She now lives in Manhattan, where Environment New York’s office is located. But, she said, she is still very much a Merokean at heart.
‘Running with hot coffee’
During her junior year at Geneseo, Leibowitz studied for six months at the University of Melbourne. While there, she backpacked for 13 days in the Outback, trekking across potentially perilous, rust-colored sands. Along the way, she encountered scorpions and, at one point, nearly stepped on a desert death adder, one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Her guide pushed her aside just in time.
“It was so exciting,” she said.
On the trek, she spent three days with the Aranda people, an aboriginal tribe. “The environment played such an enormous role in their existence,” Leibowitz said.
Seeing the Aranda people’s abiding love of nature, and how “civilized” society is rapidly encroaching on their world, she began to think more deeply about the environmental downsides of industrialization. She wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem, she said.
At Pace, Leibowitz interned at the United Nations, advising the Dominican Republic’s mission on environmental issues; at the Environmental Protection Agency’s New York City office; and at New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice — while also studying for the bar exam, which she passed last July.
“Most of [law school] was me running with hot coffee,” she said with a laugh.
At Environment New York, she is taking on the world’s biggest issue — climate change. She is campaigning to shut down coal- and oil-fired power plants, which annually emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, into the atmosphere, causing the Earth to warm. A hotter world, in turn, is causing Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets to melt into the oceans, raising sea levels and worsening monster storms such as Hurricane Sandy. Her parents’ Merrick home, she said, was flooded by Sandy’s massive ocean surge.