Personal Reflection on ICAMP

I have been working at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on the India-California Air Pollution Mitigation Program (ICAMP) first as an intern and then as a Staff Research Associate for a little over a year.  I already knew that global warming is a serious problem the entire world is facing and that some nations were establishing various ways to reduce their pollutant output.  However, I came in with limited knowledge about specific mitigation steps for climate and air pollution.  My experience working on this project funded by the World Bank has taught me so much and has humbled me in some ways.

Climate is not an issue we can easily label and account to a specific party, it is everyone’s problem because there are no boundaries.  Everyone is so interconnected.  I came to learn that right away when I was assisting in preparing the first ICAMP meeting in October 2013 in Oakland.  There were so many participants, ranging from scientific experts to political figures, to well respected individuals in their field, all hailing from different parts of the world to convene in Oakland (and four months later in India) just to share their knowledge and experiences. It really does take a global community to tackle a global problem. I already knew that but it didn’t hit me until I undertook the hard work to contact and communicate with the participants. I personally have learned a lot about communicating effectively verbally and electronically.

On the technical side, I was given multiple tasks researching assigned topics (more on that later).  I also learned a lot about the preparation of 200 page plus documents. My knowledge with word processing, creating documents and figures, and learning to use new programs has improved greatly. Mostly because I had to be resourceful and teach myself how to do things since some tasks required me to do things I have never done before. A lot of time and effort is put into making these documents presentable and I for one will never look at a report the same way.

What I like about ICAMP is that it has made me more aware of how important a part technology plays. In particular, I was given a task to research the different types of diesel filters and systems to reduce polluting emissions such as diesel particulate filters (DPF) and selective catalytic reduction to name a few. These filters must be applied to heavy-duty trucks since they emit excessive amounts of air pollution. I learned that technology and governance went hand in hand, especially in the case of California. The California Air Resources Board (CARB/ARB) has set world-class examples in establishing emission standards. ARB in fact was integral in establishing the nation’s first vehicle emission standards in 1966. In addition to the engines, I learned about the importance in incorporating the use of low sulfur fuel and how it would make meeting latter vehicle emission standards achievable.

What I hope to see with ICAMP is the steps recommended in the action agenda take full effect.  Policy and legislation need to be enacted and enforced. I would hope to see numbers in lives that have been negatively affected by air pollution dwindle and to see a more environmentally sound transportation sector ahead even if it is not as rapid as the ICAMP proposed timeline.

What I will take with me from this experience is valuable knowledge and skills that I know I will not get easily elsewhere. While I have become more proficient with computer programs, ICAMP has certainly opened my eyes wider to real world issues and realizing the courses of action that must be taken in order to make a difference. I am very fortunate that I will be able to carry that with me wherever I go.

-Rachelle Lagman, Staff Research Associate

** The views expressed in this article are purely personal and do not represent the Scripps Institution of Oceanography or the University of California San Diego. **

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