I have spent the past week in San Deigo, waiting for my parents to mail me necessary documents (birth certificate, various identification forms), filling out forms, and then waiting for my new passport to arrive. The week was enjoyably spent with a friend from college, Sheila Walsh, and her two housemates, Milania and Loren. They had an extra room for me to stay in, which was great, except when I wanted to sleep after biking far and there was a party (no, that picture on the right is not staged).
While in San Diego, I visited Scripps Institute of Oceanography, a world class research institute. This is the home of Dr. Keeling, who first measured how carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere, producing the now famous “Keeling curve“.
At Scripps, I attended a student-led environmental seminar, where an international relations graduate student talked about the global politics of oil. Oil plays a huge role in global politics, usually for the worse. I will revisit this topic when I visit Venezuela, a poor country where oil is one third of the economy.
I also talked with a few scientists about their research. John Holecek, a graduate student studying aerosols, showed me around his lab. Aerosols are small particles suspended in the air, and humans are increasing their abundance. Most aerosols have a slight cooling effect on the planet, although some do contribute to warming. The effect of aerosols on the climate, although significantly less than carbon dioxide, is fairly uncertain, and a lot of current research is directed to understanding aerosols.
I also visited David Perice, a climate modeler and programmer. He shared with me a study he recently published in the journal Science showing that the Earth’s oceans have warmed significantly in the past few decades. He remarked, “People don’t think there is a problem because we can’t see carbon dioxide. If you could see carbon dioxide, you would see the atmosphere slowly getting darker as we burn more and more fossil fuels.”
After these discussions, I decided to explore the ocean myself. My friend Sheila and I took two surfboards, and enjoyed the waves just a few hundred yards from her office, which overlooks the ocean.