Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Protecting Endangered Species and their Habitat:

It’s a peculiar position in our modern times that those with economic interests in our lands are OK with protecting endangered species, but don’t want to include the habitat they inhabit.  It’s a peculiar position because without its habitat a plant or animals species is merely an isolated artifact.  

Saving wildlife cannot be done without saving the land the species came from because the species and the land it evolved on are one.  Not in a fuzzy progressive way.

Those animals in a zoo, removed from their habitats, have no purpose and have lost their environmental importance. Plants and animals in a habitat co-evolved with each and changed each other, sometimes for millions of years. 

If we don’t protect the lands that endangered species inhabit then there is no use in protecting the species.  Ultimately, the whole point of protecting endangered species is not pulling aside these species for preservation in a place where they serve no purpose but to entertain us.  The purpose of saving endangered species is to preserve our environment--that which sustains our existence. 

Think of these endangered species as components in an engine called our environment: When you yank these components from their place in our environment, you have damaged the entire engine. This story should be on our radar:

Timber industry wants out of wildlife rule - Times Union ALBANY -- The state's timber industry is lining up to fight proposed state environmental rules that would treat a potential threat to an endangered species' habitat as a direct threat to the animal itself. The Empire State Forest Products Association, which represents about 600 companies that own or manage more than a million acres of forest, is urging members to get behind a petition drive asking that land not be covered under the proposed rules. State rules have long protected endangered animals from being killed or harassed due to new development. This month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation proposed extending that protection to lands that such animals rely upon to live, feed and reproduce. (August 21, 2010) Home - Times Union

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Special event on our environment and its importance:

I’m hoping to take this event to another level because I want to highlight how important this it is. 

Not only will our mayor speak about local environmental issues, I believe this issue (the critical shortage and need for investigative environmental journalism) to be one of the most important issues of our day and it needs to be understood by the public. 

We cannot possibly ‘fix’ our environment, if we don’t have full-time paid environmental journalists reporting on the state of our environment. Think of attending this conference and getting a sense of how necessary environmental reporting is to the public on monitoring the state of our environment.

A free press must not only present an open forum of ideas and news to protect our Freedoms, we must also have a free and open press to get a clear and thorough picture of the state of our environment. Please consider attending the event below:

UN Journalist Conference on Environmental sustainability 4 October 2010 ~ 8:30 am to 12:30 pm | Strong Museum of Play~1 Manhattan Sq. 14607  United Nations Association of Rochester will sponsor a UN Journalist Conference on Environmental sustainability on October 4, 2010.  The Key Convener is Mayor Robert Duffy and the Keynote Speaker is Dr. Nabil Nasr, director of Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT. Attend a global conference-an opportunity to meet experts and listen to reporters discuss our shared environment.  Fee: $15 Adults, $10 Students w/ID ~ includes lunch  To Register: UNAR ~ 585-473-7286 ~ unar@unar.org  Flyer #1 and Flyer #2  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Major Local Environmental/Ethical Issue that is not being address by the public:

Off-shore wind farms project.  You might have heard by now about the New York Power Authority’s Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project (GLOW) but haven’t checked their site for details. 

I suggest before you form an opinion about the project you thoroughly look over their site.  Your opinion about this project should not be a knee-jerk reaction about seeing tall wind turbines off the shores of Lake Ontario. 

It should be about energy and Climate Change. Sure, there are issues about bird deaths, bats, noise, aesthetics, and more.  They are addressed on this site.  

Ultimately, I think this issue one of the most important environmental issues going on at the moment, but it is being marginalized because it isn’t being viewed as a major Climate Change solution for our area.  Groups are saying no to off-shore wind and no one is reminding them that this means we will be stuck with coal and other fossil fuels. 

This decision about off-shore wind farms should be framed in the press as a major ethical issue. 

Check out: New York Power Authority: What We Do "Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project (GLOW) On June 4, 2010, NYPA President Richard Kessel announced the start of a multi-phase review process for five proposals vying to construct the GLOW project or projects in the New York State waters of Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario." - New York Power Authority: Welcome

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time to pipe up about Recycling Plastics in our region:

Thanks to an article yesterday by City Newspaper, ENVIRONMENT: Should the county recycle No. 5 plastics? - News Articles - Rochester City Newspaper, there’s a chance for a dialogue on why Monroe County does not recycle 3-7 plastics and other surrounding counties can.

Monroe County’s argument is that there isn’t a steady market for these plastics. Other NYS counties don’t agree.

Just yesterday it was announced that New York City has so much faith in a market for that they are going to require all plastics recycling: Mayor Bloomberg Signs Bills Expanding New York City Recycling (8/18/2010) Waste Age Magazine.

And, recently nearby Onondaga County has made recycling #5 plastic mandatory: OCRRA to vote today on adding No. 5 plastic to blue bins in Onondaga County | syracuse.com (7/13/2010).

We don’t purport to have all the answers, but it seems that if other counties are recycling all plastics our counties can work together so that all NYS counties recycle all plastic creating a steady waste flow, which could create a steady waste plastics market. In any event, no matter where you stand on this issue, please take a moment and chime in on this issue at City’s article--Should the county recycle No. 5 plastics? (Comment at the bottom of the article online) —because this in an important dialogue for our community to have.

This dialogue should be framed so it is about our environmental and our economic future. If we recycled all plastics we’d clean up our environment from these discarded substances create new green businesses. It’s not going to happen if the public doesn’t get behind this issue. Find out more about Recycling the the Rochesterm, Ny region here: Recycling.

The media and our environment:

When asked, the public is interested and concerned about the state of our environment.  Why isn’t this reflected in our mainstream media?  Why do so few mainstream media investigate environmental issues? 

Why don’t mainstream media continually remind the public that the decisions they make now will affect the stability of our environment?  Why is our environment marginalized in mainstream media and not on the front page every day? 

Climate Change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, over populations, sprawl, and a lot more environmental issues are extremely important issues that we need to address and soon, but we are not addressing them in our media.  Why?

Shouldn’t an intelligent species like ourselves be focused on the very issues that will drastically change our way of life?  Shouldn’t environmental issues be one of the main concerns of the press, just as much as Freedom, and what actor or sports hero has committed some petty crime? 

Here’s what the public wants: Public Supports Consumer and Environmental Protections, Polls Show | OMB Watch Americans overwhelmingly support government protection of the environment and consumers, a series of new polls shows. The findings come as efforts to enforce and expand regulation face increasingly hostile rhetoric from conservatives and industry representatives in Washington. (August 17, 2010) OMB Watch | Promoting open government, accountability, and citizen participation since 1983

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monitoring Climate Change:

From a major voice on the Climate Change issue, Dr. Hansen, who reminds us that the environmental issue of Climate Change must be addressed sooner than later.  He explains how unusually warm last month was.  

Like the Emerald Ash Borer boring in on Monroe County, choosing to wait until this issue becomes so in our- ace that it’s splashed on the local paper’s headlines is going to be too late to avoid the ramifications of it.  

We must address environmental issues differently that we address most other problems.  We must have a media that understands the importance of getting the public behind an issue like Climate Change before it is unmanageable. 

Because we have not substantially addressed Climate Change even now, we are going to experience dramatic changes in our climate.  Continuing to ignore it will drive it exponentially beyond our ability to address it at all.

From the Desk of Dr. James E. Hansen: What Global Warming Looks Like...So Far "The July 2010 global map of surface temperature anomalies (Figure 1), relative to the average July in the 1951-1980 period of climatology, provides a useful picture of current climate. It was more than 5°C (about 10°F) warmer than climatology in the eastern European region including Moscow. There was an area in eastern Asia that was similarly unusually hot. The eastern part of the United States was unusually warm, although not to the degree of the hot spots in Eurasia. There were also substantial areas cooler than climatology, including a region in central Asia and the southern part of South America. The emerging La Nina is now moderately strong, as evidenced by the region cooler than climatology along the equator in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. The global average July 2010 temperature was 0.55°C warmer than climatology in the GISS analysis, which puts 2010 in practically a three way tie for third warmest July. July 1998 was the warmest in the GISS analysis, at 0.68°C. " What Global Warming Looks Like discusses current global temperature anomalies in July 2010; see also summary and full paper accepted for publication in Reviews of Geophysics.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is our government forcing Renewable energy on us?

One of the arguments launched against renewable energy (solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal) is that unless they were heavily subsidized by our government, they wouldn’t have a chance.  The inference, I suppose, is that we wouldn’t be talking about these delusional energy options at all if some socialistic scheme weren’t keeping them alive and shoving them down the public’s throat.  

Actually, big oil is getting the big bucks from the government.  “$45 billion over 10 years” is light years away from what any renewable source of energy could, in its wildest dreams, get from our government.  In my opinion, if the government wanted its best tax dollar for the buck on energy, it would be best spent our money on increasing battery energy storage capabilities. 

Small batteries with exceptional energy storage capacity could truly revolutionize energy option around the world.  Imagine, you wouldn’t have to be connected to the grid, or you could back-up the grid, you could power your vehicle, your home, or whatever with whatever energy source you could invent because you would be able to store that energy efficiently. 

Water, solar, wind, geothermal, bicycle, or anything that could produce energy could be stored in a battery.  But, we’ve ball-and-chained ourselves to the fossil fuel industries and the proponents of this greenhouse-gas-emitting energy source are forcing off us the bridge into the dark waters below because they’re making so much money—from our money.

More government subsidies for batter storage technologies would not support a particular energy industry, but all of them.  Increased battery storage would be as profound a change to our energy issue as the Internet has been to communication, opening up a whole new field for energy production.  But, no.  We’re stuck with this:  

Eliminating Tax Subsidies for Oil Companies "President Obama’s 2011 budget proposes to eliminate nine different tax expenditures that primarily benefit oil and gas companies. Cutting these special tax deductions, preferences, and credits would save the government about $45 billion over the next 10 years. " (May 13, 2010) Center for American Progress

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Really Protect our Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes need protection from a variety of conditions.  Besides the release of massive amounts of sewage, invasive species, Climate Change, mercury (from pollution and natural causes), new invasive disease like VHS, phosphates from runoffs, our Great Lakes are in trouble. The government is stepping in as are many private groups to help clean up our largest fresh water source. 

I hope those who are fighting to stop the possibility of off-shore wind farms on our Great Lakes because of the aesthetic discomfort of seeing these large renewable energy sources that do not add greenhouse gases (or mercury from coal) to our atmosphere are also behind all these efforts to make the pristine visage of a clean Great Lakes into actual lakes that are clean.

My guess is many who say they are for a clean and pristine Great Lakes are only interested in the aesthetics of the lakes and care not to delve into the serious threats confronting our Great Lakes.

One of the ways, instead of railing against off-shore wind farms which will reduce much of the pollution to the lakes by not using more polluting sources, would be to read this study and help stop sewage into our lakes: "New Report: Solving Region’s Sewage Crisis Will Create Jobs, Restore Great Lakes Reversing federal wastewater infrastructure deficit, investing in “green” solutions key to tackling sewage overflows—serious public health threat Failure to Address $23 Billion Backlog Could Hamper Restoration Efforts ANN ARBOR, MICH. (Aug. 9, 2010) —The Great Lakes are under siege from sewage pollution, four decades after Congress passed the federal Clean Water Act, according to a new report from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. (Click here to download the report.) Turning the Tide: Investing in Wastewater Infrastructure to Create Jobs and Solve the Sewage Crisis in the Great Lakes --from - Healthy Lakes - Healthy Lives

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Should Future Energy Options Include Burning Waste?:

As we desperately search for energy options for the future, the lure of convenience, Climate Change, and protecting our environment should be part of the dialogue. Take burning trash for example. We should not burn trash simply because it is convenient. This will always be a lure, because it’s a relatively easy solution. People like to burn things rather than take the trouble to separate and recycle them. But, can we really contain the impurities that trash gives off?

Also, when we burn waste there will be greenhouse gases produced and this must be considered in this time of Climate Change. We need energy solutions that don’t heat up the planet. Also, we should consider whether a product can be reused and thus save a natural resource before we just up and burn it. There are more considerations on burning waste and this article explains them:

Is Burning Trash Bad? - Earth911.com “The growing popularity of modern waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities in Europe and Asia has many in America asking: is burning trash bad? We’re not big burners here in the U.S., but we’ve been known to light up some litter from time to time. The majority of our waste is buried in landfills, while 31 percent is recycled, but there are currently 90 waste-to-energy facilities operating in the country that torch 14 percent of our trash and convert the heat into electricity. It is important to talk about zero-waste in local government and to adopt zero-waste as a goal,” Wilson says. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to be at zero-waste tomorrow, but the only way to reach that goal is to set it.” (August 2, 2010) Earth911.com - Find Recycling Centers and Learn How To Recycle