“A plan by Apple Macintosh computer billionaire Steve Wozniak and former American astronaut Buzz Aldrin to drive a monster 4WD to the South Pole next Christmas is drawing flak over environmental concerns,” Stuff.co.nz reports. “The Apple co-founder is claiming the trip will be ‘research’ because the Hummer H1 Alphas – a civilian version of the US military’s high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV or Hum-Vee) – will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.”
“The plan was outlined by documentary film-maker and electric car enthusiast Chris Paine at the 2007 Detroit auto show, after Mr Wozniak released some details in July last year at Stanford University,” Stuff.co.nz reports.
“Paine said he will film the Zero South expedition and that it will be a ‘race’ between vehicles variously running on bio-fuel, the hydrogen fuel-cell, and on electric batteries,” Stuff.co.nz reports. “Paine, who recently promoted electric vehicles with a documentary called Who Killed The Electric Car?, said the vehicles will run to the South Pole and back in an effort to prove that alternative fuel vehicles can tackle the harshest of conditions.”
Stuff.co.nz reports, “The engineers preparing Mr Wozniak’s Hummer are reported to have received advice from California’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which has experience running hydrogen-powered buses.”
“But the expedition by Mr Wozniak, from America’s McMurdo Station in New Zealand’s Ross Dependency to the South Pole, has also caused concern among environmental lobbyists who see it as a stunt by rich technology enthusiasts based in California,” Stuff.co.nz reports.
“Alan Hemmings, senior fellow in Antarctic studies at Canterbury University, has already raised concerns over the plan amid increasing commercialisation of the continent,” Stuff.co.nz reports. “Mr Hemmings said the group’s planned drive to the pole was ‘part of a much wider problem’ in regulating tourism to Antarctica, where visitor numbers are expected to jump to reach 50,000 tourists and support crew next summer. In 1990 the number was only about 2500.”
Stuff.co.nz reports, “Nick Baggarly, an executive director of the Zero South expedition, told the Associated Press newsagency that his group’s trip was not tourism and that it opposed tourism in Antarctica ‘or exploitation of this precious area. This exhibition does not promote tourism,’ he said in the email. ‘Its purpose is to create enlightenment opportunities that will inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.’”
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