Friday, August 31, 2007

Got Recycling Ideas?


Many churches, schools, and other organizations are beginning to realize that institutions or gathering places are a great opportunity to not only educate their patrons on the importance of recycling, but to help in the effort themselves.


One of the most popular ideas is church groups and schools providing receptacles for collecting batteries that are difficult for a single household to recycling, but easy for a large organization to accumulate enough and to send to the proper place. A sample company that help organizations recycle is http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/ .


And, of course, many groups realize that collecting printer cartridges are a money maker. Got some ideas of your own?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reducing Waste


Reducing Waste should be a primary goal for this new century, the Environment Century as E.O. Wilson coined it. One great idea, and there are many, is a story coming out of Binghamton, NY.


Maybe our county can adopt something like this: Compost bins available "Binghamton – The Broome County Division of Solid Waste Management is launching a home composting program to enable residents to care for the earth in their backyards and reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill." (August30, 07) New York State News on the Net!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NYS Energy Plan:


As a planner myself, it’s good to know the road ahead.


Energy use in our country is becoming a critical issue, given blackouts and Global Warming, and it’s important that you know what our political leaders are planning for the future. Whether you agree with the governor or not, you should at least know the plan.


Too little about wholesale energy plans are mentioned in the media, so I’m posting our governor’s energy plan for New York State, from a speech made in April: “15 by 15” A Clean Energy Strategy for New York "First, by 2015, we will decrease the demand for power by 15 percent from forecasted levels through efforts to increase energy efficiency. Second, we will increase the supply of power in an environmentally sustainable way by implementing a clean power plant siting law and investing in clean energy production." - from New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer Speeches

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Reminder that it’s West Nile Virus season now.


You can review what you can do to prevent this new invasive disease on our West Nile Virus page.


Most important is to remember that dead birds, especially crows, should be reported to Monroe County so they can assess the threat this summer of West Nile Virus.


To report a dead crow, go to this Monroe County website: Public Health Monroe County, NY ---Also read: West Nile poses a threat, despite dry weather - Rochester, NY - MPNnow With an unusually dry summer slowly winding down, prime season for West Nile virus is here, officials say.


So far, there have been no reports of the disease in either Monroe or Ontario counties, but Monroe County Department of Health spokesman John Ricci said the threat heightens at the end of August and early September. (August 24, 07) Messenger Post Newspapers

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Denying Global Warming:


Considering that this issue is arguably the most important concern of our new century, that manmade climate change is going to dramatically change the climate on this planet, it would be good to have all of us on the planet on the same page.


But, that’s going to be difficult when so many deny that Global Warming is even happening. When most of the climatologists agree that Earth is showing signs of warming up because of manmade interference, why do so many deny it? What are their arguments? Do they hold any merit? Why do so many cling to dismissing the accumulative results of thousands of scientific studies on such an important issue when immediate wholesale planetary action is necessary?


Given that the Global Warming issue is not a belief system or a political ideological thing, why do so many keep arguing against what has been proven to the majority of climatologists to be true? Without a vast majority of humanity “Getting it” on the immediacy and importance of the problem before us, how can any kind of solution begin? That is, if we don’t convince the naysayers who don’t even believe in manmade Global Warming, we are not going to solve this problem.


There’s no way we can begin serious attempts at either conservation or new energy solutions because most still resist that we have a problem that warrants such dramatic change. It would be trying to get someone standing before a lake of pristine water to conserve, when lifetimes of freshwater lay before her. Your anxiety wouldn’t make sense to her. So, what’s up? Why can’t humanity get together on this? Why, after years of scientific inquiry and sound data on the matter, are so many unconvinced? These are questions that Newsweek attempts to answer: Global-Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine - Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com

We Don’t Have to Machinegun Our Lakes.


Just when you thought the government seemed hell-bent on something as reckless and environmentally unfriendly (remember lead bullets mean lead poisoning (that’s why we have laws against using lead sinkers anymore)) as using live machine gun fire on the open Great Lakes, they come up with something sensible.


How many other crazy and environmental detrimental things are we doing (like drinking billions of gallons of water from plastic bottles that don’t get recycled when most city in the US have not only an adequate water supply, but a federally mandated safe one?


This story quietly mentioned in another city’s newspaper highlights how when the public demands some sense and sensibility on safety and environmental matters, our government miraculously comes up with some reasonable solutions. Coast Guard tries lasers as a live-fire alternative- mlive.com The U.S. Coast Guard caused an uproar last year when it proposed training with live machine guns on the Great Lakes. (August 23, 07) MLive.com: Everything Michigan

The Bottled Water Issue:


I suppose by now you have heard of the growing concern about the bottled water industry. Is this issue simply a lifestyle issue or an environmental one?


From what I have been hearing, bottled water is not a good thing for the environment. It cost a lot (more than you would ever pay for gasoline) only 20% of the plastic bottles get recycled, thus creating a massive waster problem, and bottled water is not discernable better than (and probably is) tap water.


Find out more about this important issue here: "Bottled Water: Pure Water or Pure Hype? Your bottled water comes from pure mountain springs, right? Or a glacier, or pristine forest, untouched by human hands? More than half of all Americans drink bottled water; a third of us drink it regularly. And while you might not entirely believe the marketing hype, you kind of think you’re getting something better than what comes out of the tap.But that’s not necessarily true." --from Simple Steps

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Recycling Ideas


Recycling ideas are always good. For recycling to work and be sustainable entrepreneurs should produce products from recycled goods and maybe someday we won’t be trashing anything and poisoning our environment.


Now you can recycle trip trash - The authority placed recycling containers for glass, plastic, newsprint and aluminum cans at six of the Thruway's busiest travel plazas last week. The closest one to Rochester is the Pembroke Travel Plaza in Genesee County, accessible from eastbound lanes just east of Exit 48A. (August 21, 2007) Democrat & Chronicle

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Solving Invasive Problems


This story about VHS describes perfectly how difficult it is going to be to curb the problem of invasive species and disease in the Great Lakes because ultimately without public support all the regulations and laws in the world won’t stop this kind of disease spread.


Like the spread of Zebra Mussels and even HIV, it only takes a single carrier to infect another lake or person. Prevention, making sure that diseases like VHS don’t get into our waters seems to be the best solution and many communities are working on that—though again single communities, or in the case of the Great Lakes even a single state or country will not stop another state of country with lax laws from invasive species spreading.


We now live in a world where invasive species and disease move rapidly around the world and because of so many private and public interests, like the fishing industry, it’s going to be very difficult to find solutions to these problems without severely affecting various industries (like the bait industry in connection with VHS) and losing their cooperation with overtrick rules and regulations.


My point? We are living in a complicated environmentally fragile world where world cooperation is vital. And, we are a long way from that.


Green Bay Press-Gazette - Area anglers resist permanent controls for fish virus Sunset clause requested for proposal to fight VHS - A proposal to make permanent measures designed to control and prevent the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS virus, drew concerns at a public hearing Monday night in Green Bay. The proposed rule, identical to the current emergency rule, affects anglers, boaters, bait dealers, fish dealers and commercial fishermen. (August 21, 2007) Green Bay Press-Gazette

Another Hitch for Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power is not a good idea for a long-term energy solution for various reasons—the trouble with dealing with nuclear waste, possible terrorist site, health effects in a radiation leak, enormous cost of insuring—but France, which supplies its country with 80% of its energy needs with nuclear power highlights another problem with nuclear energy: NPR : Heat Spells Trouble for France's Nuclear Reactors "Morning Edition, August 21, 2007 · France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Once a nuclear plant is built and running, the power station doesn't emit greenhouse gases. But as summers in Europe get hotter, an unexpected hitch has emerged. Many French reactors have had trouble operating during hot spells."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sierra Club Annual Fund Raiser


Sierra Club Fall Festival And Fun Raiser

Saturday, September 29th, 5pm – 9pm at Tay House* Nature Discoveries: Pictures of a Lifetime <http://newyork.sierraclub.org/rochester/discoveries.htm>

Featuring outstanding nature photos from around the world and talk by Peter Debes, naturalist. Also see an advanced film trailer on Hemlock Lake from an upcoming movie. Wine & cheese, light supper, desert & coffee, nature show all for only $10. Have you ever wanted to see the Galapagos, the blue-crowned motmot of Trinidad, Sicily in Spring?

On Saturday, September 29th, Sierra Club will hold our annual fall festival and fund raiser featuring nature photos and a talk by Peter Debes, an outstanding nature photographer, naturalist and lecturer. Peter will not only show his breathtaking pictures shot during his many “Nature Discovery” expeditions to various parts of the world but he will also include educational and environmental commentaries and stories.
The annual fall festival on Saturday, September 29th starts with wine, cheese, light supper, desert, coffee and friendly sharing with fellow environmentalists. At about 6:15pm we will be treated to the first showing of a trailer from a film now in production on Conesus and Hemlock Lakes being shot by Chris Williams, local film maker.
Following this Peter Debes will show his photos and give an educational talk. All this is only $10 per ticket or $25 for larger families. Wine, cheese, soft drinks, light supper starting at 5pm. Desert, coffee and shows start about 6:15pm.
Ticket information: Checks can be made out to Sierra Club and sent to PO Box 39516, Rochester, N.Y. 14604 or payment can be made at the door, but RSVP if paying at the door by calling Sierra Club 234-1056 to reserve your supper.
* Directions to Tay House Lodge at Cobbs Hill Park -From South Winton Road: turn west toward the city at Temple Beth El (corner S. Winton and Hillside Ave.) Continue three blocks to School #1 on Hillside Ave. Tay House is behind the School. Parking available near Tay House. From Culver Road: Take Cobbs Hill Park road (Norris Drive) through Cobbs Hill Park. At the Monroe County Water Authority branch right on to Hillside Ave. and look for School #1. Tay House is behind School #1.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Voting Green:


While RochesterEnvironment.com’s prevue is not the political arena, there is no doubt now that environmental matters are political. It did not used to be this way. It’s sad that this should be so because the Republican, the Green Party, and the Democrats will all be affected by environmental degradation—regardless of their platform.


Anyway, it’s important now to see that each party is competing to be more ‘green’ than each other. This, because our environmental matters are so dear, is important and worthy of our attention. During all the decisions and debates and the mind-numbing analysis of political pundits who have rarely hear the word ‘environment’, it’s important that we the electorate do pay attention to what our potential political leaders understand about our environment and what they plan to do. Especially, on a local level, we should be aware of environmental politics in our region.


Democrats set green goals - Energy, recycling initiatives proposed for Monroe County — The Democratic minority in the Monroe County Legislature is pitching new ways the county can expand its green-energy initiatives, such as establishing a recycling commission and having renewable energy purchasing procedures. The set of five proposals released this week in a recycled paper handbook is the latest policy rollout by Democrats as they look to pick up seats in the legislature on Election Day, Nov. 6. Republicans hold a 17-12 edge over Democrats on the 29-member legislature. (August 18, 2007) Democrat & Chronicle

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Should Be Shocked


Good science demands that the environment be broken up into ‘specialized’ areas that can be assessed accurately and made testable. Too much information or, more exactly, trying to study too broad an area (like the entire Great Lakes) can overwhelm any attempts to produce useable data. But, this intrinsic feature of good science also means that we get an unclear model of what’s actually going on because reality is far too big and ‘messy’ to get a clear picture of what is actually going on—a sort of professional myopia that refuses to see beyond what can actually be proven by scientific studies ultimately denying what we see before us.


Several articles and report highlight this problem: The Democrat and Chronicle article Tests show more tainted beaches; "Up To the Gills" by Environmental Defence; the recent sport fish report by the New York State Department of Health “Chemicals in Sport fish and Game 2007-2008," and “Pollution-Related Beach Closings and Advisories Climb in 2006” by National Resources Defense Council—just to name a few. Just by themselves, these reports show that we have cleaned up our beaches from previous years and also show some probable toxic contamination of some specific fish species based on testing. (Not to mention the rapidly spreading fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), an invasive species killing sport fish in the lake that we have failed to control.)


But, (and here’s my point) few official agencies come out and give us the big picture. Over the last couple of centuries of human influence, we have mostly destroyed the water conditions of the largest fresh water supply in the world. We are blinded by this conclusion by the nature of science itself and our media. This collapse has taken so long that each generation takes for granted the incremental disintegration of the lakes—unable to see the wholesale, multi-generational degradation. Like the parable of the three blind men examining separate parts of an elephant, none is able to describe the entire beast because none of them can ‘see’ the entire beast.


Our scientists, public officials, and the media are often like those blind men, who cannot say for sure what the studies ‘prove’ about the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. Nevertheless, any reasonable person looking at all the reports about the horrific state of our beaches, the contaminations in our waters, the accumulated toxins in our fish, and the spread of invasive diseases must conclude that we really have a problem ‘seeing’ the state of our Great Lakes. The reports are not simply warnings that our Great Lakes environment is getting bad: The idiot lights have gone off, the biological machinery is about to shut down, and we may be long past the point of fixing it.


Pointing out that our beaches are a little bit better than a few years ago and listing how many of the fish in the Great Lakes we can safely eat is absurd. Think about it. It’s absurd because somehow we think we can keep tinkering away at our relationship with the Great Lakes, like keeping an old car on the road that keeps breaking down. We cannot see that the reports above indicate a wholesale breakdown of one of the world’s great ecosystem, where soon none of the fish will be eatable and no one will be able to swim. We keep thinking that our way of living mandates that we release a certain amounts of contaminants in the water with our sloppy anti-pollution measures (where human waste must go into the lake in heavy storms) and we can delay an aggressive anti-invasive species act.


We act collectively as if we can demand Nature to compromise with us: that we will do without some of the pleasures of the Great Lakes (like not being able to eat the fish) if we can still filter the water and drink it. But Nature doesn’t compromise and there’s no inherent bias towards mankind. Nature, for all our poetic insights, is merely a mindless, biological algorithm. We are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: Our Great Lakes health is in trouble and we cannot see the danger signs because we demand an official death certificate by agencies that are incapable of such a farseeing, compressive evaluation. Our scientists only see parts: water quality in specific areas, toxins in specific fish, the pollution at specific beaches, which all gives the public the illusion that we are on top of the health of the Great Lakes. We are not. Really think about the condition of the Great Lakes now as compared with three or four centuries ago.


Here is a more reasonable assumption about the reports coming out about the state of our Great Lakes: When you have to evaluate the pollution in each beach each day, something is dreadfully wrong. (Some districts on the Great Lakes pride themselves that they don’t need to test and thus never close their beaches, foolishly believing that if they don’t ask Nature won’t tell (i.e. come back with health problems). When you have to severely restrict eating of sport fish because of contamination, it’s reasonable to assume that toxic pollution is so pervasive in the Great Lakes that all the top predators in the lake are so filled with contamination that all their numbers may soon collapse.


In short, we are missing the point of these reports. Yes, we can monitor our beaches and decide one day to swim and not another, we can restrict the fish we eat and who eats them, and because we have alternatives—like swimming in our own swimming pools, or buying fish from the local markets--the message that we have dramatically altered the Great Lakes ecology gets lost. It’s more than just a life-style issue, we should be aghast at the state of our beaches, we should be demanding that our government get the waters cleaned up so we can swim safely—even if we have a pool or don’t care to swim at all. If our beaches are too unhealthy to swim in that is signal that we’ve allowed pollution to go to far. It cannot be acceptable to monitor something as vastly complex as a beach in the Great Lakes ecosystem daily.


We should be shocked at what we’ve done to the Great Lakes and we are not.

New Film as Environmental News


I don’t often suggest movies on RochesterEnvironment.com, especially ones I have not seen yet. But in these days of media transition, film often fills a gap in our major media—a media not inclined to pursue the health of our environment, but the health of corporations. That is the tragedy of these extraordinary times because besides all the other world-wide tragedies going on, the peril of our troubled environment should be at the foremost.


In fact we should be stopping all wars and focusing on this alone. Why aren’t we? If our environmental problems are so great, why aren’t our media barraging us everyday (like RochesterEnvironment.com) on this issue? It’s a good question. Why has the health of our environment become a partisan issue and not the concern of all? These are questions The 11th Hour tries to answer.


Check it out and listen to this short interview with the writers and co-producers of this film on Democracy Now!---Democracy Now! The 11th Hour: Hollywood Documentary Takes on Environmental Crisis of a World on the Brink "The 11th hour" is a new feature-length documentary on the extent and gravity of the global environmental crisis and its impact on human life as we know it. It describes this present moment as the very last when change is possible and features suggestions for restorative action from prominent figures around the world. The film is produced and narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and includes interviews with Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai, physicist Stephen Hawking, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and environmentalist Bill McKibben. "The 11th hour" opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Environmental Education


**ACTION** - The biggest change in the public’s attitude about our environment may well come from increasing the focus of education our children on our environment. Here’s a great proposal by Audubon: Take Action: Make Environmental Education a National Priority "Audubon has been working to enhance environmental education in our country for more than 100 years. Please join us in supporting critical legislation to increase funding for environmental education to levels that we haven't had in decades! We need every member to contact their legislators asking them to support the inclusion of environmental education in the No Child Left Behind Act as proposed in the No Child Left Inside Act."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Coal in Rochester's Future


Seeing how Rochester’s future energy needs will probably be met (without much fanfare or debate) by coal. RG&E PROPOSES REDEVELOPMENT OF RUSSELL STATION POWER PLANT SITE. Except for an article in April 2007—“RG&E to pump $500 million into Greece plant” - April 20, MSNBC.com—there has not been much play in our local media about a major development in our area’s energy supply—coal.


For all that we personally do to curb Global Warming, what goes on quietly in the background and out of public attention will probably have a far more significant affect in our area’s release of green house gases than anything we do. In a recent New York Times article, in the business section no less, “Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process”, it looks like the coal lobbyists are winning. Perhaps we should inform ourselves what a coal future might bring.


Check out Living On Earth’s series of reports on how coal’s future looks: Living on Earth: Generating Controversy: The Changing Climate of Coal

Monday, August 06, 2007

July 2007 RENewsletter

July 2007 RENewsletter -- RENewsletter has a new format. Starting this month, you can view the July 07 RENewsletter in PDF format where you can either print it out or view it online. You’ll need Adobe Reader on your browser to read this newsletter, and I assume most people have that now. If not, surf over to and download it.

If you print this newsletter it will be much easier to read, but it won’t have any of the important links that make this newsletter a dynamic Internet document with hundreds of crucial links. Especially important, this month’s environmental news links July 07, the “Updates-July 07” column, events, actually taking action on the “Action” items, and surfing over to the “Site of the Month” won’t be possible unless you view this newsletter online.

I have created easy links to each of the above, so you can quickly skim the articles and go online to the source (if it still exists, otherwise you may have to order the article from that news service). Or, in the case of events and actions, the link will send you to my calendar, which will be updated daily, and actions that change by the day—making this newsletter more dynamic. (go to, page 2) I’ve changed the newsletter this way to make it easier to read and give it a more professional look, while trying to accommodate most e-mail firewalls and reduce download times.

I realize that this newsletter takes in a lot—all of the environmental news, actions, events, and a summary for the whole month. I don’t expect everyone to read every news link or Daily Update, but to skim over them quickly and sometimes zero in on particular items so that instead of checking our area’s environmental news every day, you can easily find out about the critical environmental issues once a month.