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"They'll Give Me a Detention but It'll Be Worth It"—A Climate Scientist Interviews His Climate Striking Daughter

"They'll Give Me a Detention but It'll Be Worth It"—A Climate Scientist Interviews His Climate Striking Daughter

Mark Maslin

Extinction rebellion, the climate strikes, Greta Thunberg and even the BBC and Netflix have changed the conversation on climate change. Even more than I expected – there’s now a groundswell of public concern that human impact on the planet is unacceptable and we’re smart enough to correct it.

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“And a little child shall lead them.” Make that hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of children who have grown to know that it is their future they are fighting for, and they feel it is worth the fight. We need to support their efforts.


Heh Mark Maslin !

Great story - but please don’t discount the contributions of the ‘oldies’ - as you self-styled yourself.

I have two of your Oxford Short Introductions, “Global Warming” & “Climate”, your Nature paper on the Anthropocene, the book you co-authored with Simon Lewis, "“The Human Planet - How We created the Anthropocene”.

You have not failed to act, quite the opposite.

Like myself, no doubt you are chagrined that people in power are not only ignorant, but possibly even morally bankrupt, as your daughter Abbie sees so clearly.

Peter Ward, my favorite deep time paleontologist, has a new book out on epigenetics thru time (Lamarck’s Revenge" -(2018), with a focus on the present, and though still speculative, its possible effects on people, both from our past and most assuredly from our present.

Witness the pathetic lines on Everest featuring in the news as we speak - all to avoid that most corrosive of civilizational ills, boredom, ennui, and isolation both from the natural world and each other, and ultimately, from ourselves.

Thus conditioned and stressed - we cannot think clearly, most of us.

I too feel the groundswell of change underway, and yes - its new face is Greta Thundberg and young people like your daughter.

But let’s not fall into the trap of devaluing our contributions.

Greta Thundberg is not a scientist - in fact she is listening to you.

Mike D in Calgary


The fossil fuel industry receives a lot of criticism these days, and rightfully so. But in the final analysis, we are the ones who support the energy industry and it is our standard of living that will need to change. So contemplate what you can do for the cause

Personal Actions

End our love affair with the automobile

Ride more trains and buses

Car pool

Walk and bike more

Turn off the air conditioner in the summer and dial the thermostat down in winter

Become vegetarians or vegans

Refill plastic water bottles with tap water

Discontinue using aluminum cans with and without carbonation

Maximize use of reusable bags and products

Recycle junk mail

Forego fast junk food

Go to “slow food”;

Recycle maximally, especially aluminum cans

Drive and accelerate more slowly

Climb more stairs

Plant more trees

Forego use of spray cans

Ride more trains and buses

Repair, mend and alter as much as possible

Buy solar panels

Compost as much as possible

Last person out of the room turn off the lights

Eat and farm organic

Ride more trains and buses

Fly fewer planes

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Use manual tools instead of power tools

Share more

Use rakes rather than leaf blowers

Decrease use of bottled water and refill plastic bottles with tap water

Maximize reusable bags and products

Push rather than power small mowers

Replace lawns with vegetable gardens

Stop fertilizing and mowing lawns

Compost as much as possible

Minimize use of disposables (Pampers);

Maximize high efficiency LED and solar powered lighting;

Limit endless gadgets

Use motion lighting, where appropriate

Decrease consumption

Limit family size

Local Government Actions

Reorganize cities, building taller residences with a smaller footprint (the end of suburbia)

Institute a carbon tax

Promote car pooling subsidize and expand mass transit

Expand bike paths

Have shareable (zip) cars

Ban electric outdoor signs;

Eat and farm organic

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Eliminate approximately 50% of all street lighting and office lighting in unoccupied buildings

eliminate “fast junk food”; go to “slow food


Federal Government Actions

Eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel corporations

Ban gasohol

Rein in the militaries for defense only and outlaw war

Further shrink nuclear arsenals and increase treaties

Discontinue night baseball

Promote making electronics, house wares, furniture, etc to be as durable and long-lived as possible

Promote recycling

Set standards for making appliances to be as energy efficient as possible

Discontinue single use aluminum cans

Ban electric outdoor signs

Subsidize solar and wind power;

Change from petroleum based fertilizers to regenerative agriculture

Reverse deforestation, plant more trees

Restrict spray cans

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Promote zero population growth with free condoms and family planning world-wide

End yearly auto model changes;

Proscribe junk mail

Scrap the mission to Mars

Adjust tax laws to limit family size

Sounds like someone feels guilty, and well we oldies should, for the state of the world. We had a chance, after forcing an end to the Vietnam War, to actually keep marching for real change but instead we traded in our protest signs and anger for mini-vans and little boxes made of ticky-tacky. Sounds like an attempt to shirk responsibility because we read a book and clutched our pearls. Anyone born in an industrialized country between 1900 and 1970 did this to the planet. When we offer these kids our helping hand, they should flip us the bird and tell us to get the hell out of their way as they have desperate work to do.

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You can get a good supply of towels and cry on your own shoulder pard - beat it.

Yes we must all take personal responsibility for what we can.
However over 75% of global co2 emissions are caused by 90 or so corporations.

The people have had very little say in what energy systems get used, they certainly do not want people to have decentralised systems of energy production like Solar on every roof top !
Why is Hemp not being used ,it can substitute for so many nonrewneable resources at a tenth of the cost.
An example ; you could have all the paper you need without cutting down another tree ever again.
The answer is the same as always…follow the money …greed .
Dependence is the Achilles Heel of Humanity .
In a highly evolved system a corporation would never be allowed to despoil our land ,air and water.Our lives are being irrevocably damaged, where’s the profit in that.
If this was the guiding principle half of all the world’s corporations would be shut down overnight .
So the solution is to change the guiding principle of humans.
We think we are seperate from each other and life ! We have a survival of the fittest mentality .
This is the real problem, our cultural story is at odds with ultimate truth .
We are all One …let that be our guide…let that be our New Cultural Story .

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