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Where's Gaia? Journey's End

In March this year, Gaia Vince’s epic 27-month world tour came to an end. The daughter of ASK principal Ivan Vince had been visiting the parts of the planet worst affected by climate change and writing about her experiences. Her journey ended in a wooden cabin on a beach in Tulum, Mexico, with her travelling companion Nick.

Writing for her blog, Wandering Gaia, she described the deep impressions left by the people she met on her travels. ‘We have visited the most desperate slums, the poorest people – some of whom are literally starving – stayed in dodgy, grubby places with no security, and yet, despite our obvious wealth, nothing has been stolen from us, we have never been physically threatened or robbed. People have responded to their duty of hospitality and made us feel safe and welcomed.’

Through blog posts and articles in the Guardian, New Scientist and numerous other publications, Gaia exposed the harsh realities of climate change – from the islands disappearing under rising seas to the rhinos hit by monsoons that turn up at the wrong time of year – but also the creative approaches communities are taking to adapt to it. In India, she met The Glacierman, who is making artificial glaciers that supply water to those farming the parched land of a high-altitude desert. And in Peru, she stumbled upon a team of scientists using guinea pig poo to power their homes.

For more than two years, Gaia lived with only the items she could carry on her back. But on March 22nd, faced with the prospect of packing for the flight home to London, Gaia found herself in conflict. ‘I prepare myself... for the comforts and entertainments of a Western metropolis, its speed and its anger and hostility, its wonderful anonymity but also (and in all senses) its coldness,’ she wrote, from Tulum beach.

Having dealt with the culture shock, Gaia is indulging in Western pleasures like BBC radio and radiators. But in a sense her journey has not ended – now installed at the offices of Nature Climate Change as Editor of the News & Opinion pages, she continues to explore the effects of climate change from her comfort of her desk. Her forthcoming book Adventures in the Anthropocene is keenly anticipated by readers of her blog.

Read previous instalments of Where's Gaia? in our news archive

Image: Wandering Gaia

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