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Knowing What We Don’t Know—Earth Information Day at COP22

Knowing What We Don’t Know—Earth Information Day at COP22

Panelists for Earth Information Day at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)
Panelists for Earth Information Day at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)

The one thing we can all agree on is that climate change sparks a host of complex questions. Besides the questions of whether it’s occurring in the first place and if we’re responsible (hint: yes and yes), the debate then turns to its repercussions—how is climate change affecting our world? Our oceans? People and ecosystems of all nations and coasts? And most importantly, what can we do about it?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult—not to mention costly and ineffective—to fix something that you don’t understand (i.e. why Macs usually get replaced instead of repaired). Likewise, it will be very hard to effectively respond to climate change without collaborative scientific knowledge. Thankfully, this conclusion itself is common knowledge. The Paris Agreement, which became international law two weeks ago, reflects global consensus that “accelerating, encouraging, and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development.” With this seed of thought—as well as watering and care from the UN World Meteorological Organization—the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) 2016 Implementation Plan was born.

The plan was introduced to the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC at Earth Information Day on November 8, 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco. In general, the day also provided an important “up-to-date picture of the state of the climate an outlook on future development and opportunities to take the most effective climate action.” The UNFCCC’s Newsroom went on to report that the event would “link the work of the science community, including systematic observation, to the implementation of the Paris Agreement’s goals and aims to provide key information.” In other words, the day provided an overview of an international blueprint in the works for building a scientifically-informed, sustainable future.

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A Day in the Life…

A Day in the Life…

Despite what you may think, we’re not discussing climate change over lunch with Obama while Narendra Modi cracks jokes about CO2 levels. In fact, the majority of the 40,000 people that have flocked to Paris for the COP will never even witness the negotiations between world leaders. Though this is obviously a crucial part of these next two weeks, the COP has much more to offer. Some may even argue that the most important work is being done outside the formal negotiation rooms. Read on for a day in the life of a student delegation.

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Assessing Sustainability?

Assessing Sustainability?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “sustainable” is defined as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” Thus, “sustainability” is commonly linked with the idea of leaving a better planet for future generations. However, in reality, defining “sustainability” is like nailing Jell-O to a wall- impossible and pretty pointless.

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