Outdoor industry executive and Arctic adventurer Graeme Esarey joins Tucker in the first of a two-part episode focused on innovative solutions that help us get to net zero emissions.
Esarey is the founder and CEO of Ignik Outdoors, which makes high quality, environmentally thoughtful heating products for the outdoors. He founded Ignik after attempting to transit the Northwest Passage – from Alaska to Greenland – with his family.
Witnessing the impact of climate change
During his expedition through the Northwest passage, Esarey says he was changed forever by seeing the direct impact climate change is having on the wildlife, landscape, and people of the Arctic. He talks to Tucker about how obvious climate change is in the Arctic.
Esarey says tides in the artic used to be minor but now they are nearly one mile wide. He also points out how animal migration patterns have changed. Previously you’d never see a gray whale in the Artic, says Esarey. Today gray whales are commonly spotted in the Arctic and are migrating through the Northwest passage.
Ignik’s flagship product is the Gas Growler, a refillable no-waste solution for heat and cooking in the outdoors. The Gas Growler enables campers to heat, cook, survive, and thrive in the outdoors, with less waste. Esarey tells Tucker the story of how he was inspired to invent the product while visiting a whaling camp in Alaska. The workers were using the small, green disposable propane bottles to heat shipping containers and he noticed polar bears playing polo with the discarded bottles. 48 Million single-use green propane bottles end up in landfills each year.
The company also produces compostable, air-activated hand, body and device warmers. Their product line now includes heated sleep systems with carbon fiber heating technology, a 2-in1 stove and the FireCan, a propane-fueled, portable fire pit designed for packing in the back of a truck or SUV. Ignik donates 1% of its revenues to fight climate change in the Arctic and their products are available online and in retailers such as REI.
Propane benefits in the outdoors
With the emphasis in the West on stopping and preventing wildfires, Esarey looks at propane as a resource that is better than other options for the outdoors. Propane gives the opportunity to cook, provide ambiance and to have that camping feeling in a way that is safer and more sustainable than a traditional wood fire. “We are positioning our propane products as cleaner, safer, and frankly better for this current outdoor environment than any other fuel alternative,” says Esarey.
Forests as carbon sinks
Tucker and Esarey’s discussion also turns to the issue of clear cutting forests in Alaska. Huge old growth forests are being cleared in places like Prince of Wales and Misty Fjords. He says clear cutting not only releases carbon into the atmosphere, but we also lose this precious resource that is a carbon sink for a fragile part of the world.