In just a few days, an expected 1,000 explorers from around the world will arrive in New York City to attend Saturday's Explorers Club Annual Dinner, the Academy Awards of exploration. Now in her third term as president of the club, Lorie Karnath (pictured) took a break from preparations to discuss exploration with a purpose, the importance of challenging conventional thought, and how technology is changing the game … oh, and the end of the world.—Mary Anne Potts
Adventure: First, Japan. The news just continues to worsen. What role do explorers play in these kinds of world events?
Lorie Karnath: Field research and data collection being done by explorers and scientists may aid in better understanding why and where earthquakes occur, and why they are often followed by tsunamis. The work being done in the field today will hopefully help to better prepare and prevent such disasters as the ones we have just witnessed in Japan.
This year’s dinner theme is the Maya prophecy, which some interpret as predicting the end of the world in 2012. Though the world seems especially chaotic right now, why did you pick this theme?
It’s actually not so much about the Maya prophecy, but about prophecies in general, and how explorers throughout the centuries have not only had to deal with the challenges of exploration, but, on top of that, they have had to deal with going against accepted bodies of thought.
We all know about 2012, but what are some of the other prophecies?
Over and over explorers have had to challenge very erudite groups. For example, think about how long it took scientists to decide that the Earth was not the center of the universe. There were times when there was prophecy that the world was flat and that people were going to fall off the edge of it. And yet explorers still jumped in ships and discovered it was round. Explorers were told if they climbed the highest mountain they would be annihilated by radioactive rays … and on and on.
But each time, explorers were not only willing to go through the hardship that goes along with exploration, they were able to think outside the box and go against the status quo. So part of our role as explorers is not just discovery, but it’s also separating science from fiction.