Rights: Thin Ice/University of Waikato Published 30 March 2017 Download

For Professor Ros Rickaby, the challenge to help a find a solution to climate change came early in her career. She explains why she feels it is up to her generation to solve this problem.

Jargon alert

Ros refers to her “PhD viva”. A viva is an oral exam, it comes from the Latin term ‘viva voce’.


Professor Ros Rickaby

I had an external examiner for my PhD viva who was a very renowned climate scientist. I remember coming out of my viva and talking with this examiner, and he was asking me what I was going to do next, and I said I was a little undecided and toying with the idea of going into the business world, and he said, “Well, the problem of climate change is such an important problem, and it’s up to your generation to solve it. We need good scientists to solve this problem now.”

And it’s really our responsibility, actually, to study and understand past climates, the evolution of the planet to the modern day so that we can try and either ameliorate the future or at least understand the future.

I was talking with somebody about what the problem of climate change is like, and they said it’s rather like being in a taxi, being driven through fog where you feel totally out of control. You are going through this fog, you hope you stay on the road but you can’t see where you are going, and I think that was a really nice analogy to have, and it really brings power to the fact that we really would like that vision – we need some headlights to see our way through the fog, and I think that it is our responsibility to solve this problem. It’s a big problem facing humanity.


This video is an extract from Thin Ice – The Inside Story of Climate Science, a David Sington/Simon Lamb film.

The full documentary film is available by emailing thiniceclimate@vuw.ac.nz. The link for streaming is available free of charge. The DVD is also available to New Zealand schools for $20 to cover costs.