Monday, June 29, 2009

Green Jobs: Position Yourself!

Much of the news and information about green jobs (still) seems like hype: Lots of cheerleading, but few actual green ‘shovel-ready’ work opportunities. As one who has been following this thread myself for some time, it does seem like a highly inflated exuberance over an employment market that has yet to be. But, I believe ‘seems’ is the operative word here.

Despite more talk and less jobs, there is hard evidence that green jobs are the real deal. Witness the passage of the climate bill just passed in the house and Obama’s Stimulus package promising new jobs. Things are radically changing, but how will new attitudes towards climate change and green technology translate into actual jobs in our area?

Presently, you search for green jobs on all your favorite search engines and you come up with: cardiology, electrophysiology, oncology/hematology, systems key operator, Sr., pathologist, podiatrist, electrical test technician ITT, spot welder, registered nurse/RN, speech-language pathologist—you get the picture. These jobs are great if you have the credentials, but what’s especially ‘green’ about them? People looking for green jobs now need to get the proper training to get the credentials for actual jobs that exist today.

At a green job forum last Thursday, sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County many were hoping to learn just that—where do I go, what do I do? I’ve listed and organized much of that material on this page: Green Business. [] It is worth your time to learn about this emerging market, and while I may not be able to point you that perfect job tomorrow, I’ve got some ideas on how you can position yourself for the green-job tidal wave. There’s no lack of energy in industry, government, and non-profits as they ramp up getting the public ready for these new jobs.

Quickly, here’s what you do: 1. Get educated and trained. We are lucky to live in a community with many institutions for higher education and an official green attitude. Our community colleges are able to find out what local industry needs and ramp up training for those green jobs. Not to mention we have some of the best universities in the country offering degrees in environmental studies, while researching cutting-edge environmental technology and medicine.

2. Stay informed on green jobs and act: Some local and national web sites are devoting special attention to the latest companies providing green jobs and what industries are best positioning themselves to compete in this new economy. When bills come up that favor green jobs, contact your representatives. Also, align yourself with groups petitioning the government for more green jobs, like The Center for Working Families and Green For All Next, press your government for more green jobs now by letting them know it matters to you. Check this site often: Recovery and Reinvestment Act

3. Frequent specific green job search engines and post your resumes: Without a doubt, online search engines are where you go to find employment—newspaper classifieds are history. Yes, sites especially focused on the green market are rampant. However, most have yet to be really useful and won’t be until they stop the misleading ads, drill down to actual green jobs, and not simply list blue-collar jobs painted green. Admitted much of the green job future will be engineers, installers, designers, etc. but to be accurately labeled ‘green’ they will need to be retrofitted to increase energy efficiency and decease pollution and stop waste. So, until this green search market gets more sophisticated you’ll see the jobs without the training. But eventually, by reputation the sites that actually get people jobs will prevail. (Google took over the search engine market because it took you where you wanted to go, not where those who paid the most to search engines wanted you to go.)

4. Volunteer and branch out: To best position yourself in fields (web designers, grant writers, project managers, environmental educators, etc.) that have the most promise in the new economic world, get yourself volunteered. With the Recession plunging our present job market into a freefall, many green oriented businesses or non-profits need help: interns, volunteers, grant writers, clerks, drivers, you-name-it.

Don’t focus on one employment thread and don’t waste this crisis. Don’t give up. Position yourself for the change that has to come. Don’t just wait for something to happen, make it happen. OK, so this cheerleading thing is hard to control, and many anxious to see this new market happen now engage in it. But really, green jobs are coming. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be adapting to change. Get ready.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hope for a Messy World

One would think that the days of a monolithic weltanschauung are over, where singular views of religion, culture, ideas, even prejudices, once ruled. Now, it’s not only unfashionable, but positively Neanderthal to be continually captivated by a single view of life. Makes you look stodgy.

Yet, I tenaciously hold (despite many discussions to the contrary) that Nature rules. Moreover, it will do so even in Rochester. This seems to be an unpopular single-mindedness because in this Recession the “World is Flat” view means keep changing or you’ll get run over by new ideas, new economic models, and especially the Internet. The prevailing thinking seems to be: in this modern world, you had better streamline your operation. Better just paint yourself green and not go the whole hog. And, quite frankly, harping on environmental issues bores and annoys a lot of people—though given the wholesale consequences of environmental collapse (Think Easter Island in that chapter in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared M. Diamond) not obsessing on our environment at this moment in history seems foolhardy.

Mainstream media seems convinced that pandering to a cornucopia of issues rather than zeroing our attention on environmental changes will sell better. Some news outlets ignore the environment altogether. As I read the news, it seems more profitable for the media to report on stories about impeding or cobbling legislation like the Climate Energy-Bill or the Bottle Bill. Seems to make more sense for the media to go with the flow, that is, tone down environmental stories and balance our environmental concerns with our other preoccupations: job loss, wars, or Eliot Spitzer’s comeback—which given his brainpower and good work on behalf of our environment, may not be a bad idea.

The world, I maintain, really is flat, not just because of the Internet and zippy broadband Wi-Fi’s. It’s flat because Nature rules China, Hong Kong, Timbuktu, Rochester and everything living on this planet. Global Warming will not only change this pale blue dot, it’s going to have some very peculiar changes—according to this week’s release of the US Global Change Research Program—on the Northeast—which is where, as we all know boys and girls, Rochester, NY resides. Too, that pandemic is wreaking havoc not only on the Third world with fewer economic resources; it’s straining our health system here in Monroe County.

This week alone we learned that the Emerald Ash Borer crossed into NYS, promising to kill or affect 7% of our state’s trees. This invasive species issue was somebody else’s problem. But due to a changing environment, it’s now in our backyard. Also, a recent environmental study (something we should be doing continually) points out that all those PCB’s we’ve been dumping and allowing to be dumped are changing us. But, not in a good way.

Ok, enough doom and gloom. This week had some bright spots in our movement here in the Rochester area towards sustainability: steps are being taken on curbing pharmaceutical pollution, a new group forming to fight for water quality, our very own U of R is finding ways to save the incandescent bulb by requiring less energy, more green energy, a forum on green jobs is coming up this week, boating courses by the DEC to teach boaters how not to pollute our waters, help to green up our auto shops, and articles describing how that high-speed rail project everyone is talking about might help our cities.

So, there is a lot of hope in this messy world that that has one ruling power: the laws of Nature—not man’s wishes or his economic models (which, are presently in a tailspin). However, hope does not hinge on deluding ourselves that we are getting greener when we are not. Hope depends on putting environmental issues squarely before us, not cherry-picking the hopeful stories, as our local media too often does. The hope is that our media will switch gears and get the environment so in our collected faces that we all feel compelled to make the changes that will make our way of life sustainable.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Free Yourself from Lawn Pesticides

From our friends over at Rochesterians Against The Misuse of Pesticides (RAMP), we learn more about how our modern idea of a oil and pesticide intensive lawn have come about. But, you can free yourself from your pesticides and tractors. Read RAMP: You can join RAMP, one of the most effective environmental organizations in Rochester, by writing to 10 Landing Road South, Rochester, NY 14610.

Meanwhile, check out this way to reduce your lawn and go natural: LessLawn : information about landscape design for nature lovers... shrink your lawn and grow your pleasure!Want a low-maintenance, ecologically friendly landscape? Chemical free? Want to do it yourself? Find information and inspiration here at LessLawn. We'll help you shrink your lawn and grow your pleasure!

It's Not Just Good for the Environment; It's the Law

Reducing our dependency on those ubiquitous plastic bags littering our roads, trails, up in the branches of our trees, down our drainpipes, across our lawns and just about everywhere is not just a good idea – it’s the law. Mostly, these laws pertain to large stores, but it’s a sign that times are a’changing. Think of taking a reusable bag around with you when you shop and buying less stuff.

NYS Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Law - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation * Title 27 - Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Section 27-2701. Definitions. 27-2703. Store operator responsibilities. 27-2705. Recycling program requirements. 27-2707. Manufacturer responsibilities. 27-2709. Department responsibility. 27-2711. Regulations. 27-2713. Preemption. * NB There are 2 Title 27's

What the Heck are you Eating?

Find out what you are eating and what chemicals may or maynot have gotten in your food: What’s On My Food? Pesticides …on our food, even after washing; …in our bodies, for years; …& in our environment, traveling many miles on wind, water and dust. What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable. -- More on Food and our Environment here...

Put Hazardous Waste in its Place

Recycling - Do you need to dispose of hazardous household waste? Please note: Monroe County's Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) Appointment Scheduler (includes Pharmaceuticals)

Paying Taxes on Bottled Water? Good Grief!

Considering that the Rochester area has some of the best and cleanest municipal drinking water in the country and bottled water companies are privatizing our public waters and the plastics from zillions of water bottles is un-depositable (at least until the Bigger Better Bottle Bill gets going) are filling up our landfills, which have limits, why are we the taxpayer paying for bottle water—which ultimately undermines our faith in our municipal water and undermines our tax monies that could be going to support our public waters? We need an attitude change about water.

Taxpayers Billed for Bottled Water at City Events - (Rochester, N.Y.) – Rochester area leaders often brag about the quality of our water supply. But taxpayers spend thousands of dollars a year on bottled water and water for dispensers. The city purchased water for catered events such as the 175th Anniversary party, Sister Cities receptions, and Clean Sweep. (June 15, 09) Home -

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Environmental News

Oftentimes the news isn’t ‘new’, though it might seem so because we look at it anew. Or, some refinement to an occurring story comes along, and so it becomes ‘new’—again. Or, something new actually does occur. This is especially sizzling stuff to the media because they love new news. Old news is not only bad, it’s non-profitable. Old news only gets reported when it is repackage, as something new—like some rumored tidbit coming out about Marylyn Monroe. That’s too bad for our environment.

Take this week’s Rochester-area environmental news, for example. White-nose syndrome, a year-old bat disease that possibly sprung from a bat cave near Albany that the press hasn’t paid much attention to has gotten some new press because we are looking at it anew: it’s spreading like wild-fire out West. A nasty fish disease, Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), which also might have sprung up around these parts (though it arrived here via Europe from ships’ ballast tanks), was new here in 2006. But now, even though it’s ripping through the Great Lakes, it isn’t all that new any more. It hasn’t done anything new lately. It’s just doing the same old thing--devastating fish populations in the Great Lakes. So, you’ll have to wait until something fresh comes up to hear more about it.

Ok, here’s something really new, a refinement of a previously existing news story: the swine flu is now a full fledged pandemic. That gets headlines, though it has struggled awhile for that placement because even though this flu is spreading human-to-human, it isn’t yet as lethal as the 19-18-19 flu. The pandemic is dangerously losing its press appeal. It’s got to start doing something new or the media will drop it altogether.

Here’s a repackaged news story this week, the second coming of the Digital Signal change. This story was new back in February, until it was learned thousands were not ready for those rerun “I Love Lucy” episodes, or whatever they’re doing on network media nowadays. So June 12th became the new deadline. And that makes news, but the media forgot the news that the old TVs replaced by our new TVs will begin filling up our landfills. That will only become news when new toxins created by this techno-avalanche get leached into our ground water and soil creating a new problem.

And, being a busy week for environmental stuff, there was more new stuff: new transportation stimulus monies coming to our area. Several new news stories on how our area will be affected by Global Warming—an increase poison ivy, shifting Great Lakes fish populations, and (if you can believe it) slower wind speeds across our area. (Seems that if the poles are not as cold as they used to be because of global warming, there won’t be as much loss in air pressure between continents.) That will mean less wind for wind turbines—that’s new and adds fire to the loony wind turbine debate going on in the media.) ACT Rochedser, a new web site which includes old environment indicators for our local environment, newly arrived this week. Moreover, oil drillers fracturing their way through the Marcellus Oil Shale among other areas may have to reveal the chemicals they use to force oil to the surface. So if these chemicals end up in our water, we’ll know who to blame. Now, that sort of disclosure would be very, very new—maybe even some exciting court cases and wild allegations that could generate weeks of news.

That’s the way it is, folks. New news drives our media, drives media competition, and that drives us to want more new news—a wonderful profit model for the media. Sadly this paradigm, this way that our media operates both to get our attention and support itself financially, has absolutely nothing to do with staying ahead of environmental issues before they become problems. Our present media construct that is failing is a mirage, a delusion of our times that we can package information about our environment to the pubic the way we report on politicians shooting themselves in the foot. Because, by the time environmental news stories become ‘new’ and thus get our attention, they’ve often wreak such havoc that we cannot recover from them. By the time pollutions, warmings, extinctions, and diseases percolate up through our present media and make news, they’ve long since metastasized into a permanent disease we have to live with—which can get very old.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New transportation route, New carbon-free transportation route in Rochester.

More ways to get around in Rochester than driving that gas-guzzler: Rochester Greenway "a revolutionary all-weather alternative-energy transitway for bikes, e-bikes, joggers, and skaters connecting RIT, U of R, MCC, downtown Rochester. A straight-line fair-weather bikeway already connects downtown Rochester with the University of Rochester, and RIT1. By turning this scenic five-mile path into a year-round asset, we can create a revolutionary all-weather alternative energy transitway 
for bikes, e-vehicles, joggers, and skaters that will reduce road traffic and parking pressures on our campuses, create a year-round recreational attraction for locals and visitors from around the world, and put us at the forefront of the new energy economy. By merely endeavoring to pursue this vision, we can help revitalize Rochester's reputation for technological and social innovation, stimulate collaboration and synergy between our urban and academic communities, create jobs, and attract funds to the region. As documented at our new website, this is an early-stage vision. But we could begin to act immediately and incrementally.

Don't Curb that old TV with New Digital TV Signal Change

A preventable environmental problem can be avoided when the new TV signal changes, if you recycle your new TV. But, you don’t have to buy a new TV, get a digital converter coupon and stay with what you’ve got. June 12 TV signals change to digital and for those still using the antenna, instead of cable and satellites, your going to have to do something. That’s if you still watch TV.

But, if you still watch TV, Check this out: The Looming E-Waste Tsunami - Television Recycling What Should You Do With Your Old TV Sets: Unlike leading computer manufacturers, the television industry has been, with the exception of Sony, very reluctant to take responsibility for their products at the end of their useful life. Televisions present all of the same disposal issues as computer equipment and other e-waste (TVs, computers, monitors, phones, etc.), from leaded glass to brominated fire retardants. However televisions contain much less valuable materials to offset the cost of recycling than most electronics, discouraging e-waste collectors and processors from handling them. "

Digital TV age dawns Friday Democrat and Chronicle While the analog signals to your television may end on Friday, at least one Rochester-area television station is keeping a "night light" on for people slow to make the switch to digital. Democrat and Chronicle Rochester news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Rochester, New York

Monitoring our Environment:

Though a lot of indicators need to be monitored to assess the healthiness of one community, arguably one of the most important is our environmental health. Without a sound environment, everything else loses its foundation.

This new project, which includes many specific environmental indicators for our region is especially welcome. Take a moment to check out the various environmental indicators like (Prevalence of Pesticides, Air Quality, Clean Water, Population Density, Recycling Rate, Beach Contamination, Toxic Chemical Release, and more…) that suggest whether or not we are living sustainably—here in the Rochester area. Don’t form a critical opinion about the state of our environment without getting the facts.

This site works towards that: ActRochester : Environment From the rolling slopes of the Finger Lakes and the broad Genesee Valley to the spectacular Lake Ontario coast, nature has provided a splendid setting. Preserving our great natural resources is the goal of the many people who work to protect our environment. --from ACT Rochester : The goal of ACT Rochester is to build on community strengths to help solve our critical problems. ACT Rochester will achieve this through community debate, discussion and engagement based on objective, timely and independent data that can reshape our approach to community problem-solving.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Bottle Bill Ban Battle

This heralding by the media of environmentalists unhappy with the latest ban on the deposit law just passed strikes me as an odd way to look at the halt in the NYS bottle bill that was supposed to go into effect on June 1st, and an odd way to see environmental issues in general by the media. Because, of course, shouldn’t everyone be miffed that the battle to remove discarded bottles from our streets, urban forests, our roadways (you-name-it, bottles are everywhere) via a popular measure (most New Yorkers are for this bottle bill) has been squelched by a judge, bottling companies, some politicians, grocery and convenience stores? [Note, local recycling newslinks:]

The media sees a battle, not an environmental problem where an incredible amount of waste is piling up around us. For, the press cannot see the forest because of the trees: the forest--our environmental issues that jeopardize the sustainability of our way of life; the trees--the myopic way mainstream media frames environmental issues. Mainstream media see environmental issues as a series of battles, oftentimes only with those opponents willing to step up to the microphone. Allegedly, the rest of us are dozing on the sidelines. It is as if while their train is plummeting off a cliff, passengers watching a fight in the aisle between the brakeman and the engineer believe they have no stake in the events about to unfold.

In this story about the ban on this bill, what is missing is the incredible amount of trash littering our world, the loss of natural resources, and the needless use of energy making our stuff that is polluting our planet. It’s not about squabbles going on by groups of angry people remote from our existence: It’s about how we (every one of us) conduct our business (economics) and whether or not we can keep doing that—without depriving our children of a future.

At present, our environment is failing, pollution is building, our energy sources are warming the planet…, and the list goes on and on. The tragedy of this bottle bill ban is that solving the larger problem of the trash build-up in our environment is on hold because the media cannot conceive of a way to report on it other than framing it as a long battle interspersed with a few good verbal whacks on each side.

Here’s some recycling matters our media could be reporting on until April of 2010 if they weren’t so dysfunctional: instances of volunteers taking the initiative and cleaning up our parks and trails in this Recession; seeing that our county enforces existing laws on haulers land-filling recyclables; making sure that televisions taken to the curbside because of the signal change on July 12th do not go into landfills; finding out if we in Rochester have recycling audits like Buffalo to see how many of us are actually recycling; finding out why our county doesn’t recycling beyond #2 plastics like Ontario County does; finding out how the recycling market affects recycling locally; find out where recycled products get recycled properly; finding out about programs to develop community composting programs that might remove some 10% of our food waste from landfills and sell as compost; finding out what local entrepreneurs are doing to create jobs in this area to keep trash from landfills; and maybe even compile a list of local recycling places for our residents to recycling properly—like this list: Donate, Recycle & Reuse