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 Bayon 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 listener 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.