Carlos and Lynda Searle traced the origin of peat’s fossil fuel value, which was recently discovered in Canada.
After Learning How Peat Cn Be Used As A Fossil Fuel, Carlos And Lynda Searched Online
Carlos and Lynda Searle knew when they moved to North America that they would be making the same mistake I did: they assumed, with a bit of knowledge and insider knowledge from their jobs as scientists, that there would be more jobs for scientists in the United States. Sadly, that was not the case. However, with their five young children, they discovered a wealth of knowledge about how water was used around the world, including how peat was used as a fossil fuel—and they used that knowledge. Their secret, which would later find its way into Save Our Water, was that peat was being dredged from areas where rain fell, stored in places like forests, and then put into old-fashioned compressed coal seams, a terrible idea environmentally and economically for many reasons. You can read about their story in A Long Walk Down the Peatland.
Carlos told me that for years people and science magazines has told them that things were going to come right when the new century started. They expected the story to change, and so they started their Ask A Scientist blog in 2010. They decided to keep working with Ask A Scientist because they saw how important it was to people looking for information about their own careers, and Carlos thought that more was needed to save their country from the grave consequences of climate change.
In North America, they discovered that for every job there was an opening for a scientist—especially for those sciences which were and are a key to developing our economy. However, most of us were misinformed about the number of jobs there were, and so more than half of young people didn’t get as far as college. In Cuba, where most career were filled from apprenticeships, there was a worldwide crisis because everyone wanted to go to work, and these people also didn’t have enough experience to fill a job, and so where employers could not find skilled workers, they closed their factories.
Carlos’s and Lynda’s six-year study of the working life of more than 2,000 people, published in a 2008 book, How To Break The Rules, showed that the reasons most often given for dropping out of school were the time commitment of school and the expectations from their families. In addition, Carlos learned that a lot of these young people were overwhelmed by the high-pressure careers they had to follow after school, including a good education, and all the usual career counselling.
Carlos, Lynda, and their children’s garden
What Carlos and Lynda got to see first-hand, with their children, was how best people could influence the environment. In Canada, they saw that the future of land use and agriculture would change with climate change—the demand for crops in the country’s growing urban areas would be greater and less favourable to the use of fields of fields to grow food. People should learn more, which made Carlos think about how we could move into a post-agricultural economy, where people need jobs with no specialization, like farm assistant, to get by.
In his book Do-Gooders Want To Learn, Carlos Searle wrote, “[You] should strive to make earth a rich, creative place, a place that sustains and gathers nature’s energy, a place where the harmony of earth and the body might be rebuilt. To do this, as every human who has ever walked on the earth understands, it’s necessary to return to first principles.”
Carlos Searle and his children’s garden
Carlos is not a young man—he’s 64, and has worked at UF/M in Alaska and at a university in London, England, where he was the head of the ecology department. Lynda is a professor at UF/M’s College of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and the director of several environmental organizations, including the Canadian Institute for Plastics Research and the CMMTEB, where she is an environmental advisor. But Carlos started off as a young lab scientist on the Bering Sea, and it has been revealed that his career began back in 1941, when he helped research and develop submarines.
Ask a Scientist is a yearly campaign by the Times Higher Education, on the occasion of the Times Higher Education Supplement’s publication of the annual science PhD rankings. The University of Saskatchewan is reporting this week, with the help of the Times Higher Education Survey, the outcomes of the rankings, which let us, the individuals, understand where we are in history of how science will shape society.