Dr. M Jackson on the Teachings of Glacial Beings /111

Emily Walter

Emily Walter

Our planet is covered in over five million square miles of ice, yet most of us have not encountered the intimacy and majesty of a glacier in person. We have not listened to their songs nor witnessed their shades of white and blue in clarity and opacity. In fact, most of us could only tell a single story around glacial beings – that they are disappearing. Our episode with Dr. M Jackson gives us a moment to pause and wonder, what other stories and experiences exist below this dominant story? What lives do glaciers live beyond their relationship to climate change?


Dr. M Jackson is a geographer and glaciologist, National Geographic Society Explorer, TED Fellow, three-time U.S. Fulbright Scholar, and author of the recently released book, The Secret Lives of Glaciers. M earned a doctorate from the University of Oregon in geography and glaciology, where she examined how climate change transformed people and glacier communities in Iceland. M serves as an Arctic Expert for the National Geographic Society, holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Montana, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. She’s worked for over a decade in the Arctic chronicling climate change and communities, guiding backcountry trips and exploring glacial systems. Her 2015 memoir While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change weaves together the parallel stories of what happens when the climates of a family and a planet change. M writes about glaciers and people worldwide and lives outside of Eugene, Oregon.

In this conversation with Ayana and Dr. Jackson, we learn how glacial retreat is impacting communities, the connection between extractive tourism, extractive science, and glaciers, why it matters that the majority of glaciology has been produced by white men, and the ways in which polar and mountain explorations have furthered colonial, capitalist, and imperialist projects. Much of this episode’s conversation is deeply grounded in the topic of Dr. M’s latest book, The Secret Lives of Glaciers, which explores the heartfelt connections between people, place, and ice.

Music by Fountainsun


+ Support M Jackson’s ongoing research and pick up a copy of her recently released book, The Secret Lives of Glaciers, to learn more about the complex story of glaciers.

+ Take a moment to connect, observe, and sit with the environment around you — whether your neighborhood garden, local watershed, or forested landscapes. Ask yourself what relationships with the natural world you may want to tend.

+ Make an effort to spark conversations with your friends, family members, co-workers, and the wider community about our shifting environment and planetary crisis.

+ Reflect on your own individual stakes, experiences, and passions in this time of socio-ecological transformation. For what or whom do you feel called to be an advocate? How might you step into more active positions and allyship roles to uplift these often silenced voices?

+ Deepen your commitment to seek out alternative histories, narratives, and visions of environmental science and climate change that fall outside of the traditional Western paradigm.

About Our Podcast…

At For The Wild, we discuss the critical ideas of our time and parlay them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society. We will travel deep into ancient forests, align with the struggles and ways of Earth-based people, and rekindle the mysteries of intuition. We will join today’s brightest visionaries in this momentous work of reimagining a world where humanity can find its way back into the web of life.

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