Madman or prophet? This is the question I asked myself when I discovered the story of Gianluca Grimalda. A member of the Scientists in Rebellion movement, this Italian researcher refused to take the plane to respond to his employer’s request to return quickly to Europe from his research mission located… in Papua New Guinea. A few days later, he learned of his dismissal from the Institute for the World Economy (ifW) in Kiel, Germany.
However, he had been working for six months in remote areas of the island of Bougainville to study the impacts of climate change on rural populations: rising water levels, falling harvests and deterioration of social relations. He felt held by the promise made to these men, women and children to return home using low-carbon modes of transport. “For me, taking a plane when there is an alternative that emits less carbon is immoral,” explains the researcher in an article published on October 13 in the British daily The Guardian. As this issue comes out Pilgrim, Gianluca Grimalda is probably on a train, after having taken a ferry, cargo ship and bus. He calculated that the impact of this trip on the climate will be twelve times less than the air route. And that it will take approximately 35 days of travel instead of 32 hours by plane. His choice appeals to me both by its excess and its ethical accuracy. Isn’t this, ultimately, the mark of a prophetic gesture?