Monday, November 19, 2012

Global Issues and the environment

Global Issues Network Singapore Conference in South East Asia.

What an amazing experience. Meeting several schools from all around the region discuss their passion for helping the world become a better world.  Being a facilitator in the conference was such an eye-opening experience. I got to see the work of NGOs and passionate young leaders focus on the issues of the world, thus expanding my small realm of knowledge about the environment. Our Global Action Network Group zoomed in on Natural Disasters – a now increasingly common phenomenon that is hypothesized to be the dangerous result of global warming and changing environments. Especially Hurricane Sandy just passing us, natural disasters was a really nice topic to discuss. We discussed tsunamis in particular, since all of the delegates hailed from South East Asia, and tsunamis, triggered by earthquakes, are a very big problem.

We emphasized the mitigation aspect of natural disasters. How could people in developing nations be more aware of the dangers presented? What steps can be taken to ensure that the government is responsible for the dealing of the tsunami? The human response aspect was very interesting to me. Rarely had I thought about the humans involved in environmentally caused natural disaster. While it’s well known that global warming and such changing weather patterns are the most probable cause of such frequent disasters, I had not glanced at the people affected by tsunamis and earthquakes as a part of the environmental equation. In grade 2, unknowingly, I felt moved to help the distraught victims of the 2003 tsunami. I collected money for the victims, standing in the aisles of my neighborhood grocery store. At the time, I didn't fully understand why aiding these victims was so important for the environment. But now I know. Helping the people survive, I realized in GINSING, would help the environment survive. Educating the public about the dangers of such disasters and what causes them is really useful in attempting to make Earth a more environmentally sound place.

Several keynote speakers sparked my attention too. Abigail Ailing’s presentation on “Biosphere 2” was especially intriguing. In an effort to explore five different biomes in one area, Abigail Ailing and a team of seven other scientists dared live inside a glass ecological laboratory for two whole years. This was absolutely beyond me. As she went into discussions of living in the biosphere and getting accustomed to the environment, I was enthralled. I wanted to know more about her lifestyle in Arizona, where she had spent from 1991 to 1993 just observing and making a sacrifice for science. The five biomes that were controlled by a computer were a marsh, desert, savannah, ocean and rainforest. Ms. Ailing told us stories of how she had to dive into the ocean biome several times a week to clean algae off the glass walls, so that the marine plants could receive sunlight. At the end of their two year experience, all of the ecologists emerged with orange skin, because of the high content of beta-carotene in their food. There had been no outside interaction with the rapidly evolving world. No money, no internet, no computers (other than the controller for the biomes), all for the good of science. I loved her talk at the GIN Conference. Now Ms. Ailings next project is to help the corals of the world. She’s quite an inspirational person! Learn more about her experiment in an alternate world here:

GIN was a great experience for me. I really am looking forward to next year’s conference. I think I’ll try to be a delegate for the global warming group, or another environmental GANG. If not, I know that there are plenty of other world issues that are worth brainstorming about!

Think green, think big, think world! 

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