by Antonio Limtong

I was drawn to study Earth system science because it’s kind of like a combination of many departments, like environment, atmospheric science, geology, and geography. I also like how it tries to solve real world problems, both in the present and in the past.

Growing up, I’ve lived in two cities that have been vastly different from one another: Manila, Philippines and Vancouver, Canada. In Manila, typhoons and flash floods were common, wreaking havoc specifically on people in poverty. Even children in poverty who were around the same age as me would be in flooded areas trying to collect money from wealthier people. The streets seemed to always be filled with traffic and air pollution was plentiful. The sight was very upsetting and heart-breaking; I was sad to see people my age and younger having to struggle through both poverty and environmental hazards. It also made me really angry knowing that these kids would never have the same opportunity as me, and not many people would help them. In Manila, nature seemed like something that was supposed to be avoided. Living around an environment like this has fueled my passion for studying Earth system science; I want to solve environmental problems and help the people who are most affected by them.

In contrast to Manila, Vancouver is higher class and more privileged. Natural disasters are handled more effectively, air quality is clean, poverty rates are lower, and the population is less dense. People like living in Vancouver because of the great weather, access to mountains, lakes, and various outdoor activities. Nature was seen as something to take advantage of and enjoy for recreation. By studying Earth system science, I hope that one day I can eventually impact the lives of people like those kids I saw asking for money on the flooded streets of Manila, helping them to enjoy the environment instead of seeing it as only destructive.