Wendy Gediman and Climate Force 2041

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Photo by Carolina Sandretto.

Robert Swan and Myself at Union Glacier, Antarctica. December 2016

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Dafila Scott-Wildlife Artist and Robert Falcon Scott’s granddaughter. My honoured Patron
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Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, Founder of The Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace. Also my honoured Patron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Wendy Gediman, and I am a teacher at  TASIS, The American School in England. I presently teach all subjects to a class of 10 to 11 year old children from countries around the world. I also run a Roots & Shoots Wildlife Club with children aged 6 to 14. Roots & Shoots is Dr. Jane Goodall’s program that inspires young people to make a difference and take positive action working on environmental, conservation, and humanitarian issues. I am on the advisory board of Romanian Children’s Relief, working with students spending time with abandoned babies, special needs children from infant to young adult, and Roma children. I also am an alumni, three times, of Robert Swan’s 2041, Leadership on the Edge Program, where we travel to Antarctica to learn about the need to preserve it firsthand. I am the Education Advisor to Robert Swan and 2041. 

My first expedition was the EBase IAE 2008, on the ship, Ushuaia, with a group of 69 people. We began in Ushuaia, meeting initially with Anne Kershaw and Peter Malcolm, as Robert Swan and a small advance team were already in Bellingshausen, King George Island. The advance team lived for two weeks in Antarctica, using only renewable energy. We sailed and met them in Bellingshausen, packed them up, and brought them onto our ship. We then spent 11 days in Antarctica. The Ushuaia was a very basic ship, which weathered a terrific storm, but somehow got us home safely! My second expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula was IAE 2013 with about 100 people on the ship, Sea Spirit, a Quark ship. Barney Swan was on this expedition, as was Gareth Woods, who had walked to the Pole with Rob and Roger Mear back in 1985/6. I learned a lot about the early expedition. I had also learned a lot in 2008 from Peter Malcolm, who was part of the expedition logistics.

Then, in 2016 came the chance of a lifetime for me. I was part of a very small expedition team of a total of 14 people! Rob and Barney led the expedition, and we had a NASA scientist, as well as various energy specialists along. We flew into the interior of Antarctica, at Union Glacier. I finally felt the real energy of the continent, and I could almost feel the heroic explorers from over 100 years ago. Of course, I was with one of the greatest modern explorers, as well as one in the making. Robert and Barney Swan are so knowledgeable about Antarctica, and they live and breathe the goal to preserve it. Our team spent one and a half weeks testing the renewable technology that Rob and Barney will use on the SPEC (South Pole Energy Challenge) in November 2017. I had now experienced the inside and outside of this magnificent place. Antarctica is in my veins, in my heart, and a place I want to do all I can to leave as the last untouched place on earth! This leads to the work of 2041 Climate Force.

The goal of 2041 is to work for the preservation of the Antarctic, as it is the last wild continent on our planet. Robert Swan’s life passion is to engage others to understand the need to protect Antarctica and to promote a more sustainable life all over our planet. He leads people in promoting recycling, development and use of renewable energy and to live a more environmentally sustainable life in order to counter the effects of climate change. His son Barney, has followed in his father’s footsteps, and works alongside his father to make positive changes in our world. Together, they have created a challenge for all people, especially young people, to become a part of The Climate Force Challenge and work towards real solutions to move towards sustaining all life on our planet. 

The South Pole Energy Challenge  beginning in November 2017 and finishing in January 2018 will be the first time a walk to the Pole is taken using no fossil fuels! Kyle O’Donoghue has travelled to Antarctica numerous times with Rob, in charge of filming on expeditions. I have had the privilege to travel with Kyle twice. Martin Barnett was one of our incredible guides at Union Glacier in December 2016. His knowledge and attention to detail will be invaluable on SPEC.  Rob, Barney, Kyle, and Martin will walk to the South Pole, covering 600 miles, using only renewable energy. If they can do this in the harshest environment on earth, we can do it at home.

Please follow my Blog on this website, as it will be updated regularly. This will give you up to the date progress on the South Pole Energy Challenge, as well as all of the Climate Force Challenges. Included below are some links that will give you an insight into Robert Swan, Union Glacier, and the work we do as members of 2041!

Robert Swan speaking at Nasa Ames Research Center

IAE/2041 Expeditions

This is Union Glacier, the destination for our trip last December.

*Please note that all photographs have been taken by Wendy Gediman on trips to Antarctica with Robert Swan and 2041, unless credited as taken by Carolina Sandretto. 

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Panel 1

Early Explorers

Pythagoras calculated that the earth was round in the sixth century BC. Aristotle believed that as there was a landmass in the northern hemisphere, that there must be a balance of land in the southern hemisphere. The northern most land was named Arktos, meaning the bear, for the constellation Arktos. Then, Aristotle named the supposed opposite end in the south, Antarktikos, meaning opposite of the north. Throughout early history, there were many theories about what might lie to the very south of the planet Earth, including belief that there were a lot of people in a lush land to the south.

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Fabian von Bellingshausen

Sir Francis Drake reached 57 degrees south in the late 1570’s. And, between 1772 and 1775, Captain James Cook sails within 100 miles of Antarctica. Finally, in 1820, the Russian explorer, Fabian von Bellingshausen was said to sight land in Antarctica for the first time. It is also claimed, in different expeditions that year, that Antarctic land was also seen by William Smith, Edward Bransfield, and Nathaniel Palmer.

Most likely, it is believed that American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on Antarctica in 1821. And, in 1841, Sir James Clark Ross claimed Antarctica for Queen Victoria of Britain.

The true age of Heroic Exploration began in the early 1900’s. There were many names associated with this period of voyages into unknown inland areas, but the four that stand out are, Douglas Mawson, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Falcon Scott.

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Robert Scott

Robert Scott led his first expedition to Antarctica from 1901 to 1904. This was The Discovery Expedition. This was both a journey of exploration and one of scientific discovery. Ernest Shackleton was with Scott, but was sent home early, due to exhaustion, while Scott discovered the Polar Plateau. Shackleton did not go home without a protest. Scott went home a hero. Although his second expedition to Antarctica, on the Terra Nova, proved to be a one-way journey. The Terra Nova Expedition began in 1910 and ended in a frozen death in March 1912. This is the expedition where Scott was tricked into a race to the Pole with Roald Amundsen. Scott was intent on reaching the Pole as a goal for taking this expedition, but he did not plan to compete with Amundsen. In fact, a big part of the expedition, once again, was devoted to scientific research. Scott’s scientific work was so important in the early years of exploring Antarctica. After he died, 35 lbs of fossils, meteorological logs, a diary, and notes were found in his tent when a search party found his body eight months later. Among the fossils, was found an extinct beech like tree that was 250 million years old!

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Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen, from Norway, had originally planned to go to the Artic, but upon hearing that Frederick Cook and Robert Peary had both claimed to be the first to make it to the North Pole, Amundsen changed direction and went south. His ship, The Fram, made it to Antarctica in 1910, and the rest is history. Amundsen was in Antarctica for one purpose only, to become first to the South Pole. He was better prepared, as he and his team were excellent skiers, trained to use their well-chosen dog team, and took a different route to the Pole. Amundsen and his advance team made it the the South Pole on the 14th of December, 1911. Scott and his advance team arrived on the 17th of January, 1912, devastated to find that Amundsen had already been there. Scott and his team died due to bad luck, bad weather, and physical exhaustion the end of March, 1912.

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Douglas Mawson

Douglas Mawson was born in England, but moved to Australia as a small child. He was trained as a geologist. He was the first person to ascent Mount Erebus in Antarctica, and part of the first team to reach the South Magnetic Pole. He turned down an expedition on the Terra Nova with Robert Scott in 1910 in order to lead his own expedition in 1911. During this expedition, terrible luck came upon Mawson during a three-man exploration team. Two of the men died, one falling into a crevasse, and the other dying from eating dog liver, causing death from extreme levels of vitamin A, found in husky liver. Mawson made it to reach his ship, only to find out it had just left and he had to wait another in year staying in Antarctica, before going home.

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Ernest Shackleton

One of the most impressive stories in Antarctica is that of Ernest Shackleton. Born in Ireland, but moving to England at the age of 10, he grew up to become a Merchant Navy Officer. He was interested in going to Antarctica when the opportunity arose. His first voyage was on The Discovery (1901-1903),  led by Robert Scott. The purpose of the journey included scientific and geographical work. Shackleton joined Scott and Edward Wilson to journey further south, and they achieved being the first to reach the furthest south, at a latitude of 82°17′. Unfortunately, the men were worn down, and Scott ended up demanding that the weakened Shackleton return home.

On the 1st of January, 1908, Shackleton left New Zealand, leading the Nimrod expedition to Antarctica. On the 9th January, 1909, Shackleton, Frank Wild, Eric Marshall, and Jameson Adams, reached a new record south of 88° 23′, which was only 112 miles (180 km) from the South Pole.

In 1914, Shackleton embarked on his most famous voyage, The Endurance. At this point, Amundsen had already become the first person  to reach the Geographic South Pole in 1911. Shackleton had a new goal, and that was to be the first to cross Antarctica on foot. He would only bring dogs this time, and 27 men.

A wonderful choice was made in enlisting James Francis Hurley as the expedition photographer. To this day, we have many incredible photos that tell the story of this journey, including some moving pictures!

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Frank Hurley

To make a long story short, The Endurance ran into ice packs and was stuck in the Weddell Sea in January 1915. The ship remained frozen in place for 326 days, until the ice broke up, then the ship broke up and sank! The men escaped onto the ice floe, which was about 300 miles (484 km) from land. They lived for months on this floe, eating penguins and seals.

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The Endurance

They finally decided that they had to move on. They launched out in the lifeboats towards land. They had to sadly put the dogs down, as they could not bring them. This broke their hearts, as they loved these dogs. After seventy stormy difficult days, the team reached Elephant Island. While this was land, it was clear that the men could not stay there for long. There was no food source other than penguins and seals. It as desolate, cold, and unwelcoming. Shackleton decided to leave the bulk of the team to hold out on Elephant Island, while he took 5 men with him in the strongest of the lifeboats, the James Caird. The boat was prepared by the ship’s carpenter for the long voyage. The remaining lifeboats were used to build a shelter for the remaining men awaiting rescue.

Shackleton and the five chosen men left for an 800 mile (1,290 km) journey towards South Georgia Island, where they knew there was help to be had at the whaling station there. After 15 days at sea in ferocious storms, they spotted the island. While it was difficult to land, they finally made it to shore, only to find that they had a mountain between them and help. They succeeded in crossing this inhospitable terrain in 36 hours and were able to then return back to Elephant Island, after three attempts, to rescue the remaining men. This was the 30th of August, 1916. Not one life was lost during this entire period of time and the men all made it back home safely.

In September of 1921, Shackleton decided to take a last expedition to Antarctica. He left with his team on The Quest. He was not feeling very well along the way, but continued his journey. On the 5th of January, 1922, Shackleton died of a heart attack while at South Georgia Island. His wife requested that he be buried in his beloved Antarctica, and he is buried on South Georgia Island.

He will always be remembered for his courage, selflessness, perseverance, and incredible leadership. He never let any of his men down. Shackleton lived life to the fullest, and accomplished more than most people do in twice as long a life!

Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen-The Race to the South Pole 1910-1912.

The story of Douglas Mawson’s fight for survival.

The amazing survival of Ernest Shackleton and his team.

Panel 2

Wildlife

There is a lot of wildlife in Antarctica, although limited types as compared to other continents. 88% of the species in the Southern Ocean are found nowhere else in the world. The main types of wildlife are explained here.

British Antarctic Survey- Antarctic Wildlife

Your Kid’s Planet-Antarctic Animals

Your Kid’s Planet- Interesting Facts About Antarctica

Whales There are two sub-orders of whales, which both exist in Antarctica. They are the toothed whales, and the baleen whales. In all, there are eleven species of whales in the Southern Ocean. The six baleen include: the blue, fin, humpback, minke, sea, and the southern right whales. The five toothed whales include: the Arnoux’s beaked, orca, southern bottle nose, sperm, and the strap-toothed whales.

The blue whale is the largest animal alive today, growing between 85 to 150 tons (77-136 metric tons). They can live up to 80 years. They mainly feed on krill. Toothed whales mainly eat fish and squid.

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Seals Out of 35 species of seals worldwide, only six live in Antarctica. They are: Antarctic fur seals, crabeater seals, leopard seals, Ross seals, Weddell seals, and southern elephant seals. The Antarctic fur seal and the southern elephant seal are also found in the sub-Antarctic islands and the southern South America areas. The Antarctic fur seal is the only eared seal in this group. All of these seals are uniquely adapted to live in the frigid waters of Antarctica. They have thick layers of blubber or dense fur to keep them warm and they all have flippers for swimming.

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Penguins There are 17 species of penguins in the world and only 7 live in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. The 4 that live in on the continent are: Adélie, Chinstraps, Emperor, and Gentoo. The 3 that live in the sub-Antarctic islands are: King, Macaroni, and Rockhopper.

All of these penguins are flightless, and they are excellent swimmers. The spend most of their lives in the sea. On land, they are able to stand upright and they waddle and jump on their webbed feet. They can swim for many hours and can swim at speeds of around 8 mph (13 km/h). In shore bursts, they can reach greater speeds.

Penguins are covered in short, thick feathers that are so tight that they are waterproof. They have a soft, insulating down underneath, and under this, they have a layer of fat to stay warm. They also have an oil gland to spread oil on themselves for waterproofing.

Their main food is krill, and they also eat fish and squid. They have developed excellent underwater vision and they are able to see light that helps them find their food. On land, the penguin is nearsighted, and cannot see objects clearly in the distance. Like other birds that live at sea, penguins have a special salt gland that extracts excess salt form their blood, as they swallow a lot of salty sea water.

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Birds There are many flying seabirds living in Antarctica. There are approximately 45 species of birds that include: penguins, shearwaters, petrels, albatrosses, storm-petrels, diving petrels, cormorants, ducks, geese, swans, sheathbills, skuas, gulls, and terns.

The wandering albatross is the largest of all seabirds in the Southern Ocean. It has the biggest wingspan of any bird in the world, which can reach up to 11 feet (3 m). It only spends time on land to breed. The albatross can even fly while sleeping!

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Fish There are up to 200 different species of fish in the Southern Ocean. Most of these fish are uniquely adapted to life in the freezing cold, and are found nowhere else on earth!

These include the Antarctic cod, which is the largest fish in Antarctica. It is found in deep waters and is about 5 feet (1.5 m) in length and weighs over 55 lbs (25 kg). Some of these fish reach an incredible weight of 330 lbs (150 kg)! The Antarctic cod has special proteins in its body which keep it from freezing in the winter. They are also able to go into a dormant state, which is a way to save energy. This is a bit like hibernation!

The Blacken Icefish is very unusual. It lives in deep waters just off the Antarctic Peninsula. It does not have red blood cells, and therefore its blood is colorless. It has a special protein in its blood, like the Antarctic Cod, that keep it from freezing.

While krill are not fish, they are small pink crustaceans. They have a hard shell and legs with joints. Their body is divided into segments. They look like tiny shrimp and are the staple of many animals living in the Antarctic region. They live on the ice algae that grows in the frozen sea ice. The Antarctic krill are one of the largest species of krill. They stay in deep water during the day, and there the darkness protects them. At night, they come up to the ocean surface to feed on phytoplankton, which are single cell plants that foot in the sea. Krill can go long periods of time without eating, up to 200 days! They are the food source for many animals in Antarctica, including fish, birds, penguins, seals, and baleen whales.

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Extreme Insect

The only insect that can live year round in Antarctica is the Chironomid Midge, Belgica antarctica. This insect is active only in the Antarctic summer when temperatures are at their warmest, which can go up to 4c. There is not much food for this insect, and it develops slowly, which can take up to two years from midge larvae to adult. This is the largest permanent land animal to be found in Antarctica!

This midge can survive due to the way its cells are able to dehydrate. This enables the cells to be protected when the temperatures go down to -15c in the colder winters. With the cells dehydrated, the tissues of this animal do not freeze, which would cause damage. The midge is not active during the winter. Once the temperatures rise in the Antarctic summer, the midge is able to absorb water again from the environment and becomes active. Then, it will feed itself. 

As is true of most midges, the life span of the adult is very short. Once they mate, they will die. The adult midge is wingless, as it would do them no purpose to have wings, for there would be nowhere for them to fly to that would be better suited. 

My favorite video from my 2013 trip. A mom losing patience with her hungry child!

 

 

 

Panel 3

Preservation

Antarctica is like no other place on earth. It is remote, at times a hostile environment, and a place where no permanent settlement could ever take place. It is also important scientifically, as it’s unique environment is closely tied to the Earth’s climate, as well as its oceans. As well, it is a step back in time, with the fact that buried in its thick ice sheet is a record of earth’s climate over the past one million years.

Robert Swan’s TED talk, October 2014, explaining why there is a need to protect Antarctica.

Antarctica is the last and the largest area on our planet that is left unspoiled by man. It is one place that is as it was before the influence and activities of man. There is life found in the oceans of Antarctica that is not to be found anywhere else. Yet, Antarctica is fragile and in danger from activities worldwide.

Before 1960, Antarctica saw some species of whales and seals nearly decimated due to humans hunting them. Where there had been whaling stations, and some scientific bases, waste and garbage was left to pile up. Some of it was dumped in the sea. Fishing was unregulated, and penguins were disturbed, with their eggs taken.

Since the Antarctic Treaty came into effect, a new interest and dedication came about with the continent regulated and protected. No Antarctic bird or mammal can be killed without proof of a valid scientific reason. Non-native plants and animals are forbidden, and careful measures are taken not to bring these onto the continent. Mining is prohibited in any form. Toxins and pollution are kept away, while discharges from ships are highly regulated.

Even the use of sled dogs is illegal, for in 1991, it was feared that distemper brought by dogs could spread to seals, and kill them. But, despite all of this protection, the need to protect our entire planet’s climate and life, is also important to the well being of Antarctica. We must make sure that in 2041, when the treaty comes up for renewal, the young people of today are the adults who are making sure the treaty continues.

Climate change is real, I have seen it firsthand. When I went to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2008, and we landed in Bellingshausen, on King George’s Island in the South Shetland Islands, it was unbelievably cold and haunting. The air was thick with cold, and the sea was thrashing about, making it necessary to hold off the continuation of our Zodiac boat landings for a few hours. Finally, we all came onto land, and I remember fearing that I would slip on the ice, as the wind and snow flew around me. I took some photos and was happy to return to our ship. Exactly 5 years later, in 2013, I returned to the same place, and at the same time of year. I was shocked at the difference in weather conditions. It was sunny, and there was barely any ice or snow. There was exposed rock and ground all around. There was no ice in the sea. It was as if I had never been to this place before. I will post photos here to compare the years. Both the photos from 2008 and 2016 are in color, despite the 2008 photos seeming to be in black and white!! I still feel the chill from that year!

                  March 2008 Bellingshausen               March 2013 Bellingshausen

March 2008 Beach at Bellingshausen       March 2013 Beach at Bellingshausen

March 2008 Wind Turbine Bellingshausen    March 2013 Wind Turbine Bellingshausen

It is important that we think about how we are living, and realise that there are changes that can easily be made in our daily life that will be positive.

As Robert Swan says, “The Greatest Threat To Our Planet Is The Belief That Someone Else Will Save It.” Below are some links that explain climate change in Antarctica.

Barney Swan- Preservation Swan II

SOME RECENT GOOD NEWS!-World’s Largest Marine Reserve Created Off Antarctica- National Geographic         Antarctic’s Ross Sea Becomes The World’s Largest Marine Protected Area

AND LINKS TO THE NOT ALWAYS SUCH GOOD NEWS- BUT WE CAN CHANGE THIS!!!

WWF -Shaping Our Future, Climate Change

Worrying warming in the Artic

Sea Ice At Record Low In Both Poles-November 2016

Kids Planet- Defenders of Wildlife

NASA- Climate Change Evidence

Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition/Climate Change

PBS Newshour- The Antarctic’s Ice Paradox

Climate Nexus- Climate Change in Antarctica

Panel 4

2041/Links

2041 is the year that the Antarctic Treaty comes up for renewal. It is imperative that this treaty, which protects the last undeveloped continent on our earth, is renewed.

Robert Swan has made it his mission to ensure that in 2041, the Antarctic Treaty is renewed, so that nobody can selfishly destroy our last frontier of natural habitat on our planet. Antarctica is so important not just for itself, but also for the way it is connected with all life and environments on our planet. What happens here, affects what happens there. What happens there, affects what happens here! It is a fine balance.

The main objective of the Antarctic Treaty is to protect this last pristine continent in the interest of all and that Antarctica continues to be used only for peaceful purposes. Antarctica belongs to all of us, yet it belongs to no one country. It is the only area on our planet where war is forbidden. It is not allowed to damage or exploit any part of Antarctica. Life can continue there as nature meant it to.

 Check the treaty out at: The Antarctic Treaty

Robert Swan OBE, FRGS, formed his organisation, 2041, Robert Swan 2041 after having experienced the affects of climate change, and human change, while walking to both poles. Robert walked from Cape Evans to the South Pole in 1985/6. After suffering from peeling skins and eyes that changed colour, he found out from Nasa that he and his team had walked under a hole in the ozone layer. This was the beginning of Robert’s dedication to working on preserving Antarctica and engaging people worldwide to take action to help protect our planet.

I joined the mission with Robert Swan in 2008, and today, the preservation of Antarctica, of our planet, of wildlife, and humans, is what I strive for as I work with children.

Some links to learn more about Antarctica:

Cool Antarctica

Enchanted Learning

Teachnology- Antarctica Resources

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Classroom Antarctica

Antarctica Lesson Plans/Miami University

Time for Kids-Destination Antarctica

Australian Government-About Antarctica

Panel 5

Contact

Please feel free to leave a comment, or ask a question.