Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get Green Training for that Green Job

Increasingly, there are more online resources for job training, teacher training for their students, and a variety of services for all sectors of the new job market. It gets complicated because there is no simple answer to the question: “Where are the green jobs in our area and how to I get them.” 

In my view, there is a paradigm shift in our economy which will be the sustainability component that ripples through all jobs.  Teachers, students, job hunter, employers, government, everyone will have to have a greater knowledge about our environment and how to develop skill that have a green component to thrive in the new economy.  These are the latest links in beginning your search to the interrelationships between education, training, and finding that green job.

Bad Beaches

Beach conditions are not simply a natural phenomenon that is something we are born to suffer and beyond our control.  In most cases, it’s probably manmade pollution—from bad agricultural practices, storm water runoffs, industrial pollution, etc.  Our beaches get worse and like the boiling frog metaphor we accustom ourselves to worsening beaches over the years until public bathing with be a thing of the past. That isn’t simply sad, that’s us shooting ourselves in the foot by allowing ourselves to do this to our environment. - Get the Beach Report:

NRDC: Testing the Waters 2009 "A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches | NRDC's annual survey of water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches finds that pollution caused the number of beach closings and advisories to hit their fourth-highest level in the 19-year history of the report. The number of 2008 closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches topped 20,000 for the fourth consecutive year, confirming that our nation's beaches continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why Littering Won't Work:

It shouldn’t have to be this way—upping fines for littering—but what’s the alternative? How much trash lays around one community seems to correlate with how that community views its environment? That’s not a scientific conclusion, just a personal one—though the corollary, a visually pristine community, may not be actually environmentally sound either.

As many pollutants and unsustainable practices can be hidden behind the veneer of high-tech development. Besides the polluting and disruptive character of trash about a community to the flora and fauna, it certainly is a sign of distain there must be in a place littered by trash. Cleaning up trash or stepping up fines for littering maybe mostly cosmetic, but it certainly shows a positive attitude. Besides being environmentally repulsive, littering is counter-productive.

The response to activities like littering on a planet where our environmental distain is catching up with us is not going to be for the community to give up and wallow in garbage; it’s going to be for communities and governments to take corrective actions—as any organism must adopt in order to survive.

Check out: Lyons increases littering fine to $250 — At separate meetings this week, the village and town boards approved increasing the fine for littering to $250. July 23, 09) Finger Lakes Times Online

Update on VHS

Though mostly ignored (even though Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) was discovered in our area) is not an issue that goes away simple because our local media doesn't report on it. But some do: Anglers caught in the middle as U.S.-Canada at odds over live bait restrictions - Outdoors Blog Not good enough, the officers said. From now on, anglers who want to fish with live bait on the Canadian side need to purchase Canadian bait or risk a $300 fine. The restriction covers minnows, crayfish, leeches and salamanders. The only live bait one can use from the American side is worms. (July 23, 09) Syracuse NY Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather -

Green Jobs for Rochester, NY too

We hope the EPA comes to our area too to talk about Green Jobs here:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 28, 2009 Thursday: EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to Visit Chicago to Announce Funding to Train Workers for Green Jobs WASHINGTON – On Thursday, July 30, 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will hold a press conference in Chicago to announce funding to train workers for green jobs. The press conference will be held at the Chicago Center for Green Technology at 12:15 p.m. Additional details will be provided in the coming days. WHO: EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson WHAT:Press conference in Chicago to announce green jobs training funding WHEN: Thursday, July 30, 12:15 p.m. WHERE: Chicago Center for Green Technology 445 North Sacramento Blvd. (between Chicago and Lake streets) Chicago, Ill. 60612 --from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

NYS Parks and trails

This just in from a friend: Cascadian Farms, a manufacturer of granola bars and other organic food items, is partnering with New York State Parks to help raise money for trails. For every visitor to, Cascadian will donate $1 to State Park trails' maintenance and promotion. The promotion expires November 15, or as soon as a $25,000 cap is reached but we are trying to reach the top goal as quickly as possible.

New York is the only state participating in this initiative, so please encourage your friends and family to go to and generate some free money for our trails! The link can also be found at:

Green Opportunities here too

It's a bit far away in time and distance, but maybe we can have a great big green event here in Rochester: Opportunity Green Conference - November 7-8, 2009 | Sustainability Conference | Los Angeles | UCLA Opportunity Green Business Conference at UCLA November 7-8, 2009 Join today's brightest leaders and innovators at the forefront of the green business revolution. Forge new strategic partnerships and explore the latest in sustainable strategies and best practices to lead your organization to success. Get the inside view on the hottest topics, trends and technologies at the premier green business event focused on creating new opportunities through sustainability.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How are Great Lakes Fish Doing?

Important Canadian report about eating fish in the Great Lakes--things are not improving: Up to the Gills: 2009 Update on Pollution in Great Lakes Fish "This report examines fish consumption advisories in the Great Lakes between 2005 and 2009. Up to the Gills finds that levels of toxic chemicals in Great Lakes fish are alarmingly high, and are not improving. The major chemical contaminants that cause consumption advisories for Great Lakes fish include mercury, PCBs, pesticides, dioxins and furans. Health effects of these chemicals include damage to the nervous, respiratory and immune system, as well as cancer."

New Transportation idea in Rochester

This could change Rochester's concept of Transportation, check it out: Rochester Greenway The Rochester Greenway "A revolutionary all-weather alternative energy transitway for bikes, e-vehicles, joggers, and skaters connecting RIT, U of R, and MCC, downtown Rochester. Three Opportunities, One Big Idea."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Watching Fish

A recent reading of local environmental news finds several interesting studies about the present state of our fish life. Things appear to be going well or not so well. For example, our Great Lakes fish populations are either doing swimmingly as noted in the New York Statewide Angler Survey 2007 - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (although, given the frequent fish eating advisories, maybe that’s not entirely true) or not so swimmingly: “No sign of threat: Don't expect gov't to issue warning of dangerous fishing,” June 26, 09 NY Daily News).

Another report about our regional fish population indicates that fish are not doing so well: Up to the Gills: 2009 Update on Pollution in Great Lakes Fish which states “that levels of toxic chemicals in Great Lakes fish are alarmingly high, and are not improving.” And, as if eating fish were not enough of a worry, even playing on beach sand (Study: Digging in sand can increase health problems -- ) may be problematical. Not to mention, “The State of the Lakes: Still a Bummer” - Healthy Lakes - Healthy Lives “A new report by the US and Canadian Environmental Agencies finds that the Great Lakes ecosystem continues on a rapid decline due to toxic pollution and invasive species and poor sewage management.” Learn more at State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference | Great Lakes | US EPA

Certainly, much has to be qualified about implications of these reports because disparaging the fishing industry could be bad for this lucrative industry. Also sporadic and disjointed studies make concrete observations about those underwater denizens of our lakes and streams difficult. We cannot say for sure why fish populations are dropping or how various chemicals got into our fish and what it means exactly. Very hard to point fingers these days because there’s always a lawyer’s desk to hide under.

But, I think it’s safe to say that fish have not fared well since the time of Samuel de Champlain. It’s safe to say that our lakes and streams around the Rochester, NY area used to have a lot more healthy fish in the late 1500’s than they do now.

I think it is also safe to say that watching fish populations as we do birds and other wildlife is more than an avocation for enthusiasts or objects of study for Scientists. For, if our fish populations are ridden by pollutants and their numbers are dropping, we ought to be paying attention. Something is going on and cherry-picking the facts to present a cherished view or ignoring it altogether will not make this issue go away. The laws of nature don’t work that way.

I think it’s safe to say that we too are not going to be faring well if we don’t find some way to stay focused on these environmental indicators—wildlife like fish whose numbers have changed drastically in the relatively short time between Champlain and ourselves.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rochester, Washington, the World Environment

While we wait for Washington and the world to shape major climate strategies this summer, maybe it is time to look at our own area to get a sense of our own commitment to our environment. Are we expecting others to clean up and render sustainable our biological underpinnings, or are we playing a role in the most significant issue of our times? For, unlike the media’s attempt to assess the impact of Michael Jackson and Robert McNamara roles in recent days, future generations won’t simply be idling away in a classroom pondering the cultural and historical importance of our generations actions on our environment. Our children’s world will be the one we leave them.

Interestingly, involvement of our area’s residents in our area’s environment seems to coincide with the rise of the Internet and the decline of local mainstream media. The last decade has witnessed the effectiveness of over eighty environmental groups in our area. And for the moment (while the specter of net neutrality, which mainstream media tries to bury under the assumption that because they have ruled the airways in the past they will do so in the future) environmental groups with a presents online have a level playing field to compete for the public’s attention.

Our Environmentalists [] have taken it upon themselves to monitor and report on various aspects of our environment, oftentimes contrasting or embellishing governmental programs. Or, they have picked up the ball where it has been dropped by the media. Consider the groups monitoring the plight of area birds that not only color our fields and skies but help us monitor our environment in ways we never could: Olga Fleisher Ornithological Foundation, Inc., RochesterBirding, Birding Western New York, The Cayuga Bird Club, and The Bird Coalition of Rochester.

Or, those groups highlighting the environment issues of specific areas: Save Auburn Trail, Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, Honeoye Valley Association, Henrietta Neighbors United, Save our Sodus, Bergen Swamp Preservation Society, Friends of Irondequoit Bay, Allens -Creek/Corbetts Glen Preservation Group, Parks Preservation in Monroe County, NY, and The Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes.

All told, our local environment is covered by many groups that educate us on food, transportation, our area’s Climate, Wetlands, Air Quality, Parks, Urban Sprawl, Brownfields, Plants, Wildlife, Great Lakes, Pesticides Use, Water Quality, Recycling, Genesee River, Transportation, Food, Invasive Species, Energy, Wind Power, and Environmental Health.

And while I view these groups as critical to a complete monitoring of our local environment, and as much as I disparage local media coverage of environmental issues, I do not believe these groups can supplant a healthy, thriving media. Only, the media has the breath of public engagement, editorial objectivity, and journalistic expertise to properly convey to the public the threat that an unhealthy environment portends.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Good Well Water

Everyone has the right to clean, potable water. Even people in the United States using well water. This is not a fact, or ideology, or belief, or some mental quirk or disposition of mine. No reasonable person can argue this point reasonably.

However, “There are no statewide or county laws that require testing of wells in Monroe County, and no enforceable water-quality standards that apply to private supplies.” (6/03/ 09 Democrat and Chronicle) So, the issue about getting clean, potable drinking well water from a well is somehow different from drinking municipal waters, which do have an enforceable standard. There, as it seems, is the rub.

Several assumptions apparently provide the basis for the state of New York allowing one set of residents to be under the regulatory umbrella for clean drinking water and another who are on their own. Caveat emptor: or rather, let the drinkers beware if they aren’t hooked up to public waters.

Assumption One: “Water gotten from the ground is more pure, tastes better, and toxin free.” But, that view is outdated. “More than 51,000 private wells in New Jersey have been tested since this first-in-the-nation law went into effect in 2002, and 12 percent of them were found to be contaminated with at least one pollutant, according to state officials.” (6/08/09 Democrat and Chronicle) There’s no reason to think that New York State wells would not produce figures just as grisly. Let’s test all our wells and find out.

Assumption Two: “There are already plenty of recommendations and guidelines for well users, so there’s no need for another litigious intervention into our lives.” That’s true; there is no lack of information provided by state officials on guideless for safe, potable, drinking water from New York State wells. Find out about New York State guidelines on Drinking Water Protection Program and especially Appendix 5-B: Standards for Water Wells and Supplemental Information and also, from the DEC Water Well Program - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. But, there were guidelines for lead poisoning in homes and they were largely ignored until laws for lead abatement came about. Millions of children grew up poisoned by lead.

Assumption Three: “If your well water is not potable, simply buy bottled water.” The bottled water industry, which grows exponentially as our wells fail, loves that. They are reaping the benefits of this assumption by taking your water (from our lakes and streams) and selling it back to you at a far higher price that you are paying for gasoline. Related is the issue that most bottled water comes in plastic containers that get land filled and leach into our ground water because the bottled water people spend millions lobbying against recycling laws that would include these plastic containers.

Assumption Four: “If you pass a law that every well must be regulated by the state, then there will be a great confusion as to who pays for cleaning up the bad wells.” Of course, in our country the burden of proof is put on the victim, therefore it seems obvious that well users should just put up with the risk. However, in a world of manmade pollution (pesticides, agricultural overflows, landfills, brownfields we aren’t cleaning up, gasoline additives, old dumps, old orchards that were heavily sprayed with chemicals) and natural contaminants (heavy metals and arsenic) it’s an unrealistic and unfair burden to place on well users. We have for too long allowed the practice of using our planet as a dump. We stopped the practice of throwing our garbage out the windows into our streets as we did until recent times, and we can stop allowing dangerous waste into the very ground we get our water.

Assumption Five: “It’s too expensive.” That’s not an argument, that’s a detail for economists. Bankers since all those deregulations figured out how to make billions from nothing: they can use their big brains to figure out how to get all our wells tested. Besides, think of the wonderful database that would be available about the true picture of our ground pollution if we regulated wells as we do our municipal drinking water.

There are probably a lot of other assumptions as to why we don’t regulate well water. But, at the end of the day, they’re bad assumptions. By not regulating our wells and mandating that they we tested thoroughly and often we blind ourselves to the extent of our pollution. That may please our present polluters; but it only ratchets up the amount of toxins in our water. Like with many other environmental issues, we are confusing our past ideas of individual rights and the specter of Big Government lording over our lives with what we are learning about the wholesale effects of our way of living on our environment. Pollution eventually goes somewhere—into our air, our ground, water, our children, and our future—it does not just magically disappear. If we don’t start understanding that a sustainable environment is not only a right, but the foundation of our existence, we are going to go the way of the dodo bird.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Critical Feedback Requested about our community:

Critical Feedback Requested about our community: We here at wish to remind you again of an important website that has been launched in our area.

ACT Rochester has been a long time in the works and is modeled on other cities who have worked on this concept of provide communities of important indicator that will determine among other things Education, Environment, Technology, Transportation, Health, Public Safety, etc. This site is an on-going, long-term project to provide not only community groups and governmental bodies, but you the citizen who cares about your community, with critical data (not opinions and news, but expertly acquired data).

Please take a moment to get the facts about the state of Rochester, New York’s sustainability prospects and most importantly get engaged. Answers to surveys and comments are asked at this site and this is important because feedback from these people who are actually collecting the data about our community is critical. It’s not like blogs, or newspapers who want to know how important Michael Jackson is to your life, but what kind of information do you or your group need to know to begin project, complete grants, clean up your neighborhood. So, please get engaged with this special website in our community and encourage your employer, you friends, your groups that you belong to of this unique and important resource for our area.

It’s not just the usual stuff, trust me: ACT Rochester "Changing the Culture of Public Discussion and Debate The mission of ACT Rochester is to stimulate community solutions to our most critical challenges by changing the culture of public discussion and debate. This will be achieved through focused, independent and objective measurement of key community indicators, through diverse and timely dialogue and by promoting results-oriented actions. ACT Rochester is a collaboration of Rochester Area Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Rochester. We developed the Website together, along with assistance from the Center for Governmental Research, and plan to sustain and update it as a central component of ACT Rochester. We hope that the comprehensive data and other information contained here will serve as a focal point for formal and informal community forums and inspire you and others in the community to share comments and participate in polls, which will be added to the Website in the coming months. In addition, we will be scheduling a variety of community discussions and activities beginning in the fall of 2009. The name ACT Rochester urges action, specifically in response to the issues highlighted by the data. The name also stands for Achieving Community Targets, which signals the potential to establish specific targets or goals for improvement. These targets will be the result of the community involvement process, and will form the future development of ACT Rochester. ACT Rochester currently covers a seven-county region: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne and Wyoming. This Website contains indicators, analysis of trends, summaries of community efforts to address issues and numerous listings of community resources.