Back to Global Conversations 2.03: Sebastian Copeland, Photographer and Explorer

What’s it like to be an Antarctic explorer? Melissa Biggs Bradley talks with Sebastian Copeland about his hair-raising encounters with polar bears, the dangers of crossing crevasse fields, how he is using photography to advocate for global climate change, how to raise your conservation conscience—and neutralize your carbon footprint when you travel—plus, why his dream trip is out of this world, and more.

Episode Guide

Sebastian Copeland is the kind of person whose idea of a sabbatical is spending a season on a scientific research icebreaker in the Antarctic Peninsula.  He’s a person of many passions, talents, and avocations. He’s an incredible endurance explorer: he’s been to the North Pole to commemorate the centennial of Peary’s expedition, crossed Antarctica via kites and skis (setting polar records along the way), and traversed Australia’s Simpson Desert on foot—a 400-mile trek over terrain that is home to more than 90 varieties of snakes. 

He’s a phenomenal photographer, filmmaker, and writer, known for his documentaries Into the Cold and Across the Ice: The Greenland Victory March. His latest book Antarctica: Waking Giant was just awarded the equivalent of the Oscars for photography. Put his talents and his trips together and you have a passionate climate advocate who has dedicated his life to pursuing daring adventures in the service of environmental awareness. 

In this episode, Melissa talks with Sebastian about the intersection of travel, science, art, and ethics. They discuss the photographer’s role when it comes to bearing witness and recording massive issues like climate change, why he fell in love with extreme destinations like Antarctica in the first place, and how wisdom from the scientist and author Carl Sagan rings true for him in his work and life today.

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