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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Key COP17 Issues, Student Research » Disney or Durban? First Day Reflections

Disney or Durban? First Day Reflections

By: Emily Bowie ’14

I feel like I’m at Disney. The flora is pretty much the same, it’s hot and sticky, I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get to interesting events on time, there’s people everywhere talking in languages I don’t know, and I’m fenced in an area that is beautifully constructed and impeccably clean. There are a few important differences of course, there are no children, everyone is dressed up and important, and there are screens at every corner playing loud and live footage of the internal conference that we cannot attend.

It’s the first day and I’ve already been swept off my feet. This is amazing. There are more events to go to than I have time for, there are so many important people with different ideas and visions for this conference and climate change in general. I’m a little intimidated by the idea of interviewing, but I’m also somewhat excited. I got contacts for Hussein Farah, Director General for the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), I met two girls (one from the US, one from Puerto Rico) who are working for the Sierra Club’s youth chapter, I met another student researcher from Alabama, and I videotaped an interview with the Head of IPCC Working Group 2 Technical Support Unit! And it’s not even 4pm!

I have further narrowed my topic to Adaptation measures in Africa (I may specify on a region) and have been talking to USAID’s Bill Breed (Who we met in DC) who is involved with the US Center’s Event Program which is focusing on Africa and adaptation. I will provide more updates as I narrow my topic, so stay tuned!

EVENT I ATTENDED: SERVIR Bringing Climate Data to East Africa

At this US Center event I listened to presentations by Bill Breed of USAID, Dan Irwim of NASA and Hussein Farah of RCMRD about the Earth observation system SERVIR and how its satellite observations, ground based data, mapping information and forecast models are used to monitor and improve responses to natural disasters as well as provide information for policy makers. Farah explained how this program has helped East African countries by gathering and analyzing data useful for policy making, designing a famine early warning system and mapping floods for post-disaster response systems. For more information check out and

The SERVIR-Africa team captured multispectral imagery of the Nzoia River basin to provide baseline imagery of this frequently flooded area for future analysis.

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