Joseph_G_Pre-Course Blog Post

What is your background? Where are you from? What do you study? What are you most interested in, scientifically?
I am originally from Switzerland, but I studied in Canada, Russia, Denmark and Austria. I have a master in Environmental Science, and I did my master thesis on carbon fluxes in the tundra in Greenland with the perspective of climate change (Carbon ecosystem-atmosphere exchange in arctic tundra in response to environmental changes, Effects of increased water and phosphorus availability on carbon dioxide and methane fluxes).
I am now starting a PhD in alpine plant ecology at the University of Bergen. I am mostly interested in carbon fluxes in alpine ecosystems in the climate change context. I would like to get the year round picture with measurements in winter as well. What happens under the snow pack is less studied and quite exciting.

What are your goals for the upcoming course in Peru? How will you know if you’ve met these goals?
My master in environmental science did not cover much of the subject of the course, so to me it is stimulating to jump in a somehow new subject. The idea is also to see if what we do in Peru can be useful tools for my PhD. I am expecting to learn something new that will hopefully be a great input for my PhD. It is also the occasion to meet some of my future colleagues, as I just recently got the position at the University of Bergen and do not know the research group there yet.

What are you most excited about, with respect to the upcoming course and trip?
I have never used drones to collect data. There is an excited mad scientist in me who is very happy about this opportunity (#ScienceSanta). Energy fluxes in ecosystems is also a subject I wished to learn more about after one class I had during my master (Climate, Weather and Plants, at University of Copenhagen). It is great that it is all coming together and that I will get the chance to learn more about this!
As a traveller who never went to South America, this is overall super exciting! A lot of things will be completely new to me and I am really looking forward to discovering this place.

What do you anticipate people will think about climate change in Peru? Do you think most people will accept that the planet is warming, and that this is largely being caused by human activities? Or will this topic be controversial?
Since I am joining the course very short notice and was not really interested in South America before (I was mostly in the Arctic the last couple of years), it is difficult for me to have a valuable opinion on this. I expect people to know about climate change, but since I do not know how visible climate change is in Peru I am not sure if the people notice and accept it. I would also expect this subject to be controversial. The biggest polluters and responsible for climate change are North American and European countries. To me, coming from one of the richest countries in Europe (and therefore biggest polluters, fact that I am definitively not proud of) it is controversial to talk about climate change in Peru. The North-South economical cleavage is linked to the climate crisis and I would totally expect some people to be upset at the situation.

What do you know about public perceptions of climate change in your home country? What, if anything, have you experienced related to public perceptions of climate change?
In October last year, we elected a new parliament (low and high chambers). The green party gained 6% and most of the debate was focused on the environmental issues. It is also interesting to see that the scientific community is getting involved in the public debate. A climatology university professor got elected, and she joined politics because she was tired of seeing politicians saying non sense about climate change. Others scientific public figures (even a Nobel Prize) declared their support to Extinction Rebellion and Climate Strike. To me it is very important that we, as scientists, jump in the public debate with actual scientific evidences.

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