A KINSALE based environmental scientist is joining 80 women from around the world on an expedition to Antarctica.
Dr Tara Shine, co–founder of Plastic Free Kinsale and the award winning social enterprise Change by Degrees, left Ireland on the 27th of December to join the select group of female scientists from around the world on the leadership expedition to what’s one of the most ecologically sensitive places on earth.Tara, an advisor on climate change, is the first woman living in Ireland to be selected for the programme.
The expedition is part of Homeward Bound, a global women’s leadership programme that aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.
The mum of two who is originally from Kilkenny, applied to be part of the trip by filling in a form and making a video.
‘I had to say why I wanted to be part of the programme and what I would do as a result of all the leadership training.
‘So some combination of my experience, passion and vision for change worked and they chose me!’
In her video, which she made at Sandycove, which she describes as her ‘sacred place,’ she says she’s ‘part policy-geek, part idealist and part adventure and part scientist.’
‘I need to develop all those skills to be able to have the change that I want in the world.
‘I’m driven by a strong sense of justice and injustice and do not think it’s fair that people that suffer the worst consequences of climate change are those that are the least responsible, particularly women, and I believe that as women we can change the world.
‘We have a different way of doing things that is needed to shape a new way of living on planet earth.’
She said she feels a ‘deep responsibility to speak up for women who aren’t as lucky as us.’
‘Ultimately I’m pretty scared that my children won’t get a chance to swim in a beautiful ocean or dive in a coral reef and that drives me to get out of bed every morning and work hard for them and for mother nature.’
In convincing the organisers of the programme to give her a coveted place she said: ‘We have to connect science with empathy if we’re to change the world.
‘Until we get people to care about the planet we won’t get them to change their behaviour. By building leadership and communication skills I’ll be better able to do that.’
She’ll be away for a month in total (three of which she’ll spend on a ship in the Antarctic) and she has a busy schedule ahead.
‘Mornings will largely be out and about visiting the Antarctic peninsula, in inflatable boats, with landings and visits to research centres.
‘We have Antarctic scientists on board to lead us. Afternoons and evening will be back on board the ship doing leadership, visibility and communications training and also developing group projects and figuring out how we can work together to use science to shape policies to save the planet.’
Tara is also planning a polar plunge while on the trip to highlight a campaign called ‘Teach a Girl to Swim’ which seeks to save lives and empower girls by teaching them to swim.
She explains: ‘In many cultures girls are not taught to swim and as a result more girls and women die in floods, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.’
She’s mum to Lauren (11) and Nathan (8).
Tara said: ‘Their dad will look after them while I am away. He will get help from family over Christmas and from our au pair Sabrina when the kids go back to school.
‘We will miss each other but there will be plenty of other mums and kids in the same situation which helps.
‘I am taking their school mascot from St Multose with me to connect my kids and their friends to the trip.’
Tara, hopes the Homeward Bound programme will help her to promote and encourage women in STEM in Ireland and enhance her skills as a science communicator on issues like climate change, sustainability and plastic pollution.
Follow the expedition athomewardboundprojects.com.au/