Extreme endurance swimmer and climate change activist, Lewis Pugh completes the 7.8km swim across the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland in 12 days to raise urgent awareness of massive ice melts and the danger this poses across the globe. Picture: Olle Nordell
Extreme endurance swimmer and climate change activist, Lewis Pugh completes the 7.8km swim across the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland in 12 days to raise urgent awareness of massive ice melts and the danger this poses across the globe. Picture: Olle Nordell

Pugh completes icy last stand swim

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Sep 11, 2021

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Endurance swimmer and ocean activist Lewis Pugh has completed “The Coldest Swim on Earth” ‒ a 7.8km swim over 12 days across the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland this week.

He is the first person to complete a multiday swim in the Polar regions.

“The reason I did this swim is clear ‒ we rely on ice for our survival. Ice keeps our planet cool enough to live on. But we are losing it fast. No ice, no life.

During ’The Coldest Swim On Earth’, endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh’s body temperature was monitored live because of the risk of hypothermia. Picture: Olle Nordell

“I am deeply alarmed by what I’ve seen. Last month was the first time in recorded history that it rained at the highest point on the Greenland ice sheet. The melt is accelerating. I watched water gushing off the ice sheet at a location that only a few years ago was covered in hundreds of metres of ice. I also witnessed shocking quantities of ice being pushed through my swim route and far out to sea.”

The Polar regions are indicative of the speed and severity of global warming and are experiencing changes faster than any other region on Earth.

If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would lead to a global sea level rise of seven metres. Scientists have warned that even a one metre sea level rise would be devastating to millions across the globe, drowning major cities such as London, Tokyo and New York.

“What happens in the Arctic will determine the future of our planet and everything that lives on it. The Polar regions are feeling the effects of the climate crisis more dramatically than anywhere else on Earth. If temperatures continue to increase, the polar ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise,” said Pugh.

He will address delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow from November 1-12.

The Independent on Saturday

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