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Urban Coast Institute

New Jersey Poll: Mixed Views on Plastic Bag Ban

Most New Jerseyans initially support a single-use plastic bag ban, but many back away from that support when considering the impact on consumer shopping habits, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted in partnership with the Urban Coast Institute (UCI). The vast majority of Garden State residents say that ocean pollution caused by plastics is a serious problem, but few have heard much about the issue of microplastics in the environment.

Nearly 2-in-3 New Jerseyans (65%) claim to support a ban on single use plastic bags, while 29% are opposed. Just over half (52%) also say they support a ban on plastic straws, with 44% of state residents opposing this. However, support for a plastic bag ban appears to be less absolute when residents are presented with specific ways this could be handled. When given a number of options, just 31% want a complete ban on single use plastic bags, while 27% say that customers should pay a small fee if they want a plastic bag when shopping. Another 39% of state residents feel that stores should continue to have the option to give away plastic bags for free. Read the full results of the poll.

The poll will be the subject of further discussion at Marine Plastics: Law, Science and Action, co-hosted by the Polling Institute and UCI at the university’s Lauren K. Woods Theatre on Oct. 2. The event is free and open to the public.

Article Examines Case for Children’s Right to a Stable Climate System

Rechnitz Family UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy Randall S. Abate drafted an article in the summer 2019 issue of the George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law, which was published in September. The article, “Atmospheric Trust Litigation: Foundation for a Constitutional Right to a Stable Climate System?,” analyzes the viability of the Juliana v. United States case, the world-famous climate justice case pending in federal court that involves several youth plaintiffs from around the nation seeking to compel the federal government to regulate climate change.

The summer 2019 issue of the journal also features articles from nationally recognized environmental law professors from Lewis and Clark Law School and Florida State College of Law, two of the nation’s top environmental law programs.

Paid Student Positions Available for Climate Risk Research

wavesMonmouth University students can apply for a number of paid positions conducting door-to-door surveys for select coastal towns in the Raritan Bay area and Monmouth County through the Institute for Sustainable Cities (ISC) at Hunter College and Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN). The surveys will pertain to community and household coastal adaptation to sea-level rise, coastal storms, and nuisance flooding along with local development trends. The survey aims to determine how the perception of future sea level rise is influencing coastal homeowners’ decision-making and gauge their needs for further information pertaining to flood mitigation, including what local and state municipalities can do to propagate and assist local resiliency efforts. The desired outcome is to figure out the decision frames that households are using to address questions of increasing climate risk along with their risk tolerance to differing levels of flooding and what metrics they use to measure risk.

Applicants must be currently enrolled at Monmouth University. Familiarity with survey methods and techniques would be beneficial but not necessary. A valid drivers license and access to a vehicle also would be beneficial. To apply, email a résumé to UCI Associate Director Tom Herrington at therring@monmouth.edu.

Exhibition Explores Economic and Emotional Toll of Superstorm Sandy through Art, Multimedia

Nearing Anniversary of Sandy, Residents Invited to Post their Stories to Gallery Wall

With the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaching, a new exhibition at Monmouth University captures the destructive force of the storm and the mounting threats of climate change and sea level rise through abstract and participatory works of art. Free and open to the public, the exhibition encourages residents who were impacted by Sandy to contribute to the installation by sharing their memories on a special wall adorned with satellite imagery of the storm.

“Just Beachy/After Sandy,” featuring the work of Monmouth University Department of Art and Design Professor Karen Bright and Assistant Professor of Communication Amanda Stojanov, can be viewed through Dec. 9 at the DiMattio Gallery, located in Rechnitz Hall. Some of the exhibition’s highlights include:

  • The Drying Station: Nearly a century of scientific data for natural phenomena such as high tide levels, wave heights and wind speeds on the Jersey Shore are interpreted by Bright in the form of beach towel designs. The towel panels hang in an arrangement that allows visitors to walk among and between them.
  • 9 Feet High: Those who endured Sandy can “erase” the storm by covering up this wall of NASA satellite images with their hand-written stories. The colorful prints were designed by Bright with production assistance by Stojanov.
  • The Climate Shelter: Visitors can step into a personal-sized, geodesic-domed shelter to hear and view a digital media interpretation, “Hurricane,” created by Stojanov. The outside is decorated with prints and paintings by Bright – representing a world turned inside out – requiring a new way of thinking about climate and the effects of global warming.
  • The Transformer: At over 10 feet high, this information graphic in the form of a sculpture visualizes the massive number of housing units that were lost in New Jersey and New York as a result of Sandy. Bright’s sculpture is composed of stacked tree rounds topped by two bird houses fashioned to look like green Monopoly game houses, which are sized to mathematically represent the number of lost homes. A sandbox at its base offers visitors a chance to rake or bury a small relic from their Sandy experience, or just provide a moment of release.

“The driving intent for ‘Just Beachy/After Sandy’ is to reach out to people through action,” Bright said. “The installation offers visitors the chance to share their personal stories and release them to the wall, contemplate while raking or digging sand, hear and view a media interpretation of Sandy while sitting in a quite space, and learn while walking through a maze of hanging panels. The hope is that by bringing the community together, people will find personal relief through shared experience.”

Two complementary exhibitions led by Bright will also debut on Sept. 20. “Karen Bright―Throughline,” also at the DiMattio Gallery, features four decades of the artist’s works centered on the environment as well as prevalent social and cultural issues such as the #MeToo movement and politics. ”A Sense of Place in Contemporary Encaustic,” at the neighboring Ice House Gallery, features 24 artists’ works that provide interpretations of space, ranging from serene landscapes to the abstract.

The exhibitions are open for public viewing during standard gallery hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

The exhibitions are also part of the Monmouth University Center for the Arts 2019-2020 season. “Just Beachy/After Sandy” was funded in part by the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute. For more information, visit www.monmouth.edu/mca.

Monmouth Polling Institute, UCI to Host Marine Plastics Panel Oct. 2

The Monmouth University Polling Institute and Urban Coast Institute will co-host Marine Plastics: Law, Science and Action at the university’s Lauren K. Woods Theatre on Oct. 2. The event is free and open to the public.

This panel discussion will feature experts from the legal, scientific, and grassroots activism communities to discuss plastics and microplastics in the marine environment, with a focus on challenges and potential solutions for New Jersey. Topics will include an assessment of the nature and degree of risks posed to humans from microplastics in seafood and shellfish, and from plastics such as straws and bags in the marine environment. The panel will evaluate the advantages and limitations of potential responses to this crisis including bans, other legislative initiatives, market mechanisms, and education and activism.

The Polling Institute conducted a New Jersey poll in September that gathered data on the public’s awareness of and degree of concern for the threats that plastics and microplastics pose to New Jersey’s marine environment. Patrick Murray, director of the Polling Institute, will moderate a discussion that also responds to the results of this poll. See the flyer below for more details.

Parking is available at the Woods Theatre complex, located at 370 Cedar Ave., West Long Branch.  Directions to campus and an interactive map of the University/venue are available online. You can also find the Woods Theatre on Google Maps.

Marine Plastics panel flyer

Monmouth University and Rumson to Host Two River Seminar Series

The Monmouth University School of Science and the Borough of Rumson will host a Two River Seminar Series centered on the environment and wildlife of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers beginning in September. Members of the public of all ages are invited to participate in these educational discussions led by experts from the university’s Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy Program and Urban Coast Institute.

The series kicks off on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. with “Our Watershed as a Living Laboratory.” The session will cover historic and emerging scientific questions surrounding the rivers, current research efforts focused on the watershed’s health and steps needed to make it more resilient to climate change.

On Oct. 24 at 7 p.m., the series continues with “Rivers Alive: Wildlife and Habitats of the Two River System.” This seminar will explore the area’s unique plant life, wetlands, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

The events will be held at Bingham Hall, located at 40 Bingham Ave. in Rumson. There is no cost to attend.

The Two River Seminar Series is part of a broader educational collaboration between Rumson and Monmouth. Plans are underway to develop a Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station on municipal property located behind Borough Hall on the Navesink River. With an array of classrooms, laboratories and meeting spaces, the field station will provide a waterfront location for educational programs and facilitate research opportunities for Monmouth University students, alongside K-12 students from the Rumson School District and surrounding communities.

For more information, contact Karl Vilacoba at kvilacob@monmouth.edu or (732) 571-3688.

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