Australian kayaker arrives in Vicksburg

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ON THE RIVER: Steve Posselt, 62, rolls his kayak up from the Mississippi River near Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg.

ON THE RIVER: Steve Posselt, 62, rolls his kayak up from the Mississippi River near Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg.

Kayaker Steve Posselt, 62, arrived in Vicksburg March 30 on his trip around the world to connect chaotic climate events including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the melting arctic, Canberra firestorms, UK flooding and French droughts.

Posselt left Canberra, Australia, Jan. 15, travelling more than 200 miles to Sydney, Australia, partially by water and partially by land, dragging his wheeled kayak behind him.

Next Posselt flew to the United States where he will travel from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay via the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

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Posselt said he plans to take a ship from New York to Southampton, England, where he will paddle across the UK, through London, across English Channel and up the Seine River to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“The summit starts on the 30th of November, so I’ll be there before then,” he said. “If I can paddle the Mississippi in flood, I can paddle anything.”

Posselt arrived in Vicksburg March 30, and the manpowered portion of his journey alone covers nearly 5,000 miles.

“This is to gain attention to the problem of climate change,” he said. “I’ve been very motivated since the birth of my grandchildren, so this is my gift to them.”

As a hydraulic engineer, Posselt said climate change is all about risk.

“I hope to represent the 75 percent of Australians that our governor doesn’t represent,” he said. “Every national academy of science in the world, almost every qualified climate scientist, U.S. Defense Department, NASA all tell us we have a very big problem. I say it’s very risky to listen to a politician who tells us they are all wrong.”

While in Vicksburg, Posselt said he plans to visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center.

Vicksburg is home to the U.S. Army Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, which works to solve “interdisciplinary, strategically important problems of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Army, DOD and the Nation by providing the best solutions to water resource challenges through the design and application of cutting-edge science, engineering and technology,” according to its website.

Posselt said he’s used ERDC’s resources for more than 40 years.

“I want to see the Corps of Engineers because I’ve learned a few things about the river,” he said. “I’m a water engineer. They’re the world’s greatest engineering organization as far as my business. It is an incredible organization.”

Posselt, a fellow of Engineers Australia, said he wants to talk to the engineers at ERDC about what they’re doing with the river.

“I think this is probably the most engineered river in the world, certainly the largest engineered river in the world, so there’s a lot to learn from it,” he said.

The Mississippi River is “a big river, a very big river,” Posselt said.

“It’s just relentless with the volume of water that comes down,” he said. “I didn’t realize how controlled the river was. A lot of the time you’re in wilderness that is behind a levee bank.”

Posselt said the trip has gotten increasingly difficult with the river’s recently rising water.

“I’d be really pleased if this river dropped just a bit,” he said. “I’ve just made it sometimes. If the river was .1 mph faster in some of the places I wouldn’t have made it.”

For each leg that he’s out Posselt said he brings all the food he needs with him. Each leg lasts about four days, and he eats dried food, sandwiches and fruit. He also sleeps out on the river, he said.

The journey is privately funded by Posselt.

“(It’s taken) everything I’ve got — all my money,” he said. “I’ve retired a couple of times. The first time my retirement was rescinded by divorce and the second time my retirement will be rescinded by this trip. I’ll have to work some.”

To follow Posselt’s trip, visit his website at