Category Archives: Rising oceans

Puerto Rico Relief Effort – NYU

Puerto Rico Relief Effort – NYU

We are a group of NYU Environmental Conservation Education Students and Alumni who are spearheading a relief effort to Puerto Rico along with support from NYU’s Department of Teaching and Learning faculty and staff. We are launching this effort to help alleviate the crisis in some of Puerto Rico’s most remote and hard-hit communities, while promoting sustainability and building resilience. The aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico has resulted in loss of power to the entire island, leaving 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the dark, without electric power or drinking water and no effective means of communication. As environmental educators, we recognize the importance of fostering human health, environmental protection, and resiliency. Our relief effort will focus on providing high-need communities with solar charging devices and water purification kits. You can support our effort by purchasing any of the items on our Amazon registry. We are working with the following local community organizations identified by our Puerto Rican student body to insure these relief items are distributed in the targeted areas in an equitable manner.

By clicking on the link and buying from the product selection in the registry, you will help us reach our goal of providing urgently needed solar power and clean drinking water to these communities. The items will be shipped to NYU, where we will consolidate them into boxes to be shipped to Puerto Rico.

Relief effort committee members:

Mónica Rivera-Rosado (MA’17), Geovani Caldero (MA’17). Our partners at NYU include the Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education, the Environmental Conservation Education Master’s Program, and the Department of Teaching and Learning.

We hope you will support our effort. To join the relief committee or for more information, contact Mónica at

Dr. Mary J. Leou
Director, Wallerstein Collaborative For Urban Environmental Education
Director, Environmental Conservation Education Program
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development

239 Greene St. 4th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10003


“Be the change you want to see in the World” – Mahatma Gandhi


As I have done more research on my original proposed topic, air pollution, I discovered it was not where my heart lies. Last semester I studied abroad in London. In one of my classes we learned about how when it rains in Venice the streets flood because the water level is so high. Then, when I traveled to Amsterdam for a weekend trip I noticed that pretty much all of the grass was submerged in water. The water levels are rising each day, and it is something that you have to look for now, but as time goes on it will be more noticeable.The National Geographic states,

“Since satellites began regularly measuring Arctic sea ice in 1979, it has declined sharply in extent and thickness. Much of the ice that’s there in winter is thin stuff that doesn’t survive the summer. The loss of ice is affecting the entire Arctic ecosystem, from plankton to polar bears. And some scientists think that, by altering the jet stream, it’s affecting weather—and people—around the Northern Hemisphere.”

I want to change my topic to the melting of the ice caps. I knew I wanted to direct it in a way that deals with water and global warming, but it wasn’t until we watched the documentary of the ice caps melting that I knew that was the story I wanted to tell through dance. So for my project, I will be telling a story of the melting ice caps through dance. This will be a group dance, with about 6 people. I will be using the song Tornado by Jonsi. I have yet to reach out to ask about using the song, I will be doing that within the next few days. This dance will include a blue piece of fabric that will be used by all of the dancers. I want to examine the facts for and against these ice caps melting, and with that tell a story of an ice cap slowly melting, with one person who is refusing to see what is right in front of their eyes. I have pulled some videos for examples of the kind of piece I would like to create.


Before the Flood Documentary

This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, Before the Flood. Following DiCaprio’s journey through places and phenomena shaped by climate change, the film features many familiar faces we’ve seen in documentaries about environmentalism and climate change.

As a recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on climate change, DiCaprio has been using his stardom for quite a while to bring attention to issues on climate change. However, dissenters evenmoreso attack climate change supporters because of DiCaprio’s appointment to the UN, saying he has no scientific background and as a Hollywood actor is just as superficial as climate change is.

The film also examines climate change denialism funded by fossil fuel industries, including the Koch Brothers. Like Merchants of Doubt, the film explains that all these corporations have to do is divide the public, not win the debate; corporations find people with fairly reasonable credentials to speak lofty on climate change. This is enough to create a two-sided debate amongst the public.

But, this film brought to my attention the fact that a large percentage of US leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives are connected, in one way or another, to fossil fuel companies and halt progress on preventative measures.

Another issue the film examines is the issue of lifestyle and consumption. People argue that these issues must be put at the center of climate negotiations. American consumption of energy has increased dramatically and seemingly exponentially, and compared to the consumption of other nations is completely ridiculous. But, Dicaprio argues that consumption is never going to change; Americans are not going to want less, spend less, or expect less. Rather, what needs to change is the type of energy used: from fossil fuels to renewables.

But currently, the US is hypocritical in telling other nations to use renewables when they don’t even push it on themselves. A major question the film posed is: Why can’t the US lead by example when it comes to renewable energy and climate change provisions? Is it not our responsibility to help the world transition before it’s too late?

Besides for renewable energy, the film looks at melting glaciers in Iceland, rising sea levels and its effect on small island countries and even here in the US, the effect of palm oil throughout the world, air quality and toxicity in China, coral reef destruction, “carbon bombs” in forest fires, and methane release from cows, among other topics. This film certainly tries to tie all of these topics into one large discussion on climate change, and while overwhelming, it certainly brings to awareness many issues that I’ve known about and many that I hadn’t learned about.

Ending the Paris Climate Accord Signing and serving as the ending of the film, DiCaprio powerfully declared to world leaders: “Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realize that we had the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lacked the political will to do so. Massive change is required right now—one that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency from all of you. You are the last best hope of earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we, and all living things we cherish, are history.”

If you have time, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters, on Hulu, or on YouTube.

What is Activism?

Activism is defined as “efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis with the desire to make improvements in society and to correct social injustice.”

Great! But “correct” is a pretty subjective term, which naturally leads to conflict.

Now that I am half way through shooting my film, the sorry project, I had a preliminary editing session with my producer, Justin Scholar last Sunday night.

Editing is like controlling the eyes of the viewer, or as one might say, implementing activism.

They only get to see what I want them to see.


What do I want them to see?

More importantly, why do I want them to see it? How does it further emphasize my point of needing to confront the denial of climate change.

This idea of controlling what someone sees takes me back to Propaganda by Edward Bernays.

So is activism really just a form of propaganda?


Until 2013, the government was banned from disseminating information through both domestic and foreign news sources under jurisdiction of the US Information and Educational Act of 1948 . Also known as the Smith-Mundt Act, this law served as the prevailing legalese on the US on the government’s interference with public diplomacy.

Then in January 2013 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2013, which allows for thousands of hours of government funded programming for a week on all televisions.

The purpose for this, according to congressman Mac Thornberry, was to “to authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences.”

Mac Thornberry
Mac Thornberry

How active is video going to be?


overpopulation and rising sea levels


Watching Roy Beck‘s videos on immigration in the U.S. made me aware of the dangers of our growing population. In his video, Immigration, World Poverty and GumballsBeck makes some interesting points, drawing my attention to the astounding percentage of people around the world who are poor, sick, and living in impoverished countries all over the world. In his video, Beck also says that  these people are in his words “disconnected” and “unable to make it here as immigrants”.

His video caused me to worry about others around the world as well as our congress. Especially if they are going to be welcoming an unhealthy amount of immigrants into our country next year. So what are we supposed to do about this problem? In my opinion,  I agree with beck that this will be happening, unless we take action with our votes. Our votes can make the difference to ensure that the amount of people we welcome into this country, is lowered to an amount that will make our country stable to live in.

According to the green world post  Arithmetic, Population, and Energy,  we need to make sure our country constantly has a sustainable growth rate. This post taught me that this is important to monitor because more people means an increase in emission greenhouse gases. More people using transportation, electricity, and other means of energy where our environment is negatively affected.

Personally, I believe that there are good intentions when it comes to immigration, seeing as the goal is to take people out of an already impoverished country, and  give them an opportunity to have a future in our country. However, the amount of immigrants that are welcomed into America today is alarming. I believe every place has a limit on the population of people that should be living there. And our votes may be the difference between seeing a sustainable amount of people in our country in a few years or an unsustainable amount. Not to mention the fact that there are people in impoverished countries who aren’t just sick or poor. What I mean is, there are people in other countries who immigrate because their home has become unstable to live in due to climate change.

In the Mother Jones article, What Happens When Your Country Drowns? Morris writes about how people in other countries are dying due to the changing climate. People who are natives of their own countries are suddenly finding their home isn’t sustainable to live in anymore so they have to move. Imagine having to move out a place you’ve lived your entire life, due to an unsustainable climate? The rising sea-levels and destruction of reefs in Tuvalu is a serious problem for the people living there an the sea-life as well. And it worries me that Tuvalu isn’t the only place on the verge of drowning or dying out. What can we do to protect these territories where the sea-levels are rising and tectonic plates are shifting? If we don’t figure it out these places could disappear years from now, and our children and their children’s children won’t be able to experience them.