For four summers, I have developed a sort-of ritual. I bake in the Arizona sun for a couple of weeks, scour my medicine cabinet for sunscreen or Tums, and pray for my visa to arrive on time. My post-spring semester routine is predictable. It invariably reminds me of my tolerance for high heat, how much surplus medicine I own, and how hard it is to leave some things behind. Still, its consistency is comforting.
Between the 11 hours from Boston to Dubai and 7 from Dubai to Singapore, I had a substantial amount of time crouched next to strangers to contemplate. I read Fun Home and cried at the ending, confirming the fact that airplanes increase my tear flow. I practiced my Arabic by listening to the Emirates safety instructions. Although, at one point in my life, I had the real-world superpower of being able to fall asleep in any location, today I am restless and thinking about change.
Over the next four weeks, I will be a student mentor on the Climate Change Science and Policy Dialogue (again) but the circumstances have shifted somewhat.
Trip focus: The focus of this year’s trip is urban and coastal resilience, which is a slightly more targeted topic than in past years.
SIRF students: This year, I am not the only person returning on our trip. We are a big group and include six students who are conducting independent research projects in the cities we are visiting. All of them, Mike, Elisa, Shahed, Laura, Rachel and Lauren, have been to India with Professor Ganguly in the past and were inspired to start their own inquiries this summer.
My path: In this moment in college, in time, in space, I am a little more unsure of what is next than I have been in other years. That’s okay. I hope to take this time to explore.
The presidency: Obama and Trump are very, very different. Enough said.
I could predict the past two summers in India in certain ways. The itineraries were similar to each other. I had favorite foods and cities that I returned to. As an outsider looking in, I was able to learn more about a place and culture mostly new to me when I began college.
Ultimately, on my fourth and final experience on the Climate Change Science and Policy Dialogue, my theme is uncertainty. Throughout my work in understanding climate change from a policy perspective, the buzzword is almost always a part of the conversation. Climate models produce ranges of probability, not concrete answers. If you read any United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, you won’t find categorical statements. Instead, the words likely probable potential come up over and over again.
Skeptics who deny human-caused climate change manipulate complexity and use it as a justification to avoid action. The answers are not absolute and therein lies the challenge.
From time to time, I will be updating this blog with stories from the trip, something that I am trying to keep consistent from previous summers. I cannot wait for more chances to learn, write and discover, that’s for certain.