New correspondent: Diego Serrano from Prague, Czech Republic

Today our team was strengthened by a student from Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague. His name is Diego Serrano, as an environmental  engineer and as a member of our platform he has the ambition to help people develop a more sustainable lifestyle. More specific his target is to eliminate water pollution. Diego will assist us to unroll Cool Down The Planet. This means: help us find suitable subjects to be featured in his country. We first asked him to answer some questions.

Diego, can you introduce yourself?

My name is Diego Sebastian, I was raised in Colombia and my age is 24. I am passionate about thinking how to develop a more sustainable lifestyle and encourage others to talk about it. My job is giving people access to sound knowledge about water quality, not only collecting data, but presenting clear outcomes and guiding alternatives to improve! I’m doing research in Prague, at the Czech University of Life Sciences, concerning nature conservation and water springs ecology with a multidisciplinary approach. I focus on the response of aquatic invertebrates to changes in the water chemistry and land cover in the springshed. I enjoy hiking in nature and I’m very enthusiastic to help others, creating new ideas and asking deep questions. I’m always thinking how to move my work further to benefit the community and improve public understanding of and action for environmental issues.

What motivated you to choose for this study?

I became actively motivated after seeing the creeks running polluted in my hometown, Bucaramanga, where I became environmental engineer. I received hands-on training at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, and I started learning about the causes. Some people blame factories nearby, as the source of water pollution, however the main reason why it is polluted is the disconnection of monitoring programs, our unsustainable lifestyle and the obsolete technologies, which also contributes to climate change. Here in Prague, I am part of a research cooperation between Czechia and Germany and we can see the power of connecting regions for science, even when the experts do not speak the same language. The solutions for protecting springs will benefit both nations, offering reliable water for people. I feel satisfied working to protect the water we use!

What are your ambitions? How would you like to develop your future career?

I want to become a leader on conservation. representing the Academia or an organization, I will do research to find strategies that benefit both the environment and people. For example, I would like to assess the potential of hydroelectric dams to replace fossil fuels and finding better ways to mitigate the impacts, which hit strongly in the communities and the ecosystems. I dream about about eliminating pollution from our rivers and I know how hard it is, with my experience in water treatment design and hydrobiology studies. With my experience in water treatment design and hydrobiology studies, I recognize the limitations to accomplish cities with clean rivers and healthy ecosystems. However, I dream about creating huge changes to reduce water pollution and control our carbon footprint. We can start from recognizing where our water comes from and then evolve to monitor specific causes of pollution. Energy sources for example, are often ignored when we buy products. If we had clearer knowledge, we could compare the potential of different technologies and make smarter choices to control toxics and climate change!

Do you see any consequences from climate change in your region? If yes, can you give an example?

Of course! Here in Prague, the precipitation this year came too late and some water springs were running dry. We cannot explain it so easily, or simplify the cause as greenhouse gases only, however the change is visible, it is everywhere and our lifestyle is not helping to take care of the environment. Besides climate change, our main energy source is directly harmful. In Colombia, for example, an oil spill last March destroyed suddenly more than 20km of riparian ecosystem after an old extraction site collapsed.

What do you consider is a strong quality of the Cool Down The Planet formula? 

It is amazing to create this network to tackle climate change! The strongest quality of Cool Down the Planet is engaging people from every corner of the globe to think about the environmental issues and to inspire others to take action. This is not just about reducing the temperature, but about inviting people to create cleaner approaches. Cool Down The Planet is a promising tool because it’s supporting innovation. When several sciences unite strength and knowledge, the result can only be positive. And then, innovation become useful when a good communication strategy reaches the public. I will enjoy sharing your challenges and thinking about new ones to propose… Thank you for activating the dialogue about climate action!