Guest blog: Macro Adventure map the air pollution through Alaska and Vancouver
This year, Dom Meredith Hardy and Jo Cruse set off on an incredible 22,000 mile adventure, and they’re taking our CleanSpace Tag along for the ride! Read their latest update and find out what the air is like from Alaska to Vancouver:
When you’re used to living in London, clean air feels like the ultimate luxury.
You can, quite literally, feel yourself breathing easier in cities which aren’t as beset with air pollution.
This June, my boyfriend Dom Meredith Hardy and I set off on a nine month expedition from Alaska to Argentina. We’ve named our project MacroAdventure, as to us this feels like an adventure on an epic scale! Its mission? To explore entrepreneurs using business as a force for good across the Americas. With backgrounds in shipping and communications, our working lives thus far left us with two important realisations. Firstly, that the world faces huge problems, and we wanted to play a part in solving them and, secondly, that business can be a powerful force for change in this regard.
Our shared passion for the potential for business to be used as a force for good led us to want to uncover and share the stories of those across the Americas making both a profit, and a difference. In this way, we hoped to heighten public awareness of this fact, while at the same time satiating our love for travel and adventure.
And so now we find ourselves in Vancouver, six weeks into our journey, with Alaska under our belts and thousands of miles across North, Central and South America still to come. We realised early on that the geographical scale of our journey would give us a unique opportunity to collect an array of information across a range of very different locations.
We’ve partnered with companies such as CleanSpace in order to capitalise on the valuable information we can collect on our journey, and maximise the value it generates. We’ll be carrying our CleanSpace tags all the way from Alaska to Argentina – across glaciers, through rainforests, into cities and up to the peaks of mountain ranges. This will enable us to compare air quality across the 22 000 miles of the Americas we’ll be exploring, and hopefully generate data-rich insights into the quality of air across this vast region.
We’ve been surprised by so much since we left our flat in London five weeks ago. The availability of virtually any product on earth in Walmart (from three feet tall bags of nachos, to handguns), the endless daylight once you venture north of Canada, and the high levels of air pollution in Alaska.
Initially, the high readings from Alaska surprised us. In a country known for vast open spaces and breathtaking landscapes, we thought the air pollution would be as scarce as darkness in the summertime. However, we had completely underestimated Alaskans’ love for huge, gas-guzzling cars, which we think must’ve gone a significant way to boosting our CO2 readings. Alaska is such a contradiction. On the one hand, it personifies natural beauty – it contains some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on earth. But the country’s relatively low fuel costs and challenging terrain means that imposing, fuel-inefficient cars are a key part of Alaskans’ way of life.
From that perspective, Vancouver was a welcome relief. This is a city which prides itself on environmental awareness – a mission driven by its green-savvy Mayor, Gregor Robertson. Vancouver takes its environmental credentials so seriously that it has set itself a target of being the Greenest City in the World. The so-called Greenest City Action Plan has identified human health as a key focus of its environmental policies.
It comes as no surprise that our CleanSpace tag readings since we’ve been in Vancouver have shown markedly less air pollution than in Alaska – although there have been some peaks at times when we’ve been in and around the busy city centre. Next week, we’ll be heading out of the city to spend some time exploring the coast and the interior, and are looking forward to seeing how the change in location impacts our air quality.
The real value of the CleanSpace tags is their power to enable you to live, and travel, more consciously. By being armed with much more accurate information about the quality of the air around us, we can make more informed decisions about how and where we choose to travel.
In addition to documenting and sharing the stories of the entrepreneurs we meet, we both wanted to use this journey as an opportunity to live more consciously. Unencumbered by the demands of city life, it gives us a rare chance to live simpler, and hopefully healthier, lives. Being able to see the air we breathe is an excellent place to start.