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About me

Gaia

Hello. my name is Gaia Vince. I am a journalist specialising in science, the environment and social issues. I am travelling the world meeting the people, plants and animals that make up our unique living planet.

This is a uniquely critical time in our planet’s history, in which climate change, globalisation, communications technology and increasing human population are changing our world as never before. The developing world is experiencing these impacts more obviously and sooner than the rich West – they are already feeling the effects of biodiversity loss, erratic weather patterns, glacial melt and forced migrations, for example – and I am documenting these impacts, talking to ordinary people, scientists and heads of state as I travel in the Anthropocene.

Yes, that’s a scorpion on my face

After we’d been travelling around the world for 800 days, I wrote this, which gives a nice overview of the journey.

I am the opinion, analysis and features editor for the journal Nature Climate Change, which publishes the latest research in the field. I also write for a variety of different outlets, including the BBC, The Guardian, New Scientist, Australian GeographicScienceSeed, and I do pieces for radio. Before I set off on this journey, I was the news editor of the science journal Nature. And before that, I was an editor at New Scientist magazine. You can see some of my recent work that’s relevant to this trip on the sidebar under ‘Me Elsewhere‘.

You can follow our journey on the maps, which I try to keep updated, by clicking on Where on Earth?

If you have any suggestions of people or places that I should visit on this trip, please let me know on the comment form or by email – I’m always looking for ideas.

I am currently reading a fantastic science-history adventure book called Decoding the Heavens, which is the story behind the Antikythera mechanism. This 2000-year-old clockwork device, which was discovered in an Ancient Greek shipwreck, turns out to be the world’s first computer. It’s a remarkable tale and written beautifully by my good friend Jo Marchant (who sounds like one of the Little Women, but is actually far more talented and glamourous). You can hear her discussing the book with BBC clevercloggs Andrew Marr.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor Lovedale permalink
    December 10, 2008 9:13 am

    Hi Gaia,

    Ref, Life Unplugged, NS 6.12.2008.

    A nice general article, but as a home owner ( with solar water heating ) with a healthy 18 year old domestic oil boiler that will not go on for ever, I was disappointed that there was no mention of air source heat pumps. With only brief knowledge it strikes me that such devices are perfect for retro fitting into existing dwellings.

    I’ll happily be corrected if I’m misinformed.

    Thanks,

    Victor

    Suffolk
    UK

  2. gaiavince permalink*
    December 10, 2008 9:32 am

    Hi Victor, yes, air-source heat pumps are a nice option – unfortunately, due to space restrictions I was unable to mention a number of devices. Air-source heat pumps work in a similar way to the ground source heat pumps (or a refrigerator) and can be an efficient way of heating (or cooling your house). They do require electricity to work and you also need adequate outside wall space.

  3. Henk Rijneveld permalink
    February 2, 2009 9:05 am

    Hello Gaia.

    As owner of a house with only connection to the grid for delivering back in sunny times, I was very interested in your article in the New Scientist.
    I missed the option of wall heating as I made in my home, for the reason that you only need to heat the water to 30 degrees Celcius to have a comforteble home , and so keep the heat losses at bay.
    As result of that construction, there are only pipes in the walls and floor wth hidden valvels, so you don’t see anny radiator or pipe in the whole house, which is also very nice.
    For the fact that you are on your own when going of the grid with gas, electricity and water, it is nice to read that htere are other people doing the same thing as you on your own.
    Therefore I like to come in contact with people like Tony Marmont and Mick Bestwick. Please give them my Email adress an ask them to have contact with me.

  4. Michael Graaf permalink
    February 25, 2009 10:12 pm

    I have encountered (in Monbiot’s “Heat”) a description of devices, used in “passive solar” buildings, which heat incoming fresh air by transfer of the heat from outgoing stale air.

    I haven’t researched the construction of such exchangers, but imagine a convection-powered, window-mounted device suitable for retrofitting would be possible.

  5. Karen Chimera permalink
    March 4, 2009 9:23 am

    Hi Gaia,

    You articles in New Scientist[28 February & 5 March 2009] are as impressive as they are depressing. The project that you have embarked upon is critical to facilitating a truly deeper understanding of the future of humanity and of the biosphere.

    I hope we will be smart enough and resilient enough to make the pessimistic scientists you quote in the article totally wrong. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that experts like Peter Cox, James Lovelock, Crutzen, and the many others you cite with such alarming effectiveness are very likely to be be correct.

    I can’t help but think that if as a species we came to realize that in this frightening new future children must be- come a luxury because the system can’t afford the present levels of human population growth. We also need to fully use local resources and make the decision to drive less and walk more and bike more…

    No, these simple steps won’t stop the onslaught of frightening depletion and rapid global climate change which are confronting us, but they could give us a little bit of wiggle room to experiment with viable solutions before it’s too late.

    Again, the work you’re doing is amazing and very necessary.

    • gaiavince permalink*
      March 4, 2009 10:38 am

      Thanks Karen. I hope that we come up with some sort of solution too, and soon because we’re running out of time. But sometimes I wonder if there is enough will to make it happen.

  6. Jason Mungles permalink
    March 6, 2009 10:37 am

    Hi Gaia,

    I recently read your article in the New Scientist on how to survive the century. I am a Humanities teacher at an International School in Spain and have been looking at Climate Change with my M3(14 year old) Students.

    I hope you dont mind that I used your article for discussion with a number of my students, and the impact of climate change on Spain has largely passed them by until now.

    The fascinating and depressing scenario for our future has really had an impact on them. I hope I can promote your site to my students and in turn raise their awareness as they become adults with the influence and wealth they have behind them.

    Regards

    Jason.

    • gaiavince permalink*
      March 6, 2009 3:50 pm

      That’s great Jason. Hopefully one of your students will be sparked into solving the problem for us all!

  7. Miriam Moriarty permalink
    March 17, 2009 7:38 am

    Hi Gaia,

    Like Jason, I just read your article for the New Scientist which I found scary but excellent food for thought.

    As a global community, we are faced with an oncoming crisis that could possibly necessitate the relocation of most existing human populations, as your article suggests.

    In light of this, isn’t it amazing that the world’s political systems are largely still fixated on economic rationalism as the most important consideration, particularly when by their own arguments the cost of ignoring climate change is clearly unaffordable?

    When most of the world’s infrastructure is lying underwater, when there is a massive shortage of arable land and fresh water, when our ‘green and pleasant world’ has ceased to exist as we know it – isn’t the economic cost of that going to outweigh whatever short term costs are required to get the global community acting together for the good of all people, species, and the earth??

    Anyway, you know all this already! I really admire what you are doing and I wish you and Nick the best of luck on your journey :)

    Miriam Moriarty
    Perth, Australia

  8. March 18, 2009 5:03 am

    Dear Gaia,

    i read your cover story in New Scientist,Its really Wonderful, can i have this article full text, if Possible please send my Email Address.

    janakiraman@mssrf.res.in.

    We need the Survivig the warmer Map also

    Please do the needful

    Sincerely

    JanakiramaN a

  9. September 5, 2009 3:35 pm

    Keep Wandering, Gaia. There is much more to feel…

  10. November 13, 2009 3:06 am

    Hi Gaia,

    Great article in Science (Oct 30) on the Glacier Man Chewang Norphel. I work on projects in tropical countries, where one of the vitally needed climate adaptation/ mitigation actions is to design, construct and operate buildings that derive their cooling, ventilation and lighting needs naturally rather than from mechanical systems requiring construction of fossil power plants or hydropower dams (some of which, like Brazil’s Balbina Dam, have been measured emitting higher levels of GHGs (methane) than even fossil fired power plants).

    There is an immense literature on temperate green architecture designs, which obviously focus on methods to satisfy high degree heating days, with varying levels of degree cooling days. The very high cooling degree days in the tropics, with very high humidity levels, is a totally different beast. If your travels or curiosity take you to the tropics, it would be wonderful to read about Tropical Cool Man or Woman. I’ve read about various innovative architects/builders/landscapers, with practices ranging from emphasis on vernacular, traditional cultural methods to use of new software tools and breakthrough materials. But the need is so immense we need to hear more stories about these innovators.

    Thanks

    Michael Totten
    Chief Advisor, Climate, Energy & Green Technologies
    Conservation International
    http://www.conservation.org/

  11. Jon permalink
    June 2, 2010 10:29 am

    Hi,
    It would be great if you opened a Cc:Everybody account (cceverybody.com) and give us (your readers) a way of emailing you publicly. This way the work you put into answering those emails won’t go to waste in the inbox, and we can all read about your views and opinions about the topic we send you – what do you say?

    • Gaia permalink*
      June 2, 2010 12:17 pm

      That’s a good idea. How do I do that, though?

  12. September 21, 2010 11:54 pm

    Randomly: are you Aussie?

    (It says that on the bottom of all your Australian Geographic articles.)

    Excellent piece on the Chilean dams btw!

    • Gaia permalink*
      September 22, 2010 12:37 am

      Thanks Anna. Yes, I’m both: Australian and British! Or neither, depending on the Cameron, Howard situation…

  13. February 21, 2011 6:22 pm

    Have fun travelling and blogging! I haven’t been able to do as long as you have, but have had a taste of it. As you can see http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com

    Going to Canada or maybe it’s not exotic enough?

  14. February 22, 2011 1:39 pm

    Hi Gaia,

    I learned that you have visited Indonesia, especially Bali and other nearby small islands. But if you happen to visit Indonesia again, I would suggest Jogjakarta as one of the places to visit. A little story about that place can be read in one of my posts at http://harindabama.com/2011/01/26/jogja-the-soul-of-java/
    Very inspiring journey you had. I envy you, in the good way.

    Cheers,
    Bama

  15. December 18, 2011 5:24 am

    Hey Gaia!

    I just wanted to say I really love your writing. We need more scientifically informed people with your eloquence spreading the story of our planet.

    I used your October Science article on the Anthropocene in a lecture I gave last week to an introductory environmental science class. I’m not myself sure yet that we’ve entered a new geologic era, but the mere fact that it’s being contemplated is, I think, reason enough to assume that we’ve overstepped our safe operating space.

    Maddie

    • Gaia permalink*
      December 18, 2011 11:53 am

      Thanks Maddie, I’m glad the article was useful – whether we call it the Anthropocene or not, there’s no doubt we’re having a significant impact on our planet.

  16. MHS permalink
    April 23, 2012 5:11 pm

    Hi,

    I read your article on BBC: “THe Anthropocene”. I really enjoyed it, thank you for writing it. It is an illuminating look into a general overview of many rough terrains we are headed to and are in. I wish I could know what it is that I could do, it always seems like such a large task. I too have spent some time traveling (about a years worth) but I’m 19 and ‘stuck’ in college or to take a less systematic option (kind of like what I did in the last year). I too enjoy traveling and writing, mixing and sharing. Hopefully we can all come into who we are preserved to be, as fully as grace allows and do what it is Creation needs of us.

    Thank you, bless you.

    Sincerely,
    MHS

  17. Seetha permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:47 am

    Hi,

    I am Seetha from India and completed my anthropology. I am reading your articles and really inspired by it. I want to contact you through e mail and would like to have your guidance.

    I have taken anthropology to pursue science journalism and writing on different society and culture. Kindly leave a message. Right now i am looking for a job in print media. I will be very glad if you reply me.

    Many thanks in advance.

    regards,

    Seetha

    • Gaia permalink*
      June 5, 2012 3:53 pm

      Hello Seetha, if you want to work as a science journalist, I suggest you find a college course in that and then perhaps approach some local newspapers and magazines. Good luck!

  18. Naim permalink
    June 18, 2012 5:10 am

    Any plan to visit Afghanistan as part of your journey series. Many things to uncover here!

  19. newoaktown permalink
    September 23, 2012 5:24 pm

    hooray, an anne hathaway who cares about the environment! :)

  20. April 18, 2013 1:19 pm

    Hi Gaia,

    I enjoyed reading your article “How to power the urban revolution” on the BBC, which addresses some very important and interesting issues. I’ve been working on a project which seems to address some of the problems you have highlighted, including the need for efficient localisation of energy production.

    Here’s some info if you’d like to take a look; http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fractal-Planning-Solutions-Ltd/109017094107 – further info here too; https://www.box.com/fmps.

    Best of luck with all your work!

    P

  21. Ugyen permalink
    April 19, 2013 5:34 am

    Hi Gaia,
    I enjoyed reading your article tittle “How to power the urban revolution” on BBC. by profession I am an Electrical engineer in small corner of the world. It was really interesting and I wish to see more of such articles in future… Cheers…

    Ciao.

  22. Juan José Fiol permalink
    March 26, 2014 9:14 am

    Hola Gaia:

    Estoy traducienco un artículo de una revista que cita de uno de tus artículos…. quisiera saber si dicho artículo se ha traducido al español. Se trata de la siguiente afirmación: “Around 85% of global fish stocks areover-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation”

    http://www.bbc.com/, September21, 2012, “How the world’s oceans could be running out of fish,” by Gaia Vince, electronic ref., (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120920-are-we-running-out-of-fish/print

    Muchas gracias. Juanjo

  23. May 8, 2014 4:34 am

    Hi Gaia, I am an Australian film direcor pasionate about the enviroment and in 213 directed one of the largest bodies of work on our changing climate system which is now playing in over 40 countries titlled The Tipping Points – seems the only major country not to buy the series has been the UK which is odd as a huge majority of the scientists are from the UK! Anyway if you have time check it out http://www.thetippingpoints.com NOW I am in development on a big series for screen and IMAX about future cities and would really like to connect with you both on a personal and a business level – so please let me know best options? LIz Courtney Unboxed Media Australia http://www.unboxedmedia.com.au liz@unboxedmedia.com.au Thanks, and love your work!

    • Gaia permalink*
      May 8, 2014 9:09 am

      Hi Liz, your film sounds very interesting, I’ll have to check it out. Will email you.

  24. August 27, 2014 11:13 pm

    Congratulations on the recent release of your book Adventures in the Anthropocene A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made – it speaks to everything I hold sacred. I’ve been a fan of yours for some time, and your article on saving our dying coral reefs – the one written in September of 2012 for the BBC was of significant interest. In it you mention a solitary promising project for restoring damaged reef structures located in the Maldives known as Lotus. You describe it as a . . . metal structure that is supplied with a low-level electric current . . . [that] triggers a chemical reaction, which draws calcium carbonate out of solution in the water and it is subsequently deposited on the cage structure. Surprisingly (or perhaps not, to those who understand the ways of coral) these creatures seem to find this irresistible . . . [as] they use the same material to grow their protective skeletons, and the Lotus has been so thoroughly colonized by coral in little over a year, that it is difficult to make out the steel profile beneath all the elaborate shapes and colors. I believe this expertise is known as Biorock Technology.
    It is concerning Biorock and our fragile reef system I am writing you today and with the recent publication of your book, I know you continue to hold an abiding interest in this project and its potential for reversing the death of our coral reefs and returning them to living breathing bionetworks.
    As a long-time devotee of scuba diving, marine life, reef systems, and all else having to do with our oceans, I’ve been intensely troubled with the crisis circumventing the protection of this delicate ecosystem we call the barrier reef system. Since I live in the United States and on Key West six months of the year, I am particular concerned with the coral bionetworks in and around the Southern US and the Caribbean, but as a human being who depends on our oceans for survival, it is the entire ecosystem that I must fight to preserve, and thus my second reason for writing.
    I spent some time in considering who might be an advocate for a flawless and fail-safe plan to insure our reef systems survive for our children and our children’s children and on into perpetuity. For fear of sounding histrionic, we have no other choice after all the harm we have done to so many other areas of our environment, in which we can no longer preserve and which may be lost to us forever – environmental crisis you have so poignantly discussed in Adventures in the Anthropocene . . . . My heart aches at the thought that this could possible occur to our not only visually stunning reef ecosystem, but more importantly one that is essential to man’s very existence.
    As you talked about being the neoprene queen in the 2012 article, I was very aware that you too love the magic known only to scuba divers and that is why, out of so many who write about the world’s fragile ecosystems, I thought you might be just the person to help me carry the torch to save the one so dear to my heart and so essential for the survival of mankind.
    In your July 8, 2014 Blog posts, you talk about all important tipping points. Tony Webb’s USAKW: Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel [http://planetoceanunderwaterhotel.com/] system is the tipping point necessary to save our fragile reef system. Tony, an acquaintance of mine, has a plan in place to do just that, and I believe you’ll find his website absolutely riveting as he discusses a true solution to this impending disaster, one with which you are already quite familiar. It not only identifies a solution, it provides what no other does –a proven solution, Biorock Technology, and the needed funding for the restoration and salvation of fifteen international reef systems. There is simply no other project funded or unfunded, that even begins to provide a solution with its own funding resources attached to it.
    I have conducted an extensive literature review, and I have to tell you, although there is a lot written about the reef systems, their imminent death, our dying oceans, the threat to our very existence, drips and drabs of research coming out of this university or research facility or that, one would be hard pressed to find ANYTHING significant in terms of funding or solution focused projects. Tony has one. Please do yourself and every other scuba diver, naturalist, well, every other human being on this planet a favor and take a moment to read the website, articles, and press releases he has included. Once you have done this, I have to believe you will want to know more, and Tony is very available to speak with you. The project is in Phase Two, but as with any Project of this magnitude, engaging public support and interest is vital.
    After having read your article of September 2012, and subsequently your book, I known you’re the person to lead the information crusade that there is a solution and it won’t cost billions of dollars to initiate or to maintain! Thank you for taking the time to read through my letter. I would love to hear back as to your interest in my proposal once you have had an opportunity for a detailed analysis of the incredible potential to save this ecosystem. I would be happy to speak with you more via phone, email, text, or better yet, have you talk directly to Tony Webb, who has ALL the information, and truly, All the answers – you’ll not be disappointed and all it will take is a ten minute conversation with him to be convinced for yourself. All Tony’s information is available on the website I’ve provided above. I look forward to hearing from you one way or another if just to speak to another person who shares my abiding interest and concerns in our planet.
    Warmest regards,

    Carol Drury
    Dr. Carol Drury & The Visionary Alliance

    • Gaia permalink*
      August 28, 2014 8:54 am

      Hi Carol, Thanks for your interest in my work and in preserving coral reefs! I think these electric structures like Biorock can be a great way of regenerating portions of reef and I wish you every success with the project. The global scale of the challenge facing our reefs is increasingly severe and requires a concerted effort in reducing pollution, acidity, over-fishing and other threats.
      very best,
      Gaia

  25. December 6, 2014 1:10 pm

    Hi. I was fascinated by the Frontier programme about the Vagus nerve. I am a singer and singing teacher. The vagus nerve innervates most of the organs and tissues involved in singing – it reaches the surface of the body in the eardrum and travels to the larynx viva the soft palate. The internal organs it innervates and the excitement of the nerve results in butterflies in the stomach (performers are so familiar with this) and other physical feelings identified with the sympathetic nervous system (angry hard knot in he stomach etx) which are part of expressive music making and emotional connection.

    I am wondering v much whether the old shamanistic idea of singing the body well actually may have its roots in science and neurology after all (I am a bit of a cynic in this regard) and that sound, music particularly, may be a stimulus to this nerve. I would like to research this. Does this idea interest you? Do you think it might be interesting for the people who did this study using electrical stimulation?

    Ideas would include testing for vagus nerve tone before and after choir practice. Working out – if there is a change in tone – how long the practice would have to be to get maximum benefit. Hearing and non hearing music makers. Id there is a difference in vagus tone, is hearing part of that or will the nerve be stimulated anyway? Singers v other music makers (bearing in mind that we hear voice through bone conduction as well as through the air). If there is a difference in tone, Do different pitches make for different stimulation outcomes (bass v treble).

    I think the programme was great.

    If music and sound stimulate vagus and reduce inflammation there is a v good case for music in hospitals, mental health, dementia, schools etc as well as its intrinsic value in those settings.

    Best wishes

    Frith

    • Gaia permalink*
      December 7, 2014 12:03 pm

      Hi Frith, that sounds interesting – why not get in touch with the researchers working with the vagus nerve, and see what they think.

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