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Gerald Carpenter: Author Gretel Ehrlich to Speak of Her Journey ‘In the Empire of Ice’

She will deliver an illustrated talk based on her new book, on Thursday in UCSB's Campbell Hall

Award-winning author and National Geographic explorer Gretel Ehrlich will offer an illustrated talk based on her latest book, In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in UCSB’s Campbell Hall. The free lecture is a presentation of UCSB Arts & Lectures.

In the Empire of Ice, published by the National Geographic Society, chronicles Ehrlich’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, undertaken to explore the “ecology of culture” and the threat of climate change in that remote and imperfectly understood region of the Earth. The book won the 2010 Henry David Thoreau Prize for nature writing.

Ehrlich writes, “In an ice-adapted ecosystem, of course, humans are part of the ecosystem, and everything — polar bear, walrus, whale, seal, Eider duck, arctic fox — it’s all part of this same tiny ecosystem. … So one tiny change in the weather impacts everybody very quickly. Not only do traditions come apart, but then it becomes a life and death situation of who has enough to eat, and where do they live when storms start causing coastal erosion and villages fall in the water. … This isn’t just about those other people, those Eskimos that have nothing to do with us. The Arctic drives the climate of the whole globe. … When that ice goes and it’s open water, the open ocean is a heat sink. So right away, exponentially, the global temperature rises and it keeps rising.”

Ehrlich was born on a horse ranch near Santa Barbara and was educated at Bennington College and UCLA film school. She has lived in Wyoming for many years, and it was there that she first began to write, perhaps as a kind of grief therapy for the loss of a loved one.

She published her first book, The Solace of Open Spaces, and has since followed that amazing meditation on rural life in Wyoming with more than a dozen books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, including Drinking Dry Clouds; Heart Mountain; Islands, The Universe, Home; A Match to the Heart; Questions of Heaven; A Blizzard Year; John Muir, A Biography and This Cold Heaven.

In 1991, she was struck by lightning, and though the episode put her out of commission for several years, she got a book out of it called A Match to the Heart.

For more information about this free event, click here or call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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