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Climate Dialogue to Peru & Brazil completes last two phases

June 12, 2018

The 2018 Northeastern University Dialogue of Civilizations on Climate Change Science and Policy, led by CEE Professor Auroop Ratan Ganguly and co-led by his PhD student Udit Bhatia, is now complete bar the grading. The basics of the Dialogue and the first two of four phases were reported in a previous article. The third phase was in the historic city of Salvador da Bahia, which is considered the cultural capital of Brazil, and happens to be one among the 100 Resilience Cities. Here we learned about the syncretism of Candomble, heard from the city's Chief Resilience Officer Adriana Campello, witnessed street performances of martial art fused into dance forms, and visited intriguing places such as historic churches with prominent masonic symbols and not-so-obvious African messages. We even had a student photo competition themed "a room with a view" taking advantage of our ocean side hotel. The first climate change war game, the one focused more on adaptation, was held here. The twenty-eight students, and the two student mentors, were divided into six groups of five each, representing five sectors of Brazil and Peru (Water, Energy, Agriculture, Healthcare, and Industry), and a Moderator team. This war game negotiated policy and funding allocations for climate resilience, and comprised individual (with assigned expertise and logistical roles) and group (sector wise) presentations, followed by negotiations and "delta" presentations, leading to the final negotiation phase and a summary policy document. The fourth and final phase was the Brazilian Amazons, specifically, Manaus and vicinity. From a walking tour of the Amazon rainforest to swimming with the pink dolphins, from boat rides to where two rivers with distinctly colored waters come together to form the Amazon and stay unmixed for several kilometers, from the flooded forests and floating villages, from dancing with and learning from the wisdom of the indigenous peoples to understanding the origins of Boi Bumba, from fishing for piranhas and playing with baby caimans, and from diets of freshwater fish to sting rays, we absorbed the essence. We learned why one of the river water is dark black in color and the other is a light brown, and why the rivers stay unmixed for a while before finally mixing to form the mighty Amazon. We learned about the mysterious opera house and the rubber barons of yore. Amidst the cultural immersion, we found time for academics. Besides regular classes and assignments, the second climate war game, more focused on mitigation, was held here. Here the teams were (besides the Moderator team) Peru, Brazil, Rest of Latin America, US and the United Nations, with the focus on natural resources, hazards and humanitarian aid, population growth and movement, and ultimately emissions control. Besides emission targets and environmental refugees, policy matters were negotiated, and a summary document was generated. One of the academic highlights was the visit to the internally renowned INPA research center, where we were fortunate to hear from Dr. Carlos Alberto ("Beto") Quesada and his team, who took us through a wonderful academic journey covering research papers in journals like Nature and hypothesis driven large-scale field experiments designed to examine the impacts of changes in carbon dioxide, phosphorus, and atmospheric patterns, on the Amazonian forests, and ending with an understanding of the dedication and day-to-day lives of the scientists and graduate students from across the world. From the high Andes mountains and the Pacific coasts of Peru, all the way to the Atlantic coasts of Brazil, as well as the pristine Amazonian rainforests with mighty rivers and mysterious flora and fauna, the Dialogue ended on a high note.