World’s poorest show there is a better way

Gaia Vince.
Gaia Vince.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

You wouldn’t expect a book on climate change to be a page-turner, but Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene; A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made is just that.

Her stories of how ordinary people all over the world are using ingenious methods to protect their livelihoods and communities from global warming, are gripping.

Climate change is the biggest issue facing humanity but it’s so overwhelming that not even our governments seem capable of addressing it.

However, scientist and journalist Gaia is a calm voice as she tells how ordinary people in some of the world’s poorest and most extreme locations are tackling problems such as pollution, flooding, drought and glacial erosion.

“There are lots of reasons for optimism,” says British-Australian scientist Gaia, who made history in 2015, when Adventures in the Anthropocene won the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science. It was the first time a book written by a woman won this prestigious award.

Gaia will be in Galway on April 29 for the Cúirt Festival of Literature when she will discuss how, in recent times, human beings have altered our world beyond anything it previously experienced in its 4.6 billion-year existence.

The new industrial and technological era created by man has been described by scientists as the Anthropocene – the Age of the Humans. Hence the book’s title.

Nine years ago, Gaia, a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in science, embarked on a worldwide journey to assess the impact of climate change. She bought a one-way ticket to Kathmandu, expecting her journey to last six months. Two-and-a-half years later, she was still travelling and hearing inspirational stories. She met people, mostly in the developing world, who were “creating artificial glaciers to irrigate their crops, building artificial reefs to shore up their islands and artificial trees to clean their air”, she explains.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.