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David Dichter, who pushed for Atlantic City as hub for climate change studies, dies at 89
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David Dichter, who pushed for Atlantic City as hub for climate change studies, dies at 89

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David Dichter saw great potential in Atlantic City as a hub for sustainability issues.

The retired geologist felt with its location, hotels, beaches and convention space, his hometown could be better suited than the United Nations’ current climate change agency in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dichter died Monday after battling a number of health issues, according to his obituary. He was 89.

Dichter was born on New Jersey Avenue in Atlantic City, where his father ran the Dichter Hotel. He graduated from Atlantic City High School, and his post-secondary education included an undergraduate degree in Asian studies in northeast India, graduate school at Clark University in Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in economic and political geography at Birkbeck College of London University. He served as a Peace Corps desk officer in Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington, D.C., a U.S. Foreign Service officer in Thailand and Burma, and did a three-year stint in the Marines, serving mostly in Japan.

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He met his wife, Ruth, in Washington and moved to her native Switzerland to be with her. While in Switzerland, he worked with an intergovernmental organization in Geneva that eventually led to the creation of the U.N. Volunteer Program.

He retired in Linwood in the early 2000s. He is survived by Ruth, daughter Alexandra, son Daniel, sister Ruth Raphel, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Dichter spoke about his ideas for Atlantic City in a February interview with The Press. He and others envisioned facilities where scientists could study climate change in a community that’s bearing the brunt of sea level rise. Empty casinos would be turned into “innovation campuses” for laboratories and staff housing.

His plans had the support of state Senate President Steve Sweeney, the city’s planning department, City Council, Meet AC and Atlantic County government.

“It will enable scientists, academicians, climate experts, governmental officials and concerned citizens from throughout the country and internationally to meet on a regular basis in order to discuss, as well as successfully act on, this global menace,” according to a resolution passed in September 2016 by City Council.

“I’ve never believed in the philosophy that a single individual can’t make a change in the world,” he said in the interview. “If I did, my whole life would have been much less meaningful and much less interesting.”

Contact: 609-272-7210

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