A new Age of Enlightenment

A new Age of Enlightenment

From Antarctica to Artifical Intelligence, a man-made journey between brilliance and madness

by Jochen Werne

When we look carefully at our past, we come across a fascinating and sometimes schizophrenic human history of partial madness and absolute brilliance – not only when it comes to the use of new technologies. Let’s take a look into some of these stories.

1961 HAVANNA, CUBA: The world is on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. A reality created by the effects of the Cold War, political doctrines, hard borders and, not least, technological progress. Only diplomacy and pure instinct for the essence of human existence on both sides prevented the worst.

A story that reflects the precarious situation of the world at that time particularly well is found in Fidel Castro’s indirect offer to the Soviet Union to “solve the problem” and carry the communist revolution to victory by launching nuclear missiles from Cuban soil. His comrade-in-arms Che Guevara even went a step further, saying, “We say that we must tread the path of liberation, even if it may cost millions of nuclear war victims. In the struggle to the death between two systems, we can think of nothing but the final victory of socialism or its downfall as a result of the nuclear victory of imperialist aggression.” In 1962, the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, replied in a letter to Fidel Castro that he did not agree with the idea because it would inevitably lead to thermonuclear war and that there was still a need for a world into which the revolution could be carried.

1961 NEW YORK, USA: In the same year, 12 nations ratify a treaty for the joint administration of an entire continent. A continent larger than the United States. A continent that is home to 90% of the world’s freshwater reserves and is of extraordinary importance for the climate of our planet: Antarctica. It is the year in which one of humanity’s most encouraging treaties was signed – the Antarctic Treaty.

OPEN-SOURCE CONCEPT: The treaty – contains several chapters on the exclusively peaceful and scientific use of Antarctica. Along with this, the treaty also regulates the joint use of all research results and data. A concept that seemed revolutionary for the time and which is crucial for finding solutions to the great challenges of our time – such as climate change or effectively combating a pandemic.

2022 PLANET EARTH. Throughout history, we have often underestimated both the positive and negative impacts on society that come from revolutionary technologies. But technology itself cannot be judged in terms of good or bad. Rather, it is how society uses it that must be judged. Today, we are again on the brink of such a societal challenge.

We live in a globally connected world. Technological progress has made data one of the most important resources. The co-founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, surprisingly stated the following in a New York Times interview in 2017: “I thought that if everyone could speak freely and share information and ideas, the world would – automatically – become a better place. I was wrong”.

It would be easy to get the impression that this phenomenon is new, but Niall Ferguson, professor of history and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, is convinced that today’s technological progress and its impact on society are comparable to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. The printing press had many positive effects on the progress of mankind and catapulted the Bible to the top of the book bestseller list for 200 years. Unfortunately, the same technology made “Malleus Maleficarum”, also known as the “Hammer of witches”, number 2 on this list for the same period. The book was the basis for the witch hunt and brought death to so many innocent people. Certainly, today the contents of the book would be called “fake news”.

PRESENT & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

We are all shaping the world of tomorrow today, and our aspirations have already led to much good. Technology and human creativity have, for example, contributed to a massive reduction in poverty rates worldwide. In the last 25 years, more than one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty.

If we look at the moment, we cannot avoid dedicating a few lines to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is a global challenge and could be the next story of human brilliance and madness. We will witness tremendous advances in medical research and pandemic response measures thanks to AI-based analytics. But we will also witness a recession, which historically has always been an element for populism and nationalism. All this in an environment of fear and closed borders. In these situations, where many feel helpless, change has always come from progressive thinkers who were convinced of their ideas, from Kant to Ghandi to the thought leaders of today.

In our open society and with machine and deep learning technologies in our hands, we have the opportunity to make the world a better place. We can make a difference in our professions, and we can stand up and make our voices heard against polarising movements and injustice in every way. We can use our creativity and intellect to defend “the progress of thought”, which has always had the goal of “freeing man from his fear”, just as it was one of the goals of the Age of Enlightenment.

Sources:
https://www.plattform-lernende-systeme.de/home-en.html
http://www.niallferguson.com
http://antarcticblanc.com
https://www.ats.aq/index_e.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html
Photo source: https://pixabay.com

A talk about Antarctica and extreme weather conditions with Anna-Maria Guth

It was a pleasure and great fun having an interview with Anna-Maria Guth about Antarctica, its importance for our planet and its extreme weather phenomenas

Jochen Werne

SCJohnson wrote: “An expedition under extreme conditions: From 12.02. – 28.02.2018 Jochen Werne led the expedition Antarctic Blanc to Antarctica. The team passed the Drake Passage and sailed “to the end of the world”. The extreme conditions at sea demand special protection: that’s why the crew had skin care products from SC Johnson Professional™ with them. Jochen Werne, expedition leader of the Antarctic Blanc, reports after the expedition on his experiences and new findings. “One hand for the man, one hand for the ship” – the perfect skin care for all professions and extreme weather situations is called Stokolan®.”

Creating international understanding through peoples diplomacy on sea

German Naval officers reflect about Antarctica and its importance for our society.

“It has been an honour to give a speech for the “Marine-Offiziers-Messe München”, highlighting the importance of Antarctica for us and our planet and to report about the Global Offshore Sailing Team’s Expedition Antarctic Blanc.”

Jochen Werne
Antarctic Blanc Expedition Leader

Having experienced the sea by themselves the retired German Naval Officers enriched the discussion greatly with their own fascinating experiences and personal stories about life on sea and the challenges with the elements.

I’m grateful to Commander ret. Bernd Lehmann and Commander ret. Bernd Chittka for the invitation and the members and guests of the “Marine-Offiziers-Messe München for an outstanding evening and their engagement for our society.

The Global Offshore Sailing Team sailed to the most Southerly partially ice-free place of this planet – the ANTARCTIC continent. The international team remembered all sailors who bravely explored this fragile and dangerous environment.

With this Expedition a platform of intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange for ANTARCTIC enthusiasts such as Historians, Environmental Scientists, Sailors, NGO’s, Navies, Associations or just out of personal interest has been created.

www.AntarcticBlanc.com

Interview über Seefahrt, das Meer und Leidenschaft mit münchen.tv im Deutschen Museum

Es war ein großes Vergnügen gemeinsam mit dem GOST Chief Historian Bernd Lehmann in einem 45-minütigen Interview geführt von Christopher Griebel im Deutschen Museum über viele Facetten der Seefahrt und der zu dem Zeitpunkt bevorstehenden Antarktisexpedition Antarctic Blanc zu diskutieren.

Jochen Werne – GOST Co-Founder & Expedition Leader Antarctic Blanc

Es ist etwas besonderes auf diese Pre-Expedition Dokumentation genau heute am 1. April 2019 zurückzuschauen, an dem Tag, wo eine Delegation bestehend aus Jochen Werne (Expedition Leader), Dr. Olivier Blanchard (Chief Liaison Officer to France) und Dr. Wolfgang Händel (Chief Logistics Officer), französischen Regierungsvertretern in Paris die Expeditionsflagge übergeben werden.

LINK ZUM INTERVIEW

https://www.muenchen.tv/mediathek/video/im-deutschen-museum-2/

Bernd Lehmann – GOST & Expedition Antarctic Blanc Chief Historian

French government invites Expedition Antarctic Blanc

Initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, it’s a great honour having received an invitation from the French Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire to hand over the French expedition flag to Mme Sophie-Dorothée Duron, Conseillère Biodiversité Eau Mer in the Cabinet du Ministre

On 1 April 2019 at 4 p.m., Mme Sophie-Dorothée Duron, Conseillère Biodiversité Eau Mer will welcome a delegation from the international expedition Antarctic Blanc, which was successfully carried out with French assistance. The delegation will present the expedition flag, which represented France in Antarctica, as a symbol of remembrance.

French President Emmanuel MACRON personally underlined in his letter of support to the Expedition how important the preservation of our planet’s ecosystem is and how valuable therefore the creation of awareness in the society by the initiative.

Letter from the Elysée Palace supporting Expedition Antarctic Blanc

STORMS AND ICEBERGS

Expedition Antarctic Blanc pursued historical, social and environmental goals. The 12 expedition offshore participants of the initiative, supported by the United Nations and 19 states, crossed on a 20m sailing yacht twice in 12 days, under the toughest conditions, one of the most dangerous sea routes in the world – the Drake Passage, covering 1129 nautical miles (over 2,000km). The journey was marked by the passage of several storm systems in the Antarctic and off Cape Horn, which delayed the return by several days. Winds with up to 50kn, waves up to 8m high and temperatures around freezing point demanded top physical performances from the expedition participants.

INTERNATIONAL COMMEMORATION CEREMONY. Sailing on Historic Routes. The expedition commemorated the researchers, explorers and sailors whose ships had to master the challenging peculiarities of reaching an unknown part of the world. The international team held a commemoration ceremony on the historically significant Antarctic volcanic Deception Island. In the name of all supporting states and the United Nations, a wreath of local ice was symbolically formed and laid down in order to pay international tribute to the achievements in the exploration of this unique continent. The supporting nations are among the signatories of the politically unique Antarctic Treaty of 23 June 1961. Heads of state and government organizations of the 19 nations have expressed their support for this unique, privately initiated expeditions in letters to the leader of the expedition, Jochen Werne, in particular for the execution of the ceremonial act of commemoration.

FRANCE AND THE ANTARCTIC TREATY. France joined the Antarctic Treaty on 23 June 1961 and, with its signature, also acknowledged that “in the interest of all mankind, Antarctica is used exclusively for peaceful purposes and should not become the scene or object of international discord”. France also underlined its commitment to the preservation of this ecosystem as a “nature reserve dedicated to peace and science”.

UNEP CLEAN SEAS INITIATIVE. The main focus of the expedition was to sensitize the international public for the preservation of the unique Antarctic ecosystem and to support the UN initiative Clean Seas to combat plastic waste in the oceans. With Expedition Antarctic Blanc, this important United Nations Environmental Program project is now finding acceptance on all continents of our planet.

CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE ECOSYSTEM. In addition, the expedition supported the University of Connecticut and Northeastern University’s research project on plankton metabarcoding by collecting plankton samples, which could provide a fundamental contribution to obtaining rapid responses to the ecosystem’s response to climate change.

WHALES IN THE ANTARCTIC. With the observation of 18 different whales and the detailed documentation of their position and behaviour, the expedition also contributed to the establishment of the global whale observation platform ‘Happy Wales’. The platform is intended to provide science with in-depth insights into the behaviour and development of the largest mammals on our planet.

CHILD AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT. To promote international children and youth projects, several live broadcasts were held from sea and Antarctica with children of the sailing school of the Yacht Club de Monaco. On their return, the team visited the Cedena Yacht School Puerto Williams, Chile, which is open to children from all walks of life in the southernmost region of our planet, and through sport encourages them to develop their own goals and character traits that are conducive to their personal development. In addition to a donation from the expedition team, the foundation stone was laid for an international exchange and the children were introduced to Antarctica and its significance.

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION. The visit to Paris marks the fifth important reception for Expedition Antarctic Blanc after the reception by Prince Albert II in Monaco, the ambassador of the poles of the Netherlands, Carola van Reijnsoever, in The Hague, the President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna and the Private Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark Henning Fode.

PRESS INVITATION

  • Following the flag handover on 1 April 2019 at 4 p.m. in Paris, the expedition leader Jochen Werne and Chief Liasion Officer to France Olivier Blanchard will be available to the press for questions and interviews, pictures and filming.
  • On request, the delegation can also attend press events in Paris on this day.
    Accreditation is requested. Please send an e-mail to ExpeditionLeader@AntarcticBlanc.com for this purpose.

Expedition participants – Offshore Team

Jochen Werne Expedition Leader

Marco Schröter Chief Safety Officer

Oliver Picht Navigator & Chief Documentation Officer

Linden Blue Chief Communication Officer

Bernd Görgner Chief Medical Officer

Benon Janos Environmental Initiatives Coordinator

Wolfgang Händel Chief Logistics Officer

Hans Axtner Master of Ceremony

Michael Melnick Chief Sciences Coordinator

David Gamba Chief Observer

Wolf Kloss Skipper and Expedition Yacht Owner

Karl Papenfuss Mate

Comment on the initiator of the expedition – The Global Offshore Sailing Team (GOST)

Expedition “Antarctic Blanc” is the continuation of the polar initiative launched in 2016 with comparable objectives under the name “Arctic Ocean Raptor”, but in the Spitsbergen sea area and up to the Arctic pack ice limit. An additional and important aspect was the commemoration of the seafarers of all nations, who fulfilled their seafaring duties during the maritime operations in the Arctic under the mostly merciless weather conditions and partly also lost their lives. In the name of the Norwegian King Harald V and the Canadian government, a wreath was handed over to the lake; further international support for this expedition came from Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. Founded in 1999 by Jochen Werne and Guido Zoeller, the Global Offshore Sailing Team is once again committed to maritime history and environmental issues with this particularly challenging expedition and its People’s Diplomacy campaign.

Press contact:

Jochen Werne

Expedition Leader

Mail: ExpeditionLeader@AntarcticBlanc.com