Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's finals week?

I feel like I am pretty conscious about sustainability in my everyday life, since I came to college. I am much more aware when I am home about how wasteful people and places are- the area is also different, and has less local resources to offer. I am already vegetarian, my car gets 37 mpg, I unplug my appliances, recycle, compost...what else is there? SO MUCH. While home for break, I will continue to change my own habits as I can. As for my two major commitments:

1. PowerShift. GO TO IT! Not only am I going, but I'm helping organize the Finger Lakes Delegation (?) with IC, Cornell, and Wells College. Really, everyone should go- a group of us are working it out so that it will be a great trip, at little cost to students, and the experience will be unforgettable. If anyone has a house that could be available in the D.C. area, let me know. It's not Poznan, but it's a great way to stay involved and spread the message of sustainability, and also of the youth movements happening all over the world. Talk to me and register at !!

2. It's a lot easier to make changes in a house than in my dorm, so I am going to go ahead and say that when I move off campus in the summer, our house is going to compost, carpool, etc... We are also going to join a CSA- community supported agriculture. This way, we are getting local and organic foods all the time, which will support the local economy and supplement what we cannot grow ourselves. I'll try to get my mom to start composting at home again, too.

I miss Poland, but am excited to reunite at Power Shift!


Friday, December 12, 2008


So, there is a constant struggle between sustainability and laziness in my life. This is something I don't like to admit because I try really hard to be productive, occasionally. Anyway, my laziness is going to help me out with one of the things I'm going to do. I'm avoiding actually going shopping this year by offsetting my parents' vehicles for Christmas--maybe my sister's too but I already got her some loot from Polska. I am doing this in hope of spreading some awareness within the family unit. I think my parents are a little worried about me since I've given up driving, stopped eating meat, stopped cutting my hair, etc.--they're probably wondering if it's their fault that their quiet, polite son started hugging trees. Anyway, I know my parents (and cousins and aunts and uncles, etc.) have a lot to learn, so I'm committed to spreading some environmental awareness this holiday season. (Also, I bought my mom a Moosewood cookbook so that she can cook some great veg meals for me over break).

Also, I've been meaning to start composting at my house for a while. Some guys I hung out with a lot of the summer in Atlanta had a small compost in their back yard, and replicating it has been on my to do list for a while now. I bet one or two of my roommates don't even know what composting is...



There are so many things that I can say about what I learned, and what new feelings I now have because of my trip to Poland and the UN-FCCC. Like Astrid, many of these issues were not knew to me, but I too felt a new sense of urgency and energy about climate change and all of the environmental/social issues that go along with it.

Being in the US and having conversations about these issues almost makes them seem fake, or as if they're someone else's problem. Sounds weird to say, I know...

But, at the conference, with people from around the world, I learned an entirely new perspective on these issues. Climate change IS happening, it is occurring at a DRASTIC rate, it WILL affect the entire globe, and we ALL have an extreme duty to act NOW. I knew all of these things, but something in me changed.

So for my two promises...

I promise to remember what I learned and to spread the word. Next week in my ecology class, I am presenting some of the more important issues (in my opinion, very similar to that of an ecologist) to my fellow classmates. This was not the assignment, of course, for the final exam... I asked to do this instead. I am going to prepare a pamphlet to give out as well in hopes of really inspiring people to share what they learn with others. I have also spoken out in some of my other classes during discussion to really drive home that the opinion that many US citizens have about climate change is inappropriate. Expanding on this idea, I promise to continue to educate myself on this issue and share what I learn. I am graduating in a week and plan to get in touch with some of the people who's business cards I got at the conference.

On a more personal level, I'm going to "weatherize" my apartment. It's old and pretty rickety. Windows, cracks around doors, cracks in walls and molding, programmable thermostat, etc. All to be done ASAP. I've had the supplies for a while, and now I'm going to make the time. I'm also going to share this idea with my friends and family- many of whom just turn up the heat.

Poland was great and I'll never forget it. It couldn't have come at a better time for me- being a new grad and all- curious about where I may end up.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talking Trash

Sorry this is a bit late, I had it written down but I forgot to post it online.
It is the last day of the conference and today I went to a really interesting side session. It was based on an idea of zero waste but not all of the speakers specifically spoke about waste. The problems with CCS, nuclear power and hydropower were discussed but… I’m not going to talk about those because I don’t want to be writing pages and pages.
The presentation that I will discuss was by a man who worked for He talked about how waste was not considered by the IPCC to be a huge part of carbon emissions. This is because the IPCC only considers methane releases from landfills to be the emissions from waste. In actuality, waste could be the cause of 38% of emissions. These high emissions are caused by the linear system of production that exists in many countries around the world and especially in the US. Products are not made to be recycled, reused or composted; right now they are made to be used and discarded. Throughout this whole system of mass production of products that will just be thrown out and the energy and resources used to create them lost to landfills or trash burning (which also releases harmful emissions and pollution) huge amounts of emissions are created. Instead, the speaker said, we should focus on composting, recycling and reusing. Composting recycles organic resources, creating fertilizer that can replace environmentally harmful inorganic fertilizers. Recycling reduces the need for new natural resources and the degradation from mining, pumping and other methods of extraction that accompany their creation. The last method we should use to reduce both waste and unnecessary production of goods is reuse. This saves all GHG’s from transport, processing and creation costs of goods. Right now, some goods cannot be recycled so, our society needs to move toward more recycling friendly uses of resources and using only resources that can easily be recycled. I thought this part of the side event was fascinating; this fault of a linear system of production is not often discussed in sustainability talks. It makes me wonder about the sick place we live in that chooses to throw away valuable resources and mine new ones instead of just using what already exists, what we have already acquired. We haven’t created a more circular system of production because it would have high upfront costs and would require new capital to be built. As a result, it probably won’t happen unless we either have huge government policy changes or large-scale small changes of lifestyle, cultural changes that happen over long periods of time.
That was a great side event…
-Doug Indrick

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moving Forward

So now that the conference is over, we have been challenged to find two things that we can do NOW to help fight climate change.

1. I am going to bring this information to camp. I have worked at an overnight summer camp for the past couple years, and I am already thinking of ways to get these ideas across to the kids- maybe we can even start a compost pile at camp? I think this will actually work very well, becuase when I was a camper at this camp I took the things I learned over the summer and brought them home. So if we can teach the kids just to use a water bottle instead of buying bottled water, or helping them learn to recycle, it would be great.

2. I am going to make a conscious effort to dispose of my waste properly at the end of the semester. Usually I just stuff everything I dont want into a garbage can and leave it, but this year I will make the effort to recycle all the paper I don't need anymore and compost the leftover food I have.


Sustainable New Year's Resolutions

Its very hard to reflect on such a unique experience when you have papers to write, projects to finish and present, and finals to take. But it also makes looking back at Poland that much better. In light of our upcoming holiday break, these are my two sustainable new year's resolutions:

1. become a vegetarian. This is something I've been thinking about for a while. Its time to do it! Not only can meats be questionable, but they take a lot more resources to get on my plate. This will be a big step in reducing my carbon footprint.

2. keep making a difference in the Ithaca College community. At the conference, I was proud to be from such a sustainable school, but Ithaca has a ways to go. Right now my project for dining services is trayless dining. I would like the whole campus to be trayless by the end of the year.

At the opening ceremony, Yvo de Boer commenting on the progress this conference and Copenhagen must make saying: "We must go from saying that we will to saying that we have" I hope I can do the same.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

what I will do...

So the two things that I will do to reduce my carbon footprint are:

1) Cut down significantly on my consumption of meat. I was a vegetarian for several years, but started eating meat again when I came to college. Although I don't eat red meat, I know that I could be eating less chicken and turkey than I do. Ideally I would like to phase meat out of my diet completely.
2) I would like to influence my friends and family to be more conscious of their actions in regards to their emissions. There are things that I see my friends and family do that I know I should talk to them about, but in general I keep my mouth shut because I don't want to sounds "preachy." Well I think that now is the time that I need to let people know how I feel and how they can help too!

Hope I can stick to these!!


everyones contributions to decline the rate of global warming makes a difference..

Back in Ithaca and beginning to readjust..i cant believe how overwhelming everything is right now..

The intergenerational talk was very inspiring and one of the delegates called for everyone to find ways to reduce their impacts on global warming. Everyone needs to be making their contributions and so here are some of mine..

-during the summer i drive all around the country..alot. i only purchased carbon offsets for 1 trip of many this past summer and i plan from now on to do so for all trips i take. (along with continuing all carpooling attempts etc).
-i also plan to make the choice to live downtown next year and bring my bike up. This will be with the intention of only driving to campus when needed. I do the majority of my driving into town and the downtown area and its a big problem driving back and forth up the hill to campus. I will only drive to campus, and when doing so attempt to carpool etc depending on circumstances.

I miss the conference and all that..i feel like i learned more in the last week then i had in any week all year. and now im off to attempt to catch up with everything so that i can begin to tackle finals which are looming ever closer.
until Copenhagen,

Next steps

Arriving back in Ithaca there seems to be a lot to do. Armed with new found knowledge and an increased awareness of the state of the globe I have the sense that I must be very cognizant of my own actions as well as spread the word. These issues (climate change, environmental crises, social equity, etc.) are not exactly new to me, but there is a new found sense of urgency kindled by the energy created at the conference - both the serious and dry energy of the negotiations and the rich and creative energy of the side session panelists and the youth delegations.

With not much time on my hands to elaborate, I would like to at least put forth the two commitments (out of more that I can think of) that I would like to pledge to myself, as suggested by the delegate from Costa Rica. So, here goes... drum roll please... Number ONE: Finally put up the darn clothes line that I have told myself I'd get for the last couple of years. By May 1st when the sun has once again begun to shine, I will have that clothes line up. Number TWO: I think it is important that IC sends a racially diverse group of students to the UNFCCC conference next year. I would like to work to make this happen by connecting with some of the student clubs that may not necessarily see the conference, with its emphasis on the environment, as relevant to their immediate concerns. Yet social justice pervades the conversation and it is essential that a diverse group of people, from all nations, will be present at all future conferences.

While the conference was full of depressing news and we can easily get overwhelmed we absolutely must continue to be inspired by the actions of others and to take the small but achievable steps that we can as we walk into the coming decades together.

As my new friend Eduardo from Chile said "Que les luchen." ... roughly translated: "May they continue the fight..."

So, keep the hope alive, thanks to all the students who participated and long live your energy and commitment!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Back at IC

After a good 24 hours of traveling and 3 hours of sleep since yesterday at 6pm(east coast time), I am back at IC and catching up to everyone else. Although I have more work then I could imagine and have missed a very important deadline, there is nothing that could convince me that going to Poland was a bad decision.

The last few days of the conference were, in my opinion, the best. I was able to go to a variety of side events and enjoyed them more because I had found what I am truly interested in. The adaptation side events quickly became my favorite. The information about what different smaller countries were doing to adapt was most intriguing to me, especially the stories of indigenous people.

What I also enjoyed was the World Business Council for Sustainable Development side event. The side event was run by George Weyerhaeuser, who is a familiar figure with me since the Weyerhaeuser company is from the northwest. The WBCSD had many good points about how the business sector should be involved in the 2012 decisions because they have methods that may help and they contribute to GHG emissions greatly.

I miss the conference and Poland very much, and I am sad to be back and be required to get back to my school work.

Copenhagen 2009!

(I was a little behind in the blogging so I wrote this on the plane on the way home).

When I first started writing this I joked that I was going to start with: “as I sit here on the plane and reflect back upon our trip…” But that’s exactly what I’m doing right now, so as corny and cliché as it sounds, I guess that's how I'm going to start.

As I sit here on the plane listening to someone speaking polish over the intercom, I’m reflecting back on this last week. In a way that much didn’t really change (I still don’t have any idea what that woman is saying besides the occasional thank you but I now know everyone’s name in the class and have a much better understanding climate change policy. Apparently Matt doesn’t though- he is calling me Laura. He claims that he’s joking but I don’t believe him. It’s strange to think that I didn’t anyone in our class a week ago, Nancy was just the really nice girl with three minors, Casey the kid with the cool hat, and Jordan the girl with all the nice shoes.

Over the past week I think I got more information thrown at me than this entire semester, and got enough stuff to read to last me the next six months. I’m flipping through the notebook I had been keeping and am realizing how much I really learned this week. It sure was more informative than a week of classes.

I also got the opportunity to meet a professor from Cornell who spike at a side event. Stewart (sp?) a new friend from Honolulu, that I think the majority of the people in the group met, had told me about him. He is a soil scientist who is studying Biochar. It is a really interesting way of sequestering carbon in the soil for long periods of time.

This practice has long been in use in the Amazon where the soils are very nutrient poor. This practice not makes land more fertile while getting pollutants out of the atmosphere. It is also advantageous because it is made from organic waste (such as lawn and agricultural waste, among many other things). Thus, the waste doesn’t get put into landfills where it would also release methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

To make biochar, you burn this organic waste at a high temperature so that the carbon become paralyzed (or something of the sort? I may or may not understand all of the scientific details). When burning the waste to make the biochar, the gasses can be trapped to make energy. In the end, 40% of the initial carbon in the plant is kept out of the atmosphere.

Well, we’re landing now, and have a 2-3 hour layover in Warsaw. Now I have a trip to the duty free shop and hopefully some back massages to look forward to before our ten hour flight.

You know what? I still don’t even know how to say goodbye in Polish. I guess I shouldn’t really be leaving yet.

Until Copenhagen,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peace out, Poznan!

Well, in a few minutes we will be leaving this conference centre, where we have spent so much of the past 5 days of our lives, forever.

This entire week has been such a whirlwind adventure of trying to get around this foreign country, explore, feed ourselves, learn and see as much as humanly possible, and communicate with native Polish speakers without being laughed at - TOO much, at least!

The most powerful thing I have seen this week was something I very nearly passed by. There is an amazing technology exhibit on site where all sorts of climate-saving innovations are displayed. Everything from solar power, biomass, transportation, wind power, adaptation projects - even a sustainable 'discotheque' - were displayed in an enormous room that took me about 2 1/2 hours over the span of two days to explore and completely absorb. There's a second adjoining room with booths from a university in Poznan, some environmental groups, and a few other exhibits with some pamphlets and representatives talking about their organizations. We were getting ready to leave to go to a Polish McDonald's (quite an adventure all in its own, I might add) when I started reading an enormously long poster - The Hard Rain Project.

The Hard Rain Project was started by Mark Edwards. I don't know the complete background of the project yet, but he basically took the lyrics to the Bob Dylan song 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' and matched each line to a corresponding photograph. The images (dead bodies, a bird covered in oil, women with AIDS, a shriveled up lake, a destroyed forest, etc) were incredibly powerful; I had never seen anything of that magnitude at this conference. For more information, see

I had the chance to explore the greater Poznan area today and yesterday, partially due to my own inability to go places without getting lost. We've been enjoying some good food, good wine, and are excited to have some good times tonight as we celebrate our last night in Poland! Our last conference 'hurrah' was a side event that only ended about 20 minutes ago. It was about how the US and Canada can meet the 25% by 2020 reduction goal for industrialized countries, and it was actually very hopeful. The speaker, who was from the Union of Concerned Scientists, gave a very interesting presentation and even popped a Bush joke at the beginning!

Well, I'm being rushed out of the computer room - in 12 hours we begin our epic journey home to Ithaca! See everyone soon!

Yet again I messed up the process by hitting enter by accident.

The event also talked Obama's position which plans on investing enough to create 5 million green jobs and get our country back on track. After the event matt drew and I went to dinner at this really nice italian restruant and had the most relaxing meal of the trip. Tonight where are going back out to some bars and having the last night of this experience. I bought my mom some presents and went to a McDonald's today. Life is good but I am looking forward to getting back so I can breathe, this smoggy air has left me coughing up some wierd things.

So it's our last day here and this was simultaneously the longest and shortest week I've had in a while. I think it's time for the end though, my brain has officially reached saturation point.

Today was a nice and liesurely day (a stark contrast with just about every other day here). I actually woke up before my alarm clock this morning which scares me because I think I'm finally running on Poland time.. just in time to go home. I finally got around to seeing the technology exhibit everyone's been raving about for the past few days, and it was incredible! I was near tears when I saw the Hard Rain Project, which you need to see and get the background story of to understand:, and I've had Dylan stuck in my head all day because of it. Not all of the tech exhibit was depressing, though, most of it was inspiring and really cool. There was a "field" of smiley-faced paper flowers with solar powered motors attached to them, which oscillated back and forth to look like they were dancing. The most interesting was a tiny little station on red algae as an alternative for paper, the information for which they actually printed on paper made from red algae. It feels just like newsprint and is totally functional and would save mass amounts of deforestation. Sooo cool!

Being the only art major in the group I naturally spent a lot of time today as I did yesterday in the Art exhibit (which was 100% unrelated to the conference but reminded me that I have interests outside of environmentalism). I wish it wasn't so impractical to buy paintings and fly them home.

I'll probably miss some quirky things about Poland, but definitely not the smog. My lungs are not doing well and I need some Ithaca air!

Carpe Diem

The end

So the last side event of our last just ended meaning that the conference has ended and we are getting ready to go out before packing sleeping and leaving tomorrow. Luckily, I just had some of the best four hours of the trip. I went to an event on green jobs in the U.S. by a group consisting of the sierra club and others. It pretty much explained how our refusal to become more energy efficient economy has left us behind and that had we signed Kyoto we would have already created 1.7 million jobs in order to meet the requirements. Also if we invested 100 billion dollars over the next two years we could generate 2 million jobs lowering the unemployment rate by 1.7% (and according the the New York Times today that rate just increased to 6.7%.

Do Widzenia Poznan!

I cannot believe the week has come to an end already. We have definitely not had enough time here, but i don't think even the full two weeks would be enough. There is always so much going on at once, its impossible to see it all. I feel like I've had a good mix of the negotiations, side events, other talks, viewing booths, talking and networking, taking it all in, sightseeing, shopping and so much more. The experience was much different then i expected but so much better in so many ways. The amount of information I've taken in and now am able to bring back with me makes my mind feel full (i have no idea how all that finals info is going to seep in).

Earlier today i went to a really good talk on "growing together in a changing climate-an inter generational inquiry on climate solutions". The best part of it was a youth delegate from Australia who was apparently trained by Al Gore. She talked about how the only solution to the economic crisis was through solving the economic crisis. She was really inspiring in regards to youth action. The one problem i have had with the conference is that it seems that it has been more talk then action. Her speech made me feel that even if that is the case now, once our generation comes into power we will have more hope. She made a good point that in order for us to take off with these changes our current delegates need to put the plans in place.

Overall this experience has been incredibly inspirational. I definitely want to come back next year if i have the opportunity again. I got a chance to meet someone who may very well help me with my career later and i feel like there is alot going on. There is so much here to take advantage of and if i do get another opportunity i would definitely want to stay for the full two weeks. I hope that what we all have learned can help make a difference when we get home.


Last Minute Random Thoughts

This week has been an absolute whirlwind! Everything has gone by very fast, but eerily slow at the same time... and we're all feeling it. I really think that many of us were too idealistic in thinking that all would work out (concerning leaving school for a week and still getting our work done).

If we haven't been at the conference, we've been eating (but also usually at the conf). If we haven't been eating, we've been sleeping (also sometimes at the conf).

And if we haven't been sleeping, we've been LOST! Seriously! Our route to the conference takes an hour on a normal day, but just about everyday it has turned into considerably more. We get on the wrong tram, or the right tram going the wrong way, we miss the tram, the tram doesn't work, we make it to the tram just before it leaves yet it doesn't open the doors and let us on, the tram decides to take us on a different route and then tell us we have to get off in the middle of freaking nowhere! Yeah, that last one happened last night... 2 hours of walking to get home!

Homework has been absolutely impossible for these reasons. We spend all day the conf. and then deal with serious transportation issues. When we get lost, or frustrated, we all just blurt out F***ing Poland! And then start laughing... it's become our thing. I'm gonna miss it, actually!

Some of my favorite/most hated moments:
1. Arriving the first day, for the first time to the United Nations World Conference, of hugely important World figures, Brittan gets out of the cab and pukes on the front steps! Oh, it was awesome!
2. Losing my camera, but finding my way to Stary Browar (the absolutely incredible mall complete with Dolce, Versace, Benaton, etc.) to buy a new one. And for an AMAZING price ($100 less than listed in the US).
3. Getting dropped off in Poznan with no idea of where I lived. But then finally printing out a map.
4. Meeting people at the conference and around town and then seeing them again! Very unlikely in a building of 11,000 people! Kind of makes it feel like Ithaca.
5. Seeing Yoni from Rochester, NY!
6. Presenters putting too much text on their power point slides, and then READING it... terribly annoying.
7. The old Cathedral of Poland... 1,000 years old and gorgeous!
8. Not feeling anything in my body except for sore feet, legs, back, and shoulders.
9. Giving a gift (flowers) to our house-lady (the owner, she stays in the basement).
10. Almost getting attacked by that FREAKY little dog that came out of absolutely nowhere!
11. The girls that work in the Tourist Booth... they were so nice! (And spoke English) They even called the bar and taxi company and translated into Polish that I had lost my camera. And translated a Peirogi menu for me... mmm...!
12. Getting screamed at in Polish for who knows what by who knows how many people only to reply, dzien dobry ("hello!").
13. Getting a cappucino every time I ordered a coffee, or having to drink instant. I miss Gimmee!
14. All the fantastic networking that I've done! I think I could get a job out of this!
15. The fantastic group dinner we had in downtown Poznan... authentic Polish food... delicious! And lots of wine!

Well, time to go! I'm excited to get home, and really excited to graduate! Just not terribly excited for the immense amount of work that the next two weeks will bring!


Preparing for Jet Lag: Round 2

The fact that our trip is coming to a close is quite depressing. I still feel like we just got here and that there is still so much I would love to see and do. Fortunately I did get to experience quite a bit in the short time we had.

Lack of fresh air was making me feel a bit under the weather so this afternoon I left the conference for awhile to go for a walk. I ended up in a large park where I saw a number of Polish bird species. Anyone who knows me will understand how exciting this was. It was nice to spend some time by myself relaxing and getting to know the city.

Yesterday I spent some time experiencing the technology exhibition. It was very interesting and entertaining. My favorite part was an exhibit of large black balls that showed the carbon emissions of various countries relative to eachother by size. Obviously the US was the largest by far. I also enjoyed seeing the various vehicles, all running on different fuel sources, and the sustainable dance club.

Today I went to a session about cities in least developed countries adapting to climate change. It was a depressing, but eye opening presentation. Representatives from four cities including Harare, Zimbabwe, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Khulna City, Bangladesh, and Diourbel, Senegal gave presentations about how climate change is and will be affecting their cities. It was amazing to see how much these cities were already feeling the wrath of climate change. Some had had significant increases in malaria and cholera, while others were experiencing sea level rise and extreme weather events in unprecedented force and frequency.

Next I am going to attend a session about how the US and Canada can reduce their emissions. This should be interesting!

I wish that we had more time here but I am thankful for the experience I have had and what I have gotten out of it. This conference certainly has opened my eyes to aspects of climate change that I never before considered and leaves me wanted to learn more and be more proactive in my own life.



Cheers Poland!

This conference has been amazing. I know I keep talking about how insane of an experience this is but I continue to be astounded by it! It is not really what I expected, but that could be because I had no idea what to expect. It has proven to be a great place for tons of resources. I feel like I have learned a lot and expanded my knowledge on so many different topics. I am way more interested in adaptation than I was before and think I might even want to do work in that sort of spectrum. At least in a way that gives communities and indigenous people rights and control of their land. Greenpeace is another organization that I am interested in and would love to maybe work for in the future. There are so many options and so much going on with environmental work. Although this conference seems to be pretty slow with progress towards making decisions, it's great to see that at least something is being done. Going to the side event held by the UNFCCC today on inter-generational inquiry on climate solutions made me realize how local level change and movement might just be the way to go. The policy side seems so boring and negative to me at this point seeing as though every time I hear anyone talk about change it seems to be so far in the future. It seems like an immediate problem to me and its bothersome that there aren't more delegates from Annex 1 countries that feel that something needs to happen now and happen fast.

I wish I had more time to be in Poland and explore Europe, but this will just have to be a taste of what's more to come! I am so happy I got to be here and experience this with everyone. Being here another week would be great, but I guess finals are calling... eww.

peace and love,

Last full day in Poland

So today is our last day in Poznan, which is kind of depressing. This whole week has really flown by. There is always something to do, whether its attending a side event, checking out all the different exhibits with various technologies and sustainable art or trying to find the receptions after the events with the free food.

The past couple days I have had the opportunity to get to see some pretty cool and interesting side events. Some of the more notable ones have been about the business side to climate change. Ive gotten to learn a lot about carbon markets and pricing. How cap and trade systems are apart of this as well as how to finance the systems and policies necessary with much needed investment. Being a business student, I have gained a lot of knowledge coming to the conference that I never knew even existed. I have also learned strategies on how to implement what is necessary to start moving businesses towards more sustainable lifestyles and the areas where there are huge opportunities for them with significant benefits towards the environment and economically as well. I hope that I can use this knowledge to benefit me as well, using what I have learned and apply it to what I want to accomplish.

I have also gotten to explore Poznan a bit more. The other day a few of us got some time to go a cathedral, actually just called The Cathedral, which was beautiful. It was on a little island a little outside the busy area of Poznan and its where the city of Poznan actually started from. Other than that though I didnt get to do much sightseeing.

Tomorrow, we fly from Poznan to Warsaw and then from Warsaw back to New York where hopefully I can spread the knowledge I have taken away from this experience and pass it on to others. I am grateful that I have had this opportunity and I hope to be able to come back again next year to add to what I have taken away from this week.

See you all soon,

The weather here is too similar to Ithaca

So this morning I went to a side event held by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with GERES...I really had never heard of GERES but it was supposed to be about fighting both climate change and poverty, which I find interesting. Sadly, the event was not what I expected. I actually don't think any of the 6 panelists said anything about poverty. They talked a lot about carbon financing, and the president of the organization explained some biochar-like stove that I believe was meant to give more people access to cooking and food. They just did a poor job of integrating the presentation, and I don't feel like I came out with what I was hoping. Since I had lost interest, and the man next to me had been asleep for 40 minutes, I left when they started questions and went to the art exhibit. That was a much better idea, even though most of the artists didn't speak enough English for me to find out where the pieces were from or anything.

I'm leaving the conference with a lot of questions, but they're all in the notebook I left at the house. Basically, there is no one solution to climate change, and after going to dozens of side events, it seems like policy will not change if everyone is only concerned with their own agenda. I really hope that the next week of the conference is successful in addressing a holistic approach to the agreement to come next year at COP 15.


last blog

sadly today is the last day of our conference attendance! it went pretty quickly now that it's almost over, but I do feel like I've been here for a few weeks. been attending mostly side events and went to my first pro nuclear discussion here. I never new there were such mixed emotions about nuclear. I've always been for nuclear as I suppose I have heard much more information in favor of building new nuclear rather than opposed to. But I'm learning here that no issue or solution has benefits without draw backs and the drawbacks for nuclear go beyond finding a place to store nuclear waste. Lack of efficiency, how long it takes to build a plant and how much money it will cost are all problems in question with nuclear. In the pro nuclear presentation by the Q and A time there were heavy arguments of whether all of the pro nuclear statistics were true and nobody could seem to come to a agreed conclusion.
I really enjoyed one presentation by GGOS on satelite climate observations where they discussed future plans for implementing a number of new satelites into orbit. Various satelites with the abilities to map and read atmosphereic, terrestrial, and oceanic variables in order to help monitor and predict the earth's changes. This was one of those really slow and technical presentations which I felt could have been communicated a lot more efficiently, but the topic was quite interesting. Maybe it's the American way to expect technology to save us but, these findings in combination with efficient action seems to be a great route towards effective change.
I must say I'm sadly disappointed with the presentations skills of most of these speakers. Slow overloaded powerpoint pages, often times the speakers show little enthusiasm in their tone and expression. I know I shouldn't expect too much, some of the events are so official and political they are like watching cspan. But the few speakers that do put in the extra effort have fuller and more engaged audiences who applaud them at the end of their presentations. It's like a bunch of scientists trying to influences a bunch of politicians who are falling asleep in their meetings.
Well tomorrow we fly out of here tomorrow it's almost over! Poznan is beautiful it's a shame it gets dark here so early there is so much to see. Churches, old buildings, cobblestone streets it's like nothing we have in America which is what makes it so interesting. Back to school on monday, so long from poland.


Last Day Blues

I know trips always fly by, but this one has been ridiculous! I really haven't slept much at all; between going to the conference for an average of 8 or so hours a day and trying to see the city and going out at night, there just wasn't time to sleep. I am very sad to be leaving the conference, especailly because there is another week of events and debates that we will be missing. Not to mention that we only have a week until finals when we get back and I have A LOT of stuff to get done.

I went to a side event this morning that was an intergenerational panel to discuss the conference and the importance of including every age. I guess I never thought about it until this week but the big decision to be made in Copenhagen for creating emissions reducation targets for 2050 will affect me AND my children. Its amazing that the people debating these issues and making these decisions won't even be alive to see if we can reach our goal. As for the youth involved now, by 2050, we'll be sitting in rocking chairs knitting. To me, that highlights the youth movement even more. Youth around the world are involved in organizations pushing for something to be done about climate change- its truly amazing what some of them have accomplished. It will be interesting to see if those people will feel as passionate when they're old enough to have real power.

But anyways, one of the panelists said something really profound; his opening statement was "I've been told that there are two important days in life, the day you are born and the day you realize why you are born" Since climate change is happening and will continue to happen and affect people around the world, I know this is something that I will be involved in on some level for the rest of my life.

Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC (another famous guy) was also in attendance. He was very cool and seemed very supportive of the youth movement. He also said something that I will remember from this experience. In response to a question about how slow the decision making process is he said,"ëveryone here is working towards a solution, but everyone here is also working based on their own country's interests"

Based Yvo's honest answer I would only say "Be the change you want to see" Corny, but true. The things that seem small can certainly add up and become important enough to be in the interest of those in power.

Goodbye Poland!

Friday The Last

Well, I think my body has offically revolted to the trip to Poland. While the others were out having a communal dinner and celebrating Warren's birthday (happy birthday, Warren), I spent the evening nursing my stomach and watching an animal planet visual-documentary on monkeys in Thailand on mute. Despite my illness and lack of sleep, I'm forcing myself to reflect upon all that has happened this week and, to be honest, it is a bit overwhelming. As this course was my first (and unfortunately last) course in the environmental studies department, I spent a lot of my time at this conference playing catch-up with some of the common issues. After a week immersion in the politics of climate change, I feel much more educated on the points of debate, the foundations of policy and key topics with which organizations are concerned. Ultimately, I feel this conference has helped to better define some of my personal research interests that I plan to pursue in the future as well as create some new ones. Also, I've made a few contacts and collected my fair share of business cards ranging from activists and scientists and policy makers from Ithaca to Africa. If all else fails, I have the connections to work on a coffee farm in Uganda...

An interesting side event put on today by the UN secretariat discussed the intergenerational role in climate policy. The ideas presented concerned the voice (or lack thereof) of young people in these climate debates. It is important because young people are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change as well as the stakeholders of the future. A particularly interesting clash in ideals was when Anna Keenan (sp?) of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition refuted Michael _____?'s statement that the economy comes first and the environment should be incorporated into it by saying that the environment is the foundation for our economy and that it should be viewed as a solution to the economic crisis that we are in. The meeting was heavily attended by the youth representatives at the conference, but perhaps that is the problem. There were very interesting presentations by several youth panelists that were heard only by other youth. While Yvo de Boer attended and fielded questions from the audience, he didn't exactly seem to think the youth was good for anything other than "not wearing suits, and carrying banners." While I respect his position that policy is best left to the experienced policymakers, I also think that those policymakers could learn from the cooperation and overall companionship of the international youth at this conference.

I'm going to sign off a bit earlier than in my previous posts, I hope you (reader) have gained a little insight into what's been going on here at the UNFCCC.

Casey Wichman

I should have rolled my r

I've been thinking a lot about the cultural differences between us and the people in Poland, as well as all of the other people we have interacted with from many different countries. I find myself wondering what the social norms are for things that i could accomplish in my sleep back home. This experience has certainly opened my eyes to things that i normally don't think about in the states. My favortie example being the importance of pretty pictures on packaged food (the only way we know what our grocerys are)

Usually when I travel to a country where i do not speak the language, i study up on all the basics to help me blend in a bit. Unfortunately polish is all consonants and not so easy to just pick up. I just try to use the polish words for please and thank you (the only two I've mastered) as much as possible. For example, the yesterday we went to the old brewery in town. It was really cool- its exactly what it says it is. An old brewery transformed into a collection of nice stores and restaurants. Shopping for shoes when you're speaking a different language than the salesperson is NOT easy. (i got really cute boots by the way) And yet somehow with some sign language-like body movement and repeating the word "thank you", I managed.

So I guess that was a bit of a random post. But, it does fascinate me that 22 of us have accomplished so much without speaking the language. Our success (give or take going the wrong way on the tram a few times) I believe is due mostly to the fact that english is a second language for a bunch of people in poland. But it certainly has taught me different kinds of communication skills.

By the way, the title of this post is based on one of many cab driver experiences. Long story short we told him the address and he knew where it was and then he didn't take us anywhere near the right street. Apparently theres a street and a neighborhood area with essentially the same name minus the rolling of the R in the pronunciation. I didn't say we had a 100% success rate...


The End.

We're running out of time here, and I still feel like I have so many things left to do. I really wanted to go to McDonald's, just to say I've been to a foreign one. I suppose that can still happen, but the time is slipping away quickly. We went out for a team dinner last night though, and we basically took over a whole room in the restaurant, which was amazing. I'm not sure how sustainable our meal was; they gave us each about 4 glasses (perhaps more if we had coffee or tea at the end of the meal), several plates, and a couple sets of silverware. I guess someone just had a lot of dishes to do... The duck (a house specialty) was delicious, I mooched some off of Warren. Someone swears that they had just seen it out on the lake a few hours beforehand... And the tea that I got was organic, and it came in a biodegradable bag. At least something was environmentally-friendly.

In UN news, I just went to an amazing side event called "Growing Together in a Changing Climate-an intergenerational inquiry on climate solutions." There was a 13-person panel, each one was allotted five minutes (which the moderator admitted to having an obsession with) to speak about what their organizations were doing, etc. There were some people who represented youth delegations, some country representatives, and then there was Yvo de Boer--the executive secretary of the UNFCCC (which means he's very important). He was extremely intelligent and witty, and it was amazing to have the chance to hear him speak. The audience was mostly youths who wanted to learn how to better incorporate their beliefs into the actual UN negotiations. Yvo de Boer seemed very interested in what they had to say, what their concerns were, and he really encouraged us to take our messages home to our countries. Since he's such a busy man, he arrived to the meeting late, and left early. On his way out, he walked right next to me and David, and of course I had my camera out. I may have looked a bit creepy, but I wanted his picture. Besides, he had cameras flashing in his face the whole time he was talking, so why not another one? (These photographers also had the annoying tendancy to stand up and block everyone's views...) So as he was walking by, he looked right at me--or rather, the annoying camera in his face. Perhaps it's just the picture, but it looks like he's rather perturbed with me for having taken his picture.

As a side note, there are some amazing stories here: There were five Australian youths who, not wanting to create huge emissions by flying, traveled mostly on land. They took a short flight to Asia, then traveled by train, bus, anything else on land to get to Poznan. It took about five weeks or something like that, but they met many other youths along the way who share some of their same goals and ideas. Next year, they hope to bring thousands of these people that they met to COP 15 in Copenhagen. She made a valid point, that it is not just the wealthy people who should be represented. Many of these people live in poorer countries, and they cannot afford to make such a long journey. I'm not actually sure how they planned on financing this, but it sounds like an amazing idea. As she said, "Everybody deserves to be represented." The more voices that government leaders and policy makers hear about youths'concerns, the more incentive they will have to take these issues to heart. Change will not come easily or quickly, but with more people on board, especially the youths who will be the future policymakers, the greater the likelihood that these issues can be solved.

This has been an amazing experience, and I wish it could be longer. Unfortunately, we must return home soon and resume our "normal" lives. Homework, here we come.


So Much To Do, So Little Time

I suppose the headline of this post is pertinent to this experience on many levels. Firstly and most obviously, it refers to the "ticking timebomb" that is climate change and global warming (woah, I'm deep right?). Many of us went to a nuclear power side event the other day and one of the panelists responded to a question talking about some deadline in 2030 (I believe it was in regards to nuclear waste, but that is a totally different topic), and some person (hippie) yelled out, "But 2030 it yesterday to the planet!!!". And I have to say, that kind of freaked me out. I was freaked out not only because he could be right, but because there are so many people that think he's wrong (U.S.A...all the way!). One of the major themes of this conference has been that urgency is a necessary mindset to be in, and unfortunately many of those that disagree are some of the leading powers of the world and they are the ones that have the ability to determine whether or not the bomb goes off.

Secondly, I feel like there is sooooo (yeah, like, THAT much) here that I want to go to and see, experience and listen in on. I feel like I haven't seen enough of Poznan, not nearly enough plenary sessions and I want to go to the Wind Power Pavilion but the REDD side event is at the same is a girl to choose? I guess I should just stay in the mindset that I could always come back next year.

In other happenings, we met some interesting kids from Oxfam Great Britain last night at the SustainUs side event (which I think was really fun and empowering) and imagine my surprise when we walked up to the computer area and Oxfam had gotten the cutest children in Poland to sing "Silent Night" in Polish for 45 minutes with a sign behind them saying "We Hope You Show Some Wisdom Today, For All Of Our Tomorrows" (publicity gold.).

Also, I had to be reminded about when I accidentally fell into the lap of the Australian delegate the night we met Harlan Watson (woops.) and just decided to stay there and chat with him for a while. I'm thinking all good foriegn policies between Australia and the US from here on out can only be attributed to me. I will take thank you's later.

This could be my last post, maybe not.

Thinking of all of you,

Environmental Justice

So much has happened since my last blog, and I am not going to attempt to write about everything right now, but let's just say pretty much every side event I have attended has been at least semi-interesting. It's too bad I am always sleeping in the morning here, and awake as we take the tram home or to dinner.

On Tuesday, in the technology building, there was a ton of really innovative exhibits; solar panels, a model of a carbon-neutral city, and some high-tech cars. Something that really struck me though was an art installation- a field of flowers that tick back and forth. They have a solar cell on the base and charge from any light- so if you pick it up and it stops moving, it will start slowly and gain momentum once you place it on the ground again. At first, I avoided eye-contact with the woman who came towards me as I was trying to figure out the significance of 200 of these, but I'm glad I talked to her. She was from this organization in Belgium and represents these artists who make art (these flowers, in this case) that is sold (the equivalent of $13 US) and funds solar energy projects in developing countries. She gave me a pamphlet and some of the projects looked pretty interesting, and a lot was being done in schools. I really liked this exhibit because I did not fall asleep and also because it combines all of my interests: sociology, art, and the environment. There are several components to this conference that mostly have to do with equity in agreements, Least Developed Countries, etc. but none of these include art as a mode of promoting sustainable development. When I get home, after sleeping for 3 days, I am going to try to find an organization like this in the US and might try to contact them...

Patrick said it best, that since JFK my brain has been mush (moosh?). There has been a constant flow of information, between the conference itself and the culture; it's overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Every day has felt like Thursday and now that it has actually passed, and the week is over, I'm not really to leave. Even though I'm overloaded, there are so many sessions I want to attend today, I'm going to end up pushing myself to the limit. The next two weeks of school are going to be tough.


BIOCHAR and Cornell

Hello Friends!

I just went to a FANTASTIC side event on Bio-Char presented by Professor Johannes Lehmann from Cornell University's Ag School! He is the Chair of The International Bio-Char Initiative, and the top Bio-Char scientist in the US and perhaps the world!

It was a fascinating presentation, and really seemed like a win-win-win idea for mitigating climate change, improving soil quality, and improving quality of life. I introduced myself afterwards as an IC student and told him I'll be graduating in 2 weeks with a Biology degree. I also told him that I noted his publications from the presentation and plan to immediately go online and read them (which I'm doing right after this).

He gave me his card and asked me to please e-mail him when we return to the States! He has weekly meetings about Bio-Char. Here's his bio... very impressive!

This trip could not have come at a better time for me. I'm about to be a fresh graduate, originally with no defined area of interest, and now I know 15 things I want to do (and networks for all of them)!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

JFK and the energy revolution

Yesterday was a momentous day at this conference for me. I made it through my first side event without almost falling asleep. That is not to say that they haven’t been amazing. Jet lag just had different plans for my consciousness.

The Green Peace presentation was this such event. The first thing I read was on the first page of a book they had given out: Will we look into the eyes of our children and tell them that we had the opportunity but lacked the courage? Will we look into the eyes of our children and tell them that we had the technology, but lacked the vision?” Wow. That hit home.

The presentation started with a video ( that they claimed may have some similarities to a past speech. It was in fact JFK’s speech about getting to the moon. They dubbed it over so that he was making a plea for an energy revolution.
And that is what GreenPeace is calling for. A complete "energy [r]evolution."

I was really impressed that in their goal targets they only used known technologies, referring to such things as tidal power, and CCS as “wild cards” that could potentially play a role in future proposals. Thus their plan seemed more reasonable. It actually seemed possible. Their main goals include rapid fossil fuel and nuclear phase outs as well as creating energy equity. It struck me that they included equity as I find justice a very important aspect of climate change. They said that they aimed shift levels of energy use so that it will become more equitable. As developed countries become more efficient, they will be able to offer assistance to developing areas that currently don’t use much energy due to their lack of electricity.

GreenPeace had many great points about renewables, that would help to interest people in them who are not currently advocates. Renweables are going to decrease dramatically in price over time. Since wind and biomass are very developed as of now, they should start significantly decreasing in price soon. While solar may take more time since it still needs more development. Germany was used as an example of the increasing simplicity of implementing renewables over time. It took them 10 years to get 1% of their energy from renewables and only 5 years to get 10% more. In time, electricity costs will decrease with increased efficiency. Thus, saving the planet with save people money. That is not to say that switching to renewables is all we need to do, but it sure does help.

I also attended an event dealing with REDD (Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation) yesterday. This was the third event I attended dealing with it and I’ve gotten many different perspectives on it. I actually recognized five different people in the session who spoken at previous events.

I’ve found that many people are passionate about this issue because of it has the potential to have very undesirable consequences for the affected areas. In its most basic form, REDD is meant to increase forest area and should improve the quality of life for people living in these regions as well as contribute to a reduction in carbon dioxide. However, due to the poor definitions that are written into the policy, tree plantations can replace forest areas that were once rich havens of biodiversity. In it’s definition it is only meant to reduce deforestation, not stop it, so that offers a whole new array of problems.

REDD has the potential to be of great benefit for forest-dwelling indigenous people only under certain conditions. There must be proper consent before deciding to “reforest” an area. However, as was depicted at a side event earlier this week were indigenous people told their stories about REDD, this is not always the case. Sometimes their once lush land is replaced with tree plantations. In some cases they don’t even receive an economic benefit from the plantations after they are harvested. However, in the case of preserving biodiversity, when forests are aided in returning to their proper terrestrial ecosystem, REDD is quite valuable. In this case, it also has the potential to enrich the lives of the people living in that area.

Another argument that was voiced is that REDD rewards those who have already cleared their forests and leaves those who have preserved theirs with no incentive to keep doing do.

And the list of arguments, for and against it, go on and on…

Cath ya later,

Adaptation tech and rural communities in Developing countries

Like everyone else has been saying, there is far too little time to accomplish everything here in Poznan. Every time you decide to do something, you end up skipping out on two other very interesting meetings/events. It is exhausting.
So much has happened since my last blog… For this one I guess I will talk about adaptation.
Today I went to probably my favorite side event yet that discussed adaptation strategies used in the arid climate of Israel. The first speaker talked about various technologies utilizing solar power (Israel is quite dry making it a good climate for solar) and how they are being improved by Israeli scientists. These solar technologies would probably technically be filed under mitigation technologies but the speaker gave several reasons why they could be considered adaptation too. First, he said that Israel’s fossil fuel output is very low compared to other areas and countries. They would not have a huge effect on lowering greenhouse gasses even if they mitigated emissions completely. In my opinion every bit counts but, as a nation that does not produce emissions to any scale even close to larger developed countries, Israel’s mitigation policies will most likely not echo those of the European Union or (hopefully soon) the US. One reason solar technologies are used by the people is because small, developed countries become polluted more quickly than larger countries because the pollution is much more centralized. This pollution would include air pollution caused by traditional power generation. The speaker also said that by using solar technologies, Israeli people are adapting to their harsh climate. Solar water heaters are widely used because they are efficient (50% efficient use of solar energy), simple (no need for complicated active systems like we need in Ithaca because of the worry of frozen pipes) and because of their simplicity, are very inexpensive (only about $1000). The government does not give them subsidies like we receive here because, in Israel, the payback period is an almost garunteed 5 years. This is because each year the water heating systems save about 2000kwh or $200 worth of electricity. The systems are usually warrentied for at least 8 years. What a sweet deal. Although there is heavy use of solar water heaters, there is very little use of photovoltaic panels (PV). This is mainly because, in their current form, they take up a lot of space (much more than water heaters), are relatively inefficient and are very expensive. The speaker said that to install PV systems of 1kwh on 1 million roofs would only offset 3% of Israel’s electrical usage. Israel’s electric demand raises I think 6% per year. Instead, new technologies called concentrated PV are being created that use mirrors to magnify the sun 1000x (wow) and shine it on a small solar converter. These systems can be small and, because they are super efficient, cost only about $1 per watt; an amount close to equivalent to that of conventional power sources. These new systems must be cooled.. a process that created lots of hot water! Solar power and heated water at once. These new systems work best in desert-like conditions but are still better in almost any climate than traditional PV. They are already starting to be created. These could definitely help toward reducing GHGs worldwide. Hopefully, once they are produced in larger numbers (right now they are expensive because they are brand new) these can be brought to rural areas in developing countries that often are without electricity as a way to help them adapt by, for example, powering refrigerators to keep cool vaccines. Hooray.
Another speaker also discussed drip agriculture systems that have begun to be implemented in Israel as a way to help with the water shortage that the country has been dealing with. These systems along with the solar systems have been invented and refined in Israel. Drip agriculture conserves water by watering just the plants. About 98% of water actually reaches the plants compared to a much lower number from traditional agriculture. They also greatly increase crop yields. These systems are pretty sweet but there are problems bringing them to developing countries like LDC’s because they cost some money (the least expensive type that still would greatly conserve water and increase yields, costs around $200) and there is little funding. A delegate from Africa asked how these could be brought to African countries and the delegates had no real answers. Hopefully adaptation technologies will make it more into the climate bill for 2012 but it is difficult to allocate money to give to governments because this money is often used in unintended ways. For now, it seems that the best way to do this is through private humanitarian organizations that can directly fund programs and see that money is received and used in the correct fashion.
I can’t believe I wrote so much… I’m late!
P.s. the one below was written by Me, Andrew.

The conference

So today is thursday and I am overwhelmed. There are so many things of interest to me and my time here is so finite that I cannot experience them all. Unfortunately i think I've decided to dismiss many of the topics up for discussion here in order to commit to the cap and trade and mitigation strategies, a.k.a. the economics behind the solution, so that I can develop a firm understanding of the discussion. I have been spending a lot of time at the negotiations and was actually able to get on the big screen when I was sitting behind the Saudi Arabia delegate when it was his turn to speak.

As i am in the unique position of being a part of ithaca's Model United Nations and will be debating these exact topics at Harvard in February, I made the very akward decision to walk into Italy's, the country we will be representing, office to ask about their positions. Hopefully they will get back to me soon but I feel that because I am so limited with my time, there is no way that they will be able to consider me this week.

The most beneficial part of being here is that after spending so much time with the theories and paperwork behind solving Climate Change in the classes offered at school, this is a very grounding experience that has introduced me to the "real world" solutions, rather than abstract and idealistic ideas.
Thursday already??

So I'm just starting to get the hang of being here; ie. I know which buses and trams to take, I learned my street name, I can say both ''I am Vegetarian'' and ''Plain, Please!'', I found an awesome and incredibly cheap vegetarian cafe (try out GreenWay if you can!), and I even know my way around this huge conference center. But it's almost time to start traveling again! I find myself constantly wondering.. what's it going to be like to get jet-lag in the other direction without being over it in the first place?

Everything has been really interesting and informative thus far. I've attended lots of side events, but I find it really frustrating that you have to pick one and neglect another. And I feel rude walking out so I always stay until the whole room disbands. One thing that's really getting to me- people need to turn off their cell phones!! There are people who have actually answered phone calls in the middle of side sessions and proceeded to have normal conversations! That being said, I've got a few favorite events already, like ''Addressing Short-Lived Forecers of Arctic Warming and Melting''- which talked about 3 destructive and easily reducable short lived forcers which are causing the Arctic to warm at 2 times the rate of the rest of the globe over the past 100 years (black carbon, tropospheric ozone (o3), and methane gas (CH4)). Another favorite of mine was ''Biodiversity and REDD''- which more definitively explained the fundamental differences between natural forests and plantations. Maybe the most interesting one I've come across was the ''Mitigation Potential in Agriculture'' which raised a lot of important issues and drew many parallels between mass food production and climate control (and made me proud to be wegetarianski!).

Oh yeah, and I even bought a book by my favorite author in Polish to bring home as a souvenir. One day maybe I'll even be able to read it! (But I doubt it..)

I'm sure I forgot to mention about a zillion things, but I'll have to save that for later.

Love and Light

technology exhibit

There is a building here that is full of new technology that people have been creating. Its hard to explain everything i just saw..we spent close to two hours walking around it and didnt see everything. there was a sustainable dance floor that they want to install in discotheques, where dancing is required to make the music play. we saw a creation that turns haybales into briquets that can be burned as a cleaner source of energy. they were making them right there and already had was really interesting to watch. there were alot of hydrogen, methane and electric cars. we also saw a sustainable skytram that emits no co2 and would work almost anywhere. in the area of wind technology they had alot but the most interesting was a urban turbine that was small and could be put on almost any city building. we also saw solar panels that were installed in sidewalks. there was a whole walk through building explaining the need to develop ones home sustainably. the focus was on well insulating a home, which if one does well enough barely needs any heating or cooling. they had interactive boards that explained that if you insulate your 50 square meter apartment well then you save 2025 kwh of energy and reduced your co2 emissons by 2800. for a 250 square meter house you save 10125 kwh of energy and reduce your co2 emissons by 14000. around the home there were lots of boards explaining small other things one can do to improve the sustainability of their home. things such as using an induction cooking top as it uses 10% less electricty then a ceramic one and 29% less electricity then a traditional cast iron cooking top. it also explained that if you put a lid on your pan when you cook you use 30% less energy. these are small differences that if applied to all homes add up to such a significant percentage.

the following is a list of things that all can be completed using 1 kwh of electicty and was on a board in the house exhibit..
-cook dinner for a family of 4 on an electric range
-make 9 liters of coffee or tea
-vaccum for an hour
-watch tv for 7 hours
-dry your hair for an hour
-illumiate a room for 10 hours
-listen for music for 40 hours
-chop 200kg of veggies in a foood processor
-clean up after a main meal for 4-6 people using a dishwaser
-dry about 2kg of underwear in a tumble dryer
-iron for an hour
-shave with an electric razor for 3 years
-use a computer for 4-6 hours

so this board was trying to make one think about how to best use the 1 kwh required to do all of these things..i found it really interesting the things that used the same amount of energy. ive been realizing that even two weeks wouldnt be enough time to see everything there is to see here. its amazing the amount of things there is to see and do at any given moment. until next time,


I almost totally forgot to mention this.

We met/drank/shook hands/chatted up/took embarassing pictures with/harassed Harlan Watson.

If you don't know who that is, Google it, he matters to you. Essentially, he is the United States delegate and talking head regarding U.S. climate change policies. It shouldn't come as a surpise then that a lot, A LOT, of people really don't like him.

We met him. I think he thought I was funny.


Climate Change is Happening. Right Now.

I have probably been to about 10 different side events since being here, all held by different oorganizations and all focusing on different subjects, some in direct opposition to one another. Yet despite their differences, all can agree on the one common goal and focus of the conference: lowering greenhouse gas emissions. While this may seem like the uniting force behind this cause, what it does is open the doors to several avenues of how to ultimately reach this goal. This is good, but difficult. Every organization is looking at the problem of climate change as an opportunity to do things "right". Unfortunately, "right" does not mean the same thing to the same people. For instance, I went to a really interesting side event regarding the ineffectiveness of REDD, not because it won't necessarily reduce GHG emissions, but instead because of the social and political influences this could have on South Americans. On a different scale, one side event I went to addressed the need to implement sensitivity to women when developing anti-climate change intiatives or adaptations because women are more effected by climate change then men are, yet the humanitarian response to disaster relief side event I went to didn't even mention women at all.

And don't even get me started on how different the business focused side event was.

It makes a person want to scream because it seems as if there is no way to address the overall issue of climate change while still giving the remotest time of day to every party that is effected because---everyone is effected! It seems impossible.
I think this is a very normal reaction to coming to something like this. The best thing that I can do, I am learning, is be open to everything that comes across my path. I put myself in others shoes while still being grateful for the comfort and safety of my cozy little home in Astoria, Oregon in comparison to many other places in the world.

Changing the subject, my throat hurts so bad and I blame Poland. Walking around outside and taking the tram everywhere-while economically and environmentally sound-is killing my throat because of the extremely dirty diesel fuel used in cars here. Also everyone smokes. Like, everyone. I think I might come back to the States sounding like Janis Joplin or something, so everyone, be prepared for that.

We went to a 1,000 year old church. Clearly this was really cool and really beautiful but the highlight of the day was when our poor, beloved Patrick put his hand on a railing covered in wet paint because he couldn't read to Polish sign. Sucker.

Til next time,
Rachel Roscoe

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

eye opening side events inside a historical city

Sitting down to write about what has been going on the past few days is a little overwhelming in my mind seeing as though so much has been going on. I haven't written in a couple days so I have a lot to say but I will limit it for now.

All of the side events have been really interesting and I have found that my favorite part of it is being able to listen to the question and answer portion of each. I went to a critical analysis of REDD on Tuesday put on by Friends of the Earth which opened my eyes to problems of reduction of deforestation and mainly programs that create reforestation in communities. Monoculture plantations create a perfect condition for exploitation of human rights and labor as well as degrade the environment. Most programs do not involve communities or when they are involved it is in a way that they are informed of what will be happening and the benefits that will occur. After the critical analysis portion, a woman from the Nature Conservancy said that these accusations are false and that they are in fact performing a great program in Bolivia that addresses all of these issues while implementing reforestation practices. In response to her, a man, who crazy enough was from this place in Bolivia, talked about how the benefits that the program promised had not been seen and that their culture had been completely ignored. The fact that this woman was preaching about her program just to be shut down from someone who was actually living in the area was quite an experience. To be in a place where these people could meet is really special. All of the people that I have the opportunity to listen to keeps blowing my mind.

It was hard to listen to all of these problems that indigenous people are facing while big NGO's are trying to help fight climate change but at the cost of their culture and land. Everyone had a really defeatist attitude. I felt helpless and still want to know how I could help on a personal level. Of course changing my consumption habits will help, but I just wish that these people's interests were being acknowledged on a larger level by other nations and by NGO's. I plan on finding time tomorrow to talk to Friends of the Earth to see what can be done.

On a brighter level. I went to the GreenPeace side event and felt really uplifted by their presentation on the Energy Revolution. There were a lot of positive things said about how energy aspects can change and I was happy to go to an event that provided solutions and hope.

Aside from the conference I am having a great time. A group of us went to the Cathedral in Poznan that is 1000 years old. Being in a building with all of that history was mind blowing, but unfortunately we were quickly escorted out since they closed basically at the same time we got there. Another highlight of this trip... one HUGE highlight... was going to the Sheraton Hotel bar and finding that the only other group of people there happened to be the US and Australian delegates! We had a couple drinks with them and talked a little which was pretty crazy. I talked to them a little but kept it brief knowing that my political ideals would clash with theirs... I didn't really want to get into it with them.... so a nice "hi"and "how are you enjoying Poznan" with a few pictures was a great encounter!

So that's my update for now and I will post again soon!

Linking climate change, agriculture and lunch

Sidenote: I just searched my email archives for "COP14 YOUTH" and got 96 hits. I support the cause--not the clutter.

As an aspiring agricultural/environmental economist, I bypassed the popular GreenPeace forum and took the path less traveled today by attending a side event titled, "Mitigation Potential in Agriculture" organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A few of the general issues discussed involved the fact that agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases cannot be further overlooked as well as land use policies concerning deforestation, forest and land degradation and carbon sequestration. A main tenant of the panel discussion was that climate change is directly linked to agricultural production and that agricultural production is directly linked to climate change. It was urged that neither faction be discussed without consideration of the other. At 12% of total GHG emissions each year, agriculture holds an important role at this conference and in the future of climate change policy.

In my academic environmental pursuits, I've acquired a prying curiosity for the food industry. As the most basic means of survival, I think we Americans take the availability of food for granted. Furthermore, I think most Americans surveyed would rank the transportation industry as a larger contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than agriculture in their motherland, and, unfortunately, they'd be wrong. To put it in perspective, economic literature estimates that the GHG emissions of producing 1kg of beef in the US are equivalent to driving approximately 160 miles in a midsize American car. In essence, a steak dinner for a family of four affects the environment the same way a Ford Taurus does on a trip from Buffalo to Syracuse.

With that being said, it was nice to see liaisons from the USDA and World Bank attending and questioning the presentation by FAO representatives and an UN secretariat. The presentations were largely focused on quantifying the mitigation potentials in agriculture as well as looking at policy options that could initiate a more sustainable food industry with respect to climate change. A few of the main sources of potential mitigation include improving crop land management, pastoral grazing land management, and organic soil restoration. The regions best suited to make significant improvements in particular are Southeast Asia and South America. Options for encouraging sustainable development in agiculture include regulatory practices to ensure environmental compliance, taxing GHG emissions on farms, and providing financial support for "climate-friendly" agriculture. The presenters emphasized that the "co-benefits" of a greening of the agricultural industry could include alleviating poverty, sustaining development, maintaining biodiversity, creating more food and energy security and, most importantly for this conference, improved overall environmental quality.

Another interesting point of the discussion described the carbon sequestration of well-managed pasture. Certain types of agricultural lands could have the same sequestering abilities as a forest of the equivalent size, as well as providing a food resource--key word: "well-managed". This provides the opportunity for agriculture to transfrom from a large contributor of GHGs to an instrument of mitigation. Currently, only 3% of clean development mechanisms are devoted towards agriculture in some way (mainly animal waste management), so it is imperative that agriculture continues to be an industry of focus in these climate negotiations.

So, what does this mean to YOU? Well, in an economic sense, the food industry is entirely consumer driven. Farmers farm so that we can eat. Unfortunately, what you and I and the other 6.6 billion people on the planet are eating isn't helping our environment. With that said, we hold the power to alter the structure of the agricultural industry and improve the environmental impact of food production. I support the idea to shift protein intake onto insects rather than mammals and birds. Kidding--kind of. Is eating a cow that much different than eating a beetle? Bugs are way more energy efficient (biologically speaking) plus they're somewhat abundant (insects outweigh humans in biomass by a multiple of 10, I believe [citation needed]). Okay, maybe not insects, but we definitely need to be a little more conscious of the carbon footprint of our daily meals. Ultimately, I am advocating the cutting and selling of agro-environmental awareness like crack in the urban eighties. Think before you eat. Go easy on the meat. Soy products are nice treats.

Assigned Reading: The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan

Over and out,
Casey Wichman

Jet Lag, GREENPEACE, Biofuel, and Coffee

So what is the deal with jet lag?! Does it just go away every other day or something? I sleep 12 hours (hence missing the amazing reception and drinks with delegates on monday night) and then I sleep 6 hours... up for another 12 tonight? I sure feel like it! It's inconsistent, bizarre, unpredictable, and really interfeering with my plans. I may actually be sleeping right now... I can't really tell!

But I've learned where the free coffee is given out- a big deal considering every cup is 7 zloty!' So my day starts like this: wake up and make coffee, hike 15 minutes to the bus, ride maybe 10 minutes to the train, ride 10 minutes to the conference. Then I immediately get a Daily Programme, more coffe, and grab my highlighter.

Before I know it every page is blue! So then I get out my pink highlighter and re-do... a little more stringent this time. It's interesting how many events I like! And more interesting that they are always at the same times! But often close by... so I sit on the ends and run back and forth. Today, however, was the first time I made an easy decision in picking one event over the other...

GREENPEACE. What a great group of people. I like that they use words like, "and that's why we're DEMANDING our policy makers..." It's impressive. I am going to have to really dive into the report they handed out to learn more... it's the science in me! During the presentation, they give many convincing graphs on every slide, with quick, well-rehearsed words to prove their points. But I want to know why, HOW did they figure this out.

During their presentation they mentioned that many "ideas" to address climate change are great ones that need to happen now, while others are more like "wild cards," meaning they can't be positive of whether they will be pursued, or even helpful. Anyway, one thing mentioned more than once was the production and use of biofuels... but they never really said which category...

So, just like every other event I've gone to, I raised my hand at the end and waited for the mic... I was first this time! I first thanked them and then dove into my question on biofuels (of which I'm not really a fan...). I was very proud of myself to hear such a long, well addressed response! And by both people! All in all, it seems to belong in both categories, depending on the country. I can deal with that, I guess. As I was leaving the roon, the Research Director of the USA chapter of GREENPEACE met me at the door!

WOAH! He told me that USA GREENPEACE will be doing similar presentations in the next quarter, most likely in February, and (more or less) asked me to be a part of it! How exactly...? I'm not sure... But he gave me his card and told me to certainly e-mail him! We chatted for some time and he most certainly shares my opinion of biofuel in the US, especially because of policy reasons.

It was very exciting and I accepted emphatically! This conference sure is giving me lots of ideas! And I am a fresh graduate in about three weeks...!


The UN sure knows how to throw a party

So the past few days have been a whirlwind. I have been trying my best to attend a number of side events. Unfortunately it seems that there are always two or three in the same time slot that are of interest to me. It gets hard to pick and choose. Yesterday I attending three side events. One, held by the UNFCCC, was about the LEG (Least Developed Country Expert Group)and NAPAs (National Adaptation Plan of Action). Nancy, Patrick and I researched these aspects of Kyoto for our project so I found it very interesting to be able to be involved in the real thing. I also attended a session about Biodiversity and Climate change. The presentation was interesting at the beginning but the question and answer session got a bit long and the presenter had trouble staying on topic when addressing questions.

The last session I attended last night was about Nuclear Power. As you can imagine there was some intense debate going on. The nuclear scientists did not do a very good job of diverting questions. They answered very few questions using the fact that they are scientists and not politicians or economists as a cop out. I find the nuclear debate very interesting and hope that I'll get to attend more of these sessions. Today I attending an event held by Greenpeace about a plan called Energy [R]evolution. The presenters did a great job and I got a lot out of the session. I agreed with most of their ideas for a sustainable global energy outlook.

Tonight I am planning on attending two more sessions before heading home to get a good night's sleep! Jet lag has been quite an issue for me. Tomorrow I am looking forward to checking out all of the technology exhibits. I've been hearing good things.

Until we meet again



The sun finally came today! After waking up from a deep recovery sleep of 20 hours I was rested and ready again to take on the conference. Walking outside to the sunshine was a shock and was received happily by everyone.

This day started out with a visit to the Plenary session talking about CDMs. We heard many countries speak about what direction they thought the CDMs should go to. After listening to them and struggling to translate all the acronyms I got a pretty good understanding of what each country wanted to happen. Many of the African countries want there to be more projects. The United Republic of Tanzania claimed there were only 7 projects. Senegal wanted to see a more fair distribution of the projects. Senegal also brought up to the point the fact that many of the projects were not up to par in sustainable development and that there should be an effort for more sustainable development. The majority of the countries that spoke agreed with one another that there needed to be more "transparent methodology" within the CDMs.

After this Plenary session we did the now semi-routine process of computer/email, meeting, and lunch (The food tends to be a little repetitive when you have the same choices every day). After lunch there was a session on Climate Change observed from space and what they are doing to improve it. They are able to look at the Oceanic, Atmospheric, and Terrestial effects from Climate Change from satellites which look upon the earth from space. The methods and models used to predict Climate Change were also presented. Although these topics of the presentation were interesting, much of it was extremely technical and I had trouble keeping up. It is nice to know that this information is out there.

Today, our "tourist"" activity of the day was going to see the Arch cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. This Church was originally built in the second half of the 10Th century and was named a cathedral in 968. Some of the original building can still be visible in the basement. When we first arrived at the cathedral we were spoken to by a worker of the church who asked if we spoke polish, after saying no he asked about Spanish, since some of us knew enough we decided to communicate in Spanish. He then told us the church was closing. However, he let us explore a little while exiting the other side of the church. I would not be able to ever describe the beauty of the cathedral, pictures barely do justice. I had never seen something so beautiful and powerful as this cathedral. It even had the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. I would love to have had more time to explore the cathedral but I understand that it had to close, after lasting partially for over 1000 years, I am sure it will be there tomorrow.

I am off now to a side event about the indigenous peoples adaptation to Climate Change, I am anticipating this event since I have taken a special interest in the process of adaption to Climate Change. Shoutout to Kimble!

Until later!


It's about people too, not just the polar bears.

Since I have procrastinated writing this for so long, I am going to go back to Sunday so I actually have something to write about in later posts. I guess this is where procrastination gets me…

On Sunday we attended part of the COY (Conference of the Youth) gathering. COY had started on Saturday and we arrived in the midst of the Sunday session, so we missed quite a bit of it. However, it still offered an awesome insight to what youth around the world are doing (which is a lot!). While is was daunting to be talking to people who have already done so much for the movement, it was also inspiring and energizing- talk about charisma!

A lot of us attended the media workshop that they held. It addressed issues of the most effective ways to talk to the media and how to respond to difficult questions. They also asked us to tell them why we were there. A seemingly easy question… but I actually had to stop and think about it. To save the world of course! I figured that was too broad though. There were a lot of cool responses, however. One stuck with me more so than the others: “because it’s not just about the polar bears.” I guess that’s why I’m here too. To make people aware that the same force that is causing polar bears to suffer, is at work on our lives too.

I’m really excited about the amount of stuff that I have been learning here. I think I will be much more confident when talking about these issues in the future and will be more equipped to spread the word about global warming and climate change. I’ll certainly have plenty of information to share after collecting my body weight in pamphlets and such (a very poor decision while wearing heels).

On Monday, one of the side events I attended was about gender justice in the environmental movement. It was quite interesting as it was an issue I had never given thought too. The most interesting part was the discussion that followed after where members of the audience could ask the panelists questions. A man there brought up some new kinds of nuclear technology that are supposed to make it safer. He asked the woman there who had spoken about nuclear power if she had heard of these. Apparently he had read something that James Hansen, a climate scientist (who was actually the first person to address Congress about climate change issues) had written saying the he supported nuclear because it was safe with these new technologies. The panelist looked it up while we were there and found a letter that Hansen had written to Obama asking him not to listen to “hardened environmentalists” about the dangers of nuclear and not to appoint any in his administration who are opposed to nuclear power.

I went to the nuclear exhibit to ask about it but the man had no idea what I was talking about (I guess new technology thing lacked clarity). He gave me some material to look through but I haven’t found anything yet. We’ll see though. I haven’t found the ambition to look it up on-line yet. Just a bit of procrastinating I guess…

Peace, love, etc,

There is a sun in Poland!

So we woke up this morning, and the sun was coming through the window. It was a very exciting event, as we've been here for about four days now, and it's the first time we've seen the sun. Small miracles, I suppose.

Anyways, the conference has been quite tiring so far. Even though most of the sessions are very interesting, it is very draining to sit through several of them every day. I started off the day yesterday in a session that talked about global greenhouse gases and air pollutants. It's a good thing I've worked on IC's GHG emissions, and I knew some of the terminology. I can see how all of the acronyms and other phrases could get confusing to someone who doesn't have any sort of background in the area. This session discussed global emissions from 1970-2005, and it was interesting to see how they went about calculating and compiling the information into usable and understandable data. Some of their conclusions said that power generation was increasing global CO2 emissions, that methane and N2O emissions are proportionately larger in non-Annex 1 countries (basically developing countries), and in general there is a significant upward trend of emissions in the world.

Later, I went to a session called UNFCCC Event on the LEG/NAPA. (Can you see a problem with this one yet?) This is definitely one of those sessions that required some background knowledge. I understood the general gist, but there were several times where acronyms were used that completely passed me by. I'm sure it was very useful to people who knew what they were talking about though... Finally, we went to a side event discussing biodiversity and climate change. There were some interesting ideas brought up in this session, but for me at least, I understand the concept of biodiversity and the problem is incorporating the values into a climate change conversation, to make sure that addressing climate change also maintains (or improves) biodiversity.

I've gone to a few side events today as well, but the most interesting was "The New [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook." This is where I found my new bible (as David referred to it as), a very large report about the outlook of global energy. I can't wait to read it!

I am so happy to be surrounded by so many people who are actively working toward creating a better and more sustainable environment. Thus far, all I have done is talk about how I want to do similar things, and I have pretended to work on important global issues in Model UN. When these diplomats, activists, scientists, and other various leaders discuss issues, it's real, and they are creating something that can create a binding global change. I read that there are about 10,600 people attending this conference. It's amazing the passion of many of these people, and I'm encouraged that the diplomats and country representatives will also see the importance of creating change.

One last thought, since we do get to have fun here in Poland. I tried to buy peanut butter the other day to go along with my Nutella and bread, and I couldn't find any. Apparently they're not very fond of peanuts here, because they don't have any chocolate and peanut butter either--nor do they have raspberry in chocolate. They do, however, have some delicious strawberry-filled chocolate. I think I'm going to have to load up on chocolate before I return home...

Til next time--peace, sun, and chocolate (preferrably the dark variety)!!

Nuclear Physicists Cannot Answer That Question

Hey All,

Its David! So last night a bunch of us went to a "debate"about nuclear power put on by the French Atomic Agency (Not sure what the exact name or acronym is- but thats who they are), and the presentation itself did not tell me a whole lot I did not already know- just facts and figures and them telling us that nuclear power has low carbon emissions. It took a while, but we finally arrived at the debate part. What actually ended up happening was that the panelists frequently refused to answer questions on the basis that they were "not scientific"(The King from the King and I would not approve!). It was a little frustrating, and I wanted to ask them about the carbon emissions of the processes surrounding nuclear power- IE construction of the plants and uranium mining- but I chickened out becuase they probably would have told me it wasn't scientific enough. Thusly, I have concluded that nuclear physicists are too scientific.

I was also just at a Greenpeace side-event about energy consumption and how they plan to reduce carbon emissions through clean energy. It was generally informative, we got a cool pen with a hidden secret and a copy of the full report. The most interesting part, however, was a Brazilian woman who attacked Greenpeace's support of biofeuls. She basically said that according to the projections the land required for the amount of biofeul required is more than the available land, and would lead to the annexation of lands that do not belong to the producers; which drew up strong anti-colonial sentiment. It was very interesting, and I do not quite know how to think of it.

Right about now I am going to an Ad-Hoc working group with presentations by individual countries about what they are doing to mitigate climate change- it should be very cool to see what everyone is doing. At some point today I hope to make it to the technology exhibits, and at 6 I am going to an indigenous peoples and mitigation session.

See Ya!