[Working Title: A Broad Compilation Of Poems]

[Working Title: A Broad Compilation Of Poems]



For our final project, we decided to create the following poems that tackle the past, present, and future of our coastlines and climate. We individually wrote poems to reflect on a specific threat (extinction, natural disaster, loss of habitat, etc), and then collaboratively edited our pieces to form a collection with playful stories such as that of  “Qoysters to the more serious warnings of “Trust Exercise or “Citizenship. Our pieces draw heavily on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports (IPCC), and Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 to build a creative and connected body of work. Both texts detail the future consequences of climate change and evaluate the socio economic ramifications that humanity and the living environment must endure. While the IPCC is a technical document, co-written and edited by over a hundred scientists worldwide, New York 2140 is a speculative account of New York City in the year 2140, when flooding and coastal disasters are exacerbated, and follows the stories of several civilians to closely examine how each one of them cope with the circumstances of their new reality. 

Our title, “[Working Title: A Broad Compilation Of Poems],” was crafted by none other than you, Professor Holmberg, after we so poorly followed directions on the Final Project Sign-up Sheet. However, we thought this title is fitting as 1) this is, in fact, a broad compilation of poems, and 2) there will never not be work to be done in the future of climate and coastlines, as in, we will always be working! Therefore, this uncertain title represents the uncertainty of the future, and our constant work to ensure we have a dry one. We hope you enjoy it!




Whenever madness 

breaks loose 

Everyone rushes to 

the forests.

Are they looking 

for shelter? 

For peace?

For answers? 

For solitude?

If you’re looking to 

be left alone

in the forest, 

I’m afraid 

You will be 


Close your eyes 

And open your heart, 

and let me be your guide. 

You can feel the path

Soft and powdery.

As you kick the 

dust up to skies,

it floats and falls,

plastic coated 


bouncing like


But underneath 

the topsoil 

lives memories. 

rich brown fibers, 

mothers that protect,

Herbs and dried leaves,

tea spices, 

wet oak,

medicine and nutrients,

and tiny

little critters 

burying holes 

that go deep 

into the crust of

The earth. 

As you walk over 

the universe under

your toes, the sound

of rushing streams

and infinite whistles

welcome you. 

It’s time to explore

the waters.

Go ahead and reach 

past the crumbling

shore. I won’t push you

in, but I make 

no promises

for the wind. 

If you are feeling

Brave. Step in. 

Did you expect the 

currents to 

carry you away?

Did you expect

The cold to numb

your knees and 

startle your nerves?

No. the vigor

of the river has 

melted to a 

still and shallow 

body. Clear 

and bright

like a prism, 

the heartbeat

of the waters 

is now found 

in the nibbling fish 

that feed 

from your skin.

With your wet 

feet waddling

Over a clear cut

path the glue 

like mud feels


It’s tempting

to want to 

search the stars and 

pluck at the clouds.

But don’t

abandon me yet. 

You haven’t 

opened your eyes

so this reality

as of now,

is only your


It is a reality 

of great


One that has been

hurt but can 

also heal. 

The elements,

carbon and 


bicker and bargain

The oceans rhyme,

the birds hum,

and the trees whisper.

They communicate

with memories

and communal


You don’t need to

Understand their

Voices, just listen.

They are alive.

You too

are alive. 

So don’t be 

afraid to

fall back 

and trust

 that hope

will catch you.

open your eyes 

and tell me

Do you see 

The future?


The importance of the preservation of forest ecosystems was a prominent thematic when constructing the poem. The IPCC states,

The largest share of this economic potential [4.2–7.4 GtCO2-eq yr–1] comes from the conservation, improved management, and restoration of forests and other ecosystems (coastal wetlands, peatlands, savannas and grasslands), with reduced deforestation in tropical regions having the highest total mitigation. Improved and sustainable crop and livestock management, and carbon sequestration in agriculture (the latter including soil carbon management in croplands and grasslands, agroforestry and biochar), can contribute 1.8–4.1 GtCO2-eq yr–1 reduction.1

Clearly, the importance of forests and wetland regions in carbon sequestration cannot be overstated. Although water and oceans are also immensely important carbon sink sources, it is important to recognize that the elements right below our feet play a significant role in developing solutions.  In more urban regions, soil has been massively abused and acidified, so it is important to protect the soil of regions that have not been degraded. Although, this does not mean completely abandoning efforts to restore the land of degraded ecosystems. The increase of fatalism and its causes are also stated in the IPCC:

Psychological distancing—the perception that the greatest impacts occur sometime in the distant future and to people and places far away—can lead to discounting of risk and the need for adaptation (medium confidence). Communication directed at local and personal framing of climate change impact and risk information is one option for addressing low salience, particularly related to established risks such as SLR, flooding and wildfires in North America. ‘Personalised’ risk communications have had mixed results creating behavioural change and policy support, and even caused resistance.2

The report suggests targeting more local and personal modes of communication when exposing such issues due to its ability to elicit more emotions and personal investment.  As a result, the poem was written as an interaction between two individuals in order to make the issues at hand seem more intimate for the reader. Furthermore, it was staged as a trust exercise in attempts to bridge the gap between the poet and the audience. Although climate change is inevitable, society is not hopeless or helpless, and even individual impact can contribute to necessary initiatives that can promote collective action.




New York, New York

It’s the city that never sleeps.

Investors run amuck, through these streets.

Building their skyrises in gentrified Brooklyn,

What happens when the harbors tide,

Rises to a bookend

The city that never sleeps,

Nor does it ever swim.

But in the year 2140

Mother nature may finally win.

Reclaiming the glacial plane she formed so dearly,

What was once under ice, is now under tyranny.

Investors and hedge funds, they love the coast.

Hudson Yards, and Williamsburg,

But Dumbo the most…

The city that never sleeps,

But soon will drown,

The sunk cost of modernity

Will, no doubt, make these investors frown.

“The Tyranny of Sunk Costs” is inspired by New York 2140‘s part one of the same name. In this poem we explore the counterintuitive development of these waterfront regions of New York City. Franklin, a cocky young hedge fund trader and one of several main characters of New York 2140 speaks often on the economic gain and loss that result from the sinking of New York. This poem is inspired by his words, and understands that there is no doubt New York will persevere as a finance mecca regardless of its coastlines, after all, he does a great job of comparing the perpetual rise and fall of a finance graph to the rise and fall of water occupying his city. Unfortunately, as stated by the IPCC, “Sea level rise will continue for millennia, but how fast and how much depends on future emissions.” The average elevation of Brooklyn sits somewhere around 59 feet above sea level, yet the IPCC states that even with limited warming we will likely see a two to six meter (about seven to 20 feet) rise in sea level.3

Still, what do we do with this extravagant and luxurious real estate popping up all over Dumbo and Williamsburg? Is it a sunk cost? Well, despite consistently growing awareness of our changing coastlines, these skyrises continue to… rise! Even with heavy precipitation events evidently taking their toll on parts of seven Brooklyn neighborhoods ranked in NYC’s twenty most expensive neighborhoods.4

Perhaps Franklin is right, and despite being catastrophic, drowned coastlines may be great for financial gain. As he so eloquently puts it: The Economic Sublime!




Everything is changing. Our land, our home

We’re no longer safe, we’ve grown vulnerable.

First pulse, second pulse, is there a third?

With each increment of warming, our cries were never heard.

Our land is not our home, we now know for certain

Do we run north or south, east or west?

 The Antarctic has melted, maybe that land is best?

We now occupy a new home, forced migration or nomadic roam?

The rats and the squirrels have all gone under,

But us and our bears have the power to wander.

Wonder where we will be living, welcome or not

We take our society and transfer to another lot.

Will the penguins suffer? Will they be distraught?

In the 21st century, citizenship was a hot debate

But in a world without borders, who cares to spread hate?

A citizen, the citizen, and that citizen are no different

Just looking for dry land to raise their kids in.

We live in an ever changing world, with an estimated 150 species going extinct per day,5 and coastlines constantly losing the battle against sea level rise. Just in the time it took to read this poem, the world has changed ever so slightly. However, this poem focuses on the unfortunate change that is on the horizon for our planet. Amelia, a futuristic influencer in New York 2140, explores migration in this changed world. Inspired by her as well as the various accounts of future citizens scattered throughout the novel, “Citizenship” explores what it really means to be a citizen in this dystopian future.

Inspired in part by Amelia’s unforgettable venture in assisted migration, ideas of human migration are coupled with cautionary wild biodiversity loss. The IPCC states that somewhere between a 1.5℃ to 4.0℃ global temperature rise will result in a 1 to 100 percent biodiversity loss in some regions.6 But somehow humans will, as always, persevere. This leads me to the final stanza of the poem. Major news, as we observe it today, is filled with controversy surrounding ideas of citizenship. Clearly set borders, established by land, water, and war, have placed society into distinct groups. However, how does the world react when a changing climate and sea-level blur these borders beyond repair? Section 4 of the IPCC shows that the population exposed to sea-level rise is expected to increase by the millions across all continents (excluding Antarctica)—particularly in coastal and low level regions. However, since about one third of the global population lives in these regions,7 how will ideas of citizenship change once climate refugees become the majority?

As we move into the future and the inevitable begins to take form, I wonder how these narratives will begin to change with the tide. Not only this, but where will our wild counterparts end up? Will the rats learn to swim through the sunken subways, or will they be sent to Antarctica with the polar bears and penguins?




In this genus, we are all the same

No central nervous system to feel the pain

Yet still, there is a divide

Is it the knife penetrating my shell

Or their shell penetrating my mind?

As I lay in the New York Harbor

Will this feeling plague me any longer?

An oyster with spat, identical to mine

Is it wrong? Will I face time?

I’m willing to risk my bicarbonate

If it means finding my one true mate

Although the other mollusks give me hate and shame

It is this other oyster who knows my pain

Bonding on brackish coastal waters

I cannot contain my love any longer.

“Qoysters,” as you can probably tell, examines the angsty feeling of an oyster that is somehow different from the rest of their peers. However, how different is this oyster, really? A quick Google search tells us that all oysters are born male, and change to female after a year or so. So aren’t they all a little queer by nature? 

Anyways, according to the IPCC report “The release of heavy metals, particularly mercury, and other legacy contaminants currently stored in glaciers and permafrost, is projected to reduce water quality for freshwater biota, household use and irrigation.”8 Evidently, the impacts of rising temperatures are a global issue. Even though melting glaciers in the Arctic seem trivial to coastal cities in lower latitudes, coastal cities will have to endure risks such as flooding and further contamination. Consequently, developing nature-based solutions that may mitigate these risks towards water systems  are necessary for the immediate future. 

Although oysters are known for filtering water, heavy metals and pollution can significantly harm them and cause a potential decrease in oyster populations. Another major decrease in oyster population within New York waterways and beyond would have severe compounding consequences as we saw with the initial loss of oysters in our harbor. 




It’s December in New York

The most wonderful time of the year

The children are running amuck

Filled with holiday cheer

With their boots on tight 

And umbrellas put up

Protected against the elements 

With hot cocoa in their cup

Yet the picture is different this year around

Our jackets are open and boots made a rubber

Cocoa is nice but too hot for us now

Snows turned to rain and frosty is a puddle

There is no longer snow

Just humidity and rubble

Last year, and this year, and the year after next

The most wonderful time of the year

Is now officially a mess


DECEMBER looks at the changing feeling of New York City over the course of the past decade or so. With once somewhat consistent snowfall, each year in NYC has become less and less snowy with the last winter season being one of the all time least snowy.9 Currently, it is December in New York City, and what was once a time of snow and big jackets, this December we are experiencing intense downpours sandwiched between spring weather. The forecast has been a steady low 40s, mid 50s, and a whole lot of rain. This has occurred year after year and is becoming a growing trend across the globe. 

Just miles away from New York, Boston and the greater New England region have experienced significant loss of snowfall each year, making evident the changes in average global temperatures in recent years.10 This is cause for concern of the inevitable consequences of rising temperatures including wildfire, drought, and increases in other natural disasters. According to the IPCC, global surface temperature has increased by 1.1°C by 2011-2020 compared to 1850-1900. This increasing trend is predicted to stay consistent into the future, and potentially worsen with compounding effects. More localized data shows that New York’s thirty-year winter temperature average has increased by a full degree in the past decade.11 This, coupled with the urban heat island effect has meant less and less snow and much more rainfall for New York City winters. 




I cannot seem to sleep

I am so tired

Too hot, too cold

Yet my body is always wired

The neighborhood is collapsing

And my basement is flooding

My body is depleted 

But my mind is still running

Running from the inevitable

For a hope of the past

Escaping this wet and cold abyss

But thats all I will ever have

My dreams have grown scarce

Filled with sidewalks and silence

What once was so common

Is now a privilege of the past

I am ever so tired

With each passing day

But real sleep is no more

Just a way to waste away.


SLEEP is a foresight into a potential world where sleep is no longer comfortable. Inspired by the few examples of sleep in New York 2140 and their imagery, future sleep will become entirely for utility. Most references to sleeping in New York 2140 are never accompanied with feelings of rest or relaxation. Vlade sleeps at the lowest level of his building with pride continuing to maintain the building around him, while Mutt and Jeff, at least at the start, rest in a tent on a roof. Even once, in the story of Charlotte, the “pretense of sleep” is just a way to pass the night.

Yet, sleepless nights are to be expected in a world underwater. Constant fear of your building collapsing or the water rising would make it hard for anyone to get a good night’s rest. The unfortunate case however, is that many communities are already facing sleepless nights, and not due to their own actions. The IPCC states that climate change has impacted human and natural systems across the world with those who have generally least contributed to climate change being most vulnerable. Food insecurity, damage to water supplies, and adverse health impacts are currently most affecting low-income communities in most regions of the world while big contributors remain largely unaffected. This will only worsen in the coming decades as landlocked regions grow dryer and uninhabitable, and coastal regions (housing half of the global population) begin to flood. These climate refugees will meet somewhere in the middle, creating a lot of sleepless nights for the entire globe.




My pupils dilate to see

crawling virus, dust particles,

exhalation from power plants,

oxygen leaving the tissues,

the future. They are all

condensed in the particles

of sand slipping through

my fingers. I now know 

the world as I know 

my own home. But is

it too late?

They say the sixth extinction 

is catching up to us. Alas,

we are the modern-day 

dinosaurs. Do we share the

same fate? 

The wings of the 

the flying falcon burnout

the last sunset before 

late night extinction,

As I look towards the horizon

I see more birds disappear.  


VISIONS OF EXTINCTION adopts the setting of an island beach, to highlight the vulnerability of such locations, and its proximal exposure to all the expected outcomes of climate change (disease, flooding, and loss of infrastructure). It’s difficult to not hold feelings of dread and loss of control when thinking about the climate crisis at hand. Specifically, the destruction of infrastructure, higher prevalence of disease outbreaks, and increasing food security. The IPCC further notes the impacts on biodiversity, stating, 

The risk of species extinction increases with warming in all climate change projections for native species studied in hotspots (high confidence), being about 10-times greater for endemic species from 1.5°C to 3°C above pre-industrial levels (medium confidence). Very high extinction risk in biodiversity hotspots due to climate change is more common for endemic species than other native species (high confidence). For these endemic species, considering all scenarios and time periods evaluated, ~100% on islands, ~84% on mountains, ~12% on continents (medium confidence) and ~54% in the ocean (notably the Mediterranean) (low confidence) are projected to be threatened with extinction due to climate change.12

When we think about solutions, it often comes from anthropocentric desires and perceptions. Yet, the massive amount of species that will progressively be classified at risk is alarming. The IPCC notes that 100 percent of species endemic to islands will be at risk for extinction. Such a definite number, brings to question: are solutions futile? Yet again, it shows how our industrial innovations and exploitations have accumulated to a point at which it impacts species who have not participated in or benefitted from its existence. 




The sky cries tears of sand

The lungs inhale the waves of dunes.

Now carbon fertilizes my land. 

Have all my wells dried up? 

The heart beats to the pulse of the wind.

It giggles and sings dancing with the dust

flowing down the river. Invasive pests pinned

to the riverbed soak up the earth’s water.

How long will my prayers go unresolved?

If I turn back the clock, and shut my eyes,

the sun is still bright and the sand has dissolved. 

My eyelids rise, they inhale a yellow haze.  


The IPCC brings forth attention to arid regions that will experience tremendous disarray due to the impacts of climate change. These climates are found in regions of the Middle East, South East Asia, and North Africa. With increasing carbon emissions, such regions will experience issues such as exacerbated desertification. This will lead to reduced agriculture and loss of biodiversity. Additionally, elevated carbon levels will contribute to conditions that foster the arrival of invasive species. The IPCC also notes that over extraction in the region is also contributing to the loss of groundwater, further reducing biodiversity. 

The impacts on civilians in the region are emphasized, stating: “Dust storms were associated with global cardiopulmonary mortality of about 402,000 people in 2005. Higher intensity sand storms and sand dune movements are causing disruption and damage to transportation and solar and wind energy harvesting infrastructures.”13 Consequently, the poem wanted to highlight such issues from the perspective of an ordinary person who has been enduring dust storms. The scale of harm such storms have caused to individual health and wellbeing is glaringly disturbing. Furthermore, sectors such as transportation and commerce have been adversely impacted, disrupting a sense of community. Although such regions are not frequently highlighted in discussions of environmental disasters, the destruction endured by such areas should not be ignored.

  1. IPCC, 778.
  2. IPCC, 1942.
  3. IPCC, 77.
  4. Michael Kolomatsky, “New York City’s Most Expensive Neighborhoods,” New York Times, May 4, 2023.
  5. Alister Doyle, “U.N. urges world to slow extinctions: 3 each hour,” Reuters, August 9, 2007.
  6.  IPCC, 73.
  7. Lena Reimann, et. al., “Population development as a driver of coastal risk: Current trends and future pathways,” Cambridge Prisms: Coastal Futures, Cambridge University Press, January 31 2023.
  8. IPCC, 48.
  9. Francesca Paris, “Could This Be New York City’s Least Snowy Winter in Recorded History?” New York Times, March 24 2023.
  10. Katherine J. Wu, “Boston is Losing its Snow Wicked Fast,” The Atlantic, December 19 2022.
  11. Charlotte Elton, “New York City is about to set a snow-free record: Is climate change to blame?” EuroNews, January 24 2023.
  12.  IPCC, 2125.
  13. IPCC, 50.
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