Gianluca Grimalda

A garden on a hill on the island of Bougainville. Photo: Gianluca Grimalda

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Dr. Gianluca Grimalda was fired by his employer, a German research institute, after refusing to travel by plane for his return from Papua New Guinea, where he was conducting research on the social impacts of climate change. To reduce his own carbon footprint Dr. Grimalda instead chose to make his way back to Germany by ferry and then overland, a trip that took 72 days, but saved 9/10ths of the emissions that he would have been responsible for by using air travel.

In his journey he crossed many borders and met dozens of friendly traveling companions, and his choice to remain land bound attracted media attention.

Listen to our Bridging the Carbon Gap podcast episode on Apple or Spotify:

Video excerpt and transcript below:

Podcast transcript:

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda

The second thing that I promised to the 1000s of people that came to my research was, you know, there is very little I can do because, you know, inevitably, what one person can do is very, very little. But I promise I’m going to return to Europe without touching a plane, because that is the tangible way that I can show you that I care about you.

Gabe Gitter-Dentz  00:53

Thank you so much for joining us. Really excited to talk to you today. My name is Gabe and I’m in my third year of college at Bowdoin College, which is in Maine, and I’m studying Earth science and chemistry. 

Marie Fadeyeva  01:15

Hello. My name is Marie. I am a senior at Columbia University where I’m studying computer science, and I’m really excited to talk to you today. 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  01:25

Thank you. I’m also excited to talk with you. My name is Gianluca Grimalda. I used to be an employee of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, but as you might have heard, I’ve been fired because of my refusal to come back from fieldwork in Papua, New Guinea by plane. So that was a rather hard decision, or maybe an easy decision to make, but with heavy consequences. So at the moment, fortunately, I have another affiliation at another university here in Germany, but it’s only temporary, and it’s not really a proper research position, but yeah, I’m happy that as soon as I got back from my trip, I could find a new home for my research. 

Marie Fadeyeva  02:11

Amazing. That’s fantastic, and I’m really glad to hear that. To start a conversation, maybe we could have you share the highlights of your trip, tell us a little bit about what it was like. What was it like traveling, you know, on land. And we’ll pass it over to you. 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  02:33

Yes, thank you. Thank you for the question. You know, I started slow traveling in 2011 when I wanted to attend a conference in Beijing. I was living in Spain at the moment, and yeah, I thought, yeah, I should really explore the possibility of going by train. 

I think I was inspired by a group of scientists who, about 10 years before, had traveled to the Kyoto conference in Japan by train. They traveled from Europe to Japan by train. And I heard that, I think, for the first time, I realized that traveling by plane emits much more than traveling by train or overland. 

And what they calculated is that traveling by train, using the Trans Siberian very long train line in Russia, and then a ferry, and then the train to reach Kyoto, would have emitted only one eighth, so eight times less than traveling by plane. 

So I thought, well, maybe I should also consider doing that, because, you know, it’s something that, yeah, I can do it. I have time on my hands. And so, yeah, I got into this habit of slow traveling more and more. And I was very happy that I was able to find that really, to arrange the whole return trip from Papua, New Guinea, to Europe over land. 

I was on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Bougainville. Bougainville is a part of the Solomon Island archipelago, but it’s under the administration at the moment of Papua New Guinea. 

I live in northern Germany, so traveling by plane would have emitted about five tons of CO2. 

Just to give you an idea, five tons of CO2 is about how much, it’s more than what the average citizen in the world emits in one year. So it’s quite a lot of emissions. I traveled using ferries, using trains, using coaches and shared taxis only when there was no other possibility. According to my estimates, I emitted 1/10 of the amount that I would have emitted by traveling by plane, so 500 kilos instead of 5000 kilos. Of course, there could be errors in this estimation as every estimate, but I think there is no doubt that traveling in this way considerably reduces emissions. 

I would say the most difficult part was really to get out of this island in the middle of the Pacific, because there is no liner, no no ferry traveling to this island. So I really had to, in a way, hitchhike. So I had to go around and ask many owners of cargo ships whether they would let me on a ship. Even most of the people said no. So they didn’t want to take any responsibility. Because, of course, if something bad happens to you, to your health, then they have to stop the service, the travel, and for them, it’s a huge loss of money. So on the very last day, I found one, the owner of the cargo ship company, that told me, okay, we can try. We should ask permission from the National Maritime authority, and if they give approval, then you can get on board. And yeah, strangely enough, the National Maritime authority said yes, so I was able to get out of Bougainville Island. I went to another island, a part of Papua, New Guinea, and then from there, I took two other ferries. These were really not cargo ships. They were really ferries for passengers. At some point, one company did not wanted to let me on board for some reasons, but then I managed to persuade them, so I spent pretty much the first three weeks of my journey pretty much on the sea, and then I arrived at Singapore. And then it was relatively easy, because from Singapore, yeah, there are quite good connections by train and by bus to get into China, then it’s relatively easy to travel through China by train. 

The only problem was that at that point, I was planning to enter Pakistan, but the border between Pakistan and China closed in the very weekend in which I was planning to get there, so I had to reschedule my itinerary. 

So I decided to travel through Tajikistan and then Uzbekistan and then Turkmenistan. I took another route in which I traveled through Turkmenistan, which is very difficult to get a visa, and then I traveled through Iran, and then Turkey, and then Greece, Italy and finally, Germany. 

So overall, this journey lasted 72 days of of travel, I computed that I spent 650 hours on just traveling, moving on either ships or trains or other means of transport, and overall, it cost more than catching a plane, I would say 80% more than catching a plane. Because, unfortunately, visas, yeah, cost a lot of money, I think, yeah, leaving the cost of visas out of the equation, the actual costs of travel would be about the same as the airfare. But yeah, really applying for a visa in some countries is expensive, and so yeah, overall, that was my travel. 

I must say that the main reason why I do it is to reduce my emissions, but it’s also a great experience from the human point of view, because you get to know a lot of people who otherwise you would never meet. 

And what I have learned is that in every place, there is always somebody who is going to help you, as if I was their brother, and a lot of people spend a lot of time just willing to help you many places, they also, you know, want to pay your dinner, pay your your taxi, figure out if you go around by taxi. So I think that’s maybe the main lesson that I have learned over time, so you’re never going to be alone. There is always going to be somebody who is going to help you. And yeah, that makes me feel really that I can be at home more or less in every place of the world in which I am. 

Gabe Gitter-Dentz  10:43

Thanks for going into all that detail about your journey. We were wondering, obviously, unfortunately, you lost your job because of the decision, or at least that one main position. And I was wondering if you experienced any support from other activists or other researchers, either when you got back home or just people from around the world, because it seemed like the story was a pretty big story. There were articles about it, so I’m wondering about, did anyone reach out to you to express support for your trip? 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  11:33

Yes, definitely. So I’ve received a lot of support, and honestly, at the beginning, I wouldn’t have thought that my story would really become so popular, really worldwide, that there were some days in which I had the journalists from all over the world are willing to interview me, and yeah, at that point, I think, you know, at the beginning, that really, as I said, I had no idea about what kind of reaction the press and the social media. 

And I received a lot of help from, in particular, from another researcher, I would say, a very prominent researcher, slash activist. Her name is Julia Steinberger, based in Switzerland. She’s also a contributor to the IPCC, and she also practices civil disobedience. Maybe we’ll talk more about civil disobedience later on. And yeah, she’s really, I would say, a superstar on social media. And with her, you know, support with her, relaunching my story, for sure, my story became more and more popular. I also received a lot of support from another contributor to the IPCC, Ken Kramer, who is also a member of Scientist Rebellion

Because I’m a social scientist, I’m interested in social cohesion. So I’m interested in trying to see and really try to measure the extent to which people tended to help each other more in times of crisis. 

But then, yeah, after the first day in which we released the press release, there was not much going on. And yeah, we were wondering, yeah, maybe the press was not that interested. And then there was a request for an interview from The Guardian, and then pretty much all the other journalists followed. 

Gabe Gitter-Dentz 

That’s yeah, that’s great to hear. And on the topic of your travels, I saw a tweet, a recent tweet on your thread where someone mentioned that this should be a book, and you responded that the book is in the making. Are you hoping to document this trip in a way other than your current Twitter blog?

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda 

Yes, I received an invitation from an Italian publisher to publish a book, and I’m in the process of making the pilot chapter. So if the pilot goes well, then I will have a contract, and then I also plan to translate the book to other languages. Yeah, so that is going to be the case. And I tried. I’m going to try to make this book really as widely accessible as possible. And in order to do that, the advice that I received is, you know, not to make, I could write a book about the research that I do in Papua about climate adaptation, about climate change, but probably not many people would read that book. 

So I’m using another strategy that focuses mainly on the travel. So, but through the travel, I will try as much as possible to also talk about climate change, because I’ve really experienced climate change through the places I visited and also through the people I met on the way. So in every chapter, I will try to, you know, make one aspect of climate change become prominent, and they give us some information about that. 

So I would talk about increase in temperatures, increase in emissions, droughts, flooding, also some adaptation, not just, you know, social adaptation, but cultural adaptation. That was something that really, really struck me when I traveled, for instance, through Pakistan on the outbound journey. So, yes, that is going to come. I think it would be nice if there was an interactive element, so like a blog. But I think for the moment that we are just planning a standard, you know, paper book. And I also received an offer to make a cartoon, a cartoon story of travel. So, yeah, I’m very, very glad that, yes, I received this kind of invitation, because, yeah, I found out that in this way I can really speak to, you know, really, a number of people who would be otherwise, very, very difficult to reach out to. 

Gabe Gitter-Dentz  16:14

I think the comic book idea sounds great, and I think later on, we want to ask you about climate education in schools. And it seems like that could be a good tool for that one, one question I had just based, based on your mention of, like, the different chapters would be about, would you just be able to tell us a little bit about the people in Bougainville and the community, and like, how how climate change has affected them there, and like, just a little bit about the research you were doing? 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  16:56

Yes. So I must say, I deal mainly with psychological adaptation to climate change. So because I’m a social scientist, I’m interested in social cohesion. So I’m interested in trying to see and really try to measure the extent to which people tended to help each other more in times of crisis. 

So I did similar research during Covid 19, in Italy and the US, and we found that there was a tendency for people to become more cooperative and more willing to help each other in times of crisis, which is a good thing. So the main topic of my research in Bougainville was to see whether the same happens with respect to climate change, and also with respect to other major factors of change, like integration into the global market economy. 

And I still don’t know the answers, because we still have to we’re still processing, in the first phase of processing the data.

There are two people from a coastal village. And, yeah, I’m not going to put up the audio also, because they don’t, they don’t speak English on this occasion, they speak pidgin. But there is one point in which this woman asks me, yeah, look at the seaside. And yeah, my house used to be there, so all the coastal communities that we visit, that’s the point in which she tells me, look, my house used to be there, and now it’s under centimeters, about three inches of water. 

All the coastal communities that I visited already had experienced at least one instance of migration inland because sea level is rising, actually, in this part of the world that there is, at the same time, a process of sea level rise, but there is also a process of sinking because of the tectonic plate from Australia getting over the tectonic plate from the Solomon Islands. So yeah. 

So this process means that sea level is rising at a very fast rate, in this community in particular. So that, of course, means a lot of cost, a lot of costs, because when you have to migrate, you can still reuse your timber, so you don’t have to use it again where they are decomposable houses. But of course, it means a lot, a lot of costs. It means that some land that in the past could be used to grow food does not yield any more food. 

There is no [cooking] gas. So when people want to prepare food, it’s, you know, you cut wood, make a fire, make a bonfire. And what many people told me is that the spells of droughts are becoming longer and longer, so normally, what they call the dry season, so a period in which there is no rain. So of course, that’s really a problem for many people. Normally it would last maybe three weeks, and now the dry season can last even six weeks. 

And when this happens for some villages, this means no food, because they cannot, you know, they cannot water their vegetables, the food that they grow, which is mainly potatoes and bananas and vegetables and fruit. 

So I really heard some people saying, Yes, we really were lacking food in the last long spell of the dry season. And that really worries me, because at the moment, yeah, people are not really trying to do anything to, you know, adapt to this thing that most likely will become more and more serious as time goes by. 

You know that in the climate, the ecosystems are characterized by what we know as a tipping point. So tipping point means that the system looks relatively stable, and then all of a sudden it collapses. And when temperature exceeds some thresholds, the system really, yes, is irreversible. There is nothing that you can do to get it back. And the other part is that we don’t know when, where this tipping point is. We can maybe estimate, but we really don’t know, and so maybe we are very close to this tipping point. Maybe we are already past the tipping point, and the tipping point has not and the ecosystem has not shown all the, you know, changes that will inevitably go through in the past. 

So I’m really, really worried that as temperatures increase more and even faster than what they have done so far, many of these villages will really suffer more food shortages. 

Even now in our service, we have one question that asks, How much, how many days over the last month you and your family went to sleep without eating per day. And about 15% of the people say that that is something that happened to them already. You know, there are many, many populations that are really left alone.

And I must say, as a Western person who knows that, you know, the average amount of CO2 that we emit every year is 10 tons of CO2, and then these people probably emit less than 300 kilograms of CO2 every year. It’s so unfair, so so unfair. And there is really little we can do. So what? What? The only thing I could do was to give as many awareness talks on climate change as I could. 

So in every village that I visited, I gave a talk on climate change, because, you know, they know very well that the temperatures are increasing. They know that the climate is changing, but they don’t know why. So with videos and with the presentation that tried to explain that as easily, as easily as possible. I tried, at least, to give them some instruments to understand what was going on. 

And then again, the second thing that I promised to the 1000s of people that came to my research was, you know, there is very little I can do. Because, you know, inevitably, what one person can do is very, very little, but I promise I’m gonna return without touching a plane, because that is a way, you know, the tangible way that I can show you that I care about you. The only thing I can do is reduce my own carbon emissions. 

In the end, I reduced my emissions by seven tons of CO2. It’s nothing. It’s less than a drop of the ocean, the only thing that I can do. And so I told them, I’m going to do it, because I want to show you that I’m with you. And that’s also part of the reason why I did not want to obey the injunction, the order of my institute to go back by plane, because I would have broken a promise that I made to 2000 people. And I said, No, I want to keep my promises. 

Marie Fadeyeva  25:30

Thank you so much for sharing that. Talking about climate change, and especially with your experience continuously being exposed to people and places who are experiencing the effects of climate change right now, it is a very, very heavy experience, I’m sure. But I’m also curious about what you mentioned about presenting on climate change to people of different ages. I’m assuming, in Papua New Guinea, if you could talk a little bit maybe about how students, like various ages as well as adults, reacted to those presentations, and I know you talked a little bit about your own personal experience, like being there with those people and seeing right the coastal area where there used to be a house and there’s not a house there anymore. 

And I know there’s like a word for that, like climate grief, right? Is what you experience when you see a place that used to be your home, you know, not necessarily your physical home, but just even the surrounding nature or cityscape that is no longer the same. Yeah. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about what the residents experience or felt, maybe, and how they reacted to your presentation, and maybe if you wanted to add any more about your experience and your emotions too, yes, sure, yeah. 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  26:58

Thank you for this question. I think, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s not easy to talk about climate change because, I mean, there are a lot of bad news. So I, I started my presentation every time saying, I’m sorry, I don’t have really a lot of good news. I have many bad news. But you need these bad news because then you can be better prepared. 

They do talk about climate change, so they do have climate change in their curriculum, but only at the sixth year of their education, of their degree. So many people don’t reach six years of education. Many people leave the schools before, especially in the past. So, this means that, yeah, people leave school without knowing the greenhouse effect. So one of the first things that I would do when I gave my presentations would be to talk about the greenhouse effect. 

Yeah, many people ignore climate change. Ignore the causes of climate change. I also showed, I think this is probably the really, the hardest to take picture of all. 

This is from a study published in PNAS [Xu et al. (2019)], one of the most prestigious scientific journals, in which they show which areas might become uninhabitable by 2070. Of course, I would say this is the worst case scenario. But there is a possibility, a non-negligible possibility, that the areas that are marked in black here will become completely uninhabitable. So basically, most areas close to the equator suffer this. 

So you can imagine the amount of migration that will happen. I mean, we know that a lot of climate migration happens within the country, but here there are entire countries, like entire Brazil and African countries that are going to become uninhabitable. 

So for sure, there will be international migration too, and even some areas of Papua New Guinea could suffer this. This is a very bad experience. So for me, that was really the hardest thing to tell them. But you know that they have to be informed about that. I also wanted to show them the big, big inequality that exists in the world about emissions and that this is a graph taken from Oxfam. You know, Oxfam has been very active in computing the, yeah, the share of emissions that people do according to their wealth level. And the results are really stunning. So about 50%, the 10% of the people who are the richest in the world, emit 50% of emissions. And I think now in the last report by Oxfam, it’s even worse. I think they even show that it’s even a larger share, whereas the poorest half of the world population emits only 10% of overall emissions. 

So there is a huge inequality in emissions, huge unfairness, because most of the countries who are going to suffer the most because of climate change, so most of the countries that are closest to the equator are also the poorest, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. 

And you know, even to make the things even worse, you know, in this map, this light shaded area, here are the areas that are going to be least affected by temperature increase. And this is the US. And it’s really, really unfair that the way the countries that have been mostly responsible for climate emissions from climate change in emissions right now are also the countries that, at least for water concerns, increase in temperature, they are going to be the least affected. 

But of course, there are going to be other extreme weather events in the future. And yeah, there’s another chart showing, again, the amount of inequality, so, divided by the level of wealth within a country. So the people being in the top 10% income bracket in the US on average emitted 73 tonnes of CO2, whereas a person from East Asia only emits, on average, 3.1. But as I said before, this much lower in [some places] there is a lot of inequality, and also, I mean, that’s why many social movements now talk about the tax the rich or or say target really the wealthiest, because of the wealthiest have a disproportionate amount of responsibility. 

For me, it was very interesting to see the reaction, especially when I showed them these graphs, these charts documenting this massive inequality in emissions. 

So some people when I gave this presentation at school, some people would get angry. So they would say, but, I mean, they were, I mean, of course, they didn’t know that there was so much responsibility by rich countries. And so they were just astonished. 

And they, they said, like, why don’t you take action, or you reach people from rich countries, and it’s very difficult to have an answer to that. But then this was really the minority of the people, I would say, no more than 15% of the people would have these not angry, but this reaction of a surprise, most people, their reaction would be okay, then we must do our part. Must take action too. And for them, taking action is planting trees, stopping deforestation. So people know very well that deforestation, cutting down trees, is very bad for the environment, is leading to more emissions. So they know that very well. They know that many people cut down trees even more than what they need for their energy needs. And so, yeah, they know that very well. So I was really, really surprised that the reaction by most students and most people would be to say, Okay, we must do our bit. We must do our part. 

And I found that really, I would say moving, because, as I said before, these are the people who suffer more than us, who are really facing food shortages. But the reaction that most of the times was to say, Okay, we must do our bit. I must also say that yes, there is also, as I said before, lack of awareness of the root causes of climate change. So in my survey, I had one question asking, just, you know, trying to ascertain what level of knowledge they have about the root causes of climate change. And so I asked, If you burn fossil fuels, will this tend to increase or decrease temperatures? And about 50% of the people gave the completely wrong answer. So they said that burning fossil fuels would reduce temperatures. And we know that it’s the exact opposite, but you know, yeah, that is where there really many people, in this case, mainly uneducated people. They lack the basic knowledge. Instead, they were much more educated on deforestation. So they knew very well that cutting down trees would tend to increase the temperatures. They really don’t want to be discouraged about climate change. So they really want to face and yeah, I would say that they tackle all their adversities with a lot of dignity, as I said, they talk about climate change relatively late in their curricula, but yeah, at least at some point they do talk about that. My question to you, so what? What is the degree to which you in New York talk about climate change in your schools and in your courses? 

Gabe Gitter-Dentz  36:45

I would say that, well, where I went to high school in New York, we had one teacher who, a physics teacher, who incorporated climate change into some lessons, and I think is now teaching an elective, not a required course, but an elective on climate science. 

And even when, last year, my brother was in high school, and he went to the same high school I did, when there were wildfires in Canada and school was remote for a couple of days in New York because of the smoke, none of the teachers mentioned school cancelation in any relation to climate change. So I would say it’s very much lacking from high school, and from kindergarten through the entire school system before university, I would say, it’s very lacking in climate education. 

Marie Fadeyeva  38:10

I didn’t go to school in New York. I went to school in Wisconsin, and everything about climate change going into college, I learned from my friends, I learned from social media. I learned from doing basically my own research, watching YouTube videos. None of the classes that I took in high school, I don’t remember them mentioning climate change unless the students specifically brought it up in maybe, like, a chemistry class or a biology class. 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  38:41

Yeah, yeah, that’s literally too bad, isn’t it? So yeah, actually, that was one of the main requests by some of the campaigns of Scientists Rebellion and also other environmental movements, to have climate change in every curriculum. 

And, yeah, I think there are really many different angles from which you can talk about climate change. You should talk about climate change because, of course, there is the aspect of physics, as I said before, and sending tipping points and the most part of the research group that try to, in a way, convey this unfortunate property of the physical systems of having a tipping point, but the system seems stable, but then all of a sudden it collapses – to make it accessible and to make it really understandable to people, starting from our politicians, who don’t seem to get it. 

But then, yeah, there are also a lot of ramifications. So I think it’s also important to talk about risks and probability. You know, as psychologist and the Nobel Prize in Economics, Daniel Kahneman says in his research, people tend to make systematic mistakes in the way they assess risks, they evaluate risks. And for having some really basic education about probability, I think it would also be important, because, I think it’s, it’s clear that we are really taking too many risks, because we tend to do that. That’s also where another part, I think, another aspect that would be important in climate education, it’s about psychology. A lot of our, let’s say, psychological mechanisms and processes that lead to basically denialism. 

So there is a psychologist, I think, active in the US, Leon Festinger, who, in 1959 wrote a seminal book about cognitive dissonance. I think we do it all the time. So when there is some evidence that is not consistent with our hopes, with our wishes, or with our beliefs, we just tend to remove it. So in a way, denialism is a very successful psychological strategy to cope with bad and reverse events. 

And I think knowing how to interact with the climate denialists, it’s very challenging, so some people would say it’s a waste of time. So just to forget about the climate analysis or just get on with the majority of the people. But some other, some other scientists, will say, No, there is something that we can also, you know, gain by interacting with them. So some people will change their mind. 

And then I think another aspect that would really be important for the curriculum about climate change is to really get this point across of the huge inequality in emissions, which really points to the fact that, yes, of course, as individuals, we can do life, system change, we can try to reduce our own carbon footprint. That is definitely but in the end, I guess we should have system change. But really, we should really target in our demands the people who are most responsible were really the people high up in the income distribution. 

So I, you know, I don’t want to be unnecessarily willing to just target the rich, but it’s a matter of fact that the people who are wealthy have a lifestyle that is clearly incompatible with sustainability and preserving our ecosystems. 

So yes, that’s where we have to start. But then even there, you know, we observe in our research, in the social sciences that we do, we observe a lot of, you know, restraint, even from people from the lower income, to really demand a lot of taxation. That is quite clear in more countries, more than others, I think, United States and even Italy. I found that in my in my own research, so people tend to be rather libertarian, to let the people who earn the most that you get on with their highest earnings, whereas other in other countries, like Germany and Scandinavian countries, people from the lowest social income brackets instead, are more really willing to demand a higher level of income redistribution.

But overall, it’s relatively surprising that there is a relatively low demand of redistribution from poor people. And that’s another, another interesting topic for social science in general, to which we still don’t have a clear answer. But one possibility is that one theory is that, in a way, people, this is something that the historian Yuval Noah Harari says that humans are probably the only species who likes to have dreams. So who are really, who believe in dreams? And so I think there are many, many people who are currently poor. They have the dream, in what we know as the American dream, to become rich in the future. So they don’t want to, in a way, give up dreams by having a different system in which there is a lot of taxation. So even if maybe this theory seems a little bit strange, this theory has has received a lot of empirical support in our studies. So that’s another aspect, I would say, quite fascinating.

Gabe Gitter-Dentz  45:26

Thanks for talking about the education aspects, because that’s kind of why this podcast was started originally, because there was a lack of that in high schools. So we want to, we want to hear everyone’s opinion about that. Thank you so much. Thanks again for talking to us. Out of all our guests, we talked with you most about the disparities between people who have emitted a lot and people who face the consequences. And also it was really interesting hearing about the mindsets of the people you worked with. 

Marie Fadeyeva  46:10

Yeah, I absolutely agree with you, Gabe. Thank you again. I’ll definitely be thinking about our conversation for a while. 

Dr. Gianluca Grimalda  46:17

Thank you. And if I can add something, actually, this is something that they wanted to add before I lost track. 

So mining is really a big, big issue for people [in Bougainville]. And I mean, you can understand why. So mining, so they have a lot of natural resources. So mining is a way to improve their material, their incomes, their material they want to say, well, think about their material conditions almost immediately. 

But there is a strong resistance. So there are a lot of people in the island of Bougainville, where I went to also, because the excessive exploitation of a mine basically plunged the country into a situation of civil war that lasted eight years. 

That’s enough for another chapter of Bougainville history. But I was also really, really, yeah, again, surprised and moved by the fact that, you know, if this amount of richness would be in a Western country, I have no doubt that some people would want to exploit the mine. 

Instead, I heard many people saying, No, we should not use this mine, because it’s better if we preserve the environment, and we know that that is going to lead to a lot of causes. And you know, recently, there has been a referendum in Ecuador in which the population in Ecuador decided not to open a new project to extract oil. So I think that really, there is a lot to learn, from populations that are poorer than us. Yeah, they think that they are showing that they have more respect for nature.

Eli Gitter-Dentz  48:24

Thank you for listening to Bridging the Carbon Gap.

Below is the trailer for an upcoming documentary about Dr. Grimalda’s journey: