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The Adventure Ecology team were forced to abandon the Arctic expedition last year after 100 days because they came across so much water that it was dangerous to go any further.

'When I went to the North Pole, the most aggressive estimates were that the ice cap would disappear by 2080,' de Rothschild says. We have to change our attitudes and we need kids to lead the way.'Certainly, the children de Rothschild visits have got the message, enthusiastically explaining why we should recycle, take public transport and not waste resources.

'We wanted to create something that the kids would love and the teachers could feel confident with,' she says.

'There had to be strong pedagogy because there is so much wrong information on climate change on the internet.' She and de Rothschild have also been working with the Department for Education and Skills to expand into the entire UK schooling network.

It's nearly noon but the sky is so overcast that the cars have their headlights on. The first thing you notice about David de Rothschild is that he is extremely tall – 6ft 4in, lean, rangy and fit. We have spent the morning at the Capital City Academy in Willesden, north-west London, where de Rothschild has enthralled a class of 10-year-olds with tales of the three months he and three companions spent crossing the 'top of the world' from Russia to Canada with 16 sled dogs. 'Everyone has that low-hanging fruit in their life, where things are really easy,' he says.

Conscious that I am walking through north London with a man who spent 100 days last year crossing the Arctic on foot, I stifle the urge to whinge. And he is very good looking, with kind blue-grey eyes, shoulder-length hair and the laidback surfer-dude clothes and demeanour favoured by metropolitan under-thirties, his conversation peppered with 'kind ofs', 'incredibles' and 'really cools'. He talks for an hour, describing how the Arctic was so cold that his eyelids stuck together; how difficult it is to cross the ice, which is not flat but a sea of mountainous frozen waves; the danger from polar bears. 'They look at you and you know they're seeing four steaks on legs and 16 cocktail sausages.' And he asks child-friendly questions: 'The Arctic is a freezer. 'Not using a plastic bag for everything they buy, jumping on public transport.

It brings together all of de Rothschild's passions - for adventure, for the environment and for education in a way that is, as he might say, really cool.

'My aunt will use a piece of clingfilm or foil until it falls apart,' de Rothschild says.

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The wind gusts a fine, drenching rain into every nook and cranny. We took 45 kilos with us'; 'We didn't wash for three months. 'When he asks the children for questions, he is met with a forest of hands: What were the dogs called? He is a passionate and committed environmentalist, somewhat in the mould of Zac Goldsmith, whom he knows and admires, and he tries to live a green life as much as he can.

The first art exhibition, Waste & the Natural World, opened yesterday at the Saatchi Gallery and showcases the work of four young artists who want to highlight concerns about the planet.

First and foremost, Adventure Ecology is an educational tool, a website that marries the sophisticated graphics and concepts of computer games with well-researched, accurate information.

The Swiss unit traces its roots to the acquisition of Banque Privee in Geneva in 1965.

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