Wednesday, April 30, 2008

'Citizen scientists' watch for signs of climate change | csmonitor.com

'Citizen scientists' watch for signs of climate change csmonitor.com: "People with no formal training are helping scientists track and record birds, fish, stars, and plants in their neighborhoods online."

FJR: It seems to me that because Climate Change will be a world-wide phenomenon, everyone everywhere will be able to notice the change. This isn’t an exercise for those with nothing to do, Climate Change should be on everyone’s radar. And, compiling everyone’s observations under the scrutiny of scientist will give us a better picture of what is happening and how we might best adapt to that change. Only makes sense for such a smart species as ours not to avoid the most important thing going on this century.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Climate Registry

The Climate Registry: "The Climate Registry is a nonprofit partnership developing an accurate, complete, consistent and transparent greenhouse gas emissions measurement protocol that is capable of supporting voluntary and mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting policies for its Members and Reporters. It will provide a verified set of greenhouse gas emissions data from its Reporters supported by a robust accounting and verification infrastructure."

CITY IS FOUNDING REPORTER OF THE CLIMATE REGISTRY

CITY IS FOUNDING REPORTER OF THE CLIMATE REGISTRY: "Takes Action as Green Leader on Climate Change

Mayor Robert J. Duffy today announced that, as a result of a recommendation of the Mayor’s “Green Team,” the City of Rochester has become a Founding Reporter of The Climate Registry. The Climate Registry is a non-profit group established to measure and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in an accurate and transparent manner consistent across industry sectors and borders. The founders of the organization include thirty-nine U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, three Native American tribes, two Mexican states and the District of Columbia."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Plant A Billion Trees - one dollar at a time - with The Nature Conservancy

Plant A Billion Trees - one dollar at a time - with The Nature Conservancy

You can help reforest The Atlantic Forest, one of the biggest and most endangered tropical forests in the world. Join the Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign, where one dollar plants one tree, and you'll also help restore 2.5 million acres of land.

Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears - New York Times

Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears - New York Times: "CIVITAVECCHIA, Italy — At a time when the world’s top climate experts agree that carbon emissions must be rapidly reduced to hold down global warming, Italy’s major electricity producer, Enel, is converting its massive power plant here from oil to coal, generally the dirtiest fuel on earth."

Pine beetle infestation leads to greenhouse gas

Pine beetle infestation leads to greenhouse gas: "Insect kills trees that absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, April 24, 2008
The tiny mountain pine beetle has transformed British Columbia's vast pine forests into a major source of greenhouse gases, federal scientists say.
By the time the unprecedented infestation ends, the rice-sized beetles will have killed so many trees that an extra billion tonnes of carbon dioxide will be wafting through the atmosphere, researchers from the Canadian Forest Service report in the journal Nature today."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Metro: Bike There! map on Google Earth

Metro: Bike There! map on Google Earth: "Bike There! map on Google Earth
Maps and data › Products › Maps › Bike There! map › Bike There! map on Google Earth
Fly across the Portland, Oregon metropolitan region as you view the bike map in this 3-D simulation."

FJR - One of the best ideas that I have come across for saving fuel is biking there. Imagine when you are going someplace in Rochester, you bring up Google Maps and find the best bike route to your destination. It's a great idea and these people in Portland, Oregon have figured out a way to get this idea going.

Is there someone out there in Rochester land who knows who to design this kind of feature for Rochester, using Google maps. Best of all would be to have Google have a bike route alternative to all its online maps. I hope someone will pursue this idea. There was an online action a couple of months ago to get Google, a great environmental corporation, to implement a bike route feature in its maps, but I have not heard anything about this effort.

Got any news or info on this? Contact me, FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com

This is a smart idea for bike riders in Rochester:


**EVENT** - Rochester Bicycling Club » Savvy Cyclist Class - May 3rd The NY Bicycling Coalition Presents a FREE Savvy Cyclist Class Saturday, May 3rd 11-4pm St Paul Blvd Fire District 433 Cooper Rd Rochester, NY 14617


Open to all riders (or aspiring riders) – 14 years of age or older This course provides information on the vehicle and traffic laws of NYS and how they apply to bicyclists. We will cover common collision scenarios and how to avoid them, discuss safe riding techniques and provide lights and other resources to keep bicyclists safe on the streets.


Whether you are a new or experienced cyclist, our Road I class gives cyclists the confidence needed to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail and prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling. Please RSVP to David Lamb 585-733-3604 / dlamb@rochester.rr.com We look forward to seeing you there! Brought to you through the support of: Maggie Brooks County Executive, Monroe County Office of Traffic Safety Funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee New York Bicycling Coalition, http://www.nybc.net/ Rochester Bicycling Club, http://www.rochesterbicyclingclub.org/ American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure, www.diabetes.org/tour

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Right Thing to Do --- RGRTA announces drop in bus fare

The cost of riding a bus in Rochester will soon be the lowest it's been in nearly two decades.
Today RGRTA announced bus fares will be lowered to just one dollar. Right now it costs $1.25. Director Mark Aesch says because of soaring gas prices ridership is way up and that's how they're able to lower bus fares. More strategic bus routes are also helping out.

FJR: There's a right way to handle a gas crisis and a wrong way. Above is the right way, lower public transportaion fares and tweak the system to accomodate more people. The wrong way would be to lower gas taxes, which the public needs, and which would encourage more people to by more inefficient gas vehicles.


Good move by the RGRTA and the City of Rochester.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Science Friday Archives: Bat Die-Off Mystery

Science Friday Archives: Bat Die-Off Mystery: "Wildlife experts are trying to determine what's causing hibernating bats in the Northeast to die en masse. The condition has been dubbed 'white-nose syndrome,' after a white fungus seen on bats' noses -- but scientists aren't sure if the fungus is causing the deaths, or is just a symptom indicating the presence of some other disease. So far, white-nose syndrome has been identified in bat caves in New York, southwest Vermont, northwest Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Tens of thousands of bats have died. Little brown bats, Indiana bats, northern long-eared, eastern pipistrelle, small-footed and other bat species have all been affected."

Kindersafe

Kindersafe: "In the fall of 2007 a series of reports on toys that were contaminated with lead, asbestos, cadmium, arsenic, and other dangerous materials alerted the public to a children’s health hazard. While hazardous toys are not a new problem, the problem has grown substantially due to lack of adequate federal action and a dramatic increase in toy imports.

It is currently very difficult to identify safe and unsafe toys. Many organizations are working to identifying hazardous toys and share that information with the public. There are also efforts underway to change consumer product policies and improve safety. This website provides links to information on toy safety and to groups and resources that can be used to take action on product safety."

Friday, April 18, 2008

For Earth Day: Two-thirds of Americans Believe Humans Are Contributing to Increased Temperatures

For Earth Day: Two-thirds of Americans Believe Humans Are Contributing to Increased Temperatures: "For Earth Day: Two-thirds of Americans Believe Humans Are Contributing to Increased Temperatures
Strong majority claims it is doing something to reduce emissions, one-quarter say they are doing nothing
ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the nation gets ready to celebrate Earth Day 2008, attitudes towards global warming are little changed from last year. Two-thirds (67%) of Americans believe the activities of human beings are contributing to an increase in global temperatures. This is little changed from last year when 65 percent of Americans believed this. Last year, one in five (21%) Americans said they did not believe the activities of humans contributed to an increase in temperatures while this year 17 percent do not believe this."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Exclusive: Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups

Exclusive: Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups: "NEWS: Meet the private security firm that spied on Greenpeace and other environmental outfits for corporate clients. A tale of intrigue, infiltration, and dumpster-diving.
By James Ridgeway

Additional reporting by David Corn, Jennifer Wedekind, Daniel Schulman, and Nick Baumann
April 11, 2008"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

San Francisco Nears Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags : NPR

San Francisco Nears Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags : NPR: "San Francisco may be on the verge of becoming the first city in the country to ban plastic shopping bags because they're bad for the environment.

Some experts say the bags are one of the biggest sources of pollution in the city. By some estimates, San Francisco markets generate $200 million of them every year."

FJR: One of the interesting segments of this report is a new product that folds down to a wallet-sized reuseable shopping bag. If we got in the habit of having our own shopping bags on us, we could seriously slow down the unsightly plastic bags all over our communities. A ban a plasic bag sets a level playing field, though I'm not a fan of bans. But, without a plastic bag ban is there any chance of us curbing the proliferation of plastic bags? Could Rochester be the next city that bans plastic bags?

AP investigation: Pharmaceuticals found in drinking water - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News

AP investigation: Pharmaceuticals found in drinking water - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News: "A vast array of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows."

Focus the Nation

Focus the Nation: "Who's stopping global warming? Colleges and universities are. How are they doing it? Well, to find that out you'll need to CHILL OUT. On April 16, 2008, the National Wildlife Federation is offering campuses nationwide the opportunity to host the groundbreaking Earth Day broadcast Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming. Watch student-made videos, inspiring presentations from award-winning campuses, solution-focused discussions, and live Q&As with people who really are changing the world. Chill Out is a snap to host and easy on the budget (it's FREE). All you need is an Internet connection, speakers, and projection equipment. That's it."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Oil = Liquid Coal = ? - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog

Oil = Liquid Coal = ? - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog: "The notion of turning coal into liquid fuels on a big scale has simmered for decades, but only the trade sanctions against apartheid in South Africa resulted in anyone reviving the Nazi-era technology — until now."

Hear Rochester's Mayor Duffy on our city's Environment, from his 2008 State of the City Speech

- http://www.ci.rochester.ny.us/Mayor/soc/2008/2008_Speech.pdf

"I’m also happy to report that we’re making Rochester one of the cleanest and greenest cities in America. Operation Clean Sweep was a big success, with thousands of people joining city employees on weekends to pick up trash and beautify neighborhoods. Thank you to everyone who helped and I hope to see all of you this spring as the clean-up continues. We have also appointed the city’s first Green Team - dedicated employees from every department steering our efforts to remain an environmental leader among cities. Thanks to the city’s Green Team, Rochester isn’t just in the running to be the best city in America. We’re leaving smaller carbon footprints along the way!

For example, by the end of this year we’ll have 13 hybrid vehicles, six powered by natural gas, nine electric cars and 55 police cars that run on biofuels. Green vehicles represent eight percent of the city fleet. Twenty five percent of the electricity used in City offices comes from renewable sources – far beyond the state requirement of 15 percent by 2010. And City Hall will be turning up the thermostats this summer to further reduce our energy use and to save money. Our new Water Operation Center has the distinction of being a LEED gold-certified structure. 9 It’s the first municipal building in New York State with this distinction. That means it was built using the most environmentally friendly design and materials available." --from Welcome to the City of Rochester

Of Course You're Going to Vote for the Environment


When you do vote for the environment, get the facts, get your representative's environmental record. -- From League of Conservation Voters

Monday, April 07, 2008

Health and Global Warming - Health - Environmental Defense Fund

Health and Global Warming - Health - Environmental Defense Fund: "Climate and Health
More extreme weather from a warming planet may put more people in harm's way and cause illness. Are you or your region prepared?"

Climate Target Is Not Radical Enough - Study - CommonDreams.org

Climate Target Is Not Radical Enough - Study - CommonDreams.org: "One of the world’s leading climate scientists warns today that the EU and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly underestimated the scale of the problem."

Chemical Industry's Influence at EPA Probed - washingtonpost.com

Chemical Industry's Influence at EPA Probed - washingtonpost.com: "A congressional committee is investigating ties between the chemical industry and expert review panels hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to help it determine safe levels for a variety of chemical compounds."

Hot March 08 Issues

Two important issues stand out as the hottest Environmental issues of the month—the approach of Earth Day and the Great Lakes. Since Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, his and the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change winning of the Nobel Peach Prize, Earth Day has become a major event in every city.

Just as a reminder of who the heck the IPCC is and why their addition to winning the Nobel Peace Prize is so important, I want to post their description of themselves. I don’t think a lot of the Global Warming naysayers get the how pivotal the IPCC’s role is on vetting the Global Warming science and alerting the world to this issue’s primacy. The IPCC is not an obscure bunch of environmental bug-eyed zealots slinking behind Al Gore’s agenda. Here’s a description of the IPCC:

“The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they need to deal objectively with policy relevant scientific, technical and socio economic factors. They should be of high scientific and technical standards, and aim to reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage.” --from IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

There are a lot of environmental events on and around Earth Day in Rochester and I hope everyone will pick at least one event to attend. As I have been mentioning for years, it is important that everyone get out on these Earth Day events to show the media and influential politicians that the public understands and cares about our environmental issues—and celebrating Earth Day in public puts it in the public’s face. Check RochesterEnvironment.com’s Environmental Calendar (http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/calendar.htm ) and please show up to one of the events (in green.). Let me make special note of Rochester’s Mayor Duffy’s MAYOR ANNOUNCES EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES & Rochester’s Major Earth Day Event - SIERRA CLUB TENTH ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM.

The other hot issue for the month of March was (and always will be) the Great Lakes. The stories for the month of March run the gambit on the continual problems that are associated with this major feature of our local environment—one that Senator Schumer accuses the Federal Government of dragging their feet on. Trying to find the appropriate water level for the Great Lakes leads the pack. Then, invasive species, which are reeking havoc on the lake. Ask your fishermen friends and see if they have even heard of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)—an invasive disease that is going to seriously impact their sport. Also, there’s some movement on ridding the Great Lakes, or maybe smaller waterways, of the Zebra Mussel, which may have a problem with a specific bacteria. National Public Radio (NPR) has an interesting piece about the beneficial effects of the Zebra Mussel—though that certainly has to be ‘sour grapes’ because one little benefit cannot outweigh a zillion bad effects of this European pest on our waters. Diversion of Great Lakes waters is discussed again this month and our new governor is committed to addressing this issue. The continuing saga over the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) report: Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern is still raging in Congress. More congress people are joining the effort to find out why, or if, this study was suppressed.

On this issue of setting the correct lake level: I want focus on one of the Great Lakes issues that grabs public attention and put my particular spin on it: Controlling Great Lakes and the difficulty of coming up with a level suitable to all –lake shoreline owners, environmentalists, boaters, fishers, etc.-- presents humanity with major conundrum. Once it is in our power to control Nature, whose interests come first?

And, are we really in control, or are we merely fiddling with a complex system we barely understand? Besides, homeowner values and other economic considerations, there are other factors to consider. The Great Lakes are a part of the global ecology and when we tweak lake levels here, what effect does this have in other areas or to the planetary environment as a whole. Also, as Global Warming takes affect in our area, over time the glacial sheets which supply the Great Lakes with water will rise as the ice melts and then fall as the major source for the water in the system dries up. So, over time (which probably cannot be calculated yet) shouldn’t we also be adjusting the lakes levels in anticipation of this major long-term effect on water levels—perhaps trying to shore up as much water as possible before dramatic shortages to the system occur?

Consequently, the problem of lake level controls is one of priorities: short-term gains, economic solutions, or sustainable lake levels? If we are a responsible people to our children and our way of life, shouldn’t our priority be for a sustainable future? Also, on a more deeper level, what is the future going to be like where more and more environmental features of our planet are controlled by mankind?

Positive Environmental Stuff

Of course a big positive in my mind on Rochester’s environment is A Decade of RochesterEnvironment.com “In 1998 I began RochesterEnvironment.com both to inform myself about the Rochester-area environment and to share what I discovered using the new and quickly-growing medium of the Internet. What I was learning from scientific studies, books, public documents, environmental reports, and online articles about the growing plight of our environment did not match what was being reported locally. My observations revealed a looming disaster while the local mainstream media plodded on with business as usual. So, over the last ten years, RochesterEnvironment.com evolved towards the premise that our mainstream media is not doing a good job on informing the public about our environmental priorities. If the public does not have a correct model of reality, we are doomed to serious environmental degradation, maybe even environmental collapse.

Spring is here and many are cleaning up—like the Mayor’s Clean Sweep program, one of the best programs around. Brighton had it own version of the clean sweep in March and this may be the way of the future. Yet, it would be infinitely better if trash never made it to our communities due to a hyperawareness of this problem and better recycling. What if no human trash every hit the ground?

Speaking of recycling, there are stories in March about industries doing more recycling and the growing awareness of the dramatic increase in plastic going into the ground by way of water bottles. Of course, if our state adopted the Bigger Better Bottle Bill (where there was another yearly push to get adopted in our state in March) most actually would recycle them. And, there’s an article on recycling printer cartridges. The take home message: Don’t even think of trashing these money-makers. Find a place that recycles them and donate.

Also, wouldn’t it be nice if Rochester had a web site that gave a complete inventory of all the measurable indicators for a vivant, sustainable community—including a whole section on our environment? Maybe, something as comprehensive and useful as the one Boston, Mass has-- The Boston Indicators Project - Environment -from The Boston Indicators Project….

Well, Rochester is working on its own indicator project and it should begin this fall. The point, as far as environmental indicators go, would be for the public, media, politicians, business to assess the environmental quality on various issues from an objective inventory of indicators and make sound policy based on them. Rochester Area Community Foundation “The Community Foundation and United Way are jointly launching a program to measure, analyze and disseminate community indicators.” I’ll let you know when the project is up and running.

March 2008 RENewsletter is out.


RENewsletter comes in two formats: MS Word and Adobe Reader.
http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/RENewsletters/March_2008_RENewsletterWord.doc
--- MS Word



The reason for two formats is that while the Word format provides all the online features (all links on the newsletter work) not everyone can use this format. And while with Adobe Reader, a format that most browsers accept, there is a limited ability to follow the embedded links to online articles and web pages, and e-mails that are a very important part of RENewsletter.


Both formats print out perfectly for easy reading.


*** For complete information about this newsletter and downloading a version on your browser please go to:
http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/subscribe.htm
Please consider sharing this RENewsletter.


*** Also, if any of the links above do not work, please copy and paste the entire link to your browser's address line and it will work.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Not So Easy To Be Green

The media’s recent green frenzy, where even PC Magazine (The Green Issue) and Reader Digest (Going Green) have jumped on the bandwagon, seems ubiquitous. Green cars, books on living green, greening your houses in local magazines, several articles in the Messenger Post and the Democrat and Chronicle on going green, and you-name-it mainstream media and the advertizing industry are hot on going green. With so much attention now adverted (from whatever craze was hot before) to adopting a ‘green’ lifestyle, it seems as though the environmentalist’s dream has come true—we are moving towards a sustainable future. “It’s easy to be green” is being promoted everywhere. All you have to do is read the label. Or, is it?

Heretical though it may sound coming from an environmentalist, I believe it is not--regardless of the plethora of green tips in every magazine and newspaper imaginable recently--particularly easy to be green. It may seem easy for some to conserve, with a change of attitude, or buying just the right product, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are moving quickly enough towards making our way of life sustainable.

The conundrum about the present rage on living green is this: Will the kind of present advice on voluntary and market-driven changes in a relatively small proportion of the population’s actions really make a difference? Check out the immediacy and scale of the problem from one of first and most respected names in the Climate Change revolution: NASA’s James Hansen: The Threat to the Planet: How Can We Avoid Dangerous Human-Made Climate Change? Basically, unless wholesale changes are made in the way 6.5 billion people on this planet live their lives, much of what we do will be too little, too uncoordinated, and too late.

Living Green is not just a way to make a buck, making oneself feel good, or simply doing you own thing in an ad hoc way. Foremost is the problem of uniformity. There is little in the way of synchronized green activity going on. In other words, it is not easy to be green because there is no uniform decision on what living a green lifestyle is, nor any agreement on how effective each innovation is having towards a coherent, world-wide environmental policy, no reason to believe that enough people are adopting green practices to do any real good, and no level playing field where everyone, everywhere is playing by the same rules. It is as if there were a large meteor about to hit Earth and our species responds by having a few hundred thousand throwing whatever is lying in their backyard up at it.

What seems to escape most people and especially our media is that there is nothing new about environmental degradation from humanity. ‘Going Green’ isn’t a craze, a media phenomenon that is going to go away when the media gets bored with it. Mankind has been destroying the balance of Nature for a good ten thousand years, since the rise of agriculture. Long about the Industrial Revolution, where you can see dramatic changes in the increase of carbon dioxide in ice core samples, we really began changing things at a very quick rate.

As a matter of fact, I suggest that one of the most profound changes human insights (on the level of Darwin’s theory of Evolution by way of Natural Selection) is the realization that mankind has radically transformed the environment on this planet. Before 1945 (the dropping of the Atomic bomb) it did not even occur to humanity, or any of the great philosophers of the past, or scientists that humankind was even capable of affecting our environment on a planetary scale. Though, now most countries (with a relatively few holdouts) have got it on how man is altering this planet.

This realization that we need to change our way did not happen overnight, though it seems as though it has in the mind of the media. So, ‘going green’ becomes a craze. And, as crazes go, people soon tired of them. As soon as Ronald Reagan convinced Americans that Jimmy Carter had gone over the top on Carter’s fears about energy consumption, the gas crises of the seventies was over, and the present rise in SUV and other gas guzzlers ballooned into the state we’re in today—the American automobile industry in crisis because it cannot compete with foreign gas-saving cars.

Instead of a rush to a politically correct green lifestyle, what we need is a deep understanding of our environmental plight. We need to understand the latency problem in global warming (our large and complicated weather system takes a while to respond) and the other problems we are incurring on the planet by our way of life. Our economies must include environmental factors, not simply as an externality, but as a critical aspect of how we buy and produce goods.

My argument: Of course it’s important that we change our lives to make our environment sustainable. However, it’s not easy to be green because it’s not a simple problem with easy solutions. Our environmental problems need wholesale political, economic and social solutions working in concert around the world. In order for things to change that will do any real good so that we don’t experience more cascading collapses like Hurricane Katrina we need to make fundamental changes planet wide.

Like the Golden Rule, we, meaning all people in all countries, should behave on this planet as if everything we do towards our environment should be the pattern for everyone else. What you do for the planet must be coordinated with all other people’s actions towards actually making major changes in the direction we are going. If you and your network of friends are car-pooling while the rest of the world speeds away down the road on gas-guzzling land cruisers, what message will Earth hear?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gore's 'We' Campaign to Fight Climate Change : NPR

Gore's 'We' Campaign to Fight Climate Change : NPR: "Former vice president Al Gore's non-profit organization on Monday launches the 'We' campaign, a $300-million effort to push policymakers to adopt tough legislation to combat climate change."