we know it, agricultural humanities been around for 5050 plus thousand years or so. And biology has been doing its things for hundreds of millions of years. And that's what we are jeopardizing through our convenient Earth we'll be fine. The fundamental systems of funghi and algae in all of these bedrock organisms that make up the bigger organisms, they will continue to adapt and do their thing, but it's the fragility of nature that we are holding within our hands right now and extinction of species that have been doing their things for hundreds of thousands of years and just through 250 years of industrial progress, and you know, making all the The modern luxuries that we have, we are at the tipping point of that fragility and that beauty. But fundamentally, that process is ancient and mean. And connecting people to that process, I think is just so important right now, especially young people, you know, just being curious about what's under rocks and what's around the riverbend, and how rain is formed, and how the ocean current work, you know, all of these things that make up our planet actually work and Connecting Kids to that science and, and that, and that one day, you know, there's so many things that still are unknown about that whole workings. And the more we can connect people, to that is, is the name of the game in my opinion.

George Beesley  
There's so many powerful benefits and ultimately, it's where we belong, kind of growing up in a more natural way outside, because you grew up in in Aus. Right. And I read that you were raised off the grid. So how was your upbringing and, and what was it like?

Barney Swan  
Well, I was born in w one in St. Mary's Hospital night, right near Regent's Park. And so I came from London the accent use

George Beesley  
zero way.

Barney Swan  
Yeah, came from London at the from seven years old and moved to offgrid Australia and got an affair good reality check from some of the locals who would often call me a little palmy upon prisoner of her majesty. Yeah, but I think having that transfer from living in Putney and going to primary school in London for a little bit and then to suddenly be dumped in Australia, in the rain forest and to go to school and not having to wear shoes, which was pretty cool. I went to Long Beach State School wear shoes were optional, but you got a detention if you were running around without a hat on in the sun, which is quite a funny juxtaposition and sort of being able to wander and to be able to go on bush walks and to go down to the beach and to be held accountable to my actions as a young person, you know, I didn't have a phone or there was no reception up here anyway, and to be held accountable at a young age. If I fall off this cliff now, I'm not going to be in a good state. If I get lost in this rain forest, I'm going to have to sleep out here, which I had to do more than once to getting lost. And I think just that accountability for our actions and our security and our repercussions for our actions, I think is what being raised off grid in the middle of nowhere really taught me you know, and I think so many people have the safety net of Google and being able to call anyone to get them out of a situation or to have Google Maps to guide you home or whatever it may be the internet and being raised with the internet is obviously important, and to be digitally literate and to be able to navigate that space, but I'm really grateful that I had the opportunity just to just to be free and to be accountable for that freedom. I think a lot of people right now need to be more accountable to not only how they're approaching the outdoors, and a lot more people are getting lost these days hiking and whatnot because they don't actually have navigate once The Google Maps shuts off. But I think just that accountability for your actions is really got drilled in at a young age. And, you know, more and more as I'm jumping into my nonprofit and consulting and mentoring and managing expeditions, you know, just reminding people of the source of both their consumption but also their actions. You know, if you are going mountaineering, you're going into a bears den, you know, you better be responsible for if a blizzard hits off or if whiteout conditions come or if someone gets injured or you break a leg, you know, I think we've really got to teach people and not just young people, but everyone that process of accountability that does come from having extended time in nature, whether it's a camping trip or a multi month expedition, it doesn't matter. You know, you need to be accountable for your actions, your preparation, and your life and the lives of others that you're sharing that with and from a young age that really got drilled in and just respect Energy, you know, being raised off grid I couldn't just have Eric on blaring and the fan dawn all night, you know, we we had to be really smart with energy. And I think that was also very humbling perspective. You know, so many people are still the air they don't have clean cooking stoves or don't just have a nice Argo that's constantly brewing and they can go just make a cup of tea when they want you know, they having to burn wood and unclean kerosene or whatever it may be, you know, I think just being connected to alternative ways of living to question our convenient has been very beneficial being raised. And being in been the bedrock for me to do what I'm doing right now.

George Beesley  
really reminds me of that Thoreau quote, I went to the woods to live deliberately and I thought about that a lot when I've spent a lot of time in nature that exactly to your point when you live in the convenient Western life where you have a lot of safety nets, nothing's probably gonna go that wrong. You can always Take the next pass. And if you get hungry, if you forget some food, you just go to the shop and it's no big deal. Whereas when you're out there on expedition or even just a few days out in the sticks, then it makes what you do matter, which is what I think part of the appeal is exactly like you said, it gives you that real appreciation for the accountability of your actions. And I think that's very, it brings you into life brings you into the moment because it really matters what decisions you make. And I noticed that a lot when we traveled somewhere to more remote place, and you see the kids and they seem a lot more mature because they've lived a life like that not being kadhi modeled by their parents and spending a lot of time out with dangerous animals and, and real threats around them. So they see they often seem much older than their years than Western counterparts, which sometimes it's because they've you know, had to get jobs early in their life and and they've missed their childhood, which is a bit of a shame, but I think it definitely comes with a huge benefit. making you feel much more alive in their everyday and like really engaged with with your surroundings and what you're doing so I get the sense that I lived in AWS for a little while just for six, seven months and there seem to be a greater connection like you're saying with often not wearing shoes and kids spending more time outdoors which is really nice. I'd love to see that I really thought I would love to raise my kids in this way with a much closer connection to nature.

Barney Swan  
And coming off that statement. You know, I think food needs to be talked about more and and that connection as you said, if you're out in the sticks for a couple of days, you realize that you only have this much food and you better pack your snacks and you better pack your lunch and you better be organized. And I think connecting people with where their food comes from is so important. You know being back in Australia for this last two and a half months where there's quite a lot of farms and we grow up we've got 15 acres and grow. You know dragon fruit and grapefruit and cucumbers and peppers and tomatoes and mint mangosteens and starfruit and just connecting people with how long and how precious the process of making food is and not to waste what has taken literally some in some cases years to make, to get onto your plate and then for you just to not eat it or to throw it away or to, to just not respect the process that got that food in front of you, I think really is important to connect people with because we eat three times a day, if you're lucky you eat three times a day and through that process of choosing more vegetarian options to sourcing locally connecting with the consequences of not getting food that's responsibly sourced and using palm oil and using factory beef and all of these negative sides of food. You know, I think really allowing people to understand where their food comes from is is a nice bridge between the outdoors and everyday convenience because some people read they don't even understand where chicken comes from some kids they just view it As a package thing, and that's it, but if they actually got to see a chicken's head being chopped off, and the feathers being plucked, or hearing a pig scream as it's getting slaughtered or anything like that, which I did as a kid, you know, we have a lot of feral pigs up here. And I remember being eight, nine years 10 years old, and seeing a pig get slaughtered. And it's it's guts hanging out and being skinned and the whole thing and that completely changed how I viewed me as a young age. And I'm not saying we need to truck you know, boatloads of kids off to abbatoirs every first school outing, but you know, I think at least connecting them to farms and connecting them to seeing a goat and seeing where their lamb comes from and seeing that pigs actually do have feelings and they're very smart and cows are very sweet, tender animals when they're being raised on pastures and they'll come lick your face if they're friendly enough. And and, and even just connecting them with an apple, you know, an apple tree. You can't just plant an apple tree and expect apples to be coming out of it in a couple of months. It takes two years to create an apple And it takes years takes, you know, a lot of energy to get bananas from around the world into English shopping centers. I think just really respecting that that process of how we feed ourselves is so important. And I'm not saying we will need to become vegan and vegetarian tomorrow by any means, but we need to respect that process more I believe, and actually making it tangible is is a really big part of that.

George Beesley  
I'd really like to dig into that. But first, let's just go deep into the South Pole energy challenge. So you mentioned a little bit kind of like growing up outside off grid. What was your journey into adventure? Did you do kind of little expeditions first, had you done some stuff like that before before you decided to do a world first in one of the toughest environments in the world?

Barney Swan  
Yeah, I've always been pushing it in the outdoors. And when I left high school in Australia went and tracked through Patagonia for two months, including a 10 day trek where we had to carry our own food and sure enough, we did run out of food. It was comes back to food and did a lot of mountaineering and great kayaking sailed across the South Atlantic did some work up in smile bar. And yeah definitely got my grips together in managing expedition life and being just managing people on expeditions as well. Before embarking on that two month expedition, yeah did a lot of training, endurance training, dragging tires up hills with ski poles, which really replicates dragging 100 kilos sled for two months climbing up a mountain with rocks or water in your backpack and then letting the rocks out that putting the rocks out the top of the mountain or pouring out the water so you don't blow out your kneecaps on the way down is also a great way to train. Yeah, that that expedition, really I just wanted to be a part of respecting my dad's legacy. He's the first person in history to ski to the both the north and the south poles in the 80s. And really hardy expeditions. He didn't have a radio and a safety net in in the South Pole journey and had to bet Eight months in a cabin down in Antarctica before embarking on that, because there was no logistics back in the day. And we wanted to do an expedition that just was relevant to where we're at and to see if we could power ourselves off renewable energy, which was never a feat never attempted before. And two years of planning and logistics and getting the technology ready, working with NASA Ames in San Francisco and biofuel company that was making waste into biofuel and lithium batteries that were powered of solar and these vacuum flasks that melted snow into slushy water as we skied that whole energy system combined. We started tracking at the beginning end of 2017 and yeah, 1000 kilometers and two months later, I can finish that journey and was a really poignant, yeah moment to start that with my father Robert Swan and halfway he had was having trouble with his hip and was slowing down. And really, we wouldn't have been able to complete the expedition on that timeframe. And so he had to pull out halfway and I completed that journey and was a good sort of Baton passing moment frightfully British affair of sort of big hugs and sort of carry on carry on or boy sort of work at the bottom of bottom of the wall. And, yeah, it felt good to take that responsibility and all the sponsorship and all of the the stress of storytelling and finish that journey and very humbling experience being down in a tent for two months in minus 40 conditions and having to manage technology that had never been used before and by a fuel that was clogging up burners a little bit because it was a bit thicker than the usual white gas and having frostbite on my feet almost lost my little toe on my right foot, which wasn't too fun and having bad chafe and my face going black underneath my goggles from frostbite and not being able to feel my hand and not sharing for two months which was slightly excessive even for an Englishman And just being humbled fully and like I was yapping on before you know coming back to food not having any fresh vegetables for two months was exceptionally challenging. I love I love fresh veggies and fresh fruit and yeah just having you know freeze dried food and lots of nuts and bars and and sugar really was hard to not have that fresh food and first thing I did when I got back to South America Patagonia was dig into some fresh capsicum, some fresh peppers and fresh tomatoes and fresh apples and just gorged on on yummy fresh produce. So definitely was a remarkable journey and saw some amazing things down there like perihelion formations, ice crystals in the air and kind of losing my brain a little bit on some days, hearing things that weren't there and kind of going into some pretty strange meditation states and yeah, just generally reminding myself of what freedom really is, you know, I think it's we are The West is just so bloody lucky with freedom and we sometimes forget what it's like to live a life without freedom. And whether you're in extreme poverty or a refugee or living in a really challenging home life situation, whether it's you're an abusive spouse or mentally disabled people or whatever it may be, we are bound and sometimes constricted to so many things in our life and to have freedom of mobility and a thought and of decision is a modern luxury that we should never take for granted. And, and you know, 45 days into that 60 day expedition, I was looking down at my Blackfeet and having a very tough time and part of me really wanted to quit and to go home, but I reminded myself of that freedom and of that responsibility to finish off what I said I was going to do, and I did have a safety net, I could abandon ship, and there's so many people going through much harder situations and having a bit of frostbite and you know, not smelling so good then then I was and I think felt like I had a bigger responsibility to do credit for those people who don't have a voice and don't have options and definitely really connected to me too. Yeah, just what it would be like to have been a part of a situation like that that is truly more hostile Antarctica.

George Beesley  
There's a really nice film documented of you guys doing the challenge and the story of you and your and your dad doing it together. And it's paints a really good picture. But for people that haven't seen that, can you paint a picture of their everyday so you've got two months in this incredibly hostile environment, a long way to go. And there's a reason why very few people have done it. So what's the what is your day to day look like when you're out on the ice?

Barney Swan  
So you'd wake up at 7am maybe a little bit before you would put on the biofuels stove and there'd be some water leftover from the night before. Hopefully that wouldn't be frozen. But if so you'd put a bit of thermal water and warm that water up, put the stove on or go and get some warm water out of the ice melter that would be outside on the sled and make sure to drink lots in the morning because you'd wake up often really dehydrated with a headache because you were sleeping in sunlight is 24 hour daylight in Antarctica, which does take some time getting used to especially when you're getting sunburned in an orange tent when you're sleeping. You would start your day you'd have some brekkie which consisted of oats for me every morning because I'm lactose intolerant. I don't and I don't like dairy I don't associate with dairy and so I had brekkie oats for 58 days in a row which definitely became a bit bland after a couple a month and I dig in some brekkie oats, get some tea down your neck pack your snacks get organized for the day, do some stretching for me. I always tried to do some stretching in the morning, because you'd often wake up with a pretty sore back sleeping on a glacier you would pack up the tent, get your sleeping bag, packed up and Get everything into the sled as quickly as possible because it's the coldest time when you haven't been skiing is to put on your jacket. And to be honest just getting out of the sleeping bags one of the hardest moments every morning you know getting out of your nice warm den and having to get your clothes back on and and yeah, that's what was the tough part of the day. And once everything's packed up, you would set your bearing which we would do every morning on a GPS, set your bearing somewhere between 180 and 160 degrees and then we didn't use the GPS throughout the day, you'd just be navigating on that bearing through a compass every day and you would start skiing at around 830 and you would do a hour of skiing and 10 minutes of break seven times in a row. So it was about seven to eight hours of skiing a day. And during that 10 minute break, you would have a pee, you would go and get some snacks into you do a bit of stretching and Yeah, just carry on. And you would take turns leading and navigating. For me, that was my strength. I really enjoy navigating. And it's not easy to navigate navigate out there by any means. It's like standing on a frozen ocean in the middle of the ocean. And there's just a 360 degree horizon of ice and every direction. for about two weeks, we saw some mountains in the distance called field mountains. But aside from that, we were just on a frozen ocean 360 degrees of ice and kilometers of an ice beneath you. And there's actually patches of ice in Antarctica that are 16,000 feet deep, which is kind of hard to get your head around because it's actually deeper than the continent, if that makes sense. So the ground the ocean level, it actually goes below kilometers because it's so heavy that I so it's actually below ocean level. And yet, the deepest patch of ice is 16,000 feet deep, and they're doing ice core samples and some of those blue ice, which are over a million years. Carbon history so all of those ice core samples they can drill down and they can see that that ice has been there for over a million years which is pretty remarkable. And they can see exactly what the co2 indexes are because of the amount of bubbles so that they can within the bubbles they can see the co2 of that time they can see when volcano erupted they can have a full cut it's like a cutting a tree in half and seeing those rings of the tree but within ice and the science behind that it's pretty remarkable. And yeah, you'd be skiing along and during those eight to nine hours and time would really kind of get disrupted sometimes 30 minutes felt like four hours and and 2010 minutes just passed so quickly. You know it depending on your headset and your mindset, you know, time really got weird down there. And I kind of felt like I was a sundial walking sometimes especially whenever you were in the front. You would just have your shadow in front of you and nine hours is scary. It would start on your front left front right rather and end on your front left at you kind of you just became a sundial walking in, in etheral etheral nothingness. And I'm really connected to this sky during the scheme also but the ice obviously not much to connect with aside from those too, and your breath but I really connected with just the sky down there. We started at 200 feet and skied our way up to 10 and a half thousand feet, which is the South Pole. And as we slowly rose up that glacier and the waves of ice going up and down because it's not flat Antarctica, it's like a frozen river you know, you'd go down 100 feet and then up 300 feet, huge wave and ice and then down another 50 feet and then up 200 feet and it was always up and down, which you know, seeing a huge wave of ice in the distance was a bit looming, the bigger it was the more climbing you knew that you had to head but aside from that wonder of seeing the ice and seeing crevasses in the streets to key forms, and the and the just connecting with that space above was remarkable. Obviously, we never saw stars because it was 24 hour daylight. But if there's a God, which, you know, we all have our versions of spirituality and faith and all of that, I felt that etheral goings on above in that that voided blue sky was just so deep and so clean and so profoundly. Just deep, you know, it was almost like looking at a milky way, looking at the stars without the stars, because you just know that the cosmos is behind that blue. And it's teeming and and yeah, this guy was just a very profound teacher down there. And, yeah, I definitely felt a lot of connection with that. And yeah, and then once we finished skiing for the day, you'd pack up, pack, pack your tent up, or was aligning the tent with the wind to make sure that you didn't get side wind in it, and you tend to blow down if it's 40 knot winds. If you felt active, you dig a little pee and poo hole. So you'd have a bit of defense if you needed to go number two's at any point, it's not super fun, going number two and minus 40. And so having a bit of protection from the wind is always preferred. And DEP we set up the camp, do some stretching again for me, which is also important part of the routine, have some food, do some communication, have some yawns and try and get to sleep as quickly as possible because you will always tired and always hungry. And I also found time for journaling and yeah, writing some reflections and thoughts and conundrums and all of that during the evenings. And, yeah, I think just getting into that sleeping bag was just what you would think about if it was cold and you're having a hard time you just know that you're going to be in that sleeping bag at some point. Towards the end of the day. You know, that's just the favorite part of the day. tucking up into that and feeling like a cozy Caterpillar cocoon kind of thing and just being able to just be warm and which is nice. But towards the end of the expedition, my feet were frostbitten, so the warmth that she meant that my feet were turning back on, which felt like raises. And yeah, so sometimes asleep would be interrupted because I'd go into the sleeping bag and my feet would be dead numb, couldn't feel them. And then four hours later, they would start to warm back up and it felt like lots of little needles getting jabbed into my toes. So that wasn't too fun to deal with before the end, and that definitely disrupted my sleep. But yeah, the sleeping bag is heaven.

George Beesley  
How did completing the adventure change you as a person?

Barney Swan  
I think it just showed me that I'm tough. And I'm resilient. And you know, I'm a pretty, pretty lean guy. I've always had a bit of body, not body. Yeah, just but not. I wouldn't say body shame issues by any means, but I've always kind of thought of myself as a bit too skinny growing up and seeing all of these macho men in magazines with their massive arms and their huge chests and their abs and kind of sometimes feeling that I didn't have that body and I felt inadequate in a sense, it kind of helped me break free of that in a way and realizing Yeah, I may be lean, I may be 72 kilos, but I can still ski two months to the South Pole, I can still run hard, I can still dive deep climb hard and and I should just be proud of my body and what it's capable of it really kind of equalize that and not in an ego way, by any means not being allowed, or I'm bloody macho man, but just realizing that I should be respectful and I should love the body that I've been given and just work with that instead of constantly chasing this kind of under some sort of Greek macho man painted out a bloody marble or whatever it is, you know, I think it for me it really reinforced just that power of my body. And yeah, just from a professional sense, you know has given me credit To be talking about sustainable development and expeditions and connecting young people to the outdoors because it'd be stupid enough to ski two months with solar panels last year back you know, I think it gives you a bit of kudos. But yeah, it was actually a tough moment George, you know, coming coming to your goal, the South Pole and looking at yourself in your goal because South Poles that's your reflective sphere to ski up to that after two months of skiing, two years of preparation and then to look at yourself and be like, oh, Alrighty then. So I kind of getting you a PhD or getting married or having your first kid you know, you get to that point in your life. Great. So what's next? And it was one of the biggest anticlimax moments of my life. Actually, the journey was powerful and love so many lessons, but actually standing at the South Pole. I just didn't know what to do. I was just like, Okay, so this is done. And it's actually taken me quite a while to be proud of that moment and not to be constantly see What's next but to be grateful and proud of what has happened and and standing at that pole was a huge test for that moment, you know, I think we need to be celebrating who we are and what we've done and, and obviously, being relentless and having that, that ambition to do more and to help more and be more of service, but also just to be proud of who we are right now. You know, and I think from working from that space, we can be better leaders and be working, you know, stronger and being more relevant, because if we don't feel not necessarily being proud in a gloated sense, but just being steady with who we are right now, I think is important. And definitely It was a huge reminder standing at that goal of the South Pole. And then just to come back and to launch back into humanity and I went straight from south pole to London and had school talks within the first couple of days of being back and promptly got dispatched to Davos. The world economic forum and was talking out there with slippers on in a suit because I couldn't fit my feet into normal shoes because of the frostbite. So I felt like a bit of a kook token explorer walking around devils and slippers and really wanted to be relevant. But felt like DevOps wasn't being relevant to the everyday person. So I was excited to embark on my own nonprofit climate force and to be making solutions and ESG and sustainable development goals and all of these things a little bit more relevant to the everyday people, everyday businesses and just the individual human to make up corporations, you know, kind of humanizing that whole corporate approach, and I think COVID has really humanized corporations as well, you know, realize that Yeah, they their quarterly reports are great and you know, having 100 thousands of employees is great, but if they're not happy if they get sick, if they can't come to work, you know, that affects everything, and I think the South Pole humanized my approach to managing my nonprofit And then a final reflection there George's that I really had a hard time coming back into technology you know, two months doesn't seem like a long time not to be connected to the internet but if you're hustling and moving quickly it is and then to suddenly come back to thousands of emails and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and YouTube news and just this barrage of information after two months of being totally disconnected to that really disenfranchised me You know, it turned me off the whole thing and made me feel like it was all agenda seeking and very ego driven but I'm coming around realizing that you know, if you if you do it, approach it right. Technology can be a huge catalyst to sharing positive stories as we are right now. And, and generally exposing people to different perspectives and breaking them out of their kind of silos. And yeah, just helping people instead of just being about pretty photos and pretty people and pretty places. You know, we need to be talking about the hard issues and being vulnerable. Designing a future that we're proud of.

George Beesley  
So let's dig into your nonprofit climate for So you mentioned a little bit about it there. But what's, what's the mission? And what are you working towards?

Barney Swan  
So my mission, George is to reduce 300 and 60 million tonnes of co2 before 2025. I'm trying to gather as many models as I can from the corporate sphere, education, sphere, just lifestyle communities, and yet just accelerating both environmental social governance strategies, purging businesses and investors, but also just helping ground level grassroots projects have a voice and really just accelerating as much as I can, as quickly as I can that align with the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, just to being human, you know, and trying to really create a inclusive platform that people can share ideas and be a part of just some good news. Fundamentally, it comes back to that good news and good models. You know, the more models that we have that are replicable, the better. You know people need to have things that are relevant to construction and dentists and and consultancy companies and airports and brewery companies and tattoo shops. It doesn't matter what industry you're in being sustainable and realizing that we are dealing with finite resources, and that we do need to create circular economies and we do need to be using the waste that we have and cleaning up the impact that we do create through flying around everywhere and using data from data centers and doing business you know, it does come at a cost and we can create a good story that aligned with getting more incentives and getting return on your business through doing good so really just trying to connect that story to as many people as possible and from a business perspective, religious trying to shift the game into especially developing markets, realizing that sustainability is not just tree hugging and people running around with flowers in their heads. It can help your business and it can increase your revenue, it can make your shareholders and stakeholders and everyone in between far more trustworthy of what you're doing. And it's a total prerequisite. It's not an option anymore to align with these things. And you will get left behind effectively if you're not doing good for the planet and the communities that you serve.

Barney Swan  
Have the replicable model, the better you know, people need to have things that are relevant to construction and dentists and and consultancy companies and airports and bureau companies and tattoo shops. It doesn't matter what industry you're in being sustainable and realizing that we are dealing with finite resources, and that we do need to create circular economies. And we do need to be using the waste that we have and cleaning up the impact that we do create through flying around everywhere and using data from data centers and doing business you know, it does come at a cost and we can create a good story that aligned with getting more incentives and getting return on your business through doing good. So really just trying to connect that story to as many people as possible and from a business perspective, really just trying to shift the game into especially developing markets, realizing that sustainability is not just tree hugging and people running around with flowers in their heads, it can help your business and it can increase your

Revenue it can make your shareholders and stakeholders and everyone in between far more trustworthy of what you're doing. And it's a total prerequisite. It's not an option anymore to align with these things. And you will get left behind effectively if you're not doing good for the planet and the communities that you serve. And I think that mindset shift is the really important thing, that it's not a cost to bear to think about your impact on the environment and the planet as a company, it's instead How can you thrive by incorporating aspects of sustainability into your business, right? It's not that you should feel like you're being punished or restricted by doing something. It's if you want to have a sustainable business. This is the way that the world's going. We have an impending disaster unless we do something and there's an opportunity to change your businesses that you can be kind of onboard and part of the solution people will get behind you for that. So what's better

George Beesley  
The response from corporates, I guess the people that are asking you in are kind of already on board. There's obviously some companies. I mean, a great example is I used to work in finance. And you would find that some companies would not want to invest in oil companies. And that's that's a great example of how times are changing and where, and it's not because necessarily people leave and see the environmental side of it. It's the fact that people won't be using fossil fuels in a couple of hundred years, certainly, well, even in 100 years in the same way that we do now, where sustainable energy is becoming cheaper and the developments in lithium ion batteries and what you see people doing in terms of like Tesla with their cars and more charging stations, you can see that it's good for business to be in somewhere that's sustainable. So what do you think is the general Zeitgeist for corporations out there? Do you think most of them get it now? Are you still seeing a bit of resistance or what's been your impression?

Barney Swan  
Well, I think if you asked me that question in January, it would have been a very different answer to right now. And I think right now is all I can speak off. And I really believe that big finance coming from finance, you'll know the importance of that. But you know, these funds and these accelerators and these ESG green bonds, like all of these big dogs who have them, the millions and billions and the trillions, who who make the whole global economy takeover. They're they're really driving it right now. You know, if you want to have your COVID relief budget, put your way from BNP Paribas, for example. I do work with them. You need to be aligning with sustainable development goals, you need to be having ESG criteria that you're living up to, or you just don't get your funding, you know. And right now, like I said, we're really beginning to humanize the corporate world more and realizing that, you know, for example, shell done a bit of consulting work on their environmental practices.

Show cops a whole lot of, you know, everything for being who they are, and having a bit of a history and all of this stuff. But fundamentally, they still provide energy for millions every day. They are the biggest oil company in the world. And they are just as much a part of the transition than everyone else, especially with energy and making charging stations and hydrogen and all of these big transitions happen. And someone like that they have half a million employees globally. And if you can empower each of those employees to actually trust shelves, managers and their CEO, you have a total shift at system change if they all become ambassadors for doing good. And value believing in what shell stands for and not just sitting around because they it's a good paycheck, but actually feel like they're a part of a company who do care, and are transitioning and are making an effort to do better and to acknowledge you know, what they have or haven't done up to this point. I think, right now that humanizes Those two half a million is really, really evident. And I think corporations are just, you know, listening to what their employees are telling them, you know, like, look at look at just working from home, we can save so much money from people sitting on the two hours a day and driving for hours and flying around the planet for conferences that, you know, are important. But being far more strategic with how we interact, I think is a big, big shift right now and taking responsibility for the bigger impact of going business class around the world for a two day conference. Or if you're a tech company, and using thousands of gigs a minute, you know, through streaming and mining and data related services, you have an obligation to do something about that and to offset, you know, goes tons of co2 that come from from, you know, heavy data related services, and I really do believe that, that big finance is going to be supporting those who do good and who aligned We're doing good from an ESG environmental social governance perspective or CSR Corporate Social Responsibility perspective, if you really are holding up to those criteria and you are showing that you do care and you have the data to support that and you're not just greenwashing things to tick boxes, I really do believe we're going to see a huge acceleration in the renewable tech space in clean eating in more ethical animal agricultural habits in decarbonizing hotels and and transport sector and having more bike paths. And I really do think if we can unify right now with everything that's going on, not just between COVID but you know, the recent tomato to motion that is being caused in America and throughout the world right now with diversity inclusion, if we are all on that same wavelength, I really do believe that we can create more jobs we can be more economically successful, but not at the cost of the planet and really believe right now we just need to work on distributing the wealth. And fundamentally, whether it's shell or a bank, or pharmaceuticals, or even a weapon manufacturing company, or a chemical manufacturing company, or whatever it may be fertilizer company, Monsanto, whoever it may be, who sometimes get pointed out a plastics company, you know, if we can actually distribute their wealth and not just have 1% of the big, big corporates within these companies making the predominant amount of money and we can use these big pillars of industry and reshape how they are focusing more on the environment and more on the communities that they serve. I think that that's a paradigm that we are up against right now, that still needs to shift because all of those industries I just mentioned, you know, in itself, they're providing a service, but it's the greed and it's the kind of wanting to protect your assets and not collaborate. There's competition doing better, or whatever it may be if we can dissolve that, and realize that we are one species. And yes, we have different priorities and China. And again, they're in London and New York and India and you know, Australia, they're all going to be doing it differently. But fundamentally, if we have that shared vision of aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals, and we can manage food security and energy security and water security, which is just going to be such a big issue in these coming decades, I really do think we can create that collaborative spirit that we've seen in COVID. You know, scientists are working, who've never worked before, together to make a vaccine happen quicker than ever before. And if we can have that collaborative spirit, and and, you know, see people rallying on social media like never before, you know, I hope once this you know, Black Lives Matter movement, you know, finds its way legs and has the impact that we all want to see from that, you know, I'd love to see the entire world for a week just posting green on their social media and doing project that completely blacked out the music industry and the social media and that we all have a moment to just post green or to to have that same rallying calls, which I'm so delighted to see within the Black Lives Matter and to be honest, to see just how the media completely everyone was checking the media at the beginning of COVID you know, the end of March, early April, like everyone was on the media and everyone can have that same focus on caring for our planet and looking after biodiversity and and the rallying and the collaboration and the noise that has been created through both what's happened in America and COVID. If we can have that same spirit and that same urgency towards doing good for our planet and protecting our shared home. really do think we can see that systemic change that's needed and we can be moving more from greed to in towards a collaborative future?

George Beesley  
Yeah, one of the major positives of COVID is to see when there is a strong desire to change the way things are the status quo, and where there's really a need fell in a sense of urgency, massive change can happen in such a small amount of time. I don't think that people really thought that such radical change could happen so quickly to stop flights to shut down industry to even housebound people as well which is a whole nother conversation but it shows that when there's that will there is just this massive action that can be taken and and then exactly like you said, with black lives matter the social side and the mobilizing technology. It shows that if we get the message through then the action that needs to be taken can be taken to meet that two degree target. But I think the real difficulty with climate change is the fact that it's almost the opposite of COVID. COVID is something that spreads very quickly and may affect you and people in the developed world in kind of number of weeks or months, whereas climate change is slower moving. So how do you think we can get across the urgency and the importance of climate change and the chat related challenges to people who don't really feel it in their day to day now?

Barney Swan  
Well, I think the doom and the gloom clearly hasn't worked, you know, Al Gore, teetering on ladders and you know, all the kind of before the flood and these quite hardcore documentaries, I think have their place But fundamentally, we need to be really showing good role model shift, I think is how we shift it you know, if Justin Bieber and Brad Pitt and Kim Kardashian and Boris Johnson and all of these people who have the spotlight on media on them right now started becoming, you know, 90% vegetarian and offsetting that plane travel and sorting out their rubbish and doing videos about them actually making an effort to sort out their recycling and manage their data and to be just having the conversation of respecting our planet. I think that's where we see a huge shift. And if you couple that with social I mean economic incentives, like you have that social kind of bandwagon effect of celebrities and influences around the world accelerating this stuff, between cultures and between regions. On top of that, if you show the economic benefits through saving money, making money for your business to aligning with these things, I think it shifts the conversation from climate problem to climate opportunity, because even if you straight anti climate change denier and you think it's just a big hoax, what's the problem with cleaning up rubbish and making assets out of it? What's the problem in accelerating renewable energy that's cheaper and more effective for your family? What's the problem in shifting to a more plant based diet if that saves Issue whatever $500 every couple of months for your family or whatever it may be, if you really outline the economic incentives and benefits for getting along this path, and that social kind of clause of view will be seen as cool or sexy or relevant, or you know, just a part of that bandwagon which everyone does like to be a part of, I think those two things are going to be a bigger driver in regards to just spreading the actual action rather than the urgency because I think urgency turned off some people if you see enough videos, which I have of Wales choked in plastics and bloody forest burning and, and you know, the whole doom and gloom of our reality that we're up against, it turns people off after a while. And if you can really be positioning, what they can do and and that it is seen as cool and that they do have toolkits and resources and means to accelerate these things. I think that's where we're going to see the big effect. And especially we I think it's not the people who watch the documentaries. It's the people who are struggling paycheck to paycheck. It's the people who are unemployed. It's the people who are pretty pissed off at the system that we're in right now. Those are the ones that we need to be engaging on climate change and climate responsibility, because you can preach to the choir until the cats come home, but it's really disrupting and changing the idea and behavior of those who couldn't give a monkey's. That's that's the challenge that we're up against and the opportunity.

George Beesley  
I think that's fantastic way to look at it. Yeah, phrasing it as that opportunity, which it really is. So we talked a little bit about things that companies can do. You mentioned earlier, carbon offsetting, and that's fairly cheap to do. We do that with all of our international travel and there's often the the opportunity to kind of two birds with one stone type thing where you offset the carbon but you also help local communities out of poverty. So you can really Do good with a small amount of money. And then another one that you talked about was like thinking about your kind of data and energy usage so that we talked about a couple of things that corporates can do. But what are some things that can move the needle? Just like a couple of suggestions for individuals if they think Yeah, I really do want to be a better Global Citizen from an environmental point of view, what really moves the needle

Barney Swan  
I think diet like we were talking about beginning we all have three meals a day if you're lucky enough and just sourcing and being smart about your food I think really starts the whole process it has sure enough for me and I'm shifting to far more vegetarian focused diet with the occasion of some fish being raised in Australia that definitely like their fish out here. So occasionally have some fish and still have some eggs but don't have any milk products. And you know, I think just going to farmers markets and you know, trying to pick the produce which is hard and the England I know especially to not get stuff that's wrapped in plastic, but trying to find things that aren't wrapped in plastic and just getting a loaf of bread that's been made fresh. Instead of buying something that's covered in plastic, you know, these small changes, if enough people do it, you're going to see a lot more adaption from the suppliers. And then we'll realize that people are leaning more towards non plastic produce and sourcing locally and I think that will just become more of a priority. You know, just look at this just on a side note, you know, the supply chains just being completely changed up during COVID having cotton made here and then textiles made from it over there and then being shipped back to somewhere you know, that I think that was slowly coming to a close and being able to have things that are made locally. And I think it's just so important to support and it's not always easy and you do might have to go to a different shop and not just go to tescos or even if you do go to test goes it's just the power of our wallet is just so important and being really smart with questioning. You know, when you Going shopping Do I really need this is this just gonna make me briefly happier or quality instead of quantity or whatever it may be. Just really using a wallet effectively is just so important right now and supporting supply chains that are more local. And from there I think just educating yourself and and really monitoring the content that you feed yourself every day. You know, I think whether it's watching documentaries instead of zombie apocalypse film or cat videos, you know, it's just really important that we educate ourselves daily and it's so easy to turn off with easy content but feeding yourself with documentaries and and TED talks and things that really do educate yourself and open yourself up to different ideas is so important right now because everyone wants has an agenda with what their tips speaking about and I believe if you are diverse in what you input yourself with you come up with your own ideas and read what the republicans are saying read what the democrats are saying. Read But the greenies are saying try and find that middle ground in discourse these days, which I think is so important instead of just believing everything that you know, the one media source that you go to says, I think from there just sharing the outdoors, you know, making time whether it's going to your local park or organizing a camping trip with friends or you know, coming on an expedition to Antarctica with us. It doesn't really matter. They're not saying you need to come on an expedition or go up to Scotland for a month and be living out of sort of a sleeping bag and a bivy sack, but just sharing going to Hyde Park with your kids or going to a local nature reserve and, and connecting with wildlife projects and and tree planting and community gardens and, and projects that are supporting rehabilitation for Indian wildlife or whatever it may be, you know, somehow getting outdoors and ideally connecting with volunteer work that is helping preserve both wildlife biodiversity and Land preserves really does connect yourself and if you can share that with young people and your loved one, I think you see a scale effect, especially if you do it within your businesses and schools. And so yeah, just three things from the get go there, you know, monitoring your content, shifting your diet, and really just making more time for the outdoors and, and just sitting with yourself and occasionally putting the phone on airplane mode in the morning when you're waking up, instead of just jumping into emails and WhatsApp, you know, put the airplane mode on for 20 minutes, do some stretching, have a Have some tea, just check in with yourself in the morning and before you go to bed, you know, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, having that digital detox when we wake up and when we go to bed I really do believe is very important, especially right now with so much information on the news. And I think that just makes us more aware and more present within our own bodies but also within how we're consuming and how we're taking responsibility for our day to day purchases. And our day to day actions.

George Beesley  
And I would really recommend some mindfulness or meditation, as I've talked about quite a few times. I used headspace initially to start meditating. And I'm just redoing Sam Harris's course waking up, and it's fantastic. And if you don't have enough cash to pay for it, if you're feeling on hard times and COVID, you can actually get it for free. So yeah, I'd highly recommend that and Jacob, our environmental writer, he's put some really good suggestions in his article, how adventurers can help fight climate change. there's a there's a good list and he's tried to do the hard work of prioritizing what can really move the needle if people are interested in finding out a few more suggestions. Well, Bonnie, thank you so much for your time. It's been it's been fantastic to hear about your adventures and and your work at climate force and just have a bit of a chat. So thank you so much for coming on. No worries George my

Barney Swan  
absolute pleasure me and could tear a proper English voice surrounded by all of these pesky Ozzy's, which definitely They're not quite the Queen's language anymore. But just one more food for thought for anyone listening is that I think cleaning up rubbish is a responsibility all of us need to be getting involved in. And I think right now there's a lot of people who are quite turned off by that because it might have COVID on the wrapper that you're picking up. But if you have a you can get a claw you can get a pickup claw which I have several of them, you can pick up anything and put it in the trash. And I don't mean that we need to be sort of, you know, walking around the streets and cleaning up trash like a mad person. But if it's in your proximity, if you're near a water source, if you're on the beach, if you're in a nature reserve, if you're in the forest and you see some plastic, you see some trash have that responsibility to clean it up. That is our planet and especially in the outdoors. Unless there's a ranger around no one else is going to clean that up. And I think that process of cleaning up automatically, I think shift has shifted my responsibility so much and I clean up public bathrooms if it's a mess, you know If someone's done, whatever, if there's tissues everywhere, like I think just cleaning up after each other is such an important thing, because it's not someone else's responsibility to clean up our planet. It's all of our responsibilities. And if you do it smart, if you have a pinky up claw, if you have some hand sanitizer on standby, you know, for me, it's really a thing that I do all the time, especially on beaches, and it makes me feel good, you see a big patch of trash and you cleaned it up, and then boom, it's gone. And it's a tangible legacy that you've left today. And we can all be a part of that. So I'd very much encourage next time you go hiking, maybe pack a plastic bag, so you could put some trash in it next time you go to the beach, you know, even just everyone who goes to a beach picks up five bits of trash, it makes a difference if millions of people are doing that. So just one more one more thing that we can all do. And I know this is about call to adventure. This is the podcast and I think it's a responsibility for all adventurers out there. Whether we're going to a park or climbing Ever rest you know clean clean up after yourself. And there's an age old expression you know, leave only footprints and take only photographs I think that that's outdated we need to be leaving a leaving only footprints and and cleaning up some trash as well so and leaving a place better than you found which I think is something I endorse everyone to be a part of and yeah put it on social media you know, I think the more people are seen to be cleaning up trash and more it can be seen as cool and acceptable and not gross to be doing so. I think it's important to share that that good role model ship so just a little food for thought from far north Queensland,

George Beesley  
Australia. Brilliant advice and after talking with Lizzy from plastic patrol a couple of weeks ago, she would be imploring me to tell you to snap it as well snap the rubbish that you're finding download the app for free, take a picture of it and then they can map it out and use that for lobbying corporations and government. So Barney Yeah, thank you. If people want to find out Little bit more about you and climate force where's the best place for them to check you out?

Barney Swan  
climateforce.com and BarneySwan.com, we'll both have some information. And I would encourage anyone to just check out the sustainable development goals for the Paris Agreement. You know, I think everyone should just check out that website once and just go to 17 Sustainable Development Goals and see the United Nations best effort to create 17 modules to design a more sustainable future. So I highly recommend anyone just to go check out that I think they're doing a great job.

George Beesley  
Great use of time and COVID during lockdown. Good thing to do brush up on that. So yeah, Barney, thank you again so much for coming on the show. And listeners. Thank you again for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks. Bye bye. So that's it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Head over to call to adventure. That's to calltoadventure.uk for show notes and more about this episode, you will also find lots of other free content there. Things like how to guides and gear reviews, everything to get you out on your next adventure. We've also got loads of adventures for you to join us on in the UK and abroad. We've got things like climbing, hiking, mountaineering, surfing, wild swimming, ski touring, and we're adding new ones all the time, so do take a peek. Each booking helps us fund our green mission and all international trips are carbon offset. Please do rate and review the show. If you're enjoying it. It helps get more people engaged with the outdoors.