Updated: Jul 27, 2020
The 25th International IEA Conference was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Members enjoyed a robust educational atmosphere paired with colorful sightseeing and lively Puerto Rican nights. Conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in a spiritual circle led by keynote speaker Miguel Sague, member of the Taino Tribe and chief beike of the Caney Indian Spiritual Circle. Miguel led members through six sacred ceremonial connections that highlighted the history of the Taino's and the effect of spiritual consciousness on the current Taino resurgence movement. Moreover, attendees heard from IEA Vice President Greg Cronin who shared his continuous research on environmental racism, specifically in regards to the colonization of water and the subsequent effects of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Other research topics ranged from the consequences of colonialism to the management of Spotted Owls in the Sierra Nevada to sustainable development in the Caribbean and Pope Francis's teachings on water and ecology to indigenous ecofeminism and the four diseases of speech.
In light of the movement to decrease society's plastic consumption, research on plastic bag use in the city of Austin, Texas was presented by Saint Edward's University undergraduate students Olivia Cason and Riley Henegar. Their research explored the effectiveness of a city wide bag ban ordinance at encouraging customers to use reusable, canvas bags when shopping at a Texas grocer, HEB grocery. PhD student Mohammed Awojobi , from the University of Delaware, presented A Qualitative Assessment of Sustainable Global Energy Transition Models in the Context of Emerging and Developing Economies. With an increase in energy demands from emerging and developing countries, the environmental concerns that hover around conventional energy sources will also increase if used in developing nations. Awojobi's study provided a qualitative assessment of two representative sustainable energy transition models, the first that proposed to meet energy demand solely from wind, water, and solar sources (WWS model) and the second that proposed to meet energy demand from wind, water, solar, bioenergy, and fossil sources (WWSBF model), fit for emerging and developing economies.
Post conference, some attendees traveled to El Yunque National Forest for a sound hike and to bask in the Puerto Rican sun on top of massive stones that are sure to feel the forceful flow of the Rio Grande, the main river that flows through El Yunque. What was even more enjoyable than visiting the only subtropical rainforest in the U.S. was observing locals as they gathered under shady trees and watched their children splash and laugh in the open river. Their smiles, which confirmed the influence the forest has on the islands community were priceless, just like the fragile ecosystem of El Yunque.