By Chris Carter
South Carolina-based environmental attorney and global expedition Thomas S. Mullikin was welcomed into the famed Explorers Club as a “Fellow” during ceremonies at the Explorers Club reception, Fri., Mar. 9, and the 114th annual Explorers Club Dinner at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square, NYC, Sat., Mar. 10. Billed as “the Academy Awards of Exploration,” approximately 1,200 explorers and guests gathered in Manhattan over the weekend for the events.
Explorers Club Fellowships are “reserved for those who have distinguished themselves by directly contributing to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration or allied sciences evidenced by scientific publications documenting fieldwork or explorations.” Mullikin’s fellowship was effective Feb. 2018.
Applauding Mullikin’s work, S.C. Governor Henry McMaster says, “[Mullikin] has successfully undertaken some of the most complex domestic and international environmental concerns. [He] has represented multinational and national corporations on complex energy and environmental concerns, and he has a proven ability to reach across all party and stakeholder lines to find substantive solutions. His record of corporate, academic and legal experience and public service reveal an extraordinary man of character and leadership.”
Longtime friend W. Thomas Smith Jr. – a former U.S. Marine infantry leader, counterterrorism expert, and New York Times bestselling editor – says, “Tom Mullikin’s body of research and exploration has, for years, added meaningful value to significant scientific and policy concerns concerning the global environment. So this inclusion in the Explorers Club as a fellow is, in my opinion, both well-deserved and quite a natural, mutually beneficial relationship.”
Smith adds, “The Explorers Club has long-held exacting standards for membership and a strict vetting process. It is, after all, an organization of great historic firsts.”
Firsts indeed. Since the institution’s founding well-over a century ago, Explorers Club members have been the first to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the Mariana Trench (the deepest point in the ocean), and first to the surface of the moon.
Mullikin himself is on a measured quest to achieve another first; that of becoming the first human to have both climbed the world’s seven great summits and recorded SCUBA dives in all five oceans.
Mullikin has already logged the dives including certified ice dives in both the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans (He is a certified SCUBA instructor); and he has climbed four of the seven great summits including the highest mountains in Europe (Mt. Elbrus), Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro), Australia (Mt. Kosciuszko) and South America (Mt. Aconcagua).
Mullikin has also summited or circumnavigated many of the world’s other highest mountains, none of which have anything to do with his record quest. And according to a recent article, “He has sailed through some of the world’s roughest straits, cut his way through seemingly impenetrable jungle and rain forests, and traversed some of the most unforgivably arid stretches of desert.”
Why? Most adventurers might climb, dive, hike, and jump (yes, Mullikin has jumped a lot too, and from many different types of aircraft) all for the sheer adventure factor.
For Mullikin, however, the thrill of his work is a collateral benefit of the greater seeking of experiential knowledge: Exploring remote places, gathering information, learning about the global environment and the world’s most fragile ecosystems then educating others: His students at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) where he serves as a Research Professor Universidad San Francisco de Quito (in Ecuador) where he has taught classes on Global Environment and elsewhere. He has also lectured at many of the world’s most-prestigious universities.
A senior environmental attorney and one of the founding principals of the Mullikin law firm in Camden, S.C., Mullikin’s practice focuses primarily on issues of worldwide climate, water and land use. In that, he has developed unique strategies in the realms of nuclear technology, environmental sustainability, disaster relief, crisis management, healthcare, and unconventional energy production.
Mullikin says “most people around the world want the same thing; a clean environment and an economy that allows them to support their families. These objectives can be met concurrently through an informed conversation.”
Mullikin has served as a United States private sector representative at the 2016 U.S.–Caribbean–Central American Energy Summit. He assisted with the response to the Prestige Oil Tanker Crisis. He assisted in drafting chemical laws for the Republic of Moldova. He reviewed and drafted recommendations for the Sierra Leone Constitution proposed chapter on local government. He also assessed legal best practices for the Maldives.
Mullikin recently led a team of experts on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme helping to draft legislation for the Republic of Fiji aimed at protecting the Pacific island nation’s rich mineral resources.
“Tom Mullikin has a huge heart for Fiji, the Pacific Rim nations, and the world,” says Tevita Boseiwaqa, the Fijian Permanent Secretary of Lands and Mineral Resources. “[Mullikin strengthened] the foundation of Fiji’s economy so that we as a nation may thrive in the global marketplace, while protecting both the Fijian people and our rich natural resources for many years to come.”
In Mullikin’s native South Carolina, a coastal state which over the past few years has experienced the impacts of severe weather systems over the last three years, Mullikin has worked hard to shore up the state’s emergency response capabilities through his command of the all-volunteer 1,000-person S.C. State Guard (SCSG), a Title 32 U.S. Code state defense force organization which exists as a component part of the S.C. Military Dept., which also includes the S.C. Army National Guard, the S.C. Air National Guard, the Emergency Management Division, and other elements.
Perhaps the best uses of Mullikin’s SCSG were recognized during Hurricanes Joaquin (2015), Matthew (2016), and Irma (2017) when Mullikin approached his colleagues and weather-modeling experts at CCU, asked them to provide “the best storm-forecast tracking” models, and simultaneously prepositioned SCSG assets – engineers, search-and-rescue teams, medical professionals and others – near the areas likely to be the most-heavily impacted.
In a 2015 letter to Mullikin from Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) and recipient of the Medal of Honor, Livingston writes, “What you [Mullikin] have been able to accomplish in terms of transforming the S.C. State Guard into a cohesive all-volunteer state defense force organization capable of supporting the S.C. National Guard and the broader S.C. Military Dept. has been exceptional. … efforts during the recent flooding disaster in S.C. demonstrated not only the excellent training your officers and NCOs have conducted since you assumed command, but the necessity of a well-prepared organization of volunteers who are able to serve as you all have done.”
In addition to his SCSG service, Mullikin is a former U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) officer who was attached as an international legal officer to a Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) within the U.S. Special Operations Command. He also served, post-Army, as Special Assistant to the Chief Prosecutor of Military Commissions, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who has said that “because of his extraordinary work, I can confidently affirm that Mullikin’s efforts are meaningful contributing to the whole of our national security efforts.”
Mullikin was recognized for his military service during a special halftime ceremony at a University of South Carolina (USC) football game, Nov. 18, 2017. USC is Mullikin’s alma mater. He is a graduate of both USC (undergraduate) and the USC School of Law.
Founded in New York City in 1904 and incorporated in 1905, The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences.
Chris Carter’s work has appeared in Human Events, Canada Free Press, Family Security Matters, Deutsche Welle, and NavySEALs.com among others. He is a regular columnist at OpsLens.com.