Monday, August 31, 2009

Gas Drilling Nearby

More information about gas drilling in our area is good not bad. 

This new citizen-based web site maps and chronicles the spread of gas drilling in our region:   

MAP–Tompkins - Home "The Marcellus Accountability Project for Tompkins County Gas drilling is coming soon to the Finger Lakes Region. Rumors abound, but one thing is sure: in the next few years residents will see a dramatic transformation of the local area to a more industrial landscape. How many wells will be drilled? How rapidly? Economic uncertainty makes answering these questions difficult, but predictions range from hundreds to thousands of wells over the next 5 to 20 years."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Green Grants

Ok, there’s probably no grants specifically labeled ‘green.’ And admittedly, there’s not anything particularly new or fresh about the field of grant writing worth noting: It still involves long hours of research, tedious and meticulous fact checking, and (at least from the grant writer’s side) it’s a crap shoot.

What’s different now is that a window of opportunity for cleaning up pollution, promoting conservation, getting funds for new energy efficient devices, and getting monies to provide jobs helping our environment has opened wide at the same time lending by banks has tightened up. Recessions shake things up. This latest market crash, with the proliferation of stimulus monies in the form of grants, offers a chance for governments, institutions, and businesses that may not have had a previous environment focus to off-set some of their unsavory practices and policies by encouraging environmentally positive practices (clean-ups, studies, innovative designs that conserve energy, or retrofitting an existing facility to be more efficient) that make our environment and our economy more sustainable.

Another sea-change in the world of grants is that healthy attitudes towards our environmental, once mostly the bailiwick of non-profit groups, are now being supplanted by businesses. It’s not that the major environmental groups, dedicated for decades to compel governments and industries towards better environmental practices, have lost their clout to the almighty dollar. It’s that on the whole these groups have been successful alerting and demonstrating the urgency of the present environment crisis: the planet is warming up, pollution proliferates, and bad development is trashing what’s left of our verdant world. Most of those in government (now) and in business get it. Of course, advocating and rallying for the planet to clean up its act is probably not going to fall under the purview of the business sector any time soon. But, much of the implementation for a sustainable world will be accomplished by the market.

This doesn’t mean there’s a free-for-all out there: Grants, especially federal and state grants, have strings attached. Because they are usually reviewed by experts, often engineers, your request has got to make sense all the way down, from the moment of conception to the moment of implementation. You have to follow all the laws—local laws, conservation laws, laws of physics, economic laws, and the laws of common sense. And, you usually have to report on your progress all along the way. Someone’s not only holding your hand when you get a grant, they usually have a very firm grip.

But grants, because they can be shaped by what we’ve learned about our environment, instead of the reckless ‘invisible hand’ of the free market, offers an excellent alternative to influence peddling and bad practices. Monies provided though governments or foundations set up by businesses can reset the direction of those businesses hitherto only focused on profits for the shareholders. Grants, the way they are designed and implemented, offer an excellent way to infuse into our economy one of the crucial ingredients long since missing from it—the wise use of our resources.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Track the Pandemic

As we move into the flu season with the Pandemic still around, it's good to keep track

Novel H1N1 Influenza Novel H1N1 Influenza Hotline for the Public 1-800-808-1987 New York City residents call 311 | New York State is carefully monitoring a new flu strain, referred to as Novel H1N1 Influenza, that began to appear in the U.S. and worldwide in Spring 2009. New York is working with national, state and local officials to track the disease and provide guidance to members of the public, health care professionals and others. --from the NYS Dept. of Health

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rochester's Air Quality

Important information about our area's Air Quality, which of course determines our health and Transportation issues in our area.

Home - American Lung Association in New York American Lung Association’s 10th Annual State of the Air Report Details Air Quality in New York State New Standards Provide New Insight into New York’s Toxic Air The American Lung Association’s tenth annual State of the Air report, released today, finds that over 12.5 million New Yorkers - a stunning 65 percent of the state’s residents - live in counties where air pollution levels endanger lives. According to the report, which applies new and stricter federal air quality standards, 22 out of the 33 counties with air quality monitors received failing grades.

Climate Change and our National Parks

Scientists are watching how Climate Change is going to affect our National Parks:

NPCA | Climate Change and National Park Wildlife: A Survival Guide for a Warming World "Climate change has arrived in America’s National Parks. Native trees and animals are losing ground because changing temperature and weather patterns are making the availability of food, water, and shelter less certain. Fish and wildlife are being driven from their national park homes by changes that are unfolding faster than the animals’ ability to adapt. If we fail to act, some wildlife may even go extinct."

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Condition of our area's Beaches. Are they safe?

How Clear are our beaches? What does the condition of our beaches say about the condition of our environment?

NRDC: Testing the Waters 2009 "Did you know that beaches around the country posted more than 20,000 closing or advisory days last year -- for the fourth year in a row? Check out NRDC's 19th annual Testing the Waters report to see how 200 popular beaches around the country fared and learn how to stay safe the next time you spend a day at the shore. "

Help biking in Rochester, help our area's environment

Increasing bicycling for the Rochester, NY area will reduce air pollution, positively affect your health, decrease traffic on our streets and give you a chance to smell our roses and see our sites.  Check out this site and help out getting more bike to more people.    

R Community Bikes: Rochester, New York "R Community Bikes is a grassroots, 501(c)3 organization that collects and repairs used bicycles for distribution, free of charge, to Rochester, NY's most needy children and adults. Our mission is meeting the basic transportation needs of those in the community who depend on bikes for recreation as well as for transport to work, school, rehabilitation programs, and training sessions. For this segment of the population, both quality of life and the ability to participate in our community are greatly enhanced when our mission is achieved. R Community Bikes also provides a venue for the Rochester bicycling community to conduct educational programs relative to bicycle safety and maintenance. We are open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at our warehouse at 226 Hudson Ave. (at the intersection with Woodbury Street). In addition, on Wednesdays in the summer we conduct bike repairs at St. Joseph's House of Hospitality at 402 South Avenue. We welcome donations of bikes, bike parts, tools and money to cover expenses such as spare parts. We are always in need of volunteers to serve as mechanics and a variety of other positions. We provide the necessary training."

Tracking High Speed Rail for our area

If High Speed Rail comes to the Rochester, NY area (via the Buffalo to Albany corridor) it is going to have an tremendous, environmental, economic, and transportation impact on our area.  Be sure to get the latest official news and updates for this incredible project. 

Program: Nation-wide Discretionary Grant Program for High-Speed Rail (HSR) "In April, President Obama released a strategic plan outlining his vision for high-speed rail. The plan identifies $13 billion in federal funds -- $8 billion in the Recovery Act and $5 billion requested in the President's budget -- to jump-start a potential world-class passenger rail system and sets the direction of transportation policy for the future." --from NYSDOT Home

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Unsolvable Problem:

As we ignore the signs that the underpinnings of the environment we have inherited are breaking down—global warming, pollution, oceans dying—so as it goes with the underpinnings of the environment we created: our water and sewer systems, our roads and highways are crumbling.  If we adopt other ways of getting around such as high-speed rail or maybe ‘hover’ cars, we can let our highways goes and move on to something else, as is our species way. 

But, regardless of how we design our future, we are going to need the systems that bring in our fresh water and take away our used water to be sound.  I have my doubts that we will be able to address the issue of a widespread deterioration of our water and sewer systems because: it will cost a lot of money and isn’t an issue that grabs public attention, it will be politically unpopular because we need so much public money to go elsewhere, and because this issue has been foretold long ago and little has been done about it.

Basically, unless we can retrofit an economic boon to a looming disaster (as we are now doing with energy and conservation issues) we are dysfunctional. Overcoming the costs and recriminations that will come as various parts of our system fail in various localities on an issue that is literally underground and out of our sight and one that we have been ignoring for decades means we are going to let it go until a disaster occurs. 

It’s the way we react to problems involving the underpinnings of our environment.  I applaud the Comptrollers efforts, but little will be done.  This story will go away again and keep going way until it’s in our face.

Read on... DiNapoli: New York’s Local Infrastructure Needs Projected To Be $80 Billion Under Funded Over Next 20 Years Multi-Year Capital Planning and Increased Federal Funding Needed Driscoll Joins DiNapoli at News Conference in Syracuse At the current rate of spending, New York will have $80 billion in unmet infrastructure needs over the next 20 years unless state, federal and local governments work together to improve multi-year capital planning and better fund infrastructure projects, cautioned State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a report he released today in Syracuse. DiNapoli’s report estimates the state’s capital needs for repairing roads, bridges, and water and sewer lines will swell to a quarter trillion dollars over the next 20 years. (August 11, 09) New York State Office of the State Comptroller

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Vote for Communiting by Bicycling in Rochester

How does Rochester, NY stack up in being bike friendly for commuters? Click here and vote us:

The Top 10 U.S. Cities For Biking Americans overwhelmingly continue to drive alone to work. With more than nine out of 10 workers favoring driving. But these 10 cities are definitely taking the initiative to change that. Here are the top 10 U.S. cities for bicycling commuters.

I told you so.

There’s something eerily familiar about this plastic accumulating in the oceans story. 

Back in the day, some forty years ago when I was a college kid a friend of mine used to mention this story. No one but my friend had heard of this story, but because he was older and a great guy, we didn’t mock him.  Nonetheless, it was a weird story that strained credulity even back in those early seventies, when just about everything strained credulity.

So, wherever my friend is today, he must be saying “I told you so to someone who probably thinks he’s made the whole thing up.    

Just think what of what our world would look like to today if we had heeded all those ‘chicken little’ environmentalists of the past, like John Muir.  We might just have that clean and verdant world where we could drink our water without manmade chemicals and not have to worry about the vast accumulation of pollution in our oceans.  Of course, we can dismiss this story about the plastics as I did forty years ago and in our minds it will be out of sight out of mind. 

But, one day like most pollution, someone is going to have to address the abuses of our past, so our grandchildren can have a future.

Scientists study huge plastic patch in Pacific | U.S. | Reuters LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of miles (km) of open sea dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

Green Businesses

Business are going to green and the NYS DEC helps: Greening Your Business -

NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Incorporate sustainability into your everyday business practices Today's businesses face many challenges. Greening up your operation shouldn't be one of them. DEC has a variety of programs to help you meet your economic and environmental goals.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Get There By Bike - Get the Map.

Bike to work, to that festival, that trail, or just about anywhere you want to go in Rochester by using the map:

Genesee Transportation Council - TIP Greater Rochester Area Bicycling Map Now Available | The Greater Rochester Area Bicycling Map, prepared by the Genesee Transportation Council utilizing road ratings provided by volunteer members of the Rochester Bicycling Club, is now available.   The ratings represent the opinions of experienced bicyclists on the rideability of major roads based on existing road conditions and features such as pavement width and quality, traffic volumes, presence and type of shoulders, and posted speed limits.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Green Isolationism

Isolationists, most notably George Washington in his farewell address “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible,” believe that one’s territory can be contained, one’s sovereignty sustained by removing oneself from the rest. And while it was probably wise council for a young nation to stay out of ‘political connections’ as we built our new nation, isolationism of any kind really is not possible in today’s world. Isolation is only an illusion, especially in our environment. Connections are the rule. A sand storm in Africa gives Central American’s asthma.

What happens in Buffalo, or Quebec, or Pennsylvania (where the Genesee River begins), the Hudson River, the Adirondacks, Syracuse, and Ohio in terms of their pollution, their air quality, the species that have invaded them, global warming studies that they’ve done all make isolationism absurd. As the invasive Emerald Ash Borer makes its way into southern New York counties, we should prepare here. We should understand and share the information.

Americans pride ourselves on being unique, standing on one’s own, being free and allowed to pursue Happiness—as one envisions it. However, as time goes on, as we mature as a species, we are learning that what we do matters to others despite our best intensions. Only in our minds can we litter, pollute, overuse resources, and not affect every living thing on the planet. [One can get a sense of this in the 2004 film, “The Fever” where it dawns on an urban sophisticate that everything she does affects how others in other parts of the world live.]

This imaginary isolationism, where the media only focuses on breaking environmental issues in our area, is why pulling environmental stories from surrounding communities is critical to our future. Americans thinking during the span before World War I that events in Europe did not pertain to us was a dangerous illusion. Instead of being able to isolate ourselves and escaping the madness that consumed a generation, we got suck up into it.

Aggregating news stories, now viewed as reprehensible within a medium strapped for money by its own profligacy, must be the future media model of reality. Though we cannot predict the future, we can get a pretty good sense of what is in store for us environmentally by observing what happens to our neighbors. If global warming studies in Ohio show how it’s going to happen there, most of those effects will probably happen here. The pollution next door means it’s only a matter of time before it is here—and maybe it is already, we just haven’t checked.

Finding out what’s going on with environmental matters all around us, including stories that nuclear power is failing in Germany or that the fish in the Great Lakes are getting toxic, “Up to the Gills: 2009 Update on Pollution in Great Lakes Fish,” [http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/reports/up_to_the_gills_2009.html] There’s no isolation on a planet where barriers and levees eventually breakdown. And while it has become fashionable to cop an attitude that it won’t matter to us when an environmental problem occurs but doesn’t do so in our neck of the woods, it probably will.