Earth Day & Beyond: Environmental Talks Coming This Spring to NYC

By Alison Durkee

It’s almost Earth Day, and with the combination of accelerating climate change and the lack of national leadership, it’s more important than ever to stay informed. Learn more about our shared planet at these upcoming environment-themed events coming to NYC.

Image: DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Image: DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Earth Day will take place on Sunday, April 22, and there are many ways to get out and celebrate in the city. The Earth Day Initiative will mark the holiday a week early on April 15 with Earth Day in Union Square, an annual event featuring dozens of environmental organizations, live performances, and more. On April 20, the organization will offer its annual Earth Day 5K, a tour that travels from site to site to show how groups around the city are going green.

The city’s museums will mark Earth Day with their own festivities as well. The American Museum of Natural History will present their Earthfest event all day the 22nd, featuring a full slate of activities, performances, and critical conversations. The Museum of the City of New York will also offer a celebration for families from 11am-2pm, complete with activities, songs, snacks, and a scavenger hunt to enjoy. The weekend before Earth Day, the Queens Museum will celebrate the environment on April 14 with their Second Saturday event dedicated to Scientific Inquiry, Activism and the Environment. The full day of events will include special tours, hands-on workshops, and discussions with both artists and environmental experts.

Photo: Gotham Greens

The New School will mark Earth Day with an entire Earth Week, which includes activities for both members of the university community and the general public. On April 18, the school will look at the ongoing devastation in Puerto Rico and other hurricane-affected areas with a session on the root causes behind the natural disasters and the ongoing recovery efforts. That same evening, the New School and the Museum of the City of New York will also offer a session looking at the future of food in NYC and how to evolve our food systems to be both more sustainable and adapt to the realities of climate change.

Even outside of the Earth Day celebrations, though, there are still plenty of chances to learn more about the environment at upcoming talks this spring. Get a crash course in environmental philosophy on May 15, as philosophy professor Edward S. Casey discusses the nature of “edges” as they apply to both the natural and beyond-human realms. On April 19, join author Jesse Goldstein as he discusses geofuturism and the limits of changing the environment within a capitalistic system. To appreciate the beauty of the environment at large, don’t miss the April 25 appearance by photographer Michelle Valberg as she presents Wild Creatures, Extreme Conditions with the Sierra Club NYC Photography Committee.

Discover the lessons that the Earth’s oceans hold on May 2, as the American Museum of Natural History holds a session on bioinspiration from the sea and how studying sea life can help us learn more about technology. A very different body of water will be the focus of a talk on April 18, as the Brooklyn Historical Society looks at the Gowanus Canal as a case study for urban ecology and city ecosystems. Beyond just learning about the environment, there are also plenty of chances this spring to get out and discover the city’s natural environment for yourself. The centerpiece of New York’s green spaces, of course, is Central Park. Join the Central Park Conservancy on their tours of the spring blooms in the park’s conservatory garden from April through June, or discover some of the park’s smaller denizens on early morning bird walks with the American Museum of Natural History.

There’s also much to explore outside of Manhattan. In Brooklyn, head to the borough’s highest natural point on a tour of Green-Wood Cemetery on April 28, or tour Prospect Heights and explore the nature of landscapes on a tour with the Brooklyn Brainery on April 15. Those who’d rather see the city’s landscapes from the water, meanwhile, can join the National Lighthouse Museum as they circumnavigate the Isle of Staten on May 19.

Columbia University will also offer a variety of environmental talks this spring. On April 19, Barnard College will host their annual senior poster session, which will feature students from Barnard and Columbia presenting research on environmental science and sustainability. The Earth Institute at Columbia University will offer a specific look how to adapt to climate change on April 30 with Where Next on Climate? Conservative Prescriptions on Climate Change. For those who’d prefer to go beyond the Earthly realm, meanwhile, catch a glimpse at the stars on April 20, as the university offers a lecture on Pluto and stargazing session.

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