Interview with Alasdair Skelton, Professor of Geochemistry and Petrology, Stockholm University

What do you do in your research?

- I am a geologist. By studying rocks, I learn about how and why Earth’s climate has changed in the past. My main focus is Snowball Earth. This is a period of Earth’s history, approximately 700 million years ago, when Earth’s average temperature may have oscillated from 50 degrees below zero to 35 degrees above zero.

How can your research findings contribute to a fossil-free world?

- Geology places climate change in perspective. For example, when Earth was just 4 degrees colder than it is today, Stockholm was buried beneath kilometers of ice. This was 20 000 years ago. According to IPCC, if we fail to act, we are facing 4 degrees of warming by the end of this century. We do not know the exact consequences but the geological record tells us of their potential severity. Four degrees might not sound like a lot, but it is.

Have your research affected your own lifestyle?

- Yes. The more I learn about how the Earth’s systems responds to a changing climate, the more I look at my own individual carbon footprint and the more I try to reduce it.

How would you advice the CEOs of Sweden om how to best with climate change?

- Encourage immediate action. Make it easier for your employees to act. Look at your own business first and reduce its carbon footprint. Do this before looking at others. Maintain a sense of hope, but be aware that this hope is only well founded if we act immediately.

Alasdair Skelton is Professor of Geochemistry and Petrology, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University

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