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Friday Evening Lecture Series


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Lillie Auditorium, 8:00 PM

"Arctic Americans and Ice Age Animals Versus the Fossil Fuelers"
Peter Matthiessen, Two-time National Book Award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer

Introduction by Charles Rosenthal

Lecture Abstract:
In recent years, Mr. Matthiessen has been travelling and writing in both the Antarctic and Arctic, paying attention to the effects of climate change and/or global warming, which happens to be most pronounced on the Antarctic Peninsula and in northwest Alaska. In particular, he has focused on the impact on the northern fauna with its corollary effect on our indigenous Arctic peoples—the Inupiat of Alaska’s north and northwest coasts and the Athapaskan caribou hunters called Gwii’chin, who inhabit the forests north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada. The alarming retreat of polar ice can only be exacerbated by the prospecting and development of problematic offshore fossil fuel reserves under the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. This threat, suspended in recent years, is impending once again as the Obama administration’s energy proposals include the leasing to the oil industry of both of these vast marine areas more and more accessible under ice-free conditions.

Peter Matthiessen is a two-time National Book Award winner, acclaimed non-fiction writer, and environmental activist. His writings are best known for their detailed imagery, impeccable clarity, and passion that he imparts about the natural world, and have been credited with helping to start the environmental movement in this country. Mr. Matthiessen’s extensive travels have greatly influenced his work as a writer and naturalist. He won his first National Book Award in 1980 for The Snow Leopard, an account of his two month journey with naturalist George Schaller to Crystal Mountain, on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas. In November 2008, at the age 81, he received his second National Book Award for Shadow Country, a revision of a trilogy of novels he released in the 1990s.

Mr. Matthiessen received a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University where he also nurtured his interest in Zoology. After moving to Paris in 1951, he founded The Paris Review, an English language literary magazine, and completed his first novel. Numerous honors and awards can attest to Mr. Matthiessen’s sweeping achievements as a writer and naturalist. In addition to numerous literary awards, he received the Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History from the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1985, a Global 500 Environmental Achievement Award from the United Nations Environmental Program in 1991, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lannan Foundation in 2002. He is currently a MBL Trustee and has also served as a Trustee for the New York Zoological Society. Mr. Matthiessen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Charles Rosenthal will introduce Mr. Matthiessen. Mr. Rosenthal is a partner in the First Manhattan Company in New York, investment advisors, for which he has worked since 1974. Mr. Rosenthal is a graduate of Colgate University. He was appointed an MBL Trustee in 2005 and is currently serving in the class of 2012. Mr. Rosenthal was a member of the Brown University Board of Trustees from 1992 until 2007. In 2010, Mr. Rosenthal and his wife, Phyllis, established the Phyllis and Charles M. Rosenthal Directorship of the Brown-MBL Partnership, an expanded partnership aimed at generating new joint research opportunities, strengthening graduate education, and enriching academic offerings across the two institutions. The partnership is directed by MBL ecologist Dr. Christopher Neill and builds upon a joint Brown-MBL Ph.D. program launched in 2003.