For the past six months, climate scientist Gianluca Grimalda has been traveling around Oceania doing field work. Now his employer wants him back to work and has given him until Monday to report to the office in Kiel, Germany – otherwise he won’t have a job to return to.
The climate scientist says it will be difficult because he refuses to fly and plans to return home by boat, which could take up to two months.
Air travel is actually the fastest way to burn fossil fuels, and the quickest way to move ourselves toward disaster, says Gianluca Grimalda. Watchman.
He promised islanders that it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions
For six months, Gianluca Grimalda traveled around the island of Bougainville, which is part of Papua New Guinea, researching how residents are affected by climate change.
Papua New Guinea is one of the countries most vulnerable to the consequences of a warming climate. In several posts on X, Grimalda described how islanders had to move entire villages inland to avoid rising water levels.
During his fieldwork, he gave several lectures on climate change, and said he explained to islanders how carbon dioxide emissions from the industrialized world are causing the disasters they face, The Guardian reported.
So, he promised them that he would try to contribute as little carbon dioxide emissions as possible to his return trip to Europe, and now wants to try to return by boat, train and bus instead.
“White men, as we are called here, are often called ‘Giaman,’ which means liar or deceiver in the local language. ‘I don’t want to be a Giaman,’ he writes. Gianluca Grimalda on X.
Delayed – held for ransom by bandits
Grimalda’s field work was scheduled to be completed early in July, and he was scheduled to return to Germany on 10 September. But now, a week ago, he is still waiting for a cargo ship to be found that can take him from Papua New Guinea to Europe.
The climate scientist says he knew it was overdue, but faced “a number of unavoidable delays”, such as difficulty building trust among islanders and even being held hostage by “machete-wielding bandits”.
– I did not expect this kind of behavior from the workers at my institute. But I think I made the right choice,” says Gianluca Grimalda.
Among those who support Grimalda’s decision, there are those who speculate whether his workplace is trying to “retaliate” for his past civil disobedience during climate protests, including with Scientist Rebellion, a sister group to the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion.
One of those to officially mention this as a possible cause is Julia Steinberger, a professor at the University of Lausanne and lead author of the latest report from the UN Climate Panel (IPCC).
It is unusual for a research institute to threaten to fire a researcher for working too hard and avoiding flying during a climate emergency, says Julia Steinberger, according to The Guardian.
A Kiel Institute spokesperson told The Guardian that the institute does not comment publicly on internal personnel matters, but said it “supports its employees to travel in a climate-friendly way.”
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