At the Mercy of Nature: Shackelton’s Endurance Saga Gives Promise for Our Future
by Carl N. McDaniel
ISBN 10: 1-905941-20-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-905941-20-9
Cloth, 340 pages
The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. On December 5, 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton, along with 27 men aboard the ship Endurance, departed South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean for Vahsel Bay on the northeast coast of Antarctica with the intent of trekking across the continent. On August 20, 1916, Shackleton on the Yelcho picked up 22 men on the northeast coast of Elephant Island. Between those two dates Shackleton and his men lived the most notable survival story in recorded history.
Biologist Carl N. McDaniel retells the story of the Endurance Party in detail to provide the reader with an appreciation of what an extraordinary accomplishment Shackleton and his men achieved. Individuals familiar with the Endurance Party’s story have offered reasons for their survival including discipline, leadership, optimism, skills, talents, and teamwork; good luck; and supernatural forces. McDaniel considers in detail these explanations and then adds another heretofore unmentioned: use of verifiable evidence-based knowledge acquired by the scientific method for making important decisions. None of these reasons alone is sufficient; however, without McDaniel’s final reason it is extremely likely they would have perished.
Humanity is challenged by a handful of interdependent situations similar to those faced by the Endurance Party including climate change, loss of biodiversity and the life support it provides, over population and over consumption, and a dysfunctional economic system. McDaniel reviews the history and relevant science for each arguing that resolving them requires we employ verifiable evidence-based knowledge.
I’m asked constantly; “What can I do, personally; to survive climate change?’ Up until now, my only good answer has been “Study the Transition Movement, and join it.” Now I have another: “Read At The Mercy of Nature. 4 times.”Carl McDaniel is an unusually broadly skilled ecologist, and a co-founder of “ecological economics”. He understands our situation on the planet; far better than most. And he explains much of it- with unusual clarity, in this book.
He IS a professor; so you may have to read that sentence 3 times; you can get it. And the Shackleton story is absolutely stunning – those guys should have been 100% dead; twice a week at least, for 2 years. But they all survived. McDaniel analyses in detail how and why they did not wind up dead- and it’s all relevant to our immediate future.
Read it now. Give to everyone you know. It may save all your lives.