Eco-Agents tackle Water Issues at Broadway

Posted by: glopez, January 17, 2014 1:27 pm

Eco-Agents is a new Environmental Science/Action program for teens. During the first session at Queens Library at Broadway, we spoke broadly about the many issues surrounding water. Topics included water pollution (such as plastics in the ocean, Combined Sewage Overflows, nuclear contamination, oil spills and more) Also discussed where water rights and acid rain.

I want to use this post not so much to recap the conversation, which was rich and full of passion from the teens, but to offer several links that can help deepen our understanding of these issues.

For plastic pollution in the oceans offers a great, interactive introduction.

The Story of Stuff project is chock full of amazing ideas and the Story of Bottled Water, is a great intro to the issue.

This is a fairly graphic video that we discussed showing the effect of plastic debris on marine birds (I'm tearing up posting this so beware): MIDWAY: A Message from the Gyre

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a huge issue and the subject of much debate. NatGeo gives a nice, unbiased explanation of fracking.  The release of the film Gasland blew the lid off this issue. Now, many activist campaigns are fighting against this activity in New York and beyond.

Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) are a special concern in older cities that have combined sewer systems. Here is a disturbing video that made the rounds a couple years ago from Gowanus Brooklyn that pointedly illustrated the problem. Greening Queens Library has ordered a Sewer in a Suitcase from CUP and will provide in depth programming about the CSO issue in the future.

Nuclear contamination was a concern the teens brought up. Food & Water Watch has put together some great info about this issue.  

We briefly discussed the fact that the cooling nuclear reactors and irrigation for the agricultural industry are by far the largest users of water in the US. The nuclear use was concerning and so was the agricultural use once I described that Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs) and nitrogen runoff from farmlands create non-point source pollution (NPS) which is the top causes of water pollution in the US.

There are several great documentary films that dig into the water rights issues and FLOW: For the Love of Water is one that the Queens Library owns screening rights to. We will be showing FLOW around March 22nd, which is World Water Day.

To attend an Eco-Agent program at a library near you please click through and search the "Upcoming Events" on the sidebar of this page.