Saturday, May 31, 2008

LEAD HAZARD REDUCTION PROGRAM (LHRP)

LEAD HAZARD REDUCTION PROGRAM (LHRP): "Each year, hundreds of children in our area are tested and found to have elevated blood lead levels. They will suffer lifetime effects of lead poisoning, including impaired physical development, lower educational performance, attention problems, and aggressive or even violent behavior.

Lead paint is likely to exist in any home built before 1978. We have more than 57,000 children living in greater Rochester that need our help to ensure that lead hazards in the home are identified and controlled. This effort begins with you."

Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America - Brookings Institution

Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America - Brookings Institution: "America’s carbon footprint is expanding. With a growing population and an expanding economy, America’s settlement area is widening, and as it does, Americans are driving more, building more, consuming more energy, and emitting more carbon. Rising energy prices, growing dependence on imported fuels, and accelerating global climate change make the nation’s growth patterns unsustainable."

FJR: Can you find Rochester on the Map?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

China gets ready to ban ultra-thin plastic bags

China gets ready to ban ultra-thin plastic bags: "China gets ready to ban ultra-thin plastic bags
BEIJING - CHINA is about to try to kick a 3 billion-a-day plastic bag habit. But breaking the addiction, in a bid to save energy and protect the environment, will be easier said than done.
The world's most populous nation on Sunday will join a growing list of countries, from Ireland to Bangladesh, that are aiming to change shoppers' habits when a ban on the production of plastic bags under 0.025 mm thick comes into force."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Do You Bike To Work?


Do you bike to work? If not, what changes in Rochester Transportation would it take to get you to bike to work?


See: Rochester-area commuters using bicycles to avoid gas prices democratandchronicle.com Democrat and Chronicle Monroe County and Rochester officials said they have no way of tracking the number of bicycle commuters. The U.S. Census bureau has estimated that anywhere from 411,000 to 750,000 adults ride bikes more than any other vehicle to get to work during an average week. (May 24, 08) democratandchronicle.com Democrat and Chronicle Rochester

Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald.ca

Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald.ca: "PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Canadians should be seriously concerned about wasteful lifestyles south of the border that could leave the U.S. dry and looking north for water, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Thursday.

Kennedy, an environmental crusader recently called a 'hero for the planet' by Time Magazine, made the comments in Peterborough, Ont., where he delivered a speech at a conference for the International Association for Great Lakes Research."

FJR: New Yorker, which means the Rochester public, should be aware of this Diversion issue with Great Lakes waters.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interference at the EPA

Interference at the EPA: "In an investigation of political interference at the Environmental Protection Agency, hundreds of scientists reported political interference in their work, significant barriers to the free communication of scientific results, and concerns about the agency's effectiveness. The results of the investigation are detailed in a UCS report, Interference at the EPA: Politics and Science at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (PDF)."

Progress on Polar Bears | We Can Solve It

Progress on Polar Bears We Can Solve It: "The US Department of the Interior today granted Endangered Species Act protection to the polar bear in light of shrinking Arctic ice due to climate change. The Alliance for Climate Protection's We Campaign recently submitted a petition signed by 136,000 Americans to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne urging him to list the polar bear. The US Department of the Interior today granted Endangered Species Act protection to the polar bear in light of shrinking Arctic ice due to climate change. The Alliance for Climate Protection's We Campaign recently submitted a petition signed by 136,000 Americans to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne urging him to list the polar bear."

The population explosion on Europe’s doorstep - Times Online

The population explosion on Europe’s doorstep - Times Online: "In a televised interview with Sir Trevor McDonald last week, the Duke of Edinburgh cited “overpopulation” as the prime source of escalating food prices. Another gaffe! “Overpopulation” dropped out of usage in the 1970s, and the deluded old coot doesn’t seem to realise that the term is passé. Or is it?"

The population explosion on Europe’s doorstep - Times Online

The population explosion on Europe’s doorstep - Times Online: "In a televised interview with Sir Trevor McDonald last week, the Duke of Edinburgh cited “overpopulation” as the prime source of escalating food prices. Another gaffe! “Overpopulation” dropped out of usage in the 1970s, and the deluded old coot doesn’t seem to realise that the term is passé. Or is it?"

Global alarm sounded over dramatic decline in bird, fish, animal population

Global alarm sounded over dramatic decline in bird, fish, animal population: "The report, compiled by the World Wildlife Fund, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, said the population of animals, birds and fish has dropped by a third in the last 35 years."

State grants available for parks, trails, and other environmental programs - deadline June 30

State grants available for parks, trails, and other environmental programs - deadline June 30: "State grants available for parks, trails, and other environmental programs -
deadline June 30

Applications are now available for several grant programs that can fund park and trail projects. Materials can be downloaded from the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website for the Parks, Historic Preservation, Heritage Areas, Acquisition and Land and Water Conservation Fund programs.This is a matching grant program, therefore recipients will be expected to provide at least 50 percent match to these awards.

The due date for completed applications is June 30, 2008. Public Workshops will be held across the state throughout the month of May to present information on application requirements and procedures for these programs."

Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars - washingtonpost.com

Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars - washingtonpost.com: "Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars
As farmers feed ethanol plants, a costly link is forged between food and oil."

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity: "The Center for Biological Diversity works through science, law, and creative media to secure a future for all species, great or small, hovering on the brink of extinction."

The (Annotated) Polar Bear Decision - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog

The (Annotated) Polar Bear Decision - Dot Earth - Climate Change and Sustainability - New York Times Blog: "The (Annotated) Polar Bear Decision"

Remarks By Secretary KempthornePress Conference On Polar Bear Listing
Today I am listing the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. I believe this decision is most consistent with the record and legal standards of the Endangered Species Act – perhaps the least flexible law Congress has ever enacted.[ 22] I am also announcing that this listing decision will be accompanied by administrative guidance and a rule that defines the scope of impact my decision will have, in order to protect the polar bear while preventing unintended harm to the society and economy of the United States.

[ Andy Revkin - This preamble pretty clearly telegraphs that this was a reluctant decision, forced by a law that President Bush has said is being mis-applied. It’d be hard to miss the message this sentence sends to industries opposing limits on drilling or greenhouse-gas emissions — that this decision doesn’t affect them. ]

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Hazards of Pharmaceuticals in the Home and the Environment « Community Health V.O.I.C.E.

The Hazards of Pharmaceuticals in the Home and the Environment « Community Health V.O.I.C.E.: "Several stories have recently appeared in the news about the effects of pharmaceuticals in the water supply. The reported negative impacts include hormone disruption in fish, raising questions about potential impacts on human health. There are concerns about the effects of long term human consumption of these and other chemicals. Household pharmaceuticals can get into the water supply because conventional waste and drinking water treatment does not effectively eliminate most of the pharmaceutical compounds such as endocrine disruptor compounds found in oral contraceptives. Some of these chemicals enter the wastewater system when they are excreted by people who take these drugs. In other cases, chemicals may get into the wastewater when people flush old or unwanted medicine down the toilet."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Special Report - Ethanol - 13WHAM.com

Special Report - Ethanol - 13WHAM.com

FJR: Is Ethanol a good solution for sustainability? What will our Energy future in Rochester be like? Check out this very comprehensive serious of reports about a very important environmental issue

Communities Take Action to Protect Great Lakes : NPR

Communities Take Action to Protect Great Lakes : NPR: "The five Great Lakes — Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior — are said to hold one-fifth of the world's surface fresh water. Communities surrounding the Great Lakes are working to protect the major fresh water resource, which is threatened by fluctuating water levels, invasive species and pollution."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Warming Climate Is Changing Life On Global Scale, Says New Study

Warming Climate Is Changing Life On Global Scale, Says New Study: "ScienceDaily (May 15, 2008) — A vast array of physical and biological systems across the earth are being affected by warming temperatures caused by humans, says a new analysis of information not previously assembled all in one spot. The effects on living things include earlier leafing of trees and plants over many regions; movements of species to higher latitudes and altitudes in the northern hemisphere; changes in bird migrations in Europe, North America and Australia; and shifting of the oceans' plankton and fish from cold- to warm-adapted communities."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bike to Work | US EPA

Bike to Work US EPA: "Bicycle riding can improve your health, save you money, and help you protect the environment. Each year Bike To Work Week is celebrated by thousands of people, and is a reminder to dust off and gear up for the riding season."

FJR: What do you think of biking to work in Rochester?

Monday, May 05, 2008

April 2008 RENewsletter


Greetings the April 2008 RENewsletter is out.


RENewsletter comes in two formats: MS Word and Adobe Reader.




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.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Fuel Cost and Food Crisis

Too often, I suppose, the words crisis and environment are linked in today's corporate media because TV, radio, magazines and newspapers consistently frame their stories around attention-driven eye catchers. That's lamentable because it triggers the ‘chicken little’ response in the public rendering serious attention to important stories null and void. When an actual disaster faces the public, we fail to act because we’ve become too inured to the plethora of calamities clamoring for our attention. (I know this criticism is usually levied on environmentalists, but we have little ability to reach the general public except through the media.)

Anyway, from the miasma of news out there, I hope most are getting the sense of urgency surrounding the present food crisis. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said "Without full funding of these emergency requirements we risk again the spectre of widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale," –from TheStar.com World UN task force to take aim at food crisis facing the world's poor That’s a pretty clear statement of concern.

A myriad of causes surround the reasons for the present food crisis—climate change, economics, more farmable land being used for biofuels (which Bush denies and may actually be true because the problem is one of speculation not actual fact at the moment), political unrest, etc.—including the rise in the price of fuel—namely oil, or (more refined) gas, that gas our vehicles so crave.

Fuel then is helping to fuel the food crisis. The rise in fuel prices ripples through the world’s economies rendering the US dollar cheaper in some countries, making the delivery of food more expensive, and the cultivation and spread of pesticides (which require fuel) more dear, meaning that a farmer is less inclined to produce necessary food basics like rice and wheat if some other crop will make better economic sense for him or her.

So, what are we doing about it? We could donate our tax rebate checks from the government to trusted international organizations to help the starving. (Which, my wife and I intend to do, though, I know we’re supposed to be using that to save our economy by shopping—like before.)

Or, in the longer more sustainable run, we could be adopting a sensible policy towards the use of fuel. Rochester, or rather RGRTA, this month is working on lowering the bus fare and mapping out more strategic bus runs. Best and most responsible idea I’ve heard locally on the gas cost crunch yet.

Also, we could be parking our cars and walking, using a bike, paddling a kayak and not power driving that duel-tank 140 gallon tank cruiser up and down the lake, lowering our thermostats, covering our hot water heaters with a thermo blanket, turning off the lights when we’re not using them, etc. Though, these things only really make sense if we are also moving across-the-board towards more sensible fuel use. …you know, so people, people who have no more cargo to throw overboard (that is, no excess in their earnings) can at least afford food basics to keep them alive.

Sensible would be moving towards renewable energy sources like wind (like they are now doing in Monroe County in Naples and Hamlin) and solar (hey, a solar car just drove into town this month).

But, during a food and fuel crisis is not a time to push your political agenda. Immediately, it’s the people who are starving who are most important right? Then, non-sensible fuel options we should avoid. Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge {ANWR), like Bush brought up again for the zillionth time this week, is not a good idea because it damages one of our last pristine ecologies while doing nothing about our fuel prices. (Even in the best scenario, gas doesn’t get moving down the pipes for at least ten years.)

Another bad idea for dealing with the fuel crisis, which fuels the food crisis, is the idea of giving a fuel tax break this summer. First, as the NYS governor expresses, unless the oil companies pass on that gas tax break on to their customers YOU WON’T SEE A BREAK IN GAS PRICES. But, even if the oil companies do pass on that gas tax break on to us, it would still be the wrong response to a global energy and food crisis. A gas tax break this summer would send the wrong message to the public that in times of troubles America’s first response is to make sure we don’t suffer the consequences of our fuel choices. For a long time now, the message from the world is loud and clear: There’s climate change going on because of human activity. One of those activities is the use of global warming gases. Unless a major wholesale change is made towards reducing our use of these gases, our planet will heat up and (as we are now seeing) people will starve.

A summer gas tax break says Americans do not want to be inconvenienced by their continued reliance on global warming gases, and that is what the world will hear. Wouldn’t it be a far more reasonable response to the rising fuel costs to conserve our energy today, not screw up our local economy with a tax break (hey, with a tax break the people who fix our infrastructure are not getting their money), make a change towards renewable energy and immediately help the starving?

I know, I’m an idealist: saving people, saving the planet, what next?

BTW, this story this month kind of hints at the future we are moving towards if we don’t clean up our act: Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/europe/23coal.html When push comes to shove, as it has over human history, there is going to be a major urge to do the most convenient and selfish thing—keep doing the wrong-headed things that got us into this state, a planetary collapse. To get the big picture on this fatal flaw in human thinking, read “A New Green History of the World” by Clive Ponting. Here’s what it says on the back jacket: “Human beings prosper by exploiting the earth’s resources until those resources can no longer sustain the society’s population, which leads to the decline and eventual collapse of that society.”

Great Lakes pollution, health link denied

  • Great Lakes pollution, health link denied: "Revised federal study contradicts draft report that found high rates of problems.
    Jim Lynch / The Detroit News

    No definitive link can be made between industrial pollution in the Great Lakes region and human health concerns, according to a revised version of a controversial federal study released Wednesday.
    The new version contradicts an early draft that was released in mid-March by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed areas around 13 former hazardous waste sites in Michigan had higher incidence rates for health problems, including infant mortality, low birth weight, premature birth, heart disease and several forms of cancer."

    FJR: So, Has this story gone away?

    Environmental Cover-up? This story highlights the importance of our environment, the role the Internet now plays in environmental media, and why we need critical information to assess the state of our environment. If it takes a whistle blower, another country, and a citizen public watch group for us to find out what damage our way of life is having on our support system, then we need to take charge of the information we need to have a sustainable society. We don’t need cover-ups, special interests, suppression of critical health information. We need to know, free and without cost, all that pertains to our getting enough information to make wise decisions about our environment. This story makes one wonder how many other studies have been suppressed for some reason or another; and it also suggests that we should have a government and media constantly looking out for possible perils in our environment, not how characterize, obfuscate, suppress, or spin that which has already been studied, or might need to be studied for us to know whether there are dangerous toxins building up in our environment, whether an ecology is breaking down, We’ve become so used to be lied to, spun, and simply dismissed that we tend to think having a unrealistic picture of what is actually happening in our environment is the norm. Well, think about, whose interests are we trying to protect when we frame how environmental studies are conducted? Corporations? Governments? Private property? Or our children’s future? For billions of years, life on Earth depended on an accurate model of reality. If a caveman thought the shadow of a lion about to pounce was only shrubbery, he was the lion’s meal. If we think are waters are clean to drink and sustain life, when they are not, our children inherit the illusion of a future—but not an actual one.

    Great Lakes pollution, health link denied No definitive link can be made between industrial pollution in the Great Lakes region and human health concerns, according to a revised version of a controversial federal study released Wednesday. The new version contradicts an early draft that was released in mid-March by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed areas around 13 former hazardous waste sites in Michigan had higher incidence rates for health problems, including infant mortality, low birth weight, premature birth, heart disease and several forms of cancer. (May 1, 2008) Detroit News Online Detnews.com Friday, May 2, 2008 News, sports, features, blogs, photos and forums from Detroit and across Michigan

    Great Lakes health threats Kirk calls for investigation of alleged suppression of report on hazard sites - U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, is calling for a federal investigation into alleged suppression of a report detailing health threats to communities along the Great Lakes, including Waukegan. Kirk said the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry initially refused to publish a government-funded report entitled "Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern," citing scientific concerns with the document. (March 18, 08) News Sun

    Health Report Raises Dispute Over Great Lakes Pollution - WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials said Wednesday that they had asked the Institute of Medicine, the government’s premier medical adviser, to referee a dispute over a report suggesting that pollution in the Great Lakes region may have serious health consequences for people who live there, including infant mortality and breast cancer. “It’s a good way to get a really high-quality and completely objective scientific review,” said Dr. Henry Falk, who oversees environmental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (March 13, 08) The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

    Congressional panel calls for release of CDC report about the Great Lakes -- chicagotribune.com A congressional committee said Thursday that it was investigating why the Centers for Disease Control has declined to release a report about health problems near contaminated sites around the Great Lakes. A spokesman for the CDC said the report was held over questions about the data it used because it was presented in a way that may be misinterpreted. Though the report lists contaminant sites and illnesses reported nearby, it does not say the illnesses were caused by toxins at the sites. (Feb 29, 08) Chicago news, sports, photos, video, blogs, Chicago weather, business, travel, tourism, entertainment and jobs -- chicagotribune.com

    The Buffalo News: Opinion: Are we at risk? Release Great Lakes pollution report, investigate whether it was suppressed There is a government report that raises the possibility that public health threats from industrial pollution pervade the Great Lakes region. You may not have heard of this because the government, according to people who should know, has suppressed it. Rep. Brian Higgins has called for a congressional investigation into that allegation. That should occur promptly, but in any thorough investigation, that would be only the tip of the iceberg. The Bush administration has a seven-year record of politicizing science. If Americans want their facts unfiltered by partisan ideology, an investigation should document such abuses now so that future presidents will not be so quick to bury or alter scientific data they do not like. (Feb 27, 08) Buffalo News

    Living on Earth: Toxic Info Withheld The Centers for Disease Control is postponing the release of a report detailing areas of environmental concern and human health problems in the Great Lakes region. Living on Earth host Steve Curwood talks with Christopher De Rosa, who was director of the Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine at the CDC and oversaw the report. De Rosa was demoted when his work on toxins in the Great Lakes, and on formaldehyde in FEMA trailers for Hurricane Katrina survivors, was publicized.Living on Earth: Sound Journalism for the Whole Planet

    Delay Of Report Is Blamed On Politics - washingtonpost.com CHICAGO -- The lead author and peer reviewers of a government report raising the possibility of public health threats from industrial contamination throughout the Great Lakes region are charging that the report is being suppressed because of the questions it raises. The author also alleges that he was demoted because of the report. Chris De Rosa, former director of the division of toxicology and environmental medicine at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), charges that the report he wrote was a significant factor in his reassignment to a non-supervisory "special assistant" position last year.(Feb 19, 08) washingtonpost.com - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines

    Leaked Study Says Great Lakes Residents at Greater Health Risk - ROCHESTER, NY (2008-02-19) A study done by the Centers for Disease Control says as many as nine million people living along the U.S. side of the Great Lakes could be at higher risk for health problems because of chemical pollution. More than 300-thousand Rochester-area people fall within that study area. But people living in the Rochester area are better off than most, because the one recognized "Area of Concern" waste site in Monroe County has been cleaned up by the City of Rochester and is no longer leaking pollutants to Lake Ontario. ( Feb 2/19/08) wxxi NewsRoom

    Leaked report on the Great Lakes is a wake-up call High levels of pollution pose a health threat. U.S., Canadian decision-makers keep public in the dark for fear of lawsuits, expensive cleanups, scientist says WILLIAM MARSDEN, The Gazette Published: 12 hours ago At least 9 million people living on the United States side of the Great Lakes basin may be in danger from high levels of chemical pollution, according to a secret study that has been withheld from the public. The study was kept secret from the public for seven months until this week when it was leaked to the Centre for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. (Feb 14, 08) Montreal Gazette

    Great Lakes health report withheld by agency Document has 'alarming evidence' of toxic pollutants, group says, but fed agency says it needs some fixes. Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau WASHINGTON -- Federal officials are refusing to release a scientific study that contains "alarming evidence" that toxic pollutants threaten the health of residents in Detroit and other Great Lakes cities, a watchdog group alleged Thursday. The Center for Public Integrity released on its Web site excerpts of the report, which includes information on elevated cancer levels in Wayne and Macomb counties and a Detroit landfill site that contains up to 17 tons of toxic PCBs. (February 11, 08) Detroit News Online Monday, February 11, 2008