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 [http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/enviromentalists.htm] 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.

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