Elaine Carlin- Class of 1969

IT SEEMS A PERFECT TIME to be addressing students, especially students like you who are so exceptional in both the quality of your education, and in the quality of the values you are being taught at the same time.   I took a look at your curriculum; it is most impressive and advanced! I went to graduate school at Harvard University, and with this perspective, I feel qualified to tell you how truly fortunate you are!

In the words of Pope Francis, we are facing a “challenge of civilization” in favor of the common good. Over the many decades since I attended SMA, Kindergarten through 8th, I have worried the most about the global commons. I lived briefly in Oslo, Norway while working with Norwegian scientists on a NATO funded study of how true effectiveness – actually solving the problem on the ground – can be achieved when nations collaborate on issues involving a global commons (oceans, atmosphere, use of the Polar Regions, satellite telecommunications, nuclear non-proliferation), and a large component of science and technology.        

In Europe, I interviewed Cabinet level officials of OECD countries (Belgium, Canada, Commission of the European Communities, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK) to determine national policies and priorities vis-à-vis use of the deep ocean seabed (another global commons!) For my class on International Environmental Law at Harvard Law School, our final exam was to draft a Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (here the global commons is the very thin layer of atmosphere on Planet Earth).

Right now we are so blessed to have the young Swedish student Greta Thunberg on the Planet! If you have ever felt uncertain that you as a student could change the world, you never need to feel uncertain again! Greta at the age of 15 began a Friday school strike at her school in Stockholm, to try to force those in power to take the huge actions necessary to solve the existential crisis of climate change.

Greta Thunberg is leading a school strike and sits outside of the Swedish Parliament, in an effort to force politicians to act on climate change. (Photograph: Michael Campanella/The Guardian)

In less than a year after Greta began her strike, children in over 150 nations around the globe participated in the September 20, 2019 Friday school strike, one day before the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

School students and protesters gather in Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 20, 2019. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Pope Francis spoke to the Summit by video: “With honesty, responsibility and courage we have to put our intelligence at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral, capable of placing economy at the service of the human person, building peace and protecting the environment.” “I would like these three key words – honesty, courage and responsibility – to be at the heart of your work today and tomorrow. May they accompany you together with my best wishes and with my prayers.”

In a past decade, I had the great privilege to interact with, and perform for, 800 Rapa Nuian children on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) as a part of Cultural and Environmental Restoration. We planted trees and performed with Rapa Nuians the welcoming dance ceremony for the voyaging canoe Hokulea, upon completion of a 20 year odyssey retracing the ancient celestial mariners’ routes that make up the Polynesian Triangle.

In another part of my work, I was honored to travel with the U.S. Coast Guard onboard helicopter, cutter, and zodiac patrols on Georges Bank, and to express my appreciation to U.S. Coast Guard crew for their essential Fisheries Enforcement Mission and their contribution to the global challenge.

I participated in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and Mexico Joint International Workshop on Whale Shark Population Analysis and Habitat Viability, Ensenada, Baja California. I had the great pleasure to meet and interact with students, and to do some fundraising for the students’ newly formed NGO. In an earlier decade, I worked for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, expanding the taxonomic database of important subtropical Fish species, and improving the capability to identify these species, providing a baseline assessment of Icythyofauna in the largest Bay of Baja California, and a permanent Archive Collection at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Scripps brings me back home and to our 50th Reunion. Here is the span from our kindergarten class, where we had Mrs.Magnus, the most awesome kindergarten teacher in the world, to graduation from kindergarten, and then to an 8th grade graduation party!

Sources you will want to check out:





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