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For Immediate Release: August 4, 2010
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

National Book Award-Winning Author Peter Matthiessen to Speak about Arctic Oil Drilling and its Impact on Native Peoples at the August 6 MBL Friday Evening Lecture

WOODS HOLE, MA—Two-time National Book Award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer Peter Matthiessen will deliver the MBL Friday Evening Lecture at 8:00 pm on August 6 in the Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The event is free and open to the public.

In recent years, Mr. Matthiessen has been traveling and writing in both the Antarctic and Arctic, paying attention to the effects of climate change and global warming, which happen 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.

In his MBL lecture titled “Arctic Americans and Ice Age Animals Versus the Fossil Fuelers,” Mr. Matthiessen will discuss how the alarming retreat of polar ice is exacerbated by the prospecting and development of problematic offshore fossil fuel reserves under the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. He maintains that 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.

The remaining lectures in the MBL Friday Evening Lecture series are below. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu/FEL

August 13, 2010
Joshua Lederberg Lecture - "Telomere Biology in Aging and Cancer" - Woodring E. Wright, UT Southwestern Medical Center

August 20, 2010
"Establishing a Body Plan: Maternal Control of Axis Formation in Drosophila" - Sager Lecture - Trudi Schupbach, Princeton University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas.