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Lucy Gilliam's story

Updated Thursday, 24th December 2009
Explore the personal side of climate change with Lucy Gilliam's diary entry.

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Name: Lucy Gilliam
Organisation: The Carbon Cycle

What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?

I was blessed to grow up in the countryside surrounded by beautiful rivers, streams, fields and orchards. My holidays were spent by the sea. I love being outdoors and I love wildlife. In my childhood bedroom I had posters from Greenpeace. The first environmental issue I fully understood was acid rain followed global warming. My bed linen was even from Greenpeace and had a picture of Antarctica and penguins on it. Environmental science and Art were my favourite subjects at school. I studied Andy Goldsworthy as my GCSE arts final exam.

I became vegetarian when I was 8 for Philosophical reasons. Intensive meat production is bad for our health, the animals and our environment. I can't believe that anyone thinks its acceptable to cut down rainforest to make way for cattle ranching and soy bean plantations.

My grandfather gave me a subscription to National Geographic when I was 10. My mother is a biologist and my father an engineer so i've always had very good access to the latest in environmental thinking. I also love all the David Attenborough documentaries. My heart broke when I saw how polar bears have begun to drown as ice melts faster.

What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?

I'm very concerned with the levels of environmental pollution everywhere and the short term throw away culture we have evolved in the West.

The levels of PCBs, Dioxins and heavy metals that contaminate the food chain, reside in the body fat of mammals such as polar bears, whales and ourselves.

The rate at which greenhouse gases are being emitted into our atmosphere. The rate at which soil degradation and desertification is spreading worldwide.

I find it incredible the extent to which we, as a civilisation, are dependent on fossil fuels for our most basic of human needs, our food.

Now, I find it hard not to rage at the environmental destruction and the losses of biodiversity.

What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?

The psychology of behaviour change in light of climate change.

Social models in relation to building resilience and how to adapt the current systems to more resourceful and intelligent modes of living.

Decarbonising the food supply chain and how to grow sufficient food for a growing population while reducing fossil fuel consumption. A serious challenge!

I'm also interested in education. How to inspire the next generation on scientists and engineers to problem solve and shape our resourceful sustainable clean future. How to be a positive green and walk the walk.

How optimistic or pessimistic are you as you look at where we might be in 2020, and why?

At the moment I'm optimistic. I think people are starting to wake up and modify their behaviours. New media channels are opening up and people have access to information like never before.

People are realising that we cannot continue to consume and pollute as we have been doing. We will wipe ourselves out if we do. The planet will be remain whatever but possibly our civilisation will not. These are very interesting times.

As a race we have achieved many great things. We have put man on the moon, we have invented powered flight and space craft, built beautiful temples and crafted amazing works of Art. We can see the world from all angles and explore the depths of space. But can we save ourselves?

The opinions expressed here are those of the respective posters and do not reflect those of the BBC or The Open University. The BBC and The Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.


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