GeoLog

Sessions

GeoTalk: “Grown-ups are not focusing on the plastic problem, not as much as I want them to”

GeoTalk: “Grown-ups are not focusing on the plastic problem, not as much as I want them to”

Lucie Parsons, a ten-year old girl from the small village of Walkington, in England, is on a personal mission to save the environment from plastic pollution. After seeing on the BBC Blue Planet II documentary how litter in the ocean is damaging ecosystems, she decided to take action. Now she gives talks and is co-researcher in her mother’s PhD on climate change and the youth voice. Lucie has come to the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna with her mother, Katie Parsons, to tell scientists that children want to be involved in addressing environmental issues.

Unless the flow of plastics and industrial pollution into the world’s oceans is reduced, marine life will be poisoned by them for many centuries to come.

David Attenborough, The Blue Planet II: Episode 4, BBC One

 

How did you learn about the impact of plastic pollution in the oceans and marine life?

L: Through Blue Planet. I saw an episode about a whale and her calf, and how the contamination poisoned the whale’s milk. When I saw that I got really, really upset so I wrote a poster about it. Then I asked my mummy and daddy to photocopy it so that I might be able to put it around the village. I read and watched documentaries to learn more, and I found out that it is a big problem. I wanted to do something about it.

So you started giving talks… 

L: Katy Duke, the head of the [aquarium] Deep in Hull, got in touch with daddy because she saw my poster.

K: I tweeted Lucie’s poster to show what she had done after she was so moved by the documentary. The CEO of the Deep saw that and contacted us to ask if Lucie would like to give the opening talk at the European Union of Aquarium Curators Conference, which the Deep were due to host.

What do you tell people in your talks?

L: I have done two conferences and talks, also at schools. I have also been interviewed for the radio and profiled by the Earth Day Network. In my talks I basically tell people how bad the problem is, what it is doing to the animals and what they can do to help.

Here at the EGU General Assembly people were really touched by your presentation. Do you think your talks make people take action? 

K: Gilles Doignon, from the European Commission for Environment, was really moved about what Lucie had said at the Deep. He promised her that he would get the aquariums to sign up to a plastic pledge.

L: And he managed to do it.

K: He said that, thanks to Lucie, thousands of turtles will be saved. This is where she got her inspiration from to carry on. If she can talk and say the things she has done, even if just one or two people do something about it, that creates a knock-on effect.

Why do you think children should be involved in the fight against climate change?

L: Children are the next generation; when they get older they will take over the work grown-ups have done. So they should start now. Children can do the same things as grown-ups, there is not really a difference with helping, you need to get as many people to help as you can get.

K: Getting schools and individual children involved in science will make it real and manageable, part of life. Otherwise much science ends up in dusty journals. We need people to live it and understand it.

Are grown-ups doing enough?

L: I think they should be doing a tiny bit more. They are not really focusing on the problem, not as much as I want them to.

You have talked to politicians before, why do you think it is important to talk to scientists also?

K: When Lucie was affected by Blue Planet she luckily had me and her dad to help her. But other children will have their passion stopped unless they have an adult who supports them. Some schools don’t do environmental education, it is not within many curriculums, and some parents might not carry on informing their children.

There is amazing science going on and some scientists who communicate get through to the children. There is a youth rising at the moment. Children are interested, they want to know and they want to be involved. But, how? Scientists have to continue feeding the information to the children and involve them in citizen science so they will carry on with that passion.

What can people do to help?

L: Inform other people, go on litter picks and map the areas where they found the litter to help prevent more litter. With my friends and my family, we have cleaned three areas so far in my village and we are mapping them to feed in the data about where we found the litter. Also, stop using single-use plastics.

Is there any other documentary, book or podcast you would recommend to people who want to learn about plastic pollution in the oceans?

L: Drowning in Plastic. We have watched about three quarters of that.

K: You are enjoying that, aren’t you?

L: Yes… Well, I wouldn’t say we are enjoying it.

Interview by Maria Rubal Thomsen, EGU Press Assistant

At the Assembly 2019: Friday highlights

At the Assembly 2019: Friday highlights

The conference is coming to a close and there’s still an abundance of great sessions to attend! Here’s our guide to getting the most out of the conference on its final day. Boost this information with features from EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly – download it here.

Union-wide sessions

The final day of the conference kicks off with the last two Union sessions. The first session, Mountain Building, Volcanism, Climate and Biodiversity in the Andes: 250 years after Alexander von Humboldt (US2: 08:30–12:15 in Room E1), pays tribute to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the intrepid explorer of the Andes and other regions in the world, and the most famous scientist of his time. This symposium will recognise Alexander von Humboldt’s legacy by reviewing the state-of-the-art studies of the coupled lithosphere – atmosphere – hydrosphere – biosphere system with a focus on the Andean mountain belt.

The second and last Union session will focus on Past and future tipping points and large climate transitions in Earth history (US3: 16:15–18:00 in Room E1), The aim of the session is to point out the most recent results concerning how a complex system as the climate of the Earth has undergone many tipping points and what is the specificity of the future climate changes. You can follow both sessions on twitter #EGU19US if you’re not attending, tune in with the conference live stream.

Medal lectures

Be sure to also attend the last two medal lectures of the assembly:

Ilya Usoskin giving the 2018 Julius Bartels Medal Lecture (Credit: EGU/Foto Pfluegl)

Short courses

The last leg of short courses offers insight into new technologies, tips for publishing your work, and advice on how to develop your career and engage with the public. Here are a few of the short courses you can check out today:

Scientific sessions

The four final inter- and transdisciplinary events also take place today, covering all sorts of interesting topics, from climate sciences to geodiversity and geoheritage. Here are the last cross-disciplinary events:

It’s your last chance to make the most of the networking opportunities at the General Assembly, so get on down to the poster halls and strike up a conversation. If you’re in the queue for coffee, find out what the person ahead is investigating – you never know when you might start building the next exciting collaboration! Here are some of today’s scientific highlights:

Today we also announce the results of the EGU Photo Competition! Keep an eye on EGU’s blog and social media pages to find out who the winners are.

What have you thought of the Assembly this week? Let us know at www.egu2019.eu/feedback and help make EGU 2019 even better.

We hope you’ve had a wonderful week and look forward to seeing you in 2019! Join us on this adventure in Vienna next year, 3–8 May 2020.

At the Assembly 2019: Wednesday Highlights

At the Assembly 2019: Wednesday Highlights

We’re halfway through the General Assembly already! Once again there is lots on offer at EGU 2019 and this is just a taster – be sure to complement this information with EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly, available for download here.

Union-wide sessions

Communication between scientists, institutions, policymakers and the general public is widely recognised as an essential step towards a fair and sustainable society. Today’s Science and Society session Science, Politics and European (dis)integration: A conversation of Geoscientists with Ilaria Capua and Mario Monti will focus on science and politics with a global perspective, and the impact of populism on European integrity and therefore scientific research. In this session, Former Italian Prime Minister and European Commissioner Mario Monti and Former Italian Parliamentarian Ilaria Capua will outline optimal strategies that researchers can use to deliver clear scientific messages to key institutions. If you can’t attend the event, you can watch the session through the live stream.

The EGU will welcome Ilaria Capua and Mario Monti at the 2019 General Assembly during the high-level Science, Politics and European (dis)integration session on Wednesday 10 April, 12:45–14:00 in room E1.

Today’s Great Debate addresses Rewards and recognition in science: what value should we place on contributions that cannot be easily measured? (GDB4: 10:45–12:30 / Room E1). Assessments of scientists and their institutions tend to focus on easy-to-measure metrics related to research outputs such as publications, citations, and grants. However, there is a growing need for scientists to communicate, engage, and work directly with the public and policy makers, and practice open scholarship, especially regarding data and software. At the session you can listen to a distinguished panel of stakeholders discuss how can we fairly value and credit harder-to-measure, these less tangible contributions, compared to the favoured metrics. You can also follow the session on Twitter (#EGU19GDB) and catch up with the EGU 2019 webstream.

The EGU Early Career Scientists’ Forum (12:45–13:45 / Room L2) is the best place to find out more about the Union and how to get involved. Because the EGU is a bottom up organisation, we are keen to hear your suggestions on how to make ECS related activities even better. There will be plenty of opportunities during the forum for you to provide feedback. It’s also over lunch, so you’ll find a buffet of sandwiches and soft drinks half way through the session!

In the evening, the EGU will be holding a reception to launch the newest addition to its collection of open access journals, Geochronology (GChron). The reception (PCN10) will be held from 18:00–19:00 at the EGU Booth in Hall X2 on the Brown Level.

Medal lectures and awards

Mioara Mandea giving the 2018 Petrus Peregrinus Medal at last year’s EGU General Assembly. (Credit: EGU / Foto Pfluegl)

Another promising event set for today is the EGU Award Ceremony (PCN3), where the achievements of many outstanding scientists will be recognised in an excellent evening event from 17:30–20:00 in Room E1. Here are some of the lectures being given by these award-winning scientists:

Additionally, a stand-alone lecture will be given by Giulia Sofia from the University of Connecticut on the linkage between humans, precipitation patterns, and floods.

Scientific sessions

There are a host of inter- and transdisciplinary events taking place today. Here are just a sample of what’s on offer:

Check the conference programme or EGU Today for details on the rest of Wednesday’s inter- and transdisciplinary sessions.

And be sure check out some of today’s stimulating scientific sessions:

Short courses

Now on to short courses! Here are just some of the sessions you might want to consider adding to your schedule, from science communication to career development:

There is also a great selection of short courses on problem solving, managing projects, and navigating new technology and programmes:

There are also many great pop-up events planned for today at the Networking and Early Career Scientist Zone, here’s just a few planned for today:

  • Let’s talk peer-review: A chance to discuss and get ideas about how to carry out a thorough peer-review: 10:00
  • Early Career Scientist (ECS) Representatives meet-up: open to all ECS reps: past, present, future: 11:00
  • Meet & Greet with the geomorphology experts: 13:00
  • The IPCC and how you can get involved: 16:00

Perhaps you are looking for something fun and informal? Geoscience Game Night is a bring, show and share session to play some games that have a geoscience theme. Feel free to bring a game or just come along to have some fun. This short course follows the Games for Geoscience oral and poster sessions happening earlier today.

Finally, remember to take the opportunity to meet the people behind EGU in the day’s Meet EGU sessions.

Have an excellent day!

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter at #EGU19.