“There is hope, and it’s called Antarctica”
Diogo interviews Alejandro Ursino, Expedition Guide
Who are you, and what brought you here?
My name is Alejandro Ursino; I’m an expedition guide and founder of USH Magazine – the first international culture magazine published by a collective.
I live in Ushuaia, otherwise known as the ‘the end of the world’. But it’s also a gateway to Antarctica.
When I was producing a special Antarctica edition, I met a BBC reporter called Gerard Baker. It turned out he was also an expedition guide and winterer in Antarctica. We bonded over our commitment to building community and conscience around the world. A week later, he asked me to help out on board.
He taught me everything I know.
I heard you used to work for magazines in the US. What made you leave?
I left the US with lots of experience and friends. But I doubted myself. The magazines had so many pages – they weren’t very environmentally friendly! And the content was superficial. 50% of the pages were adverts.
I promised myself that my publication would be the opposite.
We focus on universal issues, from health to identity. Concerns we all share. Because when you talk to people on this ship from the other side of the world, they have the same problems. We’re honouring our readers by championing community building here in Ushuaia and beyond.
It’s not about selling a new pair of shoes; it’s about saving our home.
I like the idea of community-driven publishing – and your rejection of commercial interests dominating content. Do you think the media distract us from what’s really going on?
Definitely. If you’re in the media, you have a privilege and responsibility when communicating with others – not just promoting stuff to make a profit.
For example, most people don’t realise how much overfishing and climate change are impacting krill populations. It’s just not being talked about enough.
USH Magazine is a channel for activism. We’re doing lots of Antarctica research during this expedition which we’ll publish on our return. We also recently supported the successful campaign to prohibit salmon farming in Argentina. We’re focusing on Chile, Malvinas and the Falklands now. It will be tough – there’s a lot of money in the business. But it’s unacceptable when entire fishing communities can no longer support their families.
By giving people a voice, we’re educating and inspiring others to stand up for what matters.
Taking action is crucial. But I see many people, especially younger people, feeling an increasing sense of ‘climate anxiety’. And anxiety can quickly turn into paranoia or paralysis. It’s a ticking time bomb.
But the game isn’t over. We need to get the message out by rallying more people to specific causes. Stuff they can actually influence. Our mission could be protecting Antarctica and its neutrality, for example. Other people could protect forests, and so on.
Everyone has their part to play.
You’re right. The future can seem so far away, like it’s somebody else’s problem. But it is our fight.
Even though we doubt ourselves, we can change things for the better. Sometimes it’s easier than we think. For example, you don’t have to parade on the streets to ban salmon farming; just ask for wild salmon in a restaurant.
What does Antarctica mean to you?
There is hope, and it’s called Antarctica.
It doesn’t matter what religion or nationality you are. There’s a shared sense of purpose and community here.
Antarctica is giving us a chance. It’s saying there is a different way to do things. We don’t have to be consumed by technology – we can evolve as a species and become more mindful of our environmental impact. Not just because of rules; because it makes sense.
We need to take care of these pristine waters. This is the refrigerator of the world – if something happens here, it’s going to screw everything.
But if you know a little about this place, it’s enough to change your mindset. It changed mine.
I want people to say, “Hey, this guy could do it. And I can too.”
Read the free digital version of USH Magazine here.