Study With The Best: CUNY and the Environment


♪♪>>>WELCOME TO “STUDY
WITH THE BEST,” THE MAGAZINE SHOW THAT’S
ALL ABOUT CUNY. I’M TINABETH PINA. TODAY’S EPISODE, THE
ENVIRONMENT. AND THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE AT THE
CUNY ADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH CENTER AND WE’LL LEARN MORE
ABOUT IT DURING THE SHOW. PLUS WE’LL LOOK AT JOURNALISM
AND CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENTAL ART,
AND SO MUCH MORE. FIRST, WHEN YOU THINK OF THE
ENVIRONMENT YOU PROBABLY THINK OF FORESTS AND RIVERS BUT
THE FOLKS AT MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE FOUND THERE’S
PLENTY TO STUDY ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY. ARI GOLDBERG
HAS THE STORY.>>I’M ARI GOLDBERG AT MEDGAR
EVERS COLLEGE WHERE THEY’RE TAKING ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
FROM THE FIELD TO THE BACKYARD.>>PEOPLE NEED TO
KNOW EXACTLY WHAT ENVIRONMENTAL
SCIENCE IS ALL ABOUT. PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT CLIMATE
CHANGE, THEY CAN RESONATE WITH THAT, BUT THE SPECIFICS AND THE
DETAIL, PEOPLE I THINK ARE STILL CATCHING ONTO THAT.>>CHRIS BOXE IS A PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, BUT AT
MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE DOESN’T
MEAN A TREK OUT TO THE FOREST.>>WE’RE IN NEW YORK CITY, ONE
OF THE MOST URBAN ENVIRONMENTS IN THE WORLD, RIGHT, BUT ONE OF
THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT NEW YORK CITY, IT HAS ALL THESE
MICROPOCKETS OF ENVIRONMENTS. SO MANY BUILDINGS THAT ARE
INDIVIDUAL ENVIRONMENTS THEMSELVES THAT NEED PEOPLE TO
ASSESS THEM.>>THE BEAUTY OF IT IS IT’S
THE VERY COMMUNITIES WHO LIVE HERE WHO TAKE CARE OF THE
ENVIRONMENT, BOXE’S OWN STUDENTS.>>YOU HAVE STUDENTS FROM ALL
OVER THE WORLD THAT COME HERE, PRIMARILY FROM THE CARIBBEAN,
AFRICA, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND ALSO EASTERN EUROPE, AND WE
EMBRACE THE K-12 EXPLICITLY.>>THEY’RE JUST WRAPPING UP A
THREE-YEAR PROJECT, COLLECTING SAMPLES FROM ALL ACROSS
COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL AREAS OF THE CITY AND USING SOME VERY
COOL TOOLS TO DO IT.>>WE COLLECT WATER, AIR, AND
SOIL SAMPLES, AND WE QUANTIFY THE AMOUNT AFTER IDENTIFYING THE
CONTAMINANTS IN THESE SAMPLES, AND WE COMPARE THOSE WITH
STANDARD GUIDELINES THAT ARE ISSUED AND FORMULATED BY THE
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, THE W.H.O., AND THEN THE EPA, THE
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, SO WE CAN GET AN EXPLICIT
COMPARISON OF HOW MUCH WE’RE, YOU KNOW, TOLERATING
THESE TOXINS AND IF THEY’RE BAD FOR US. SO AFTER WE TAKE THE SAMPLES, WE
PROCESS THEM, WE MAKE A DILUTE SOLUTION THAT THE INSTRUMENT CAN
ACTUALLY READILY READ. THEN WE MEASURE ALL OF THESE
VIALS. WE HAVE 800 SAMPLES
REPRESENTATIVE OF NEW YORK CITY SOIL SAMPLES. AND THEN WE MEASURE THE
POTENTIAL TOXINS IN A GAS CHROMATOGRAPH MASS
SPECTROMETER.>>GAS CHROMATOGRAPH MASS
SPECTROMETER.>>YES.>>A BIT OF A MOUTHFUL, BUT WHAT
THE MACHINE DOES IS IDENTIFY CONTAMINANTS IN A WATER, SOIL,
OR AIR SAMPLE. IN SHORT, IT CAN TELL YOU WHAT
CHEMICALS ARE PRESENT, AND THEREFORE WHAT CHEMICALS
ARE SURROUNDING US IN OUR DAILY LIVES AND THAT HAS
REAL RAMIFICATIONS.>>NEW YORK STATE HAS THE
HIGHEST INCIDENCE OF CANCER. YOU SEE IT FACE-TO-FACE, PEOPLE
LIVING WITH THESE AILMENTS, VARIOUS FORMS OF CANCER, OR
ADVERSE KIND OF SHORT-TERM ACUTE EFFECTS LIKE RESPIRATORY
PROBLEMS, YOU KNOW, DAILY HEADACHE, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. IN A NUTSHELL, WE TRY TO GIVE
THEM A MAP, KIND OF, YOU KNOW, OUTLINE, LIKE THEY HAVE A
BACKYARD, THIS IS WHAT IT’S MADE OF. IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GROW
SOMETHING BACK THERE, YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THIS MAY HAVE THIS
LEVEL OF LEAD OR CADMIUM OR SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DEEMED
POTENTIALLY CARCINOGENIC.>>WHAT BOXE AND HIS STUDENTS
HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO, WHILE THEY’RE GETTING IN THE FIELD
TRAIN, THEY’RE SIMULTANEOUSLY SERVING THE COMMUNITY.>>WE DO ACTUALLY MORE EXTENSIVE
WORK THAN WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD LIKELY DO ON A GENERAL
SENSE. WHEN YOU THINK OF, OKAY, IT’S
THERE, BUT REALLY WHY DO YOU NEED TO MEASURE IT ALL THE TIME,
RIGHT? BUT YOU ACTUALLY DO,
BECAUSE YOU’RE BREATHING STUFF FROM SOIL ALL THE TIME. SO
YOU HAVE ABOUT 1,500 COMMUNITY GARDENS THROUGHOUT
NEW YORK CITY AND A LOT OF THEM ARE STRATEGICALLY
IN PLACE IN AREAS WHERE THEY DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO
FOODS, RIGHT, OR THE BETTER FOODS THROUGH SUPERMARKETS AND
SO FORTH. AND WHEN WE TESTED SOME OF THESE RESIDENTIAL
AREAS, WE FOUND A LOT OF STUFF YOU WOULDN’T WANT IN
YOUR ENVIRONMENT.>>YOU FIND THESE DATA SAMPLES
AND FIND UH-OH, THERE’S MORE POLLUTION THAN IS ALLOWED FOR
THE SOIL HERE, WHAT’S NEXT? DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO CLEAN IT
UP? WHAT’S THEIR RESPONSE?>>ONCE YOU COMMUNICATE WITH THE
DEP AND THE DEC, THEY HAVE TO BRING SOMEONE OUT TO REMEDIATE
YALT YOUR SOIL, AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO SPEND THE MONEY. THE GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY HAS TO
AID YOU AND BRING YOU — THAT MATERIAL TO REMEDIATE. SO WE REALLY TRY TO GIVE
COMMUNITIES A VOICE OF WHAT THEY’RE INTERACTING WITH IN
THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES. WE WORK WITH ALL AGE GROUP,
REALLY ALL RELIGIOUS GROUPS, ETHNIC GROUPS. EVERYONE’S WELCOME AS LONG AS
YOU’RE WILLING TO DO THE WORK.>>THE WORK AT MEDGAR EVERS
HELPS KEEP PERSPECTIVE. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE FARMS
WHERE WE GET OUR FOOD OR THE OCEANS WE SWIM IN. IT’S ABOUT OUR DAILY LIVES
RIGHT HERE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY. FOR “STUDY WITH THE BEST,” I’M
ARI GOLDBERG.>>>ENVIRONMENTAL ARTIST ELLIE
IRON GOES TO BROOKLYN IN SEARCH OF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED —
INSPIRATION. ♪♪>>SO WE STUDY MORE THE RESULTS OF ANOTHER PROJECT WHERE I
GATHER PUDDLES AND BERRIES AND DIFFERENT PARTS OF PLANTS TO
MAKE WATER COLOR PAINT. AND TO DO THAT, I GO TO A LOT OF
WHAT ARE CALLED VACANT LOTS, SO PLACES THAT HUMANS HAVE
ABANDONED FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, TO GATHER THE PARTS
THAT I NEED TO MAKE THE PAINT. I STARTED KEEPING TRACK OF WHERE
ALL THESE VACANT LOTS ARE AND STARTED PHOTOGRAPHING THEM,
STARTED NOTING A LOT OF INTERESTING PATTERN, SO I
FORMALIZED THE PROCESS AND TURNED IT INTO A PHOTOGRAPHY
SERIES RELATED TO THE HISTORY OF ARTISTS WORKING AND A SERIES
THAT LOOKS AT TYPES OF THINGS. I WORK AT THE INTERSECTION OF
ECOLOGY AND VISUAL ARTS, AN INTERDISCIPLINARY PRACTICE. I MOVED TO NEW YORK TEN YEARS
AGO, BUSHWICK WAS THE PLACE TO L LAND AT THAT POINT. IT WAS AFFORDABLE. I COME FROM A RURAL BACKGROUND. I NEEDED TO FIND A WAY TO
CONNECT TO NATURE IN THE CITY. AND IT TURNED OUT THAT ONCE I
STARTED LOOKING AT SPONTANEOUS PLANTS I SAW NATURE HAPPENING IN
A MUCH WIDER RANGE OF SPACES IN THE CITY THAN I MIGHT HAVE
THOUGHT BEFORE, AND I WAS ABLE TO KIND OF STOP LOOKING FOR
NATURE EVERYWHERE AND SUBSTITUTE THE IDEA OF ECOLOGY. BUSHWICK IS
FULL OF THESE SPACES. WE’RE IN THE FRONTIERS OF A KIND
OF OLD INDUSTRIAL SPACE OF RAILROAD RUNNING BEHIND
US, A CEMETERY, YOU SEE A LOT OF SPACES THAT WERE
FORMERLY GREEN SPACE AND POTENTIALLY OFFERING ECOSYSTEM
SERVICES, HOLDING RAINWATER, PROVIDING A LITTLE GAP IN THE
CONCRETE THAT CAN ACTUALLY HELP HUMAN MENTAL HEALTH. THERE HAVE BEEN SOME STUDIES
THAT HAVE SHOWED THAT. AND THEY’VE BEEN DISAPPEARING
REALLY RAPIDLY AND THEY’RE NOT NECESSARILY THOUGHT OF AS GREEN
SPACE. WE DON’T HAVE A LOT OF
PARKS IN BUSHWICK. I DIDN’T THINK OF MYSELF AS A
PHOTOGRAPHER ORIGINALLY. I COME FROM A PAINTING AND
DRAWING BACKGROUND. I LIKE THE TRADITION OF
PHOTOGRAPHY AS KIND OF BEING USED
BOTH IN A SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT AND AN ART CONTEXT AND THAT YOU CAN
USE IT AS A DOCUMENT OF THE WAY THINGS CHANGE OVER TIME. I’LL OFTEN KIND OF ILLUSTRATE
THE CHANGES THAT THESE SPACES GO THROUGH USING PHOTOGRAPHY. IT’S JUST A REALLY POTENT
WAY TO GET PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE THESE SPACES. YOU WALK BY A VACANT SPACE
PROBABLY EVERY DAY ON THE WAY TO THE SUBWAY OR SOMETHING LIKE
THAT. IT’S EASY NOT TO NOTICE IT, BUT
IF SOMEONE ELSE HAS TAKEN THE TIME TO GO THERE FIVE TIMES IN
ONE YEAR AND DOCUMENT WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE, YOU ACTUALLY
SEE THE RISE AND FALL OF THE LANDSCAPE AND IT’S A LITERAL
RISE AND FALL BECAUSE THE PLANTS WILL BE GROWING AND SOMEONE WILL
COME IN AND DO MAINTENANCE AND CUT THEM DOWN, AND THEY’LL GROW
RIGHT BACK UP AGAIN. I HAVE AN ONGOING COLLABORATIVE
PROJECT WITH AN ARTIST NAMED AMBER COCOA AND WE STARTED THIS
LIBRARY CALLED THE E POXY LIBRARY FOCUSING ON PLANTS THAT
GROW IN SPACES THAT HUMANS HAVE IMPACTED HEAVILY AND THEN
ABANDONED, SPACES WHERE WHAT WERE CONSIDERED ORIGINALLY
NATIVE PLANTS, THE PLANTS THAT WERE HERE BEFORE COLONIZATION,
THOSE PLANTS CAN’T SURVIVE ANYMORE BECAUSE WE LOOK AT A
LANDSCAPE LIKE THIS, IT DIDN’T EXIST A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. THE PLANTS THAT LIVE HERE ARE
PARTICULARLY ADAPTED TO LIVE IN CHALLENGING URBAN ECOSYSTEMS. SO WE COLLECT THE SEEDS AND
SHARE THOSE SEEDS THINKING THEY ARE ONES THAT ARE PREPARED FOR
ONCOMING CHALLENGES. AT CITY COLLEGE REALLY LUCKY TO
TEACH A WHOLE RANGE OF TYPES OF COURSES SO I’VE HAD A MULTIMEDIA
COURSE, DRAWING, WATER COLOR, DESIGN, AND IN ALL THESE
DISCIPLINES I WOULD FIND WAYS TO BRING THE ACT OF LOOKING AND
OBSERVATION INTO THE CLASSROOM. I THINK MY FAVORITE WAS ACTUALLY
A DIGITAL INTERDISCIPLINARY ART PROGRAM BECAUSE I WAS ABLE TO
HAVE A WHOLE COURSE THAT DEALT WITH THINKING ABOUT HOW ARTISTS
FUNCTION IN AN ERA WHERE WE’RE BEGINNING TO ACKNOWLEDGE
OR AT LEAST TRY TO GRAPPLE WITH THE IDEA THAT HUMANS ARE
INFLUENCING THE ENVIRONMENT ON A GIGANTIC SCALE. THIS KIND OF PRACTICE OF GOING
OUT IN THE LANDSCAPE AND GATHERING INFORMATION AND
BRINGING IT BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM AND FIGURING
OUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT WAS REALLY EXCITING. WHILE YOU’RE OUT ON THE STREET
YOU’RE FUNCTIONING AS AN ARTIST IN SOCIETY AND YOU’RE READY TO
ADDRESS PEOPLE IF THEY HAVE QUESTIONS FOR YOU. I DO THINK OF THESE LANDSCAPES
KIND OF IN RELATIONSHIP TO SAY ANY KIND OF ISLAND BIO
GEOGRAPHY. A PLANT POPULATION LIKE THIS IS
SEPARATED BY CONCRETE FROM LOTS OF OTHER PLANT ISLANDS, OTHER
VACANT LOTS. AND THEN ALSO ISOLATED FROM THE
ORIGINAL PARENT POPULATION OF MANY OF THESE PLANTS WHICH COULD
BE IN AFRICA OR ASIA OR EUROPE SO, A WHOLE OCEAN AWAY FROM THE
ORIGINAL PLANT POPULATION. SO EVOLVING IN INTERESTING WAYS
BECAUSE THEY’RE LIVING IN ISOLATED POCKETS.>>HOW DO WE PRESERVE THE
WORLD’S FRESH WATER SUPPLY? THAT’S ONE ISSUE CHARLES
VOROSMARTY STUDIES HERE AT THE CUNY ADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH
CENTER.>>I’M SURE THAT MANY VIEWERS
HAVE HEARD OF THE IMPENDING GLOBAL WATER CRISIS, HOW
WATER IS REGARDED AS THE OIL OF THE 21st CENTURY. AND
INDEED THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT’S
GOING ON WITH OUR WATER RESOURCE SYSTEMS. THE SCIENCE
OF WATER, OUR PERCEPTION OF WATER, WATER PROBLEMS, OUR
SOLUTIONS, ARE OFTEN DEDICATED TO THE LOCAL SCALE. WE
UNDERSTAND WATER AS IT WERE. BY AND LARGE, PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS
TO VERY RELIABLE WATER SYSTEMS THAT ARE BASICALLY ENGINEERED
FOR THEIR BENEFIT. AND WE DON’T HAVE GREAT AWARENESS OF
BROADER WATER QUESTIONS. OF COURSE IF YOU WERE LIVING IN
CALIFORNIA AND YOU WENT THROUGH THE BIG DROUGHT THEY’RE
EXPERIENCING, YOU HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE OF THINGS. AND OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF
DECADES, THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY HAS BEGUN TO LOOK AT
BROADER DOMAINS OF WHAT’S GOING ON WITH RESPECT TO WATER. AND PLACES LIKE EUROPE AND NORTH
AMERICA WERE SHOWING UP AS REAL HOTSPOTS FOR MANAGEMENT AND FOR
REAL STRESS ON THE WATER SYSTEM. SO AS A FEW EXAMPLES HERE,
OVERUSING LANDSCAPES, FOR EXAMPLE, PUTTING TOO MUCH
FERTILIZER DOWN ON CROPLANDS HAS AN ENORMOUS IMPACT ON THE WATER
THAT IS CARRIED ORIGINALLY FROM RAIN THROUGH THE SOIL INTO RIVER
SYSTEMS AND ULTIMATELY INTO THE COASTAL ZONES OF THE WORLD WHERE
VERY SUBSTANTIAL LAND-DERIVED POLLUTION PROBLEMS, WIDE SCALE
DEFORESTATION, CREATE ALL SORTS OF PROBLEMS IN TERMS OF
SILTATION OF RIVERWAYS, IRRIGATION. AS YOU FLY OVER
THE U.S. AND MANY OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD, YOU SEE THESE
LARGE PIVOT IRRIGATION SYSTEMS IN THE MIDDLE OF WHAT
LOOK LIKE DESERTS. THEY BASICALLY POKE HOLES IN THE
GROUND AND WITHDRAW WATER FROM AQUIFERS, WATER SUPPLIES, AND IN
MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD BECAUSE OF GLOBALIZATION WE’RE DRAWING
DOWN OUR GROUNDWATER RESOURCES FOR WHAT WE COULD ARGUABLY SAY
IS A RELATIVELY SHORT-TERM GAIN. SO WE’RE REALLY IN THE
BUSINESS OF ESSENTIALLY BREAKING THE SYSTEM. WE HAVE A WATER ENGINEERING
ESTABLISHMENT THAT CAN DELIVER WATER SUPPLY. IT CAN TREAT SEWAGE AND CLEAN UP
WATER SYSTEMS, AND IT DOES A GOOD JOB, BUT IT’S COSTLY. IT’S IN THE TRILLIONS OF
DOLLARS. AND MANY OF THE AQUATIC
ORGANISMS THAT ARE AT RISK TODAY ARE AT RISK PRECISELY BECAUSE
THE HABITAT HAS BEEN MODIFIED SO MUCH, FROM FREE-FLOWING RIVERS
TO BASICALLY LARGE TANKS OF WATER THAT SIT
ALONG THE RIVERS. AS WE’RE LOOKING AT A TIME WHEN
ENERGY SUPPLIES ARE PROBABLY GOING TO DWINDLE OR I SHOULD SAY
CHEAP ENERGY SUPPLIES ARE GOING TO DWINDLE, THE RISE OF THE
MIDDLE CLASS GLOBALLY, WHICH WOULD BRING MANY, MANY PEOPLE
OUT OF POVERTY, A GOOD THING, WE THINK THAT’S GOING TO BE A
REAL STRESS POINT FOR THE CAPACITY TO PRODUCE WATER
SECURITY FOR HUMANS BECAUSE THE COST OF THIS IS GOING TO
CONTINUE TO RISE. WE HAVE, THOUGH, AS AN ASSET
SITTING ON OUR DOORSTEP AS IT WERE THIS GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
OR ECOSYSTEMS OF NATURAL CAPITAL THAT ALSO HAVE AN ENORMOUS VALUE
AND THE SYSTEM IF LEFT INTACT PREVENTION IS GOING TO BE MUCH,
MUCH LESS COSTLY THAN REMEDYING THE SITUATION AFTER YOU BREAK
IT. SO THE FIRST CHALLENGE I THINK
IS ONE OF AWARENESS AND I’M PART OF A COMMUNITY THAT’S TRYING TO
SOUND THE TRUMPET ON ALL THESE ISSUES. I THINK IT’S A CHALLENGE
TO DO THAT, BUT I THINK THE SENSIBILITY OF EXPRESSING IT IN
ECONOMIC TERMS WILL ACTUALLY CATCH THE INTEREST OF LAWMAKERS
AND REGULATORS AND ALSO I THINK THE PRIVATE SECTOR. THE IDEA IS TO GO INTO AN AREA,
SEE WHAT ASSETS YOU HAVE BOTH IN TERMS OF TECHNICAL ASSETS, HUMAN
ASSETS, HOW MUCH WATER IS THERE, AND WHAT KINDS OF ECOSYSTEMS DO
YOU HAVE, AND LET’S THINK CREATIVELY ABOUT USING ALL THESE
THINGS AS CHESS PIECES, AND LET’S CRAFT SOLUTIONS FOR THE
FUTURE THAT ARE REALLY THINKING MULTIGENERATIONALLY, NOT JUST
THINKING THAT GETTING THE WATER SUPPLY THAT MIGHT LAST FOR 40 OR
50 YEARS. LET’S USE A CENTURY TIME
HORIZON. THEN WE BEGIN TO TALK ABOUT
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. SO JUST FROM THE SIMPLE
ECONOMICS OF IT ALL YOU COULD BEGIN TO MAKE VERY COHERENT
ARGUMENTS ABOUT THE NEED TO PRESERVE AND CONSERVE OUR
RESOURCES, WATER BEING ONE OF MANY OTHER RESOURCES THAT WE
NEED TO KEEP OUR EYE ON AS WE MOVE INTO A VERY, VERY CROWDED
AND RAPIDLY CHANGING CENTURY.>>>UP NEXT, VETERAN
ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALIST ADAM GLENN SHARES HIS INSIGHTS ON THE
IMPORTANCE OF JOURNALISM IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.>>I HAD BEEN A JOURNALIST
PROBABLY FOR ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN YEARS, AND I PICKED UP “THE NEW
YORK TIMES” ONE MORNING AND READ ABOUT THE IMPENDING EXTINCTION
OF LARGE NUMBERS OF ANIMALS BY A “NEW YORK TIMES” ENVIRONMENT
REPORTER NAMED PHIL SHABAKOFF, AND HE LATER ON BECAME MY BOSS. I BECAME SO ANGRY ABOUT THAT,
THAT I DECIDED AT THAT MOMENT THAT I HAD TO SHIFT MY
JOURNALISTIC FOCUS TO ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO GO
WITH HIM TO THE RIO EARTH SUMMIT, THE FIRST EARTH SUMMIT
IN 1992, A U.N. GATHERING WHICH FIRST STARTED DISCUSSING ISSUES
OF CLIMATE CHANGE. THAT WAS AT THE BEGINNING, 25
YEARS NOW. MY FOCUS ON CLIMATE ADAPTATION
REALLY STARTED IN EARNEST IMMEDIATELY AFTER HURRICANE
SANDY. PARTICULARLY FOCUSED ON
NEW YORK CITY, WHICH — WHERE I WORK AND LIVE. I REALIZED THAT THIS WOULD BE A
VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR PEOPLE IN THIS CITY AND FRANKLY, YOU
KNOW, ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY AND THE EASTERN SEABOARD ESPECIALLY
TO SORT OF LOOK AT THIS STORM AND SAY, WOW, IS THIS UNUSUAL,
IT CAUSED TREMENDOUS DAMAGE, ONE OF THE MOST DAMAGING STORMS IN
THE COUNTRY’S HISTORY. AND SAY WHAT WOULD WE DO WITH
THE NEXT SANDY? BECAUSE MOST COMMUNITIES WERE
NOT WELL PREPARED. SO I LAUNCHED A NEW SERVICE
CALLED ADAPT NY, AND THE INTENTION WAS TO FOCUS ON
CLIMATE PREPARATIONS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY. IN ADDITION TO INVESTIGATIVE
REPORTING WORK, WHICH WE DO, WE ALSO TRY TO MAKE SURE WE COULD
INCORPORATE THE VOICES OF THE COMMUNITY ITSELF IN THE PROJECT
AND IN THE ISSUE. AND ONE OF THE GREATER RISKS OF
LIFE AND LIMB IS NOT FLOODING, WHICH DAMAGES PROPERTY,
TYPICALLY, BUT IS HEAT, EXPOSURE TO EXTREME HEAT. CITIES TEND TO COLLECT HEAT. THEY’RE KNOWN AS URBAN
HEAT ISLANDS. IT HAS TO DO WITH THE SURFACES. THERE ARE FEWER KIND OF GREEN
SURFACES TO ABSORB HEAT. THERE ARE MORE SURFACES THAT
TEND TO HOLD HEAT — ASPHALT AND TAR ROOFTOPS. WE SAID, OKAY, WE WANT TO LOOK
AT A SINGLE COMMUNITY AND WE WANT TO LOOK AT THIS URBAN HEAT
ISSUE. AND WE SETTLED ON HARLEM AS
HAVING ALL OF THE EARMARKS OF A COMMUNITY IN NEED OF THIS
KIND OF INFORMATION, THIS KIND OF ACTION. BUT THEN WE REACHED OUT TO
INDIVIDUALS IN THE COMMUNITY AND BASICALLY SAID WOULD YOU BE
WILLING TO PUT ONE OF THESE SMALL DEVICES IN YOUR HOME FOR A
COUPLE OF MONTHS TO TAKE TEMPERATURES AND THEN SHARE THAT
INFORMATION WITH US. AND IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF CALL
AFTER CALL AFTER CALL TO KIND OF BUILD UP THIS CADRE OF CITIZEN
SCIENTISTS. WE THEN WORK WITH THEM TO TAKE
THE DATA FROM THE SENSORS ON A WEEKLY OR BIWEEKLY BASIS,
RECORD IT, AND CAPTURE THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF DATA POINTS. WHAT WE FOUND SIGNIFICANTLY IN
THESE HOMES, TEMPERATURE BASICALLY NEVER DROPPED. IT SORT OF LEVELED OFF. IT GOT HOT AND IT STAYED HOT. SO THOSE WERE THE TWO MAIN
FINDINGS — MUCH HOTTER THAN OUTDOORS AND STAYING
CONSISTENTLY HOT OVER TIME, HEAT SORT OF STORED IN THE APARTMENT. AS PART OF MY OBLIGATION TO KIND
OF SAHRE WHAT I’M LEARNING WITH OTHER JOURNALISTS, I WANTED TO
CREATE A NATIONAL RESOURCE THAT COULD BE USED BY JOURNALISTS TO
BETTER COVER THE CLIMATE ADAPTATION STORY WHEREVER THEY
WERE, WHATEVER LOCALE. AND SO JUST AHEAD OF THE PARIS
CLIMATE U.N. MEETINGS IN PARIS, I LAUNCHED A REPORTER’S GUIDE TO
CLIMATE ADAPTATION. I GATHERED ABOUT 200 VERY
HIGH-LEVEL, HIGH-QUALITY RESOURCES, ANNOTATED THEM,
I EXPLAINED QUICKLY WHAT THEY WERE, WHAT THE SOURCE WAS, AND
HOW THEY COULD BE USED BY JOURNALISTS, AND I BUILT THAT
INTO A RESOURCE DATABASE AT THE HEART OF THE SITE.
THERE ARE CONSTANTLY HAPPENING IN THE NEWS
AROUND CLIMATE ISSUES THAT ARE NEWS PEGS FOR THE KINDS OF
STORIES THAT COULD BE WRITTEN. SO I CREATED THESE NEWS
BACKGROUNDS AS A WAY TO SAY HEY, YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT DROUGHT IN
CALIFORNIA? HERE’S WHAT IT MEANS, HERE’S THE
CONNECTION TO ADAPTATION. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN COVER IT,
QUESTIONS TO ASK, AND HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES TO DO IT.]
STAYING MOTIVATED CAN BE DIFFICULT ONLY BECAUSE
THE CHALLENGES THAT WE’RE FACING, ESPECIALLY AROUND
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ARE SO GRAVE. WHEN IT’S HARD TO MOTIVATE
BECAUSE THOSE ARE SO DIRE, I JUST START WORKING ON THE NEXT
THING. I JUST KEEP WORKING. AND I THINK IT HELPS TO BE A
TERMINALLY OPTIMISTIC INDIVIDUAL, WHICH I CERTAINLY
AM.>>>A NEW BOOK BY HUNTER
COLLEGE PROFESSOR ROGER KARAPIN OFFERS AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK ON
THE FUTURE OF U.S. CLIMATE POLICY AS CONCERNS GROW
REGARDING THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR NEW PRESIDENT>>IT DOES TAKE AN ENCOURAGING
TONE, AN OPTIMISTIC TONE, THAT SOMEONE COULD DELIBERATELY
COUNTER WHAT’S OFTEN BEEN WIDESPREAD PESSIMISM
ABOUT CLIMATE POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES. IN 2016, ALMOST EVERYBODY
THOUGHT THAT WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. WHAT ACTIVISTS NEED IN ORDER TO
INFLUENCE POLICY. I THINK THE PAST CAN BE A GOOD
GUIDE TO THE FUTURE. THERE ARE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE
BOOK. THE MAJOR PART OF THE BOOK IS
CASE STUDIES OF CALIFORNIA, NEW YORK, AND THE UNITED STATES
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. AND I DIVIDE THOSE CASES, WHICH
TAKE OVER 40 OR 50 YEARS, INTO 22 DIFFERENT POLICYMAKING
EPISODES. AND IF WE ANALYZE HOW THOSE
POLICIES CAME ABOUT, THEN WE CAN LEARN A LOT ABOUT HOW SUCH
POLICIES COULD BE ADOPTED IN THE FUTURE.>>WE SIMPLY MUST DO EVERYTHING
WE CAN IN OUR POWER TO SLOW DOWN GLOBAL WARMING
BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. [ APPLAUSE ]>>CALIFORNIA HAS VERY FAR
REACHING POLICIES THAT COME TOGETHER REALLY WITH THE GLOBAL
WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT IN 2006. AND THE REASON THEY ADOPTED
THESE POLICIES WERE FOR STRUCTURAL REASONS LIKE THE
ENVIRONMENTAL STATE, BUT THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TO EXPLAIN IT. WHEN WE HAVE TO LOOK TOWARD THE
OPENNESS OF THE MOMENT THAT OCCURRED AROUND 2002 TO 2005-
2006, WHEN 3 THINGS CAME TOGETHER TO RAISE
PEOPLE’S AWARENESS OF THE GLOBAL
WARMING PROBLEM. THERE WAS BUSH’S REJECTION OF
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL, THERE WAS THE ELECTRICITY CRISIS
IN CALIFORNIA, WHICH WAS A VERY SEVERE EVENT WITH BLACKOUTS AND
BROWNOUTS OVER THE COURSE OF ABOUT 12 MONTHS IN 2000-2001,
AND THEN THERE WERE DROUGHTS AND WILDFIRES, WHICH WERE JUST
ANTICIPATED BY THE REPORTS BY THE CONCERNED SCIENTISTS WHICH
EXPLAINED THE IMPACT CLIMATE CHANGE WOULD HAVE SPECIFICALLY
ON CALIFORNIA AND WENT INTO A LOT OF DETAIL SHARING WHAT THE
DAMAGE WOULD BE TO THE CALIFORNIA ECONOMY. SO PEOPLE BECAME AWARE OF THE
PROBLEM. AND AT THE SAME TIME THERE WERE
POLITICAL ACTORS WHO MADE A PUSH, ENVIRONMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS, FRAN PATTON, A MIDDLE SCHOOLTEACHER WHO BECAME
A MEMBER OF THE ASSEMBLY AND BECAME A CHAMPION OF GLOBAL
WARMING POLICY BEGINNING IN ’02. AND THEN ARNOLD CAME A FEW YEARS
LATER CLIMATE POLICY IN 2005. SITTING THERE IN THE YEAR 2000
NEVER WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT THOSE THING COULD COME TOGETHER. IT LED TO A BIG CHANGE IN
POLICY.>>WE’RE GOING TO CANCEL
BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF PAYMENTS TO THE UNITED
NATIONS CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS AND USE THE MONEY —
>>THE CURRENT SITUATION IN 2017 TO THE ONE WE HAD 16 YEARS AGO
WHEN GEORGE W. BUSH WAS ABOUT TO TAKE OFFICE. BUSH SOON REVERSED HIMSELF ON
THE GREEN HOUSE GAS REGULATION AND THE RESULT WAS THAT STATE
GOVERNMENTS BECAME THE MAJOR VENUES FOR CLIMATE POLICY. THERE WAS OUTCRY FROM THE
ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY, STATE GOVERNMENTS, GOVERNMENTS OUTSIDE
THE UNITED STATES AND THERE WAS A COUNTERBALANCING TO WHAT THE
BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS DOING. AND SO I THINK THAT BROADLY
SPEAKING WE’RE GOING TO SEE THE SAME THING WITH THE TRUMP
ADMINISTRATION. WHAT WE CAN UNDERSTAND FROM THE
BOOK IS THE BIG STRUCTURES ARE CONSTRAINING BUT THEY’RE NOT
DETERMINATIVE, SO IT MATTERS IF YOU HAVE A STRONG FOSSIL FUEL
INDUSTRY, A SEPARATION OF POWER THAT CHANGES THE TERRAIN FOR ALL
KINDS OF POLITICAL MANIFESATION. IT MATTERS IF YOU DON’T HAVE A
STRONG ADMINISTRATION INDEPENDENT OF SOCIETY, BUT
SOCIAL CONSTRAINTS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, AND WHEN THEY LOOK
FOR THOSE MOMENTS OF UNUSUAL OPENNESS, THAT’S WHEN THEIR
EFFORTS WILL BE MOST EFFECTIVE.>>THAT’S OUR SHOW FOR TODAY. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY OF
OUR STORIES, LOGON AT CUNY.TV OR CHECK US OUT ON OUR FACEBOOK
PAGE. THANKS FOR WATCHING. SEE YOU NEXT TIME. BYE. ♪♪♪

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