Sunday, December 7, 2008

(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,

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