Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Suggested Reading & Activism Spotlight: Featuring Stephanie Khoury

Activism Spotlight Featuring Guest Writer

Today, I am honored to have an Ithaca College student as this week’s Guest Writer on Viridorari! Stephanie Khoury is a junior Documentary Studies and Production Major at Ithaca College. If found her through an awesome environmental edition of Ithaca’s student publication, Buzzsaw, in which she wrote an article. Today she is featuring DivestIC for today’s “Activism Spotlight.”

Divestment is an ongoing environmental movement in the United States toted by Bill McKibben and that encourages cities, states, business, and (mainly) colleges and universities to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies that are damaging the environment. Although withdrawing these investments won’t necessarily make a big dent in this multi-billion dollar industry, the goal is to show big businesses and governments that we are determined to start focusing on a future that relies more heavily on renewable energy and that wreaking havoc on the environment to make profit is no longer acceptable, socially, politically, or economically.

    I asked Stephanie to provide some information about herself, and this was her response:

    A lover of all things related to ducks, marshmallows and polka-dots, my name is Stephanie Khoury and I hate grammar and bottled water. One of my favorite places is Ithaca College. As a junior I am kinda getting the whole college thing by making some room for friends and family, but sometimes I breathe, so that’s good. In between editing and interning for the All-American High School Film Festival, by Andrew Jenks (MTV's World of Jenks) I love making documentaries. If you’re an avid Googler, check out some of my docs, including "Expressions of Hope", which recently won the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Award at College Television Awards!

    Stephanie also included some cool videos in her writing for you to watch. I encourage you to view them to enhance your knowledge on this topic! Congratulations to all of the people around the country who have successfully obtained or are currently rallying for divestment. Keep fighting the good fight for our tomorrow!

    So, without further ado, I give you Stephanie and her DivestIC spotlight.

Over the past year over 300 colleges and universities, 105 cities and states, six religious institutions, and hundreds of individuals around the nation have joined in the Divestment Campaign.

    A complicated name, Divestment Campaign is actually pretty simple and not too far off from that piggy bank you used to place your extra change in as a child. Basically, for the Divestment Campaign, think of the piggy bank as a fossil fuel company. You place your savings into Mr. Piggy, expecting it to be safe, and as you add more to it, grow over time in value. That is the way investments work.

    Instead of placing savings into a piggy bank some decide to invest their money in stocks or bonds, which can generate interest and then later can act as an income. Many colleges, cities, states, and universities take advantage of this because it is a way for them to utilize their money easily. However, with this process the decision is often based on profits and returns, with the big money players being the fossil fuel companies.

    Divestment is the exact opposite, meaning to pull any investments in the fossil fuel industry. So, when you decide to put another coin into your piggy bank, make sure it’s a socially conscious and environmentally aware piggy. carries a list of the top 200 Fossil Fuel Companies with a carbon footprint dependent on oil, gas and coal reserves that have been researched by the Carbon Tracker Institute. The top five companies* on this list are:

Severstal JSC            141.6 gtCO2**(Coal)
Lukoll Holdings         43.56 gtCO2 (Oil and/or Gas)
Exxon Mobil Corp.    41.03 gtCO2 (Oil and/or Gas)
BP PLC                    34.6 gtCO2 (Oil and/or Gas)
Gazprom OAO          28.83 gtCO2 (Oil and/or Gas)

*the rest of the list is here
**gtCO2= gigatonnes of carbon dioxide released
    By taking some of the pressure off personal means of reducing carbon footprint to placing some focus on companies, the Carbon Tracker Institute looks at creating a new solution to reducing the carbon footprint.

    The Carbon Tracker Institute and Divest Campaign share similar goals to provide information about what their investments mean when they choose to buy stocks, bonds, or other form of participation within the fossil fuel industry.

    The unique aspect of this campaign unlike others within the Environmental Movement is that everyone has agency. The downfall to this campaign is that not everyone is accountable. The Divestment campaign relies heavily on the actions and the continuation of colleges, individuals, small families and communities, such as Ithaca, NY.

    Just south of Syracuse, but blanketed in the middle of the Finger Lakes Region, Ithaca is a small community that became the first city on the East Coast and the second city in the world to agree to fully divest its finances from the fossil fuel industry. Cornell University and Ithaca College both started their own Divestment Campaigns and have reached groundbreaking progress. At Ithaca College, the Divestment Campaign started in the Fall Semester last year and continued within the spring.

Led by an off campus organization named ELAN, or the Environmental Leadership in Action Network, students have been able to organize, educate and protest on campus and in communities. “Divestment is a part of who I am. Living in a world of privilege, the IC community has a duty to hold its values of social and environmental justice high,” said ELAN President Allison Currier.

Divestment is more than just money, it involves morals and thinking beyond the current spheres we live within. “I will not support an industry that puts my Central American, Asian, African or fellow American sisters and brothers at risk.  And I will first and foremost not let my college invest its money in the fossil fuel industry that is marginalizing innocent people,” said Currier.
Here is a video created by the members of ELAN:

Students at IC are passionate about this campaign, because it is not limited to the people who can participate and the amount of support they are receiving from alumni and communities. Youth Power Summit on April 19, 2013 was a perfect example of this. A congregation of youth interested and dedicated to environmental protection, litigation, mitigation and protection, the Youth Power Summit provides a space for young minds and voices to be heard by those in positions of power.

(Check out more about the DivestIC through this documentary:

Mayor Savante Myrick listened and heard the voices of the youth and supported them through his political position. “The City of Ithaca does not invest in fossil fuels and I can certainly commit, as long as I am Mayor, to not investing City funds in fossil fuels,” said Myrick.

    Myrick also looks to continue the process by writing a letter to the NY State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, the man in charge of NY state employee pension, to divest and then invest in more responsible alternatives.

    Want to know more about Divestment? Or Interested in seeing students make real change? Go to or
Sources and More Info:

Thank you for reading Stephanie's excellent "Activism Spotlight." Please leave your questions and comments below, or email Stephanie at  
Suggested Reading

 I talk about how nature and biodiversity is important all the time on Viridorari, but while that’s a given for me, I’ve never really delved deep into why they’re important. In honor of the golden lion tamarin’s last day on Viridorari, I wanted to feature an article that explains the important of biodiversity, and essentially, why we need to spend our time and resources preserving endangered animals, like the golden lion tamarin.

I found an article on by Abhijit Naik that provides helpful explanations and in depth information on this topic. Naik uses scientific evidence and reasoning, offers specific examples of biodiversity richness in our world today, and provides a hypothetical situation of what would happen if a species went extinct. I think this article is easy to understand and makes a great case for biodiversity and why its loss is detrimental, even for intelligent and adaptive humans.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: variety in nature and wildlife is extremely important, and we need to work together to save endangered species. If you want to know why, click here, and read Naik’s article.

Read a great article or watched a cool video about the environment recently? Please share your findings with me, and I might feature it here, on Viridorari. Or, consider being a Guest Writer for the "Suggested Reading" section. Contact me at
Animal of the Month Update

Picture courtesy of:

Female tamarins have a gestation (pregnancy) period of four months. The entire family helps raise the babies, including older siblings, but especially the father. There are four species of lion tamarin, including the golden, all of which are endangered. To learn about the other three species (golden-headed lion tamarin, black lion tamarin, and black-faced lion tamarin) click here.

Today is the golden lion tamarin’s last day in Viridorari’s spotlight. I hoped you enjoyed learning about these amazing creatures, and that you were inspired to contribute to their conservation in some way, whether it be donating to Save the Golden Lion Tamarin (SGLT) or spreading the news about tamarins and the need for conservation. Read “Activism Spotlight #9” to learn more about SGLT, the organization that supports this endangered species. For ways to support SGLT, click here and browse through the "How to Help" drop-down list. SGLT is on, a site that makes it easy for you to raise money for causes you care about. 
    The protection of the world’s animals is crucial to maintaining important ecosystems and the natural world as it is. Often, the removal of one species can seriously harm an entire system of species. We all must make an effort to ensure that conservation is a priority, especially by educating the youth about the importance of nature and wildlife. 
 Picture courtesy of: Picture courtesy of:
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