Four Environmental Justice Radio Shows Created by Students
Four Environmental Justice Radio Shows Created by Students
Teach in – Our Climate Now
February 9, 2017, 1:40-3:00 pm
Haaren Hall, Room 630
EVIDENCE AND IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, Dr. Pushker Kharecha, Columbia Earth Institute and NASA GISS
LEGAL OPTIONS FOR FIGHTING BACK, Kimberly Ong Esq., National Resource Defense Council
LOCAL CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENTAL, RACIAL, GENDER AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE Ana Orozco, UPROSE
4th annual EcoCinema Cafe, a 3-day Marathon of Films & Discussions
April 24-26, 2017, Morning till Night
New Building Student Dining Hall
A couple of exhibitions at the Cooper Hewitt that are worth checking out for those interested in sustainability issues.
One is an exhibit on re-using textiles and the other one considers design options for an America that is facing a number of sustainability crises. Check them out.
6:30-8:30 President’s Gallery Opening Reception, 6th floor, 899 10th Avenue/59 Street
Artists: Nick Brandt, Sue Coe, Joel Sartore, Brent Stapelkamp, Mary Ting
Review of Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey
Reviewed by Joan Hoffman
A steady stream of surprises flows from the absorbing and moving book on dolphins (and Beluga whales), Voices in the Ocean (2015) by Susan Casey. My ignorance was greater than expected and much of what I had thought was wrong. In part this is because Casey presents the results of recent research. It is also because she journeys around the world to acquire and share first hand experiences of the far flung places and varied fascinating people engaged in dolphin interactions: communities, scholars, business people and activists alike. The learning provided by this much needed book brought both delight and dismay. Sometimes I was just stunned.
To begin with dolphins and whales are part of the same toothed whale species, and dolphins are a different species than porpoises (All are a subgroups of cetaceans.). I confess to have been flabbergasted to learn that these amazing creatures of the sea had originated as land animals with hooves. Perhaps the watery world gradually inundated their original environment, but in any case over the 38 million years they evolved the ability to traverse the seas. Additionally, they developed a huge brain that has capacities well beyond ours and that apparently works faster also. Their adaptation to ocean life has led to very strong collaboration, and they appear to be able to communicate with one another instantly. Different groups within the oceans have distinct cultures, languages and skills which are taught over years of learning. Their bodies have highly evolved intricate means of communicating and receiving information. Females live beyond menopause and grandmothers play key roles these matriarchal societies. It would appear that the grandmothers are valuable repositories of information that must be handed down through the generations.
Delight in learning about the strong and warm social bonds within these groups of animals leads to dismay when Casey reveals how they are captured and isolated from their families to be placed in marine parks, often in conditions that have to be extremely boring to these highly intelligent beings, akin to the torture of solitary confinement. Around the world, cruel modes of killing and capture abound for reasons ranging from ignorance and neglect to the misinformed belief by some that dolphins rather than humans are the cause of the depletion of fish stocks in the seas. We are also poisoning their bodies with hazardous waste dumped in the oceans and damaging their remarkable and very sensitive communication system with our sonar signals. Not only are our practices inflicting pain and reducing numbers of dolphins and whales, they are also undermining the “habitat” of their culture, their slowly evolved and longstanding intergenerational arrangements for transmitting knowledge needed for survival.
Perhaps most astonishing after learning how humans have harmed them is the fact that dolphins have a long and continuous history of assisting humans. Ms. Casey describes records of strong helping relationships between dolphins and humans among the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. She tells intriguing tales of dolphins’ ongoing cooperation with people, ranging from play to rescue and work.
This book is not a tale of a dolphin fairyland. Like humans, dolphins have distinct personalities. They have moods. They differ from one another among and within groups. The various groups do not mingle with one another. If abused, dolphins can become abusive. Humans are just beginning to understand just how very abusive our systems of captivity are to dolphins. Captive dolphins have killed humans.
There is a strong moral imperative to stop this abuse. There is also much to gain. Just one example is that dolphins have much stronger self-healing powers than we have. We, however, have evolved powers that can make both dolphins and humans extinct. A recent World Wildlife Fund Study reported that, as a result of human impact, there had been a decline of 58% among invertebrates (birds, fish, mammals) between 1970 and 2012. Dolphins have survived over 38 million years. We have much to learn from them. One can start by reading this deeply researched and heartfelt book.
World Wildlife Fund Study and a report on the critiques
On Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 Introduction to Sustainability Studies class students and their professor Milena Popov went on a field trip to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On this field trip the students have experienced different climates, plant adaptations, and biodiversity walking around the garden grounds and garden’s conservator
Professor Rutledge got to speak about her work on the history of school lunches on the radio show This is Hell!
Some of this work has been discussed at the Sustainability’s lunch roundtables a few years ago.
Have a listen:
by Tim Poon
When we hear about the American Museum of Natural History, we immediately imagine the breathtaking exhibits that the museum has to offer, or the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who helped create the museum. Not many people think about the large Education Department in the museum that educates New York City’s youth. The museum has programs ranging from pre-k to college students. I started my career at the museum with the CUNY Service Corps and I am now a Teaching Assistant involved in various programs in the museum. One program in particular is having a profound impact on high school students, the Science Research and Mentoring Program.
The Science Research and Mentoring Program, also known as SRMP pairs high school students with AMNH scientists to conduct ongoing research projects. Once the mentees are accepted into the program, they first have to go through a rigorous two weeks of classes in the museum. Then the museum takes the students to Black Rock Forest (a 3750 acres preserve in the Hudson Highlands) for five days to experience the great outdoors and collect data on painted/snapping turtles. This is a great experience for the students as they are able to experience the great outdoors and be away from the busy city life. Personally for me, it was also a great experience because I was able to experience many things for the first time, including a close connection to the natural world.
Black Rock Forest is located approximately 60 miles from NYC. For the SRMP class of 2017, we brought 55 SRMP mentees with us. We stayed in the facility that the Black Rock Forest Consortium offers. The facility is open to many researchers and educational programs. It is a very environmentally friendly building. It obtains its water from underground wells, it’s electricity from solar panels (supported by the grid system), gas from the main system, heating/cooling from a geothermal system, and all the toilets use no water; all the human waste is stored in a containment tank and it is reused. Some instructors slept outdoors in the tents and all the mentees stayed in the rooms.
On the first day, we hiked for many miles and set up the turtle traps in various ponds. Another instructor and I set up a campfire for the night as we ate our dinner in the middle of the forest. It was a unique experience for me because I learned how to set up a campfire, something I did for the first time. Afterward, we hiked back to the facility in pitch darkness. We were able to see stars that we would have never been able to see in the city. Most of the students were amazed by how clearly they were able to see the stars.
We checked the turtle traps daily for turtles and if there were any turtles, we would ensure that there was a microchip tracker in the turtle. Afterward, we would collect data such as the sex, length and size of the turtle. We found 14 turtles in total and one turtle in particular- Stumpy- was caught 18 times and was first caught in 1997. On the third day, we caught a painted turtle without a microchip, and I was able to insert a microchip tracker into a painted turtle for the first time.
While removing the turtle traps on the second-to-last day, I had to walk in the water to each of the turtle trap locations so we could record the GPS coordinates. After retrieving the last trap, I noticed that something was stuck to my water shoes. I looked closely and saw that a leech had burrowed its head into my water shoes. I removed the leech, and the students and I wanted to see how long it would take for it to attach itself to someone. I decided to be the volunteer and we put the leech on my left leg. It immediately hooked itself into my leg and approximately 40 minutes later I removed it.
On the final day we hiked to the highest point in the forest and took a group picture. At 1,400 feet, I was able to see a hint of civilization. The roads and houses we built became so tiny and insignificant. At that point, I realized how insignificant we are as human beings. We can always try and conquer nature but nature will always win in the end. We are merely a small portion of the Earth and have existed only for a small fraction of all the time on earth. During one of the hikes, we came across this sign on a tree. The pressure from the tree had bent the sign out of shape and the tree had actually grown over it. It was almost as if it was swallowing the sign. The nails that held the sign on the tree had disappeared as it dissolved into the tree. Everything that we built and made on earth will disappear in a very short amount of time. Planet earth doesn’t need us; we on the other hand definitely need planet earth.
Realizing our insignificance, I asked myself this- “Why are we all working so hard trying to achieve material things in life?” Everything dissolves back into the environment in the end, why should we stress over everything in life? I learned to truly relax and be more carefree. Life in the city is very stressful, and one of the best times of my life was the five days I spent in Black Rock Forest. There’s something truly amazing about sitting on a rock overlooking the forest, sitting by the pond and watching the wind move the water, or sitting on a log and simply watching water run down a river.
In terms of environmental science, it is very important for youths to explore and experience the natural world. Most city youths never have the chance to experience the great outdoors. Central park and manmade parks are nowhere close to wild nature. When I went to Central Park, I didn’t get the same refreshing feeling that I get from wild nature. The 55 high school students had a great time and they were amazed by how much fun they can have going into the woods without cellular signal and concentrating on life by the hour. I felt more at home in the forest than in the city, and I am sure that many kids who were with me felt the same way. Having experiences in the great outdoors also increases the chance that someone will care for the environment and make pro-environmental decisions. City youths need more programs like SRMP so they can explore beyond their boundaries and get in touch with the great outdoors.
Great read by SUS program member Kaitlin Mondello on Permaculture in the Anthropocene.
Check it out here: