Roger Chao is an Australian explorer/adventurer and environmental campaigner and philosopher(ethicist).
Roger Chao is a moral philosopher, working in real world ethics. His
interests are applied ethics, environmental ethics, polital theory, consequentialism,
atheism, value theory, ethical theory, political philosophy, and their
implications for every day life.
In 2006, Roger was awarded the Young Adventurer of the Year award, by the Australian Geographic Society, a highly prestigious annual award. This was given in recognition of a world first unassisted (no food drops) mid-winter traverse of both the Western and Eastern Arthurs, combined with a successful mid-winter ascent of the treacherous Federation Peak, carrying full rock climbing, hiking, snow and mountaineering gear, food, fuel etc for 5 weeks (at the end of the trip when finished, the packs weighed 37 kg) a world first. He was also elected as a member of the prestigious Explorers Club ( New York) and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. In 2007, Roger also completed a full east to west coast ski(hauling a sled behind him) traverse of the Greenland Polar Icecap, high above the Arctic circle, fighting 200 km/h winds and -45 °C (excluding wind chill) temperatures with a 130 kg sled and pack. He was the youngest person ever to complete a full east to west traverse of the Greenland icecap unsupported and unaided (no kites, or dog sleds, or guides etc).
Throughout his life, he has also served as a section rep and delegate for Search and Rescue attending numerous callouts(on 24/7 call out) in all conditions/terrain, as well as serving as president of the Monash Bushwalking and Outdoors Club, being selected for Monash University's Vice Chancellors Elite Athlete Support Program and being awarded a commendation for outstanding achievement from the Dean of Arts.
Roger has a huge plethora of media experience, having provided photos and writing articles for magazine such as The Australian Geographic Journal, Wild magazine, Adventure magazine, Outdoors Magazine , Feed the Rat, and well as in numerous newspapers such as, The Herald Sun, The Leader, The Mercury, and countless others. He has been interviewed live on camera for numerous pod-casts, national television (Sunday on Channel Nine), national radio (ABC Radio National), countless others and made numerous presentations to large audiences on issues such asexploration, leadership and motivation, climate change, and global warming and indigenous cultures.
Roger also has a long standing wealth of outdoor experience including leading groups, as a section representative and delegate for Search and Rescue with the Victoria Police, and as well as serving a term as President of the Monash Bushwalking Club. He is qualified as a Swift Water Rescue technician, in Vertical Rescue, as Wilderness First responder, Technical Mountaineering certificates, and a many other outdoor skills. Roger has extensively paddled, skied, climbed and mountaineered around the world as well as all throughout Australia. Roger has also worked as, an environmental consultant for the Office of Environmental Sustainability, as a forest campaigner for the wilderness society, as well as a professional Expedition Consultant and guide for individual clients, corporate teams, and schools, and as well as a guest speaker/MC at many events. In the past he has also worked for the indigenous tutorial assistance scheme, provided advice for a panel on the VCE philosophy curriculm and numerous other bodies.
In mid 2007 he also completed a study of the effects of Global Warming on Inuit culture in a remote east coast village in Greenland, staying with numerous Village Chieftains, Dog Sledders and Hunters, documenting their lifestyles and traditions, and interviewing them on camera. These results were later published widely, used by various NGO's, as a documentary, and presented at numerous schools, community presentations, and corporate presentations. showing the impact of global warming on these remote indigenous communities living on icecaps. Throughout this research he had many schools involved in following his research at which he gave numerous presentations about sustainability and the impacts of global warming on indigenous communities.
Most studies on the impact of climate change at the time, had been done on island communities which are low lying in coastal areas, and are thus affected by rising water levels, however not much had been done at at the time (due to inaccessibility and remoteness) on communities who’s livelihoods depend on icecaps, thus the aim was to get their plight (and put a human face to it) exposed.
The majority of the research done on climate change had also just been scientific data (glaciers moving by X metres per year, sea levels rising by Y centimeters, temperatures rising by Z degrees etc) hardly any had been done on the human impact of global warming, and how it affected these cultures around the world and other traditional lifestyles. More “hard science” had been researched on global warming, but very little “social science” about its human impacts, and this is what this documentary was designed to do.
Roger's has also travelled extensively throughout central Asia(all the Stan's, Mongolia, Western China, and Southern Russia) on an amphibious tandem sociable recumbent quad. A fully pedal powered vehicle designed for month long desert crossings (carrying all their water for the duration, as well as using some very fat sand tyres), glacier and snow crossings (tungsten carbide spiked tyres, and fat snow floating ones) and every other imaginable terrain. This vehicle was truly all terrain, allowing them to access many different areas on the same vehicle, all pedal powered.
In 2009 and 2010 his Travels in central asia, centred around documenting the various cultures, traditions, and histories of the people in the area.
The objectives that underlied this expedition were that cultural diversity is important, and valuable enough to be preserved. and that here is a lot of indigenous
knowledge (natural resource management, care for local fauna and flora, medicine, history) that is only to be found
within the hands of peoples that have lived in these regions for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The expedition also reinforced that, as each of these
different cultures had evolved throughout unique geographical, social and political climates, there are were different elements
of societal culture, tenets and ideas, that were unique to their situation, and that thus, by maintaining the diversity that is present
on this little jewel of a planet, we are not losing potential for ideas of how to organize our society better. Their aim was to discover what elements and
practices in these other societies might we be able to incorporate into our current societies
This journey and its subsequent documentation was not about unquestioningly valuing all cultures as equal, not about
blindly promoting tolerance of their customs and ways of life, but rather one of questioning our own lifestyles, their
lifestyles, our own practices and beliefs, and their practices and beliefs. tools they use and how they use them - both in
terms of locally available resources (land, flora and fauna) and the tenets and values of their social system.
Learning from other cultures consists of seeing what does work and what doesn’t work for certain cultures(context dependent), what problems
their cultures have and what beneficial elements they have. Then, one must ask why it does or doesn’t work. By seeing
what faults our culture may have, what solutions other cultures may have to fix this, and what problems they have, we can
be better equipped to find solutions to the universal problems that plague mankind. Thus, in the process, one ends up questioning their
own beliefs, and garnering new knowledge or perspectives/ways of looking at things.
They stayed with and followed numerous nomadic groups as well as very remote mountain villages. This expedition was supported by numerous museums, universities, research institutions and scientific bodies and thus they documented the stories, wisdom, beliefs, way of life, language, music etc of these cultures before they are lost forever. Many of these village communities few members left, and will disappear within the next 20-50 years. These communities have gathered hundreds of years know knowledge and wisdom which would be a terrible waste if it was lost. Throughout the expedition, they recorded all this knowledge and culture in various mediums, recording their songs, stories, dances, knowledge, way o life, social structures, myths of creation, the works. The vanishing tribes, if not documented now, will have their wisdom and knowledge (which has been gathered throughout the centuries and passed down from generation to generation) lost forever. To Roger "Our current lifestyle as it is, is not the only way to live, there are many things wrong with it, it is only by looking to how other cultures live that we can progress. It is only by looking at other groups lifestyles that we can see how we can change ours, what works in their way of life, what doesn't, what works in our way of life, what doesn't, that we can truly move forward." .
For as Roger Chao says:
There are those people today who live the same life, day in day out, predictable, risk free, dreamless, they are the harshest critics of those who strive to break free from this mundane existence.
In this world, too many people are afraid to pursue the life they truly desire, too afraid of being criticised by others, too afraid of failing, too afraid of not knowing the way. However there are also those who choose to follow their dreams, those who choose to rebel, those who strive to be free, those who live.
Stay true to yourself; break free from the chains of society and live.
May you to have the strength and courage to pursue your dreams.