By Melanie Schuck
The presentation in our class by the environmental director of Secaucus, Amanda Nesheiwat, was similar to the one made by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth I noticed. This is because she was trained by Al Gore’s organization to give that presentation. Despite my own personal reservations regarding Al Gore, Amanda’s presentation still did its job effectively and in an interesting way.
What intrigued me about her presentation were her vignettes about her job in Secaucus and her time at the Paris climate talks. I was impressed to hear that the town of Secaucus has one of the highest recycling rates in the state of New Jersey. I was not expecting that of Secaucus. I associate Secaucus with the train station junction, because whenever I have been in that city it has usually been during a layover heading to somewhere else as my destination.
Her story of how she got her current job is a fascinating one. A Ramapo College graduate, she essentially created her job by volunteering then moving onto a part time job with the town of Secaucus then finally getting offered a full time job in a position that did not even exist until she started working with the city.
Her story of the Paris climate talks was interesting as well. She explained how the governments meeting there lowered the projected change in temperature that they would react to—from two degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures. If we have a global increase of two degrees Celsius it is game over for us, as she put it. Therefore, it is a game changer that the international governments agreed to that. This change in policy will mean, hopefully, more policy changes like it that will curb global greenhouse gas emissions.
Something that drew my attention was the fact that hurricane Sandy was put on the list of the most destructive hurricanes in American history. According to Amanda, it landed in second place right behind hurricane Katrina, which is easily the most destructive and devastating hurricane in the history of the United States. The point of sharing this information is to reveal that with global climate change, severe weather patterns such as hurricanes will only increase and become more destructive and deadly with each passing year. The opposite of that will occur as well. Areas that are susceptible to droughts will find an increase in the frequency and occurrence of droughts.
Finally, another thing that I admired about Amanda was her positive, upbeat attitude despite the fact that she was informing us of the bad things that are occurring all around us with increasing frequency and strength. It is not an easy thing to do. I know, because my classes regularly make me sad because of the depressing information I am hearing on a daily basis. But, beneath that upbeat attitude I saw a need to help the people around her become more environmentally aware and conscientious.