The opportunity to attend a COP conference is a lifetime opportunity for any environmentalists; this can obviously be seen by the older passionate delegates during discussions. I am currently an undergraduate junior at New York University and from my coursework, I have been offered mostly a historical and generalized perspective of many of the issues presented at this conference. There is nothing wrong with this, for this represents the limitations of studying in a classroom environment such as one does in college.
At this Climate Conference, I was blown away by the immersion of the experience. Since this is an international conference that brings the best brains of the world, many of the interactions at this conference involved talking to people who are experts in their field. Not only did I talk to experts, but I was allowed the opportunity to network with students that had similar interests to mine. However, it was not only the intelligence at this conference which made it special, but rather the diversity of opinions. When controversial topics were brought up such as biofuels, experts from different fields had different experiences to offer and even if they were in the same field, one might support nuclear energy and other scientist may be strongly against it. The intense discussions that followed in the side-events were mind-boggling because many experts had strong viewpoints on their solution to the problem.
One of the most profound experiences was when I learned about CO2 sequestering from the OPEC (oil producing export nations in the middle east) scientists. I assumed that they would present a case such as a climate denier, but I was seriously proven wrong, because they presented beautiful techniques and financing that held up strongly against the other scientists who were aggressively questioning them from the United States. Nevertheless, the discussion was beyond my capacity to understand and to further dig deeper into the subject I visited a UN stand that explained the science of carbon sequestering. I was then presented with a 20-minute conversation regarding the pros and cons of the method. Considering the knowledge and perspectives that I gained in this conference, I would say that each day at this conference is equal to 1 semester in college.
I don’t that it would unreasonable to proclaim that there is no experience that parallels attending a COP conference. I personally would tell all my peers to attend this conference if they could get a opportunity to get to do so in the future.