Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Media Really Does Matter


The Media Does Matter:


The media, that is, the way you get information about our environment and who you get it from really does matter. We are living in Exceptional Times, where anthropogenic (man-made) changes to the wholesale environment may jeopardize our children’s ability to survive in it.


Just think a moment about the news reporting on the frantic and irresponsible reporting on the buildup to the Iraq War ( Bill Moyers Journal . Buying the War . Additional Interviews PBS) and then look around you. Would our country be in the dire straits we are in the Middle East if our media had been responsible, free, unfettered, and doing their job properly?


So, is it with environmental matters, the media is not doing their job in informing us in an unbiased, intelligent, responsible way. Find out from Media Matters the problems surrounding the most salient (as there are many large environmental problems we are facing) and imminent environmental problem— Media Matters - Global Warming: Misinformation Action Center Get a sense of the way this critical issue is being manipulated by a biased press only concerned with making profits for their constituents.


Foremost, before we can even attempt to change how our society addresses the plethora of environmental issues facing us, we must educate ourselves about the facts, who to trust on getting those facts and who to trust on keeping us informed of the impacts or footprints of man on our environment. Enough politicking the environment, enough dodging the issues about our environment because you don’t think it’s important. If you don’t believe that Global Warming or pollution, the loss of biodiversity are important enough issues to you to pay attention to then We Don’t Get It!


And a good reason why we don’t get it is because we are not listening to the correct media, those who are doing their job independently of corporate influence and policies, and actually competently gathering the fact, connecting the dots, and reporting to the public.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Endangered Endangered Species Act


Craven and Reckless - The exposure of the changes that may be occurring to the Endangered Species Act 0f 1973 must chill the heart of anyone who cares about a sustainable environment. Check Inside the secretive plan to gut the Endangered Species Act – “Proposed regulatory changes, obtained by Salon.com, would destroy the "safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction," say environmentalists. By Rebecca Clarren.


Clearly any changes made to the Endangered Species Act must lean towards more the protection of those species we are driving to oblivion from our way of life. I believe this position hints of saving endangered species lay at the heart of a deep environmental ethic that suggests that the biological diversity around us is integral to the underpinnings of the environment we need to survive. Scientifically, there is no more proof to this position than there is against it, though any responsible governmental body must hold to the Precautionary Principle: where is it better to be safe than sorry when tinkering with a system as complex and vital as our environment. We will be sorry when we foolishly (for short-term gain) extinct a species we might well have needed to keep our environment together.


Forget about trying to convince others by showing them cuddly warm creatures, or preserving a wonderful forestry canopy, and think about three billions years of evolution that built the structure of our environment. We don’t have the scintilla of information we would need to allow a plant or animal (or bacteria for that matter) to go extinct.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Save our Environment, Save the Net


Act now to continue to get complete and unbiased environmental information - If you don't know about this developing issue on the Internet, Net Neutrality, it might seem at first like some obscure plea for your hard earned dollars. It's not. It's not about a donation and it's not about an obscure issue that will have little effect on your life. It's about your freedom to use the Internet as you wish: to start a business, communicate to whomever and however you want, to say and be heard by whatever audience you can make yourself heard. Those who took away the ordinary individual’s ability to send over the radio and television are now trying to take charge over those who can freely use the Internet.


This concern is especially important as the Internet becomes the medium of choice for entrepreneurs and how the public receives information for future—and as most of the other media mediums blend into the Internet with the fantastic bandwidth of fiber optics. If you are truly concerned about your fundamental right to chose who you communicate to and from, learn about Net Neutrality and connect with those hoping to preserve the freedom of the net.


As environmental issues pile up in these extraordinary times, it is more important than every that you have the opportunity to listen to as many voices as possible on the environmental issues we face and possible solutions to those problems. Not a corporate giant who interests might, in their opinion, be in jeopardy. In my opinion, the only way you’ve been able to get continual and comprehensive information on the state of our environment in the past several years is through the Internet because only environmental groups and small dedicated informational services have had the insight and tenacity and freedom to pursue the information we need most: that which accurately and continually informs us on the state of our environment.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Carbon Feedback:


The niggling feeling that climate change watchers have is that because our weather system is so complex [ note the butterfly effect] that it is almost impossible with any precision to give an accurate model of how man-made greenhouse gases are affect any particular area and, objectively, what kind of changes are being observed. On that note: from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) CarbonTracker – “CarbonTracker is a system that calculates carbon dioxide uptake and release at the Earth's surface over time. It estimates the carbon dioxide exchange from an 'atmospheric point of view'. Since CO2 mole fractions in the atmosphere reflect the sum of all the CO2 exchange at the surface, they form the ultimate record of the combined human and natural influence on greenhouse gas levels.”


One can imagine that over time it will be possible to find out what areas are experiencing the most climate change, making it possible to construct global warming policies around objective data. Go on the tour of NOAA’s CarbonTracker site and give them feedback. Our city is not yet on their map, so send them your suggestions, and maybe we’ll be able to track carbon emission accurately and objectively for our area. --Here's what NOAA says: "Why do we need CarbonTracker? Scientists ability to predict future climate; states, counties, and cities ability to monitor their CO2 budget; and everyone's ability to make the best usage of resources given estimated risks STRONGLY depends on improving the understanding and quantification of CO2 sources and sinks."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Highlights of the March 2007 RENewsletter:


* Hottest issue this month of March 2007: My vote for the biggest environmental story for our area this month is Earth Day. Go to RochesterEnvironment.com/calendar and check out all the Rochester-area environmental events. There are programs (like the 9th Environmental Forum by the Sierra Club on keeping the small Finger Lakes pristine), conferences (Like the U of R Sustainability Conference), clean-ups of important biological areas (like Irondequoit Bay) and even a “StepItUp2007” demonstration on Twelve Corners in Brighton. If you don’t know about the world-wide Earth Day Demonstration by Bill McKibben about upping our commitment to curbing Global Warming then, surf over to http://www.stepitup2007.org/ and learn about it. It would be great if you and ten others you know stopped over on April 14th, from 2 to 4 PM at Twelve Corners in Brighton and helped put Rochester, NY on the map. I will be there adding to the numbers of individuals from Rochester to want to raise their voice for Climate Change.


* Other Hot Environmental issues this month: Big this month on the Rochester environment scene is pollution, with a major breakout in Victor, NY. But, there are other stories about pollution in our Great Lakes and how some major companies are cleaning up their act. VHS or Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia is still making news all over the Great Lakes, so much so that I’ve created a page that chronicles the news articles from beginning to present on the discovery where you can see the dept and breath of this invasive, viral, fish disease at <http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/vhs_news_links.htm> Also, we are finding that Monroe County and one of our great universities (the University of Rochester) is the epicenter of research and prevention for the possible pandemic flu. A recent test at the Dome Arena shows Rochester is actually preparing and not just talking. Energy development, in the form of wind, fuel cells and ethanol, is shaping our environmental and our economy. Sounds more and more like the Rochester area is going to be a leader in renewable energy research--good place for future workers to come. And more stores about land being set aside for environmental preservation, this time in southern Canandaigua. In this vein, don’t miss the Sierra Club's Rochester Regional Group’s 9th Environmental Forum, on the preservation of Hemlock/Canadice Lakes http://newyork.sierraclub.org/rochester/9th_environmental_forum.htm>


* The silent stories [important stories we didn't hear much about]: Finally, I’m seeing a story in the Rochester area about the looming Bee Colony Collapse Syndrome. I’ve been following this story around the county and finally this story is showing up and educating the public in this area about this potential threat to our apple industry and other agricultural products that are pollinated by bees. Let me be clear: no bees, no apples. Something else that I personally think is a great story is one out of City Newspaper: “In its proposed new five-year plan, the Genesee Transportation Council has included $7 million worth of bicycle and pedestrian improvements.” I don’t know all the details, but I have contacted the GTC long ago about connecting the plethora of Rochester bike trails so that as many as Rochester commuters as possible can use our bike trails for getting to work. My wife just changed jobs so she could bike to work and I believe many would use this non-polluting, healthy way to work if it was feasible. First, you have to get your head around the idea of not jumping into a car to get to work, but when you do, Rochester may have some connecting trails for you to ride. Finally, the drafting of a bill by one of our state senators to curb the use of plastic bags in stores caught my attention because plastic bags are such a litter problem. Maybe the solution is reusable shopping bags that one of our largest stores is adopting.


* On-Going Concerns: My latest and greatest concern is for neighboring communities who are confronted with wind farms (and there are a couple of stories on this, this month) is for them to see the Big picture: that our communities should not have a public discussion of the implementation of wind farms unless they consider climate change and that they are now using a very pollution and global warming energy source as they discuss this issue. I fear that in many communities wind farms will be ruled or moratoriumed out because the public will not even consider the Bigger issues—as if they are not part of the world community. Too often wind farms are dismissed because they might hurt birds or bats and ruin the aesthetic appeal, or the noise, or the flicker effect, or the disruption, or the whatever. The concerns of the anti-wind farm people are important, but the must be placed in the context of our planetary climate change. And, there are answers to the objections of wind farms, one of the most salient being that more cats kill birds than a country filled with wind farms might. If the issue is saving birds, place a moratorium on letting pet cats wander outside to do what they do best, pounce on birds at birdfeeders. The number of birds killed this way runs in the tens of thousands per year. And, countries like Germany, where a large percent of their energy comes from wind, loves how they look on their countryside. Just because a coal-fired energy plant is not at your doorstep doesn’t mean it isn’t having a profound environmental effect on our environment.


* Environmental Actions you can take for our area: The most important environmental actions you can take this month is to participate in one of the environmental events listed on <http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/calendar.htm> our calendar, the most updated and comprehensive environmental calendar for Rochester, NY.


* Environmental events going on this month: Just as individual e-mails don’t raise any red flags when one of us e-mails our public officials, a lone person standing on the corner demanding that our country do something about global warming won’t have much effect. But, a lot of e-mails, tens of thousands, will get noticed by your political official, believe me. And, the local “StepItUP2007” program will put a lot of people on the corner demanding that we do something about global warming. The media is drawn like bugs to large gatherings of any kind. So, Check this out: A Rochester-area Step it up 2007 Earth Day Event- MARCH TO CALL FOR BOLD ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE - April 14th, from 2 to 4 PM at Twelve Corners in Brighton. - http://www.stepitup2007.org/ -Step it Up is a campaign to raise awareness and call on Congress to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The technology exists today to make the necessary cuts in emissions, but legislation and funding are necessary to put this technology into practice. Come join us to make the biggest possible statement to Rochester and our local leaders that addressing Climate Change should be a top priority. For more information contact: Keri A. Kaminsky kakaminsky@frontiernet.net or kakaminsky@yahoo.com


* Rochester-area Environmental Site of the Month: Pathways to a Sustainable World -Conference on Sustainability - April 13, 14 University of Rochester - "This conference will bring the greater Rochester community together to explore critical issues in creating a truly sustainable world. Communication and education are essential to understand the challenges we face to create the world we want. The conference will highlight inspiring talks by innovators proposing solutions across a wide range of areas, including education, ecology, economics, social policy, arts, and science. It specifically aims to support positive change at the local and regional level, strengthening community and encouraging local economies. It will be a forum for discussion and interaction in which we will share our knowledge and skills, and be inspired and motivated towards creating a genuinely sustainable world.