UI Earth Month was appropriately started in true Iowa style–with discussions of frigid temperatures. Lonnie Dupre, a polar explorer and outdoors extraordinaire, spoke at the Seamans Center on April 7th about his adventures traveling through the Arctic. Relaying stories based on 25 years of experience in the Arctic, it was a night of awe-inspiring pictures and hilarious tales of the harrowing moments in between.
While Dupre’s accomplishments were numerous and travel experiences vast, I was most inspired by his sense of adventure and attitude in facing adversity. Growing up in Minnesota, Dupre was accustomed to cold weather, but he used his different expeditions as an opportunity to learn new skills. Before circumnavigating Greenland, Dupre had never kayaked and before climbing Denali in Alaska, he had never mountaineered. When the tools he wanted weren’t available to him, he invented them. In moments of trial on the ice, whether it was scaring away polar bears, or praying for “only frostbite” after falling in the arctic waters, he found a way to brush it off and continue. Such a mental toughness can only be acquired through mastering his “one day at a time” attitude.
Dupre’s adventures allowed him to explore the vast wilderness of the Arctic, but also see first-hand the effects of global climate change in a fragile environment. Interrupted in an attempt to cross the Arctic, his party had to be prematurely removed from Siberia due to unseasonably high melting rates for sea ice. In circumnavigating Greenland, he met isolated Inuit tribes, living sustainably relying on local food sources, but even they were being affected as warmer climates brought new species of insects and birds to their area. Although he could offer no miracle solution, based on his personal experiences, he recommended a few areas society should target in combatting climate change. These recommendations included: (1) live more simply with less stuff, (2) “think before we buy”, (3) invest in renewable energy, (4) understand population growth and (5) eliminate the cutting of rainforests.
In December 2011, Dupre is planning to make another solo attempt to reach Denali’s summit. To follow the progression of his upcoming expedition, check out his website at http://www.lonniedupre.com/futureex.shtml.