Sunday, December 26, 2004

Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Environmental Compromise is not Impossible: Quietly, and without much fanfare, this month a major compromise has occurred on the expansion of the Seneca Park Zoo and the contentions that it not extend into Seneca Park, which is an Olmstead Park. Many groups struggled responsibly and thoughtfully over this issue for several years and now a reasonable compromise has been made. RochesterEnvironment.com hails the efforts of so many citizens on both sides of the issue who made their case and the public officials who listened to their positions. What I learned from this struggle to keep the zoo from expanding into the zoo's parking lot and destroying Trout Pond is that it takes time, education of the issues, persistence by ordinary citizens, and an administration open to listening to its constituents to solve problems of development and conservation. Without these ingredients, there is merely a conflict in which one side wins and the other loses--which, on most environmental issues, means both sides lose. Read this amazing story by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

Friday, December 17, 2004

Study: Lilacs say spring is coming earlier - Rochester D&C

Democrat & Chronicle:: "Study: Lilacs say spring is coming earlier"

Global Warming is going to affect all communities, that's why it's 'global'. I'll track global warming's progress for Rochester, New York at http://rochesterenvironment.com/weather.htm

Survey sees decline in area bird-nesting - Rochester D&C

Democrat & Chronicle:

Endless Development

A local town supervisor, speaking to the media recently about the need for more development in an already-congested suburban area, stated “We’re supposed to grow. We can’t stand still.” I suspect that this refrain is repeated endlessly in the minds of most of our community officials and those governmental bodies shaping our public policies. The imperative to endlessly expand in order to maintain a healthy economy and develop our way out of our financial troubles is taken as a given. This economic expediency we have irresponsibly evolved is forever fortified by the rapacious cries of business people who, by the very natures of their vocations, need a pyramid-scheme-like patronage to sustain their enterprises.

We must ask ourselves the plainly obvious question: Is infinite growth, defined as building buildings and parking lots and roads, a fundamental economic goal? It is a simple but profound question that too few in positions of responsibility are interested in addressing. It is the question that once asked could bare our economic model to its greatest and most critical weakness. So here is the element of the question that needs answering, and despite how uncomfortable it makes our policy makers and implementers, we must ask it if we are to hand over to our children a viable future: Is there a limit to development? Do our community planners have a line that cannot be crossed?

At what point is there enough? In the economic system that now rules our lives, and regardless of what we have learned about Nature’s limitations, is out need for development boundless? In school our children have learned from their science teachers that their environment is very fragile, subject to and constantly changed by stress. We know that biomes (lakes, streams, meadows, mountainsides, tundra, forests, oceans, and even deserts) crash when they are over stressed. Even small changes, such as the loss of a single species within a biome, can alter a specific environment sufficiently to change all life within it. The loss of a key species, the otters on the West Coast of the United States a few years ago, disrupted all the plant and animals life on the shoreline. We know that, despite our technological advances, our survival depends on clean water, land that will support agriculture, and air unpolluted enough to breathe. And, we know that our way of life has compromised every biome it has been visited upon. So, why haven’t we built limits into our way of life? Why won’t we look at the problem of sustainability square in the face? Why haven’t we collectively addressed this question?

Is there a public official able or willing to answer this question? Anyone in authority? If we could find such a brave soul, what would they say? Will he or she say, “The evolutionary processes that have been going on for three billion years, and which of course are responsible for your very existence, will just take an about turn and comply with our economic and energy needs.” I don’t think so.
There will come a point when it is obvious (these points have probably already arrived, they just are not obvious yet to those who have willingly blinded themselves) that you cannot pave an entire city, dam every stream, pour anything you want into a body of water or into the air, and have as many stores and cars as you want. Neither our planet, nor its resources, nor its ability to recover from stress, are limitless. In fact, three billion years of evolution on this planet have made it, with almost infinitely small changes along the way, what it is today. Changes, like those we have wrought upon our planet, are not simply ignored by our environment—they define it. In other words, if you create a desert because of man-induced global warming, a desert, where there was once a fertile biome, is what you have. Nature does not understand a “Whoops, I did not mean to do that.”

Even developers are going to see a day when there are no more places to develop. Unlike their political cronies who owe them favors, Nature cannot be argued with, cajoled, or influenced in any way by words. You cannot take Nature out to lunch, or bribe it, browbeat it, or spin your version of events in the media. Stress a biome beyond its capacity to recover, and it breaks down. It is as easy as ABC. Even the most reluctant community will notice hospitals overflowing with outbreaks of disease, farmers who can no longer grow food, and a rapid rise in cancer rates from an industry that has left behind its waste. The only thing that is without limits in our environment is man’s desires and ability to avoid anything that detracts from those desires–that is, of course, until the walls come crashing down around him.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Democracy Now! | African Ecologist & Activist Wangari Maathai Awarded 2004 Nobel Peace Prize

Democracy Now! | African Ecologist & Activist Wangari Maathai Awarded 2004 Nobel Peace Prize

Watch and/or read the transcript of Wangari Maathai the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2004 | Nobel ceremony marked with drums, warnings

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2004 | Nobel ceremony marked with drums, warnings

We now have a world leader on how to solve the breath a scope of our environmental problems-- Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai. Note, the leader is not from the United States. The United States has failed, not only to be a leader on solving our environment, but actively undermines and thwarts, most of the world’s attempts to solve any environmental problems. Considering that the US causes most of the world’s pollution, this is a sad leagacy and makes real change impossible.

Yahoo! News - Weather Stalls Attempts to Contain Alaska Spill

Yahoo! News - Weather Stalls Attempts to Contain Alaska Spill
This story empathizes why it is so important that we free ourselves from oil dependence. These stories will always occur, with catastrophic loss of life and ecosystems. We will never be able to contain these kind of disasters, oil spills, any more than if we try and become dependant on nuclear power will we be able to prevent accidents. Windmill power may offend some people’s aesthetic sensibilities, but it won’t pollute and create the havoc that oil and nuclear power will.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Climate Change: Poor and Vulnerable Countries Demand Compensation

Climate Change: Poor and Vulnerable Countries Demand Compensation

The End of Green Solitaire.org

The End of Green Solitaire.org
& The Birth of Global Environmental Resources

You may have come across GreenSolitaire.org sometime in the last ten years. I would have to look through my journals to discover the first publication of my online environmental website, GreenSolitaire.org, but it was in the mid or late ‘90’s. It was my attempt to catalogue all the environmental activity on the web and use this new medium to help individuals all over the world to both inform themselves on the critical immediacy of our environmental problems and to do something about them. It was my belief, and many others that individuals with a computer and an Internet connection could make a difference. I say we were successful because the environmental movement has gained steadily in strength over the years because of information sharers online. It is impossible today to keep an environmental situation secret today because of the proliferation of environmental sites.

Besides, creating the Environmental Site Awards (where I roamed the Internet for useful sites that individual created to help online visitors help the environment and presented an award) and the Environmental Home Page Association (where I tried to collect many websites created by individuals and get them to work on a common goal that grew to over eighty sites) I networked with many individuals (teachers, students, governmental officials, and business people, and regular folks) to further help the Internet show the importance of environmentalism. I remember a rather crude study “Environmental Activism and The Internet” back in the last millennium by Clem White that attempted to track what environmentalist were doing on web, where that would be impossible today because so much is going on.

Now, the heady days of the beginning of the Internet and the online environmental movement seems kind of self-absorbed and absurd, as there are more environmental sites, of one kind or another, than one could imagine or even locate. You did not have to have credentials then, just an intellectual honesty to judge material and the doggedness to get it passed around the Internet as fast as possible. Back then, it was possible to believe that with so many connected individual who were willing to catalogue and provide so much information on our environmental problems, that we might be able to change how man treated his planet. I think we have done that. Despite Bush’s reelection in 2004, over 80% of American are concerned about our environmental matters—and rightly so.

Rather than a private enterprise, like writing a journal, working on GreenSolitaire.org (of which RochesterEnvironment.com began as single page on that site) was an attempt to share my thoughts and ideas on environmentalism with the public. As quasi-experiment that ran on for years, it convinced me that online environmentalism helps individuals convert to a reality-based outlook on life. There are links everywhere to individuals and groups who tell the story of environmental degradation that cannot be kept secret by self-powerful (they own most of the media) centered corporations and the advertisement-driven media. The preponderance of evidence that the Earth is getting less able to sustain human existence is overwhelming. I am sure, because of the GreenSolitaire.org’s long history (in terms of the Internet) that the site was, and now ‘is’ in its new transformation as Global Environmental Resources, connecting with a lot of individuals looking for more information on the state of our environment.

But, GreenSolitaire.org has come to an end, except as an adjunct to RochesterEnvironment.com. I will continue to catalogue and try to connect the dots online that there is a real world concern about our environment. The second Bush administration, with its belief that corporate survival is more important that environmental survival, is must be combated by information and evidence to the contrary. Individuals can help to spread the word online and make sure that not only the media and politicians frame the most important issue we face in this new century. I had many years of enjoyment doing GreenSolitaire.org. It was a format for sharing my thoughts about the environment that is something all humans desire, the need to be heard. And, to those who contacted me and shared my vision of the Internet as the ultimate whistleblower on our environmental problems, especially others like myself who tried to use the Internet to bypass all the misinformation others were giving the public, I thank you. –Frank J. Regan.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Environmentalism in the Next Four Years

The next four years will be a litmus test to see if environmentalists move away from restricting laws (like the Endangered Species Act) and towards market-based solutions that don't hurt American industry. The question that will be answered soon is whether environmentalists will conform to Bush’s perceived mandate on a market approach to solving environmental problems or stand firm and fight the administration.

It doesn't matter that the majority of American don't believe in Bush's environmental policies, because the American people forfeited their opinion when they reelected Bush. The majority’s understanding and concern about the environmental crisis has been co-opted by a government that sees its election victory as a total victory. However, like the Iraq invasion the Bush Administration’s policies are doomed to failure because they are not sustainable in the real world, and industry has never shown an inclination to conduct environmental safe practices for the good of anyone, except when it is perceived to be in their own self-interest.

So, we are no longer in a great human experiment as to whether man ways can be sustained by a strategy of benign indifference-that since the Industrial Revolution. We wanted industry, industry polluted, and some tired to show that this neglect could harm our ability to sustain our existence. We are now in direct contempt of what humankind as a whole has learned about the need for potable water, usable land, and breathable air. The market approach will work for industry, but there is absolutely no evidence that it will work for Nature.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Misfortune 100

Misfortune 100
Who has been polluting in your neighborhood? Can we trust our government to keep us informed on all the industries that are acting irresponsibly towards our enviornment?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Global Environmental Resources

Global Environmental Resources (originally called "Green Solitaire" is a project that began in 1998 to map all the Environmental Information online. Though it will never be complete, it provides all the online resources for individuals to monitor and help our environment. I've tried to organize these sites as simply as possible according to these groups.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Landfill problems

Trying to buttress our local economy with bad environmental solutions is going to be a constant threat in our future. An example of this conundrum are the attempts to 'save' Rochester and the fast ferry with casinos. We need comprehensive economic plans to construct strong and sustainable economic programs, not quick and chancy short-term solutions like gambling--which always bring with them a host of social and personal problems. The latest in environmental and economic quick-fixes is the Riga Landfill Plan to accept trash outside the community. Without commenting specifically on this plan to increase monies for Riga that offer residents tax breaks while they bring in more trash from around the country, I want to say that these kinds of solutions for economic growth and removing trash are incredibly short sighted. The sustainable solution to trash is recycling. Done properly, recycling can be a boon for manufacturing, creating job, and keeping our environment clean. Throwing more trash into the ground is always a bad solution (except for the land fill companies) because trash poisons the ground, the water and encourages more destruction of natural recourses instead of using our trash as a great potential for resources. As times get tough for more communities, there will always be these bad ideas, gambling and throwing more trash into the ground, and they will always be presented as the best solution, when they are not. Rochester has a lot more going for it than just another place to gamble and recycling is always a better idea than trashing.

Global Warming Has Arrived: Arctic Study

Global Warming Has Arrived: Arctic Study

This major study on Global Warming should concern you.

Study Links Ozone, Mortality in Urban Areas - Nov. 16, 2004 | Yale's Environment School | Press Release

Study Links Ozone, Mortality in Urban Areas - Nov. 16, 2004 | Yale's Environment School | Press Release
Smog is not good. Read the new study: Study links ozone, mortality in urban areas More people die daily in U.S. urban areas when the level of ground-level ozone is higher during the previous week, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “This is one of the largest ozone pollution studies ever conducted,” said Michelle Bell, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of environmental health at Yale’s environment school. --from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

My Thoughts

My Thoughts
The State of our environment after the 2004 Elections: It is clear that the 2004 presidential elections did not focus much on the state of our environment. The candidates hardly discussed our deteriorating environment and the media did not give us much of a snapshot of where we are in maintaining a sustainable environment. Moreover, it is clear that the Bush administration will consider corporate interests before the collected knowledge of environmental experts when instituting policy. Pretty weird when you think of the ultimate consequences of an environment gone bad. Like Carl Sagan said, “If you cannot drink the water or breathe the air, anything else you want to do isn’t going to happen.” So, with everything else going on—Iraq, taxes, Social Security, gay marriages, political wrangling, etc—in the next several years, there is probably not going to be much attention on our environment from the major media and our politicians. Does this all mean that our environmental concerns can be thrown on the backburner? I think not. Nature is not much influenced by our short-term, human priorities; it pretty much has its own agenda. If we wish to have a healthy environment, ordinary people are going to have to pay attention to environmental issues and get involved. They are going to have to actively look for environmental news and information (and then act) because the environmental news they get from the major medias and politicians will probably come too late to do anything about potential disaster. The pubic is going to have to share that information with those who do not think the health of our environment is important. There are now lots of places online to get crucial environmental information, but most of that is directed to the country or world at large. Here you are lucky: RochesterEnvironment.com is a conduit for all environmental information and online links to our specific community. However, it is only one component of keeping ourselves informed. We must demand that our media and our politicians focus on our environment so that next time our citizens get it. If not, all our other concerns will be on the backburner.