Professor George Paxinos – Dad, Grandad, and climate activist

4 min read
Professor  George Paxinos – Dad, Grandad, and climate activist
By Giulia Sirignani

Professor George Paxinos is a globally renowned neuroscientist, a mapper of the brain, an academic and writer and very much the thinker of big ideas.

But there‘re three other titles George relishes more: Dad, Grandad, and climate activist.

“I have always been passionate about the environment and how everything in our world is interwoven and connected.

As a cyclist, I was thinking about reducing my carbon footprint before that expression was even coined.

It’s my duty as a father, grandfather and scientist to play my part in agitating for climate awareness and slowing the rate of global warming for my children, grandchildren and beyond,” says Prof. George. 

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.”

Prof. George says his “getting up” took two decades and comes published as an eco-fiction story, A River Divided, filled with swash and buckle and life’s meanings in all the ups and downs.

We must remind our children to keep on trying despite our defeats,” urges the 78-year-old world-celebrated neuroscientist, professor at the Uni of NSW and recipient of an Order of Australia.

“I am motivated by defeat and failure. They’ve taught me a lot. For decades I was involved in environmental causes, in direct action, but in everything I tried, I failed. I failed to enter the New South Wales Parliament and, in the 1980s, I failed to get the government to reintroduce trams to Sydney. So, I thought I’ll write a novel and work upstream of behaviour, to change people’s attitudes toward the environment. That might ensure a better outcome.”

The outcome he’s seeking is about as ambitious as his other achievement which is mapping the human brain like no other neuroscientist in history. Yep, tick, he’s done that.

Now, Prof. George wants urgent action to save our natural world, tackle the climate crisis, stop Australia from producing fossil fuels and get humans to avert self-induced extinction.

All the while he wishes you a good day and that your brain may shrink less than expected for your age! Our brains are all diminishing, says Prof. George, so hope for slow shrinkage and use them as best you can to preserve our planet.

Prof. George has published 57 academic books, but A River Divided is his only novel. Set across four continents, the professor uses his formidable knowledge to examine the limits of science and the brain.

He poses the searing questions of our time: can humans and nature co-exist in harmony? How much of our belief system is influenced by genes and how much by our environment?

What are we willing to live without? Is the brain in the Goldilocks zone or is it neither small enough not to cause environmental destruction nor large enough to solve the environmental problem it created?

No time to read? Get the audio book here or here.

A River Divided is about identical twins who are unaware each other exists until their momentous meeting in the Amazon.

“In the twins, we see how the environment has sculpted their personality differently, yet allowing for the contribution of genes,” explains Prof. George. “The story also deals with the power of the brain to deal with the environmental problems it itself created.”

Although it’s posing big questions, this thrilling novel leaves its readers grateful that George Paxinos failed and then got up. 

This grandad is not slowing down!

Professor George Paxinos is an author and environmentalist who has been fighting for the planet for decades. This book is credited with helping to launch the modern climate movement through literature. Prof. George is a true climate warrior, and his epic fight for the planet inspires us all to keep fighting for a better future.

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