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Humanities for the Environment


Nicholas Fisher - Fukushima Radioactivity in the Pacific
Delivered September 19th, 2013. Fisher and his colleagues evaluated the release of radioactivity from the failed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan into the Pacific Ocean and the subsequent bioaccumulation of select radionuclides in marine animals. They found that cesium isotopes were accumulated in all plankton samples as well as in bluefin tuna that transport the cesium from the waters off Japan towards North America. They further evaluated the dose that marine animals received from Fukushima and compared the levels with naturally occurring radionuclides present in the ocean. Mindful of public health concerns relating to this radioactivity, they compared the doses and impacts that humans would receive from eating these tuna to doses they ingest from other sources. The team also considered radionuclides as possible tracers of migration timing and patterns of bluefin tuna and other large migratory species in the Pacific.



Leerom Medovi - Remediation: Pharmikons and the Politics of Environmental Health
Delivered October 17th, 2013.



Sandra Steingraber - Chemical Exposure and Human Health
Delivered November 7th, 2013. Drawing on analysis from her award-winning 2010 book and film, Living Downstream, Steingraber explores the intersections between public health, chemical exposures, climate change, and human rights. Of particular interest to Steingraber are the manifold ecological and human health hazards posed by oil and gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing, and the rise of a new global human rights movement that is confronting both toxic trespass and the public health emergency of climate change by calling for a redesign of our energy systems and chemical policies. Ongoing public resistance to proposed plans for a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal off the coast of Long Island near Jones Beach – the Port Ambrose project – will be part of the discussion.

Presentation Seminar



Susanne Moser - Getting Real: Meeting the Challenge of Public Engagement When Climate Change Comes Home
Delivered November 14th, 2013. Some say Superstorm Sandy was a turning point in terms of the public and decision-makers taking climate change seriously, but dealing with disrupted communities remains difficult. Navigating the political and emotional terrain of change and loss is an all too real challenge. Moser explores ways to effectively communicate climate change risks and adaptive responses and help experts, planners and resource managers more effectively engage their stakeholders. She presents general principles and grounds them in empirical results from focus groups in a coastal community in California. Proposed ideas go beyond commonplace guidelines of science communication, aiming to make room for the truly humanistic challenge of meeting people in a profound change process.



Elizabeth Kolbert - Welcome to the Anthropocene
Delivered November 21st, 2013. Increasingly we live in a world made – or remade – by humans. For this reason, geologists are seriously considering whether we have embarked a new epoch: the Anthropocene. As we change the world, the questions we ask also change. For a start: what does it mean to be human in an age when mankind is determining the fate of the planet?



Eric Sanderson - The Welikia Project: Mapping Frontiers in New York City Ecology
Delivered on March 14th 2014. Ever wondered what New York looked like before it was a city? After a decade of research, the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan in an innovative virtual map. Building on that initiative, the Welikia Project goes beyond Mannahatta to encompass the entire city, discover its original ecology, and compare it to what we have today. Welikia (pronounced “WAY-lee-ki-a”) means “my good home” in Lenape, the Native American language of the New York City region at the time of first contact with Europeans. Welikia provides the basis for all the people of New York to appreciate, conserve and re-invigorate the natural heritage of their surroundings.



Greta Gaard - Gender Justice and Climate Justice: Making the Connections
Delivered March 27th, 2014. Issues that women traditionally organize around—environmental health, habitats, livelihoods—have been marginalized in debates that treat climate change as a scientific problem requiring technological and scientific solutions without substantially addressing the need to transform ideologies and economies of domination, exploitation and colonialism. Feminist analyses are, however, well positioned to address structural inequalities in climate crises and to unmask the gendered character of first-world overconsumption. Gaard describes 21st-century “anthropocene feminist” responses to climate change, arguing that a feminist approach to climate change analyses and solutions is necessary in order to tackle the three antifeminist threads associated with the scientific response to climate change: the linked rhetorics of population control, anti-immigration sentiment, and increased militarism



Mark Monmonier - Coastal Cartography's Four Shorelines From Christopher Columbus to Hurricane Sandy
Delivered April 14th, 2014.



Be It Resolved that the Fire Island Breach Opened by Super Storm Sandy be Closed
Held on April 24th, 2014. Participants: Adrienne Esposito, Jeff Kassner, Chris Soller, Aram Terchunian


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