UI alum reads about life in Antarctica
Anna Wiegenstein - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 10/28/08 Section: Arts/mp3s
Antarctica is a landscape that many people know little about - perhaps a viewing of March of the Penguins or a general concern about polar ice caps. Leslie Carol Roberts, however, is not one such person.
For the past 20 years, since the former news reporter followed a Greenpeace expedition to the continent, Antarctica has fascinated Roberts.
"When I went to sea - and we were out for almost four months," she wrote the DI in an e-mail interview, "I had little idea what I was getting myself into. But, I believed then and believe now that ignorance is where we begin great things."
Two decades later, one of those has been Roberts' book The Entire Earth And Sky: Views On Antarctica, from which she'll read today at 7 p.m. at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. The book chronicles Roberts, who has a UI M.F.A. in nonfiction, and her relationship with the world's most little-known continent - through scientific trips, personal accounts, and a fair amount of history.
"Dislocation is a huge piece of the Antarctic experience," Roberts recalled. "You cut loose, and then you lose yourself under the entire Earth and sky."
This singularity is something that she noted she has in common with other historical Antarctic scientists and explorers (including Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen - two attempting to reach the South Pole).
"I believe we all go to Antarctica with some feeling that the 'unknown' has called us - whether that be as scientist, writer, or activist," Roberts said.
As the first Fulbright Fellow in Antarctic Studies, she might know better than most. Having taken three trips to the land, as well as spending time in Australia and New Zealand, Roberts reflected that her years spent studying "The Ice" (as she calls it) have affected her as much as a writer as a human being.
"I feel less rushed and enjoy thinking things over - before I used to love the adrenaline rush of 'news,' " she wrote. "I feel my time in Antarctica began training me for this sort of quiet observation, and each day I give thanks to The Ice for that lovely lesson - one I continue to try to learn each day."
And though the lessons learned on The Ice may have remained, the fear that the ice itself will not has become a concern that's all too pressing with the growing threat of global warming.
"I think people are often very well-informed [about climate change]," Roberts said. "But depending on their sources, they have all sorts of odd-ball ideas … The point is, people need to stop consuming. It's NOT about buying green, it's about not buying things period."
And while the author admitted that many see the word "not" and think the fun's over, "I see it more optimistically: I think working to ensure our survival is a good thing - and very positive in the big scheme of things."
Causes Leslie Roberts Supports
Environmental causes of all stripes