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From a basement in Athens to Space and beyond: the unlikely story of Climate Watch

We don’t have to save the world. The world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it.

Yes, it’s a bit early for towel day. But i could not think of a more appropriate way than a Douglas Adams quote for someone to start a post about saving the world on their 42nd birthday.

Of course, Douglas Adams is right about this as he has been about so many other things: the world will get on just fine anyway, it’s us we need to worry about really. But if someone asked you, what would you consider the greatest issue the world is facing today? Politics aside, the one thing that pretty much everyone would acknowledge and stand behind?

Climate Change - something to be concerned about

Climate Change – something to be concerned about

For me, i guess the environment and what climate change is doing to it would be it. Which is why i picked this as a topic to work on when i had the opportunity to pick one.

It was one of those things in the elusive “things to do before” list: write for a magazine. As this is something i’ve always wanted to try my hand at, and i recently found myself in one of those rare situations where i had time to invest, i thought i’d give it a try.

I found this magazine that had an open call for contributions and a list of upcoming issues, including one on Earth Day and how technology can help dealing with Climate Change. So i picked this..and then things started getting interesting.

Climate Change is a broad topic, so i had to narrow it down to one thing, and given that i do not have a background in Clean Tech i chose to go with something i do have a background in: data. So then i started researching, interviewing and writing the article, trying to get the who-is-who and what-is-what and actually figure out my angle:

What kind of data are being used in environmental science, by whom, for what, what issues are they facing? Is it about doing research, is it about convincing the public, or leadership? Do we have enough data, or maybe too much of it?

So many questions! I tried my best to answer them and write a decent article. I sort of did, i think – given of course, that the more i got to know the more i realized how little i actually do know. I might even get to finish it and publish it one day, because the magazine thing, well, it did not really work out. But that did not matter that much anymore. Why? Because by doing this, i actually started getting some ideas.

Crazy ideas. Like:

What if we could build a platform to facilitate access to data for climate change?

Could we get data that are scattered out there, make them accessible, interpret them and make the connections, so that everyone can have an idea of what global and national initiatives mean and keep an eye on their progress?

Could we collect data locally and in real time and connect them to existing sources, so that everyone can have an idea of what is happening right now in their neighbourhood and help researchers do their job more efficiently?

Crazy as this may sound, there were a few other people that thought this could be worth pursuing. So a bunch of us got together and tried to do just that. A couple of hackathons later..Climate Watch came to existence, during the 2016 Nasa Space Apps Challenge in hackerspace.gr on the weekend of April the 22nd.

We must have done something right, because now we have been nominated by NASA for the People’s Choice Award, selected among the 160+ teams that participated from all over the world.

So if someone told you a bunch of guys and girls hacking the weekend away in a basement somewhere in the center of Athens could somehow contribute towards mitigating climate change, and make their way to space while at it, would you believe this?

Well, if you would, if you like what we do and want to support us to move forward, or if you just want to give a guy with a crazy idea like that 3 minutes of your time as a 42nd birthday present..all you have to do is vote for us by Sunday 15/5 and spread the word.

 

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Could we actually win? Who knows!
Would it make a difference? It just might.

Even though winning would be nice (and send us all to the US to attend a space shuttle launch), it’s not really about this in the end of the day.

Winning will probably not make us rich and famous.

What it will probably do though is earn us 15 minutes of publicity that we could use to get people to notice and contribute.

So this is the most important message here: if you like the idea and want to help, here’s some ways you can do that besides voting:

1. Promote. Tell your friends and contacts. Friends-of-friends go a long way.
2. Connect. Like us on Facebook, or fill in our contact form. Let us know if you want to be kept up to date – we promise we won’t spam you.
3. Contribute. If you have ideas and/or time, we’d love to talk to you. We’re just getting started, so there’s a million things to do, from social media and promotion to connecting cables and from funding opportunities to getting our codebase and documentation on Github in order.

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