Challenging Habitat Blog

If you are interested in climate science, check out my blog posts on the Antarctic Quest 21 expedition I am supporting as scientific advisor through Challenging Habitat.

My logo on the tent at basecamp, Portal Point. Photo (c) Paul Hart.

Our Planet, Your Path is a crowdfunded community project aiming to empower young people to be part of the solutions, we need to develop to deal with the environmental challenges on our planet.

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Challenging Habitat

Today LikeToBe launched the Antartic Quest 21 School Outreach Programme. Members of the expedition team introduced the expedition and answered questions of school kids from as far away as South Africa. We covered everything from expedition food rations and equipment to how the team’s training ahead of and the scientific projects carried out during the expedition.

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Challenging Habitat


Everything we do has a footprint and it is appropriate we, the Antarctic Quest 21 Team, consider the sustainability and carbon footprint of all elements of the expedition, from communication and equipment to transport and diet. I will report on our efforts to minimise and mitigate our impact on the planet with a series of blogs, which serves to share our experience with this process and be transparent about our commitment to sustainability.

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…we are still eating the future of our children…

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Among the winners of the first Earthshot Prize on 17 Oct 2021 is Costa Rica, and as I find out more about the back story, it turns out that this small island nation has been on its way to a more sustainable future since the 1940s…

It all began in 1948, when, after a brutal civil war, Costa Rica abolished its army (!!! what a brave and transformational step to take) and started to invest in its people with free health care and education, in renewable energy with hydropower, in natural parks and ecosystem services, all while sustaining economic growth and looking after the wellbeing of her people.

A TED talk by Monica Araya in 2016 provides the history and argues for transformational, rather than incremental, change…radical change that is as important now as it was in 2016.

I’ve yet to find out in detail what happened in Costa Rica between 2016 and 2021 – The Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado announced plans to ban fossil fuels at his inauguration speech in 2018, and earlier this year, together with Denmark, founded a new alliance of nations, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA).

But what I do know that in the week leading up to COP26 in Glasgow, we need all of the decision makers in attendance to carry the attitude Monica Araya displayed in 2016: ‘We can wean our economy from fossil fuels!

(I am not suggesting that going electric with transport is the only way forward … electricity has to be generated sustainably and there are other options, such as hydrogen. What I am applauding is the can do attitude.)

Featured Image: screenshot showing Monica Araya delivering her TED talk – from YouTube

If it wasn’t so tragic, it could be a fun story.

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Hello my friends, it is time to introduce my new venture to you.

I have left the University of Plymouth to set up as a freelance science communicator and environmental educator. Based on over 20 years of experience in academia, I’m leaving the large institution to work with smaller groups of people and organisation.

That’s exciting!

‘Challenging Habitat’ remains a title that is close to my heart because of its flexibility of imagination…it means different things to all of us, and that’s just right for my new business.

Check out what that’s all about at

This blog will remain a space for my personal ruminations.

A couple of years ago I got involved with the charity Seas Your Future and to incorporate elements of ocean science and citizen science into sail training on the tall ship Pelican of London.

It is the UN Ocean Decade and eco magazine is publishing a series of stories and a special issue to mark the occasion…this is one of my contributions that tells our story.

Starfish from a Scottish loch, August 2020

What? Not enough CO2 ?

There is too much CO2 in the atmosphere.

There appears to be not enough CO2 in industry, at the moment.

Perhaps the question how to get the suppliers of CO2 back into production, so that carbonated beverages and meat remain plentiful on supermarket shelves, is the wrong one to ask.

I’d like to ask:

How much CO2 is produced and released by the food and drinks industry?

Can we develop processes in the food and drinks industry that don’t require CO2?

What’s the future of the gas industry and CO2 production in a decarbonised economic anyway?

Time for R&D and an opportunity to look afresh at a broken system, renew, refresh, replace…rather than just patching it up and waiting for the next breakdown.

On the river before the rest of the household stirs.

Reflections on a summer of sun and rain, new and old, labour and fruit, adventure and stability, whirlwind activity and calm.

So many good things and experiences to be grateful for and nourish the mind.

I’ve lived in the UK for 28 years and today I passed through a popular holiday town in coastal Devon.

I had heard of amusement arcades and all-year fairgrounds and the nostalgia that leads one generation to take the next one along.

What I hadn’t realised is the totally unreformed indulgence in the plastic-fantastic world of tackiness that is promoted as ‘good fun for all the family’.

Plastic fantastic in front of an amusement arcade.

The next generation will not thank profiteering entrepreneurs for wasting precious resources on producing and shipping half way around the world worthless plastic toys for 5 minutes of amusement, while the world is burning and flooding with the effect of man-made climate change.

The irony of it: a ride in the shape of a recycling van next to the offerings of plastic toys that aren’t recyclable…

When are we going to learn that some things are not justifiable anymore?

(And don’t get me started on the massive impact of the growth in SUV numbers, most of which never go off road and into the mud or on the ice.)

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