Norwegian adventurer Thorleif Thorleifsson says his passion for exploring the Arctic is to be an eyewitness to “a world that is passing away, and that is the Arctic.”
Thorleifsson is a Norwegian Naval Academy graduate, sailor, navigator and explorer – and very concerned about climate change.
He toured Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center with Scandinavian Studies students before his public presentation on campus Oct. 9. He also met with Mark Hilde, Moorhead, one of the crewmembers of the Hjemkomst.
Hilde recounted stories about that small ship’s 1982 voyage through the Great Lakes and across the Atlantic to Bergen, Norway. The ship is now on exhibit in the cultural center named after it.
Thorleifsson’s own adventures have included retracing Roald Amundsen’s sail through the Northwest Passage.
“Amundsen needed six years to explore the route,” says Thorleifsson. “I did it two years ago in only 80 days, so that clearly illustrates the dramatic changes in the Arctic region. The most obvious change is the tremendous loss of ice.”
The polar explorer and environmental eyewitness hopes his listeners understand the seriousness of the ongoing climate change.
“When you take into consideration that some of these places once were almost impossible to penetrate, I think that says a lot. As an environmentalist, I think that is very scary,” he says.
Thorleifsson shared his story at Concordia to encourage students to be curious about the world they live in.
“The world needs their skills, their hopes and dreams,” he says. “We need everything they have in order to solve our problems today.”