Singapore

Three Singaporean women part of 100-strong global team to Antarctica

The three are part of 100-strong global team making trip to advocate climate change

Social entrepreneur Anthea Ong gave up her car in 2010 after 20 years of driving to reduce her carbon footprint. In going green, she also became a vegan, avoided using plastic bags and stopped using leather products.

So, joining an Antarctica expedition to advocate climate change was a dream come true.

Today, the 49-year-old will set off from Argentina with two other Singaporeans and about 100 others from around the world to raise awareness about climate change in the South Pole.

Joining her on the trip are Ms Jessica Cheam, 34, the managing editor of Eco-Business, a media organisation that reports on sustainable development, and singer-songwriter Inch Chua, 29.

The team making the 13-day trip includes climate change scientists. The annual expedition, which started in 2003, is organised by the 2041 Foundation, based in California.

Its founder is explorer Robert Swan, known widely as the first person to walk to both the North and South poles in the 1980s.

Mr Swan, 61, will lead the expedition, which aims to be carbon-neutral. The foundation is offsetting the carbon footprint with ongoing green initiatives such as tree planting.

The organisation aims to raise awareness and create a new generation of sustainability and environmental leaders who can champion the preservation of Antarctica.

The trip will include workshops on climate change, energy solutions, sustainability and recycling as well as activities such as daily hikes and whale-watching.

Ms Ong, the founder of Hush TeaBar - which employs deaf people and those with mental health issues - hopes to find out how global warming has affected Antarctica and the world.

She hopes to inspire change and plans to share her experience through lunchtime talks at companies.

Ms Ong, who applied for the expedition directly, funded the US$18,000 (S$23,700) trip with her savings. Her outdoor gear is sponsored by The North Face Singapore. Ms Cheam and Ms Chua won a contest held by City Development, in which they had to propose solutions for climate change.

Ms Cheam said: "It is a huge honour to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the most pristine last wilderness on the planet. It is visibly suffering the effects of climate change, and though it may be too remote a location for most people, what is happening in Antarctica has a very real impact on our lives and societies."

When she returns, Ms Cheam plans to produce a documentary about climate change and also present a photo collection and a short film at a public exhibition.

Ms Chua plans to capture the sounds of Antarctica and experiment with them. She said: "I want to create art with my experience to encourage discussion and contemplation."

Environment