Personal Lessons in Climate Change from India

Over the past 9 months or so, I have written a number of posts on climate change in South Asia, particularly at the ‘Third Pole,’ the ice-covered region that includes the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. I have endeavored to learn as much as possible about the science and policy of this issue from the researchers who are working on it, both in the United states and worldwide. However, there is only so much one can learn from papers and journals. Therefore, I have taken steps to learn in a more direct fashion from the people living and researching these issues.

First, I’ve recently registered for an e-course called “Global Warming in an Unequal World,” taught by India’s Center for Science and Environment. “The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi. CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.” Lest this seem like an easy A, the course includes quizzes, 500-750 word essay assignments and online debates, as well as critiques by and for fellow students. Conveniently enough, 500-750 words is just the right length for a blog post, so I will post my essay responses here, as well as critiques and feedback from the instructors.

The course must be completed within three months; however, since I leave for India on  June 26th, I plan to finish way before then. My second direct learning experience will take place in India from June 26 – July 9, 2010. Yes, I have chosen one of the hottest and wettest times to visit India.* (Hey, if I’m gonig to write about the monsoon, I should experience it for myself, right?)

I plan to spend sometmie in Delhi, then travel to Hyderabad to attend the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) Conference (July 5-9, 2010). This five-day conference takes place every year in different countries in the region.  It is my very good fortune that this year’s conference will be in India, allowing me to learn from, and meet many of India’s best climate scientists, all in one place! Of course, the conference will also include scientists from elsewhere in the region and the world, all working on climate science. (There will be many other non-climate subjects covered as well, but I’ll have to discipline myself to stick to one subject area, or I’ll be comlpetely overwhelmed before the first day is over!)  The conference program includes session like: “Asian Aerosols and Climate: The Known and Unknown,” “Asian Snow-Glaciers and Climate Change,” and “Climate Change in Monsoon Asia-Pacific: Progress, Issues and Challenges.” There will also be three sessions on the preliminary results from the five-year, cross-cutting Asian Monsoon Year (AMY) experiments, coordinated by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). These should present excellent opportunities to learn about the latest research on climate change in South Asia. Of course, I plan to get in some tourist time as well!

I will blog about what I learn there as well – hopefully during my trip, but afterwards as well.  So stay tuned – lots more to come!

Have you discovered online or other ways to learn about climate change in different parts of the worl, from the people in those regions?  If so, please let us know, in the comment section below.

*According to the BBC weather website, in July the average temperatures for Delhi  are 27 – 36C (80 – 97F), and the “discomfort from heat and humidity” is “extreme,” with the additional fun of 180 mm (7″) of rainfall. For Hyderabad: 23C – 31C (73 – 88F), “discomfort is only “high,” with 152mm (6″) of rain).


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