When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 11 November 2012

Seeing the bigger picture can radically change one’s outlook and attitudes. Astronauts and polar explorers witness the biggest picture possible in physical experience terms – and many return transformed.

Last weekend, I listened to one of them: Sir Robert Swan, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles. He first trekked to the South Pole as an adventurer — and came back as an activist.

Swan, now 56, has since dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica in its pristine condition. He also promotes waste recycling, renewable energy and corporate sustainability to combat the effects of climate change.

He didn’t set out with any lofty agenda. As he admits, “I did it because it went down well with girls at parties!”

Once there, however, he…

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