During the last 20 years, Lonnie Dupre has traveled over 14,000 miles throughout the Polar regions by dog team, ski and kayak. Lonnie made a 3,000-mile, first, west to east winter transit of Canada’s Northwest Passage in 1991 by dog team. In 2001, Lonie along with Australian John Hoelscher became the first to circumnavigate Greenland’s 6,500 miles of coastline. This was completed all non-motorized by dog team and kayak.
In 2006, Lonie and Eric Larsen’s One World Expedition completed the first summer expedition to the North Pole pulling and paddling modified canoe/sleds over 600 miles shifting sea ice. Lonnie and Eric reached the Pole on July 1st and in the process reached 68 million people worldwide with a message about global warming. Lonnie lives in Minnesota with his wife Kelly.
Q (Climate Generation): You’ve been exploring the Arctic since the 1980’s. Have you seen any changes in the environment in the time that you’ve been traveling?
A (Lonnie Dupre): I have seen it rain during winter 1998 in the high Arctic coating the surrounding tundra in a sheet of ice making it impossible for the rare Peary Caribou and muskox to forage for food. 70% of the caribou herd perished. Also between 1982 and 2000 two massive glaciers on Greenland’s east coast vanished leaving dry valleys.
Q (CG): Have the changes affected your ability to travel on the Arctic Ocean?
A (LD): Every year there is less and less multi-year ice (9 to 15 feet thick). In 2006 we crossed lots of ice only 2 feet thick. We also noticed a great number of seals on our way to the pole as well as a Polar Bear at the North Pole. Because the southern Arctic is losing more and more ice during summer these marine mammals are forced further north.
Q (CG): What impacts or what effects would you imagine a trend that continued in this direction would have on polar exploration?
A (LD): We explorers, like the Polar Bears, will go extinct.
Q (CG): What concerns you most about warming in the Arctic?
A (LD): The Arctic ice is like a big thermostat for not just the northern hemisphere but for the whole globe. If we lose this ice…we think our summers are warm now… Arctic marine mammals will go extinct and the Inuit people will no longer have their traditional culture.
Q (CG): What influence or effect do you hope your expeditions will have?
A (LD): To get the word out to the masses not just about the impacts of global warming but also about solutions and the need to act now. We could lose the Arctic ice in the summer as early as 5 years from now.
Q (CG): Are there lessons or inspirations individuals and communities can take from your experiences?
A (LD): You don’t have to be a polar explorer to stop global warming.