IYPE Launch Event Response
What was my experience as the US Student Representative?I had an interesting perspective being the only student to represent the United States, a country of such interest and intrigue to most of the other students there. I was honored to be able to represent my country, but there was also an odd pressure because of the United States’ position in the world. Being from a country that is so highly publicized and seen worldwide both as distinguished and infamous, I had a lot of questions. I had to be knowledgeable of all things American. That was quite a task. I was questioned about everything from state capitals, to the NBA, to college recommendations, to politics. I did my best to answer all of these questions, except I realized I knew very little about the NBA. When it came to the question of politics and the upcoming election, it was humbling to see how much of a vested interest the rest of the world has in our presidential election.
Countries aside, it was an incredible opportunity to just be at the launch event as a student. Besides being a geology student, I am also studying Peace and Conflict studies. So to be able to see the United Nations in action, even just a small branch and a single committee, was worth the trip. However, the connections I made with other students were even more valuable. I met at least one person from every inhabited continent. Talking with the students I heard about all the different earth problems concerning students. It was really encouraging to hear that students around the world are worried about the state of the Earth and are trying to do something about it. Even if we are not sure what to do or where to start, this event enables us to connect in the future and will hopefully give some direction to addressing the pressing issues facing this planet.
What was my impression of the IYPE Launch Event?Overall, the launch seemed to be a publicity event. The point, to me, was to draw attention to the geosciences, to create some hype, and popularize it as the new science current event. I think this is great. Seeing this as a world concern gaining momentum is exciting, especially for someone who is about to graduate with a degree in the geosciences. The event did not aim to achieve constructive answers to the problems people spoke of that are facing the planet, though I realize this was only the introductory event. Such an aim would have been a lofty goal to achieve in a two-day conference. Instead, I hope to see this theme of “Earth Sciences for Society” gaining even more momentum after this debut.
I enjoyed the talks given by the speakers who seemed to be most obviously forward thinking. Those, like Ms. Arti Mehra the mayor of Delhi, who not only named the problems facing their countries but also said how they were trying to alleviate the issues. I also liked the talk by Peter Hoeppe, from Münich Reinsurance, who spoke about natural hazards. That being the topic of most interest to me, I wanted to hear what he had to say. He said that his company works on promoting risk awareness since geophysical hazards cause the most numerous deaths and cost insurance companies much money. It is interesting that the business sector was the one most focused on promoting risk awareness, at least of the people who spoke.
I also felt that the students had very good presentations that provided an interesting perspective on the themes. After talking to the students, I wish more of the work could have been on display in some way.
What are my hopes for the IYPE legacy?I hope that this launch event, as well as the whole year, is able to actually promote the geosciences and the theme ‘Earth Sciences for Society’. I hope the momentum continues so that the geosciences become a part of the business and political sectors. This way, policies helping to protect our resources and reduce risks to the environment and people become more widespread. As a student, I hope this event opens the door for us by giving students more resources to work with in coming up with constructive answers to the problems facing this planet. Maybe even the United States will be able to participate in this global initiative to raise awareness and ultimately limit the effects of climate change, growing populations, and the increasing dangers from natural hazards. The unique way in which issue in the geosciences affect people worldwide, ignoring state boundaries, cultures, or affluence, requires an international response that I hope the International Year of the Planet Earth has begun.