I started my career in a technical field completing a Bachelor of Science in Honours Chemistry with a focus on environmental chemistry and a final year thesis in atmospheric chemistry. After working at an environmental consulting company, I returned to school to obtain a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering. It wasn’t until designing my Master’s thesis project that I started to become more aware of a world outside of academic science and engineering that could potentially be just as impactful as the technological solutions I was hoping to create.
If you had told me in January of 2017 that I’d be traveling to Bonn, Germany later in the year to witness world discussions on climate action, I would not have believed you. You see, at that time, I had yet to travel outside of the United States because I was terrified of flying over the big, blue ocean! Oh I had dreams to travel abroad, but I’d never acted upon them because of my fear.
Hawaiʻi was fortunate enough to have the honor to host the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress this September. This was the first time in its 70-year history that the Congress has ever been held in the United States. Around 10,000 participants came together in Honolulu and embraced the Aloha Spirit. The sheer size of the Congress was astounding alone but the diversity of people attending made it all the more impressive.
Climate negotiations, like last December in Paris, are complex, complicated, and not always fruitful. Last year, an innovative class for undergraduates at the University of Oklahoma gave students hands-on experience of how climate policy is made. This fall the class will go online for everyone around the world to participate. Here is my interview with the instructor and students of this class to summarize their experience with context to the recent Conference of the Parties (COP21) negotiations.
In a recent article, NASA Climate Scientist Gavin Schmidt explained that every scientist is an advocate, and asks provocatively what should we advocate for? The answer, all successful scientists must advocate for the use of resources to support their research, many of us through formal proposals to government agencies. We advocate on behalf of our students, colleagues, and programs in our universities, laboratories, or companies.