Sustainability Squad Belies Global Warming Skeptics

December 15, 2009 | Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, NY—Global change deniers watch out! Media mavens take note!

On the eve of the Copenhagen Conference, where world leaders will discuss global solutions to climate change, a squad of almost 45 scholars and students from Brooklyn College, other CUNY colleges and New York University (NYU) gathered at the Macaulay Honors College to present their recent scientific findings and analyze the impact of the news media on this urgent issue. 

The conference, “Changing Times: Perspectives on Global Human Ecodynamics,” was one of the activities organized by Brooklyn College Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology Sophia Perdikaris to showcase student research and accomplishments during her tenure as Faculty in Residence at the Macaulay Honors College. Perdikaris and Professor Thomas McGovern (Hunter College) led the team “Islands of Change,” whose goal is to seek evidence of the impact of human colonization and global warming on three Atlantic islands: the two small rural island communities of Barbuda, West Indies, and Myvatnsveit, Iceland, and the large urban island community of New York City.

Five teams of Brooklyn College students from Perdikaris’s class Climate Change: Fact or Myth rolled out their posters and took questions on changes in the Arctic ice mass (Agnieszka Stypulkowska, Leslie Bautista, Edward Guerrero, Elliot Lee); the effects of deforestation and rainfall patterns on the diets of indigenous people (Simone Herbin, Elina Melamed, Brooke Morris, Ayodele Otis); the shift in ocean salinity and temperature that has created a dramatic change on the patterns of storms, marine life and human habitation (Meg Tarr, Alina Romanoff, Eric Roldan); the reduction of solar radiation on the earth’s surface and its impact on farming communities (Mercy Adebanjo, Ricardo Millan, Roxane Walker); and how the influence of energy industry lobbyists and the lack of scientific knowledge among news reporters have muddled the debate, increasing the growing misinformation gap about global warming (Nicole Babushkin, Derya Gunaydin, Emily Lin, Jon-Rainer Mimberg).

Students from various colleges took a more local focus to discuss the accessibility of Manhattan’s subway system for people with disabilities and potential solutions (Caroline Chan, Lashika Yogendran, Esther Gutwirth, Rachel Webster); an evaluation of sustainable energy systems in the city (Aleksandr Likhtenstein, Philip Liu, Faila Mian, Aleksey Ruditsky); the correlation of high air concentrations of dichloromethane and the uptick in cancer rates on Staten Island (Kim Cruz, Brian Ishkra, Christie Vitucci); and how pollution affects the preservation of historical monuments in metropolitan areas (Dan Feldman, Mark Barahman, Jeremy Lyons, Michele Plastrik).

It was a lot of science for a day, but it was the type that makes participants continue to raise more questions.

“Islands of Change” is a transcontinental project made possible thanks to the collaboration of the American Museum of Natural History, Teachers College of Columbia University, the Archaeological Institute of Iceland, the Mývatn Science and Conservation Center (Iceland), the Geography Department/School of GeoSciences of the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the Parks Department of Antigua/Barbuda, the Barbuda Archaeological Association,  and the Kids’ Archaeology/ Fornleifaskóli Barnanna Program (Iceland).