The Seton Hall Environmental Studies Program hosted the movie screening of Chasing Coral (capturing coral bleaching and the changing ocean ecosystems) and a panel of experts, who spoke about connecting the story from the movie to local and global action. This Ecology Club event on September 11-13th was sponsored by Facilities Engineering and Business Affairs, which is focusing on sustainability initiatives on campus and highlighting how each student can make a difference by refusing plastic and styrofoam and recycling more. By using refillable water bottles and the water refilling stations (filtered water) in most buildings on campus, there is no need for anyone to be purchasing water in plastic bottles on campus. A study from 2016 estimated that eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enters the oceans from land each year. Most of the waste consists of bottles, wrappers, straws and bags. There are 4.9B tons of plastic in the natural environment right now and only 14% of plastic packaging on a global scale is currently recycled.
Highlights of what resonated the most with students from the movie and panel were the following points. A coral reef is an interconnected community of life with astonishing biodiversity. Coral is the only other species besides the human species that builds their own environment. The 3D framework underwater that has been growing for millions of years is very complex, the more complex the coral structure, the more biodiversity can live there. 93% of the heat in the earth's atmosphere is absorbed by the water and plants in the ocean. Brittany Labrincha noted "the ocean is out of sight and out of mind to us most of the time, we don't realize the magnitude of the benefits that the oceans provide." Violet Reed commented that "we're past the era of shocking people into doing what's right on a global scale about plastic and conserving the ocean. But at Seton Hall we are actively making changes to improve our environmental mindset and campus sustainability. Students can opt to not use styrofoam or plastic cups at Dunkin Donuts by using their own reusable cups and get a discount for doing this. The material that makes up Styrofoam is a known human carcinogen."
Angie Iadarola added that "just because we don't live close to the ocean, doesn't mean it doesn't affect us each personally. We are all connected in the web of life on this earth. The oceans affect us directly every moment." Since the oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface and contain 97% of the Earth's water, as the atmosphere heats up, the oceans heat up too. The increase in water temperatures causes coral to bleach and die. Less than 1% of the Earth's water is fresh water and 2% is contained in glaciers and ice caps. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet, so big it's visible from space (the size of 70 million football fields). 29% of the Great Barrier Reef died in 2016 due to ocean temperatures rising. 50% of Hawaiian coral reefs are now dead due to multiple bleaching events in the past 20 years.
Save the Date: Wednesday, October 25th
Screening of the movie Sonic Sea on Wednesday, October 25th at 6 p.m.
Seton Hall and New Jersey Environmental Lobby will host an event on Wednesday, October 25th from 6-8 p.m. in the Chancellor's Suite.
There will be presentations from the lobby members, question and answer opportunities, as well as a screening of the movie and a light buffet dinner. A donation of $5.00 per student will be put towards a one-year membership with NJEL.
Panel member information from Chasing Coral on Monday, September 11-13th:
1. Andriana Fragola
Andy is from Miami, a 2016 Seton Hall graduate in Environmental Studies.
She is currently a Masters of Professional Science Candidate at University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).
Andy spoke about the Shark Research and Conservation Team at University of Miami, focusing on the biology of sharks, their importance to the ecosystem and the economy, the threats sharks face globally, and current research to help conserve them.
2. Sean Gilson
Sean spoke about the NJ Highlands region, where over 50% of our fresh drinking water comes from in NJ. The mission of his organization is to protect, restore, and enhance the water and other natural and cultural resources of the New Jersey Highlands for the benefit of all citizens and businesses in the state.
3. Debra Lamego
Debra spoke about how Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. Her organization stands up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocates for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment.
Categories: Science and Technology