STORIES: Think South, Raising Our Students' Awareness on Earth Day

We learned a thing or two on Earth Day!

Former music teacher Cathy de Moll returned to Seabury Hall on Friday after 30-some-odd years to tell us all about the 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Scientific Expedition, her role as its executive director, and the importance of preserving Antarctica for the sake of the earth.

Cathy's book Think South: How We Got Six Men and Forty Dogs Across Antarctica was just published in October by the Minnesota Historical Society, on the 25th anniversary of the Expedition. 

That Cathy told the story in chapters devoted to the people involved in the expedition is a genius arrangement. Such interesting characters! And of course the story of crossing the merciless Antarctica is so compelling.

These are some of the things I learned from Cathy's talk:

•The 1989-90 Expedition was the first-ever and last-ever unmechanized crossing across Antarctica: 

•Antarctica is the only place on earth ruled by consensus. It's a scientific laboratory, with no military activity. 

Photo by Minnesota Historical Society

• Ten million students followed the 1990 International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition, and they fell in love with Antarctica.

• Antarctica plays a critical role in climate change. Antarctica will prove to be one of the primary contributors to the rise in sea levels all over the world. See 'A dire prediction' on melting ice sheets and rising sea levels by William Yardley and Raoul Rañoa, L. A. Times, April 7, 2016.

The Paris Agreement of 2015, a global treaty signed by 171 countries to limit carbon dioxide emissions, is a giant step in the right direction to prevent global warming. More international cooperation is imperative.

•It is of extreme importance to renew the 1991 International Antarctic Treaty which will protect and preserve Antarctica. This Treaty will expire only 5 years from now in 2021.

History teacher Kathy Czar, who arranged to bring the entire sixth grade to listen to Cathy talk, gave Cathy and her talk a hearty thumbs up. Mrs. Czar noted that Cathy's presentation brought up lots of questions that her students will discuss in class later. #eduwin (Be sure to check out Think South's Reading Guide for Book Clubs and Reading Groups on Cathy's website.)

For further study about the importance of Antartica to the health of the planet, check out these two articles: 

Scientists nearly double sea level rise projections for 2100, because of Antarctica by Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, March 30, 2016.

Climate Catastrophe, Coming Even Sooner? by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, March 31, 2016.

And, BTW, how much do you (or your students) know about Antarctica? Take this quiz from National Geographic.

Mahalo to Cathy for her amazing story-telling powers (our library has copies of the book) and for raising our students' awareness about a global problem we should all take seriously and work together to solve.

(So happy to have Cathy back at Seabury.)

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Cross-posted at SEABURY READS.