Will Steger

Have you ever heard of Will Steger? I first read about him in Bob Dotson’s book American Story. Dotson tells the story this way:

Will Steger is an adventurer, a man who seeks out places where no one has stepped foot before. He has travelled to the coldest places on earth where it hits 70 below. In the vast wilderness near the poles, he trudges alone through the icy landscape seeming oddly out of place. He says, “You have to go where there is resistance. That is where the adventure lies.”

Will Steger had explored the unknown—one step at a time—for more than forty years, living his life in swirling snow, beneath angry skies and low clouds. Traveling back and forth between the poles, however, Steger began to notice the warming of our world. “It’s only by walking on it and skiing on it, day after day, month after month, that you get a sense, really the planetary sense, of what’s happening here. Every ice shelf I’ve ever been on is collapsing into the ocean. It shows you how fast the climate’s changing.”

When Will first set out on his adventures in 1963, the country faced many of the same problems that it faces today—an unpopular war and conflicts over both civil rights and women’s issues. Will Steger’s generation banded together and built a broad-based coalition to make life better. He thinks a similar response today can save our planet.

“One by one the small pegs underpinning our environment are being pulled out,” he observes. Some ice fields are now so thin, his sled dogs fall through. While science alone might not be able to fix this, Will believes that people coming together and working for the common good might. So at age sixty-two he gave up his life of grand adventure to chart a new course on crowded freeways, searching for schools, churches and civic clubs—speaking to any group willing to help.

However many blisters we may get on our hands, and calluses on our dreams, the ally he seeks is the part in all of us that knows what is right. Many preach about saving the planet; Will puts his boots on and does so.

What are you doing this week to help our planet? If it helps, I can send you some boots.


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