Campus News

Renowned polar explorer to deliver UB RENEW lecture

By CHARLOTTE HSU

Published May 31, 2018

headshot of Sebastian Copeland

Sebastian Copeland

Sebastian Copeland — award-winning photographer, explorer, author and environmental advocate — will discuss his polar expeditions and the perils of climate change on June 7 as part of UB’s Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water (RENEW) Distinguished Lecture Series.

Copeland’s talk is titled “Global Warming and a Call to Action: How Ice Foretells the Next Systemic Transformation.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 3 p.m. in the Marquis ballroom of the Hotel at the Lafayette at 391 Washington St., Buffalo. Registration begins at 2:30 p.m. that day, and attendees are asked to RSVP in advance.

The talk will be followed at 4 p.m. by a fireside chat-style conversation between Copeland and Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and one of the world’s leading climate scientists.

In 2017, Men’s Journal named Copeland one of the world’s top 25 most adventurous men of the past 25 years. He has led expeditions across the Arctic sea, Greenland and Antarctica, covering more than 8,000 kilometers on skis over the ice.

An international speaker on the climate crisis for some 20 years, Copeland has addressed audiences at the United Nations, at universities and museums worldwide, and at many Fortune 500 companies, warning of systemic transformations taking place in the polar regions.

Noted as a photographer “who has produced works that are of outstanding artistic merit and communicates messages of urgent global significance,” Copeland was twice awarded Photographer of the Year (International Photography Awards, 2007, and Tokyo International Photography Award, 2016). He is a member of the Explorer’s Club and sits on the board of directors of Mikhail Gorbachev’s nonprofit, Global Green USA.

“UB is pleased to host internationally renowned leaders as part of the RENEW Distinguished Lecture Series, which addresses major local, national and global issues related to energy, water and the environment. Copeland is a world-renowned climate change photographer, and his leading photography gives a ‘visual voice’ to the planet’s changing ecosystems due to global warming, demanding an immediate call to action,” says Amit Goyal, director of the UB RENEW Institute.

The RENEW Distinguished Lecture Series seeks to promote dialogue and interaction between UB’s faculty and staff, students and the local community, and renowned leaders in science, technology and policy in academia, industry and government.

Copeland’s distinguished lecture and the fireside chat with Alley also serve as the highlight of a weeklong conference — the International Glaciological Society Symposium on Timescales, Processes and Glacier Dynamics — that will bring about 80 leading climate scientists to Buffalo from around the world this June. The aim is to advance scientific knowledge of how ice sheets and glaciers respond to climate change.

In his RENEW Distinguished Lecture Series talk, Copeland will chronicle some of his seminal expeditions and share his impressions on what it means to travel in remote polar environments. Illustrated with award-winning photographs, his anecdotes range from close encounters with polar bears to falling through the ice into the frigid Arctic Ocean, surviving hurricanes in a tent and traveling with severe frostbite, broken bones and food shortages.

Copeland will explore the meaning of living in a truly antagonistic environment, and how he learned to love everything about survival to discover the true essence of self. More pointedly, he makes the case that climate transformations taking place in polar regions foretell global systemic chaos from anthropogenic activities, and their geopolitical consequences.

Fireside chat host Alley has authored more than 300 scientific publications about the relationships between Earth’s cryosphere and global climate change. He is a contributor to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

Alley has provided advice to numerous government officials in multiple presidential administrations, and to members and committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.