Friday, April 29, 2011

Hydrofracking in New York State:

 

As you know, hydrofracking for natural gas is becoming a looming issue in our area, as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation considers this issue during our hydrofracking moratorium. Many want to learn more about how hydrofracking for natural gas and what to do.

First off, I suggest you attend one of the showings of Gasland that the Rochester Sierra Club’s Global Warming & Energy Committee has planned:

  • Wednesday, May 4, 7 PM Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Avenue, Brighton, 14618
  • Thursday, May 5, 6:30 PM Chili Public Library, 3333 Chili Avenue, Chili, 14624
  • Wednesday, May 11, 7 PM Penfield Public Library, 1985 Baird Road, Penfield 14526
  • Monday, May 23, 6:30 PM, Pittsford Library, 24 State Street, Pittsford, 14534
  • Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 PM Brighton Public Library, 2300 Elmwood Avenue, Brighton,

You can check out what the industry’s position on fracking fluids and what chemicals they say are involved

FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry “Welcome to FracFocus, the hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website. This website is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. On this site you can search for information about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. You will also find educational materials designed to help you put this information in perspective.”

Or you can decide to take up action on this issue:

FrackAction.com  "Frack Action is engaged in a long-term campaign to protect our water, air and public health from the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing.  By raising awareness and empowering the public to organize in defense of their communities, we seek to expose the false claims of the gas industry and mobilize a citizen movement to protect our health and our future. Frack Action started as an emergency response to the threat facing our communities.  We are a small team operating on a mostly volunteer basis. "

In any event, this hydrofracking issue is one that should include the fact that included in all our public water safety issues that Climate Change is happening and natural gas (however drilled and used) is a greenhouse gas issue. Climate Change should be a part of the debate about hydrofracking in New York State.

Not just rural business are hobbled by slow Internet access:

 

The article below explains why those in rural regions who have difficulty getting on the broadband Internet are missing out on what little economic boon there is going on.  You need an Internet connection to be a part of this democracy. 

But another component of all this is that rural folks without a good broadband signal on the Internet are going to be limited on what news they can find out about our local environment and how they can take action.  This is a Democracy and Free press issue [find out how to learn more here: Free Press | Media reform through education, organizing and advocacy

Learn more about this issue and think “Do I know all I need to know to vote correctly on environmental matters in my community? 

Report: Slow Going Internet Access "Cripples" Rural Economies WATERTOWN, N.Y. - Without broadband Internet access, rural communities will be economically hobbled, warns a new report. However, portions of rural New York are making progress toward better high-speed access, with the help of federal stimulus money. The report by the Center for Rural Strategies, a rural media watchdog group, points out that the Internet is the new norm for communication, both in business and social life. Without fast connectivity, rural businesses are at a distinct disadvantage to their competitors (April 27, 2011)  Public News Service

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chernobyl and Nuclear cleanups, they’re not over until their over:

 

There are those who continue to regard the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as ‘over’ and not that a big deal, and it couldn’t happen here, and the entire misinformation thing that’s so popular in our country. 

But, when you try and get a picture of what did happen and what is continuing to happen, you get a different story.  [Check Chernobyl Legacy from Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American]

When nuclear power goes wrong, as it probably will because we humans, even the best and brightest, make mistakes, it creates a problem altogether different from the problems with other energy options. 

Coal and oil and other fossil fuels like natural gas kill folks from air pollution and Climate Change, but nuclear power can force you out of your home, maybe your region, make your developing kids permanently sick, and do who knows what to our environment. 

And, when environmentalist say “who knows what” it triggers something in the deniers of nuclear problems, or Climate Change deniers for that sake, to say well they don’t have the proof. 

Of course, there are a lot of missing proofs about the environmental effects of oil spills, nuclear disasters, and more because we are disinclined to look for what should be obvious. 

The burden of proof is on the victims, who have little money, to prove in the courts that there is a causal relationship with this disaster and that environmental problem or cancer cluster. 

Our environment is very big and very complex, but it is also very delicate and easily affect by every little change.  Find out more about Chernobyl: 

Ukraine asks for more money for Chernobyl shelter<span style="display: none"> </span> | www.WHEC.com "Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is renewing calls for funding to build a new shelter around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor on the accident's 25th anniversary. Ukraine still needs to raise some $300 million for the project after an international donors conference held here earlier this month. " Rochester, NY News | www.WHEC.com

Why we have so much missing environmental information:

 

So many are ready to declare that the Gulf has recovered from the BP Oil Spill when the research hasn’t been completed.  

The read tragedy about getting all the information we need to know about such a large environmental disaster as the BP Oil Spill is that there are so many ‘interested parties’ involved in the outcome.  Many of these ‘interested parties’, are companies who don’t want to get sued, companies and people who need to get compensated, and all the legal issues associated with all this. 

In the end, it’s this attitude of self-interest that is ruling the discovery process of learning about the immediate and long-term effects of this major oil spill.  In truth, it should probably take a legion of experts on many level s and years of pains taking effort to find out how something like a major oil spill is affecting something so complex as the Gulf ecology. 

But, we probably won’t get the kind of research that is supposed to be done because the truth—what is happening to our environment—plays second fiddle to those with special interests.

'Quagmire Of Bureaucracy' Stifles Gulf Spill Research : NPR Although images of dead birds and blackened marshes in the Gulf of Mexico are gone, many scientists say it's too early to declare a recovery. They suspect there could be hidden damage to the Gulf's marine life and marshes. And some of these scientists say research on the effects of the spill has been delayed or kept secret. Among them is Michael Crosby, a senior scientist at Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory. The Gulf of Mexico is his baby. He was thrilled last year when BP promised to give scientists $500 million to research how the spill will affect marine life in the Gulf. Eleven months later, he's still waiting to see the money.  (April 21, 2011)  Environment : NPR

Monday, April 25, 2011

Climate Change, planning for our future

 

While the media is heralding Climate Change deniers’ claims, or worse yet, ignoring Climate Change in the news altogether, those responsible for planning our future are on the job. The true test as to whether a hypothesis has moved from wild hunches to part of the game plan is whether it’s being factored into the future.

We already know many possible consequences of Climate Change will affect our local environment: Possible Rochester, NY region Climate Change scenarios.

Three long-range plans for our region on energy, solid waste, and transportation all have Climate Change as a critical component of their plans.

What is troubling though is that in these lean budgetary times, when governmental programs are being gutted without thought to our environment and those responsible for education our youth are being stripped of their jobs, these plans might merely be hollow promises. Please stay tuned to RochesterEnvironment.com to make sure Climate Change remains a central aspect of all our long-term planning. Remember, there are no climate change deniers in the foxholes of government planning—yet. And please don’t put them there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Earth Day in Rochester, NY and beyond

 

I hope ya’ll had a chance to focus on Earth Day in some fashion on Earth Day.  Actually, our planet and our environment aren’t in trouble, we are, and all those other living beings now dependent our stewardship.  Even if we succeed in poisoning and depleting all of our natural resources, there will be a planet Earth and an environment.  They just won’t be inhabitable.  

If you didn’t get a chance to hear the Earth Day chat with Linda Isaacson Fedele (chair of the Rochester, Sierra Club) and me, we talked about many of the environmental issues of our region on WXXI Radio: 1370 Connection mentioning many of the factors that give us cause for hope and despair.  We thank all those that got back to us about how they liked the show.  (I know, I could have had a little less coffee.)

On Thursday, you might have attended the Rochester Sierra Club’s annual environmental forum.  If not here’s the skinny on that: 

Rochester Sierra Club sustainability conference - Henrietta, NY - Henrietta Post “The Rochester Sierra Club hosted a sustainability conference at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester on Thursday, April 21, 2011. The event featured local businesses, organizations and guest speakers. Homepage - Henrietta, NY - Henrietta Post

If you missed our local Rochester Earth Day events altogether, surf over listen to some great discussions on the state of our environment in many parts of the world.

Democracy Now!: Earth Day Special: Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow on the Rights of Mother Earth; "Hold Both Parties to High Standards": Van Jones, Obama’s Ex-Green Jobs Czar: and "Now Is Our Time to Take a Stand": Tim DeChristopher’s Message to Youth Climate Activists at Power Shift 2011.

Vote for meMy most immediate environmental concern is that not only will Climate Change make our weather whacky, our whacky politics might render our environment null and void. Those against a rational world view have been trying to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and succeeded in cutting 1.6 billion from the EPA’s budget.

EPA Budget Cut Will Restrict Enforcement of Clean-Air Rules, Activists Say U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts to protect public health by enforcing clean air and water rules will be undermined by a planned 16 percent budget reduction, environmental groups said. The agency will lose $1.6 billion as part of a deal between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to produce $38 billion in spending cuts for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, according to legislation made public today. A plan detailing where the cuts will be made is due in 30 days. (April 12, 2011) http://www.bloomberg.com/

This kind of nonsense, where some are trying to chuck all our environmental programs and laws, should be a wake-up call to the American people. We are at the brink of putting a whole lot of whacky people in charge of our government who don’t understand or care about science. You absolutely don’t want your president, your governor, senator, or any one in charge of public policy not preparing and not doing all they can to halt Climate Change. The American people have got to stop thinking about their short-term interests and begin situating our government to handle what’s coming down the pipe—a hundred years of Climate Change even if we stopped putting one more carbon dioxide molecule into our atmosphere right now.

It may sound great to have lower taxes, lower gas prices, and wildly exuberant stocks making zillions of dollars because corporations are getting away without paying their fair share of their taxes, but believe me that ‘trickle down’ effect, where those making billions of dollars will allegedly create jobs for the rest of us, doesn’t work. Our long history of environmental abuse from corporations who have sucked the life blood out of our planet (Brownfields and pollution) will continue to happen if we don’t tighten up environmental controls and monitor our environment continually. Sure, those whacky politicians who want government out of your pocketbook make great sound bites on those loony political commercials, but in the real world we need a large governmental presence to make sure environmental laws are enforced and our environment protected. Happy talk by the people who caused our budgetary problems and are now profiting from them, just won’t do the trick.

I hope we can note some progress on providing our next generation with a sustainable environment on next year’s Earth Day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Acknowledging Earth Day:

 

We hope ya’ll had a chance to focus on Earth Day in some fashion on Earth Day.  Our planet and our environment aren’t in trouble, we are.  Even if we poison and deplete all of our natural resources, there will be a planet Earth and an environment.  They just won’t be inhabitable. 

For our part, we talked about some of that on WXXI Radio: 1370 Connection mentioning many of the factors in the Rochester, NY region that give us cause for hope and despair.  We thank all those that got back to us about how they liked the show. 

On Thursday, you might have attended the Rochester Sierra Club’s annual environmental forum.  If not here’s the skinny on that:

Rochester Sierra Club sustainability conference - Henrietta, NY - Henrietta Post “The Rochester Sierra Club hosted a sustainability conference at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester on Thursday, April 21, 2011. The event featured local businesses, organizations and guest speakers. Homepage - Henrietta, NY - Henrietta Post 

If you miss our chat on our local environmental issues on Earth Day, I suggest you surf over to three excerpts of Earth Day on Democracy Now!: Earth Day Special: Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow on the Rights of Mother Earth; "Hold Both Parties to High Standards": Van Jones, Obama’s Ex-Green Jobs Czar: and "Now Is Our Time to Take a Stand": Tim DeChristopher’s Message to Youth Climate Activists at Power Shift 2011.

If you feel that you are not interested in Earth Day, or that environmental issues are not your ‘thing,’ in what sense would you meant that? 

Friday, April 22, 2011

How does Rochester, NY measure up on our environment?

 

We here in Rochester, NY have seen many programs (like the City of Rochester’s Bicycle Master Plan that includes Bicycle Boulevards, Monroe County’s Pick-Up-The-Parks program, our area’s leadership in lead poisoning prevention, and much more) that should put our region up for some kind of acknowledgement. 

We’re happy that Syracuse has gotten some notice by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and we hope they will take another look at Rochester, NY and Monroe County. 

Syracuse, Onondaga County named top EPA green community | syracuse.com Syracuse, N.Y. -- Onondaga County and Syracuse on Tuesday were named one of 10 top green communities in the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "These communities are way ahead of the curve," said Judith Enck, an EPA regional administrator whose district includes New York. (April 22, 2011)  Syracuse NY Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather - syracuse.com

Climate Change will affect us:

 

This article below highlights how Climate Change will most likely affect our human infrastructure because of more rainfall and more extreme weather events. 

Are we in Rochester, NY going to be ready for the changes?  What other events can we here in Rochester expect from Climate Change and what will we do to prepare?  These are the questions before us, not whether Climate Change is worth bothering with—as too many of those who will be affected by Climate Change doubt.  

Articles like the one below are not only of interest to those in Chicago.  Chicago is a city on the Great Lakes and so is Rochester, NY; if one city is anticipating Climate Change effects, one can only assume other cities are doing so also. 

The public needs to be continually reminded that those who represent them and are accountable to them must prepare for Climate Change. 

Climate change: More intense rains could swamp Chicago's aging sewers - chicagotribune.com In a city built on a swamp, where rainstorms already flood basements and force sewage into Lake Michigan and local streams, climate change could make Chicago's chronic water pollution woes even worse. Researchers hired by Mayor Richard Daley's office estimate that intense rainfall will happen more frequently in the not-so-distant future because of warming global temperatures, challenging the region's aging sewers and the troubled Deep Tunnel project more than ever. (April 21, 2011)  Chicago Tribune: Chicago news

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hydrofracking, making our decisions

 

Saying that we need go after natural gas in New York State because there are jobs, because of national security, and because it will bring in a lot of money to the state is not the whole picture.  Instead of arguing all points and using whatever ‘facts’ come to light, we should also find a way to sift through the myriads of facts and figures to determine the best argument, the most important concerns, and the proper context hydrofracking should be placed into our energy needs. 

Talk about hydrofracking for natural gas should include Climate Change.  Because of the catastrophic change to our region that will come with Climate Change we should be focusing on that first, instead of the other issues that can be solved in other ways. 

For example, much of our energy needs can be gotten by renewable energy (wind and solar) that won’t contribute to greenhouse gases like digging for natural gas will. 

And now this study (below) questions whether digging for natural gas will release so much methane gas (far more potent than Carbon Dioxide) that it could be dirtier than using coal.     

Cornell Chronicle: Fracking's natural gas may be 'dirtier' than coal "Extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale could do more to aggravate global warming than mining coal, according to a Cornell study published in the May issue of Climatic Change Letters (105:5). While natural gas has been touted as a clean-burning fuel that produces less carbon dioxide than coal, ecologist Robert Howarth warns that we should be more concerned about methane leaking into the atmosphere during hydraulic fracturing. " (April 11, 2011)  Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future - News

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Imagine the possibilities

 

Imagine the possibilities of solving Climate Change and its effect on our Great Lakes if we could support wind and solar power the way we support gas, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. As stated in this insightful article, Climate Change is going change the Great Lakes.

That should stand out in one’s mind as the most important fact in our energy debates.

So, one has to measure the revulsion of some who are against the unsightliness of wind turbines with the great collapse of the largest fresh water system in the world because of Climate Change. Instead of spending billions of dollars on more nuclear plants (not to mention how dangerous they are), which will take years to build, we could be funding more studies to protect wildlife from wind turbines and creating jobs in the Rochester region.

Our canals could help transport large wind turbine equipment, instead of hauling them across our highways. Our old factories and their infrastructure could be retrofitted to create renewable energy rather than old polluting energy. And, with public monies going towards battery storage, energy efficiencies (like florescent bulbs instead of incandescent), smart grids to supply the power when it is needed, and conservation measures taken to reduce our energy needs our environment could have a chance.

Because, at the end of the day, renewable energy must be a critical part of our energy equation because our environment is in trouble. All other energy sources, except the renewable, heat the planet or are so dangerous and polluting that our next generation is going to be facing a very hot future. The economy, the tax exemptions, and government subsidies should favor an energy system that will make our environment sustainable—not enrich the rich.

When you say no to wind and solar, you say yes to Climate Change.

ENVIRONMENT: Offshore wind is about balance - News Blog - Rochester City Newspaper The key to successful offshore wind development in the Great Lakes will be balance: finding middle ground between blanket opposition and support. Yesterday, during a conference at RIT devoted to offshore wind in the Great Lakes, a National Wildlife Federation representative summarized the situation. Frank Szollosi, a policy analyst at NWF's Great Lakes field office, said the projects are needed to help protect species from the effects of climate change, but those same living things need to be protected from energy infrastructure as well. (April 14, 2011) Rochester NY News, Events, Restaurants, Music, Entertainment, Nightlife - Rochester City Newspaper

Ramping up environmental concerns:

 

Rather than sitting by idly while their future goes up in heat, many young folks are taking a zero a tolerance stance towards polluting energy and Climate Change.  Last weekend’s PowerShift rally in Washington was quite a deal. 

Whit Jones: 5,000 Young Voters Rally for a Power Shift, Demand President Obama Stand Up to Big Polluters “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Cherri Foytlin of Gulf Change, and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben addressed the demonstration in front of the White House. They're demanding that the president and Congress stand up to Big Polluters, protect the Clean Air Act, and make corporate polluters like BP pay for their pollution.” Green News and Opinion on The Huffington Post How this will play in Peoria?

Meaning, how much attention will this get in mainstream media?   I don’t know. But a shift is occurring in the strategy in some environmentalists to demand a sustainable future—instead of the doomed one being offered by big business.  And that anger and frustration at their future being compromised may be harder and harder to ignore. 

Environmental Activists Occupy Interior Dept. at End of PowerShift Conference "2:15pm EDT Tim DeChristopher, activist and founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising, called Democracy Now! with an update from the U.S. Department of Interior, where 300-400 people are outside protesting and another 50 people are inside and refusing to leave. The march comes at the end of the four-day PowerShift conference in D.C., where 10,000 activists gathered to demand a clean energy future, targeting the Dept. of the Interior for green-lighting mountaintop "coal" removal mining, oil drilling, and now massive new coal development in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. " April 18, 2011)  A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The GOP needs to grow up:

 

Is removing environmental constraints on business the dialogue we should be having in a modern society?  Considering the number of Brownfields and ubiquitous environmental pollution in our air, land, and water, is there any credence to the GOP argument that environmental rules are keeping business from success?  It might be, but only in a childish way against authority.  

However, in the future there will be more environmental regulations because our environment has been trashed by business practices in the past, including air pollution and the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels world-wide.  

We need to be able to talk about important matters like Climate Change in this country free of political ideological nonsense.   Clearly, it is nonsense to allow businesses to function without environmental regulations, as they have proved since businesses have begun that only making a profit comes first for them.  While this may make sense to some, it does not make sense to a species that intents to survive. 

The GOP’s reaction to more environmental regulations is an emotional response to those trying to limit their profits, when in truth no one will make a profit in an environment that is collapsing.  

Yes, there should be dialogues about how to create a world-wide level playing field concerning environmental regulations on how business can profit in these times of extraordinary environmental concerns. 

But, eliminating and gutting the agencies themselves that attempt to keep our environment healthy are childish and unfit for an intelligent for a mature conversation about a very serious subject.

At State Level, G.O.P. Seeks Big Environmental Cutbacks - NYTimes.com Another Tea Party ally, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, has proposed eliminating millions of dollars in annual outlays for land conservation as well as cutting to $17 million the $50 million allocated in last year’s budget for the restoration of the dwindling Everglades. Weeks after he was sworn in as governor of Maine, Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, announced a 63-point plan to cut environmental regulations, including opening three million acres of the North Woods for development and suspending a law meant to monitor toxic chemicals that could be found in children’s products. (April 15, 2011)  The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How do higher gasoline prices affect our environment?

 

What seems to be true in our country is that no amount of information on how pollution and atmospheric warming is given to the public or public officials will move folks out of their gas guzzlers to alternative modes of travel, like mass transit, bicycles, or even walking for short distances—except a rise in gas prices. 

I’m wondering if anyone is tracking the use of alternative transportation in our area as the gas prices rise.  We do all sorts of studies that get in our newspapers that aren’t the result of more investigations—just more data mining of information we have lying around.  But what about conducting studies that determine what it will take people to reduce greenhouse gases and deter Climate Change? 

One would think in this time of a Climate Change crisis that that kind of information would be the information most important to public officials desperate to make our way of life sustainable.  What might one find in such a study? Of course, there must be a gas price threshold for everyone.  We’ll do less impulse shopping, less cruising around, and less of those non-important traveling before we forgo the car. 

And also low income folks will move away from vehicles before higher income folks, and I suspect the vehicles with better gas mileage will sell better than those than those whose gas guzzling carburetors (I know, referencing this device dates me) that look like someone flushing a toilet. 

However, rather than guess, it would be a good idea to track people’s transportation choices as the gasoline prices and oil company profits climb higher.

Gas averages $4 in five states; N.Y. getting close | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com "NEW YORK — The average price of gasoline is now above $4 a gallon in five states, and it could rise to that level in New York and Washington, D.C., this weekend. In New York, the statewide average for regular was $3.98 on Friday. The $4 threshold already has been crossed in New York City ($4.05) and Long Island ($4.02), while upstate's prices are closing in on the mark. "  (April 16, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle | Rochester news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Rochester, New York | democratandchronicle.com

Living on a hot planet:

 

If things keep going the way they are—Climate Change warming the planet, congress gutting the EPA and denying the science of Climate Change from our public officials—it is certain that life on planet Earth is going to be different. 

Our children are going to have less choices and a more compromised environment that we did.  Listen to this interview with an author who has been investigating those in power who are making sure that we don’t do something about Climate Change. 

Here’s an interesting quote from the interview: “There’s only debate about that in the United States of America. And we—you know, I get this all the time now, where people say, "Well, you know, there’s all this disagreement." There is not any disagreement, unless you are watching Fox News and listening to the House Republican Party.”  Read on:

As Congress Slashes EPA, Climate Funding, Author Mark Hertsgaard on "Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth" "As Congress Slashes EPA, Climate Funding, Author Mark Hertsgaard on "Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth" The budget deal approved by Congress cuts $1.6 billion from the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—a 16 percent decrease; reduces funding for a planned climate desk within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and eliminates the position of assistant to the president for energy and climate change. " A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Got energy and are you ready to bolt?

 

One of the possible (and we can argue about how possible) consequences of living near a nuclear power is an accident.  

Our Rochester region is one of those large communities living near a nuclear power plant.  Are we ready to bolt to someplace else if there is an accident because of the way we get energy?   If a blade comes off a wind turbine, we won’t have to take iodine pills or evacuate.  If a solar panel fails, who will notice? 

A bad accident at a nuclear power plant is a factor of multitudes worse than any other kind of energy source failure.  Why do we have to live in such a way that the energy we use must be so dangerous, not just dangerous, but so very long-term dangerous? 

Population rises near US nuclear reactors - US news - Life - msnbc.com Map of census data shows a 17 percent increase in residents within 10 miles in a decade | WATERFORD, Conn. — Who's afraid of nuclear power? Not the American people, judging by where they choose to live. A new map of data from the 2010 U.S. Census shows that the number of people living within the 10-mile emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants rose by 17 percent in the past decade, compared with an overall increase of less than 10 percent in the U.S. population.  Among the 100 most populous cities on the new census map, 26 have a nuclear plant within 50 miles: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia (3 different plants nearby), Phoenix, San Diego, Fort Worth, Charlotte (2 plants), Detroit, Baltimore, Boston (2 plants), Washington, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Omaha, Raleigh and Durham, Miami, Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Paul (2 plants), New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Toledo (2 plants), Newark, Baton Rouge, and Rochester, N.Y. (April 15, 2011)  msnbc.com - Breaking news, science and tech news, world news, US news, local news- msnbc.com

The state of our media as Earth Day approaches

 

My most salient reflection on Earth Day (just a few days away) is that Climate Change is the moral imperative for our generation. If we don’t move to stovepipe Climate Change news and information to the front pages of mainstream media, we jeopardize the next generation’s ability to have a clean, healthy environment.

Climate Change is not just another special interest, though judging from the treatment it gets from mainstream media, it seems that way. Climate Change is the environment we now inhabit, where our atmosphere and oceans are heating up, where extreme weather events are normal, and a 1% increase in greenhouse gas since the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution is melting the arctic glaciers. It means day-by-day our atmosphere and water bodies are heating up far beyond the usual (pre-human) pace of climate change. We need know how Climate Change is affecting the ability of future generations to have a future. And that will require participation by everyone who shops, who works, who plays, and who breathes on this precarious planet. So, you’d think this would be what appears on the media that everyone sees and hears. But it isn’t.

I’ve just come back from the FreePress.net’s National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR): “The NCMR is the biggest and best conference devoted to media, technology and democracy.” It was a great three-day conference on describing and overcoming the challenges for a free press in the wake of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the assault on public funding for Public Broadcasting, and the threat against net neutrality. In case you haven’t noticed, there is a crisis in our media and our First Amendment:

“The amendment prohibits the making of any law ‘respecting an establishment of religion’, impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.” First Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It must sound strange to those who only listen to mainstream media and don’t notice much of a problem at all with free speech and least of all why. For some, I imagine, even if there is an issue with this amendment, how are environmental issues related? To the un-critical eye there seems to be a lot of media out there—a bewildering amount of websites, blogs, chat, tweets, social media, and more—but nevertheless there is a crisis: a great dearth of investigative reporting and new FCC rules that threaten to carve up the Internet (where we’ll get most of our information in the future) where only a few corporations can survive.

One concern is that by 2015 most folks in this country will be connecting to the Internet via their mobile connections and that signal may only allow what the few providers choose for you to hear. That’s not a free and open Internet. It impacts particularly low-income families, who are now moving to mobile Internet connections because this technology has enabled them to compete with everyone else for jobs, information, health, emergencies, directions, and connectivity to all the important people in their lives. I.e. it violates the basics of a healthy democracy.

What this has to do with local environmental news is that despite the rise of the Internet and information about our environment, mainstream media on and off the web is disinclined to view environmental news as important. One of the dilemmas of the media crisis is how to fund news and information so everyone can thrive in a democracy. This new media, so desperate for financial stability, believes that caving into the public’s desire for happy news, catastrophes, and sports news, trumps the need for sobering, accurate, and objective news on the state of our environment. Despite the world-wide crisis of Climate Change and pollution and an environment hardly fit for the next generation, these issues do not appear often or thorough enough to educate the public on the seriousness of these issues. Along with that, many of our best news sources are moving behind online pay walls, making it more difficult for low income folks to find out what they need to know to vote and take action on our environment.

The media crisis: Investigative reporters are losing their jobs in droves, trying to find a new media format that is able to give them a living wage and the power to back their usually unpopular findings, like discovering the sources of pollution or cancer clusters. And this isn’t the half of it. Check: Free Press | Media reform through education, organizing and advocacy

So, how do we fix it? How does a democracy fund a media that gets important, not necessarily popular, information to the public? One of the things I learned at the NCMR conference is that those severely challenged by our unequal distribution of wealth have become empowered by mobile technology. In the present world, the majority of those who are not rich and aren’t going to receive the great tax breaks coming up from the last budget negotiations are realizing that their future depends on keeping the net neutral. So, they need this technology that gives them a fighting chance to thrive and prosper.

We have to find a way to focus on important issues like keeping our environment sustainable and keeping the cost down for the new media. The marketplace is incapable of supplying the public with a free and open media that is unbiased and offers a complete picture of our environmental plight. We are part of a global cloud-sourced spigot of information about our environment because we are those ‘who speak for our planet’ as Carl Sagan said. We cannot stand to let the few and powerful game our Internet the way they have taken advantage of the economic crisis to pay themselves and avoid paying taxes.

Earth Day, be there, aloha.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Climate Change explained by the experts.

 

Too often Climate Change, the most important issue of this century, is explained by a media that doesn’t understand it. 

Listen and watch these climate experts explain through a series of short videos the answers to the questions most folks have about Climate Change.  What is it?  What effect will it have?  How do they know it’s happening? 

Rather than depending on your favorite pundit with his or her favorite agenda, let those who have been deeply involved with the research behind Climate Change explain this complex issue in a thoughtful and entertaining way.  These are very well-done videos, short and to the point, and readily understandable.  Check them out and then send them to your Climate Change denying friends:

NSF.gov - To What Degree? - What Science Is Telling Us About Climate Change - How Do We Know?  "Leading climate change experts discuss one of the most complex puzzles ever to confront mankind." nsf.gov - National Science Foundation - US National Science Foundation (NSF)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rebuilding our oceans:

 

The story below about rebuilding fish populations for fishermen off New York State’s coasts presents an interesting perspective on how we view our oceans and our environment.  We have been overfishing and polluting our oceans for centuries and now that it suddenly occurs to us that we should get back what we had, a cornucopia of fish and a healthy ocean, we don’t have a clue as to how to get them back. 

It’s also interesting that in light of the fact that we have depleted and compromised a system as large and as vast as our oceans the media presents this issue as only a concern for the fishermen.  Very strange. 

My point: By the time we start to realize that our environment is in serious trouble, which they are, it is going to be very difficult to recover them because in our present economic system pays it so well not to clean up and grab every last fish. 

It is a case of the tragedy of the commons: “The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen.”

How Many Fish in the Ocean for NY? NEW YORK - A law to rebuild depleted ocean fish populations was passed by Congress 35 years ago today, and experts say it has produced positive results along the shores of New York and other mid-Atlantic states. The law has undergone plenty of fine-tuning through amendments in the past 3 1/2 decades, says Lee Crockett, director of federal fisheries policy for the Pew Environment Group, but the end result is that fish once in danger of disappearing from New York's coastline now are back to healthy population levels. (April 13, 2011)

Event for Transportation on Bike Week:

 

UMNA’s 2011 Bicycle Boulevard Ride   On Sunday, May 22nd at 1 PM in Cobbs Hill Park (the corner of Norris Dr. and Culver Road), we will hold another Bicycle Boulevard ride.  Our ride is called the Upper Monroe/ Swillburg Bicycle Boulevard ride

The bicycle ride will begin at 1PM sharp and it will be lead by a Rochester Bicycling Club Board member.  You’ll need to wear a helmet and children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Last year, over forty bicyclists rode the bicycle boulevard demonstration ride through Upper Monroe neighborhood in Rochester, New York. They were not racers, or members of a single bicycling club, or recruits for a charity ride. They were just ordinary folks like you finding out what a bicycle boulevard would look and feel like in our area.  Maybe, it is a harbinger of things to come. 

Portland, Oregon’s next generation bicycle boulevards is already achieving what we are attempting here: “A low traffic volume and low traffic speed streets where bicycles, pedestrians and neighbors are given priority.”  

This ride is part of Rochester Bike Week, which is hosted by the Rochester Cycling Alliance.  There will be more rides during the week of May 20th - 27th. Stay tuned to all information about this ride and Bike Week on our web site: UpperMonroeNeighborhood.org.

Along with the Swillburg neighborhood, UMNA’s endorsement last year helped get bicycle boulevards into the final version of the Rochester Bicycle Master Plan: "The City of Rochester wants to make it easier for you to get around on your bicycle. The plan's recommendations will serve as a framework for the city's future investment in bicycle infrastructure." 

Check it out at City of Rochester | Bicycle Master Plan Project Besides having a great time with your friends and neighbors, consider while your bicycling with us that boulevards will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make you healthier, and create a more vibrant neighborhood. 

This ride is sponsored by the Upper Monroe Neighborhood, Swillburg Neighborhood, and the Rochester Sierra Club Transportation Committee.  Financial sponsorship for Bike Week 2011 is provided by Rochester Bicycling Club.  For other Bike Week rides in Rochester, go to Rochester Cycling Alliance: Bike Week 2011.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Natural gas drilling in our region may have more issues than the possible contamination of our water supplies with hydrofracking fluids.

 

Endeavoring to drill across the state for the gas some believe will save us from the hazards of getting foreign energy has about it a myriad of environmental issues. 

We should be sure we are paying attention to all the possible consequences of drilling for gas in our region.

Studies Say Natural Gas Has Its Own Problems - NYTimes.com "Natural gas, with its reputation as a linchpin in the effort to wean the nation off dirtier fossil fuels and reduce global warming, may not be as clean over all as its proponents say. Natural gas, with its reputation as a linchpin in the effort to wean the nation off dirtier fossil fuels and reduce global warming, may not be as clean over all as its proponents say. " (April 11, 2011) The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

Climate Change gets dicey for New York region:

 

Mostly, the New York State region has missed some of the more dramatic and immediate effects of Climate Change.  That’s because our atmosphere is a big and complex system with lots of other things affecting it, like El Nino and La Nina, besides the 1% increase in heat since the last two hundred years.  Pakistan, with last summer’s floods, Australia, where the cyclone Yasi hit in February, and Russia, the location of massive forest fires, have not been so lucky.

That New York State has only seen some lengthening of its growing season and some quirky weather and some other un-dramatic effects that we haven’t bothered to study is only chance.  Eventually, the steady increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is going make extreme weather (winds, heat, snow storms, floods, droughts) the norm everywhere—including our neck of the woods. 

This study below hints that even though we are nowhere near Antarctica, we could (according to some climate models) reap some ocean level rising at the shores of New York City because of that continent’s glacier meltings.  We aren’t in the middle of a gun battle, where there is only a high probability that we may get hit; we in the Rochester, NY region are part of the global environment that is going to feel the effects of Climate Change period—it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of looking closely and seeing what’s happening. 

You would think that if the potential of a massive sea level rise that would negatively affect our state, our state’s largest city, we would see that information, that study, mentioned in our local news.  After all, Climate Change does not discriminate against any country, or any economic system, or any amount of Climate Change denial.

BBC News - New York set to be big loser as sea levels rise "New York is a major loser and Reykjavik a winner from new forecasts of sea level rise in different regions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in 2007 that sea levels would rise at least 28cm (1ft) by the year 2100. | Of the 13 regions where the team makes specific projections, New York sees the biggest increase from the global average, although Vancouver, Tasmania and The Maldives are also forecast to see above-average impacts. " April 8, 2011) BBC News - Home

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Transportation Choices get dear with gas prices go up:

 

It shouldn’t have to be that we will only change our way of getting around when the price of gas goes up.  But that’s usually the way it is. 

When the gas soars over 5 dollars a gallon more folks will move to places where they don’t have to drive so far to their jobs and shopping.  More folks will use public transportation, or use alternative transportation to get around. 

The public at large will consider ideas like High Speed Rail, when they wouldn’t have when gas prices were low.  But we shouldn’t have to wait until we are forced by gas prices to change our transportation behavior.

According to the Environment Protection Agency, 27% of greenhouse gases we emit are caused by transportation, gas-guzzlers spewing out global warming gases.   We should recognize the problem of Climate Change before disasters hit and act rationally and wisely.   

Gas - Up 15 Days in a Row - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events - 13WHAM.com Rochester, N.Y. - The cost of gas has gone up for 15 straight days. The national average hit $3.71 a gallon. In Rochester, prices are creeping up to $3.89--$3.99 per gallon (April 7, 2011) Home - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events - 13WHAM.com

Rochester region Earth Day chat:

 

Along with Linda Isaacson Fedele, chairperson of the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club, I will be a guest on the Bob Smith Show on 1370AM Connection for an hour-long discussion from noon to 1PM on April 22, 2011—Earth Day. 

Linda and I hope to highlight many of the environmental issues being acted upon by our fellow environmentalists and get your feedback.  The program, one of the best forums in this community to air thoughtful discourse on important subjects to the entire public, is a chance for those whose voices tend to get drowned out by what’s presently popular or powerful in a community and not heard so much. 

So, here on Earth Day in Rochester is a chance to view our environment from the perspective of those who focus on the big picture of environmental issues and advocate action towards a more sustainable way of life.  There’s a twenty-minute view call-in, be sure to make your concerns and views on our local environment heard.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

How will Climate Change affect our local biodiversity?

 

This question probably doesn’t galvanize many into action, and certainly not our local press.  Even though last year was the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, where the United Nations tried to focus the world on the catastrophic decline in animal and plant species around the world due to human interference, there was hardly a peep in our local media.  

This highlights a failure in our media because Climate Change is going to be happening everywhere.  It’s not only going to affect how many days you can snowboard over at the local ski resort, it’s going to affect the  crops you grow and probably the little critters that help and hinder your crop’s growth.  

It’s good to see a major news organization like the New York Times describe the nature of these studies related to Climate Change and biodiversity, but I suspect there should be a lot more than what’s mentioned. 

We barely have an understanding of how all the biotic mechanisms that quietly keep our environment going—all those little creatures and fungus that break down dead material and the teeny weenie microscopic nameless beings that make an environment work—let alone cataloging what creatures are already being affected by Climate Change.  

This is important because ignorance is not bliss, it’s delusional.  It would probably seem the very height of absurdity for someone to suggest that our government shell out billions to find out what the effect of Climate Change is and is going to be. 

With everything else off the table in these extreme budgetary times, even throwing out teachers to educate our children so they can have a fighting chance in our world, I bet few are sitting around thinking we should throw even more money at studies that might give us a fighting chance to have a sustainable life-style.  And, yet we should. 

There are still a lot of creatures out there making our environment a viable environment by keeping our air and water clean, keeping our crops alive, and all sorts of ‘invisible’ stuff we haven’t even evaluated before we began this vast experiment on our environment called ‘development.’ 

Maybe we should slow down and find out what the heck we are doing before we just assume that Climate Change is not worth bothering with. 

Multitude of Species Face Climate Threat - NYTimes.com Over the past 540 million years, life on Earth has passed through five great mass extinctions. In each of those catastrophes, an estimated 75 percent or more of all species disappeared in a few million years or less. For decades, scientists have warned that humans may be ushering in a sixth mass extinction, and recently a group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, tested the hypothesis. They applied new statistical methods to a new generation of fossil databases. As they reported last month in the journal Nature, the current rate of extinctions is far above normal. If endangered species continue to disappear, we will indeed experience a sixth extinction, over just the next few centuries or millennia. (April 4, 2011) The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Nuclear Power, from Japan to home

 

We are learning quite a bit about all those things the Japanese were told would not go wrong with nuclear power there and did, but what have we learned about safety of nuclear plants over here in the US?  One thing we are learning is that ‘we don’t know what to do with nuclear waste’ is not merely an energy talking point. 

Those spent fuel rods that remained housed in the nuclear facilities in Japan, the ones they were going to take care of, didn’t get removed and are now causing much of the problems.  How are we doing with that over here?

West Valley Nuclear Waste Facility Case Study - GrowWNY  "In light of the recent tsunami in Japan and the storm's impact on nuclear power plants there, GrowWNY.org asked a local community group - Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes - to share their story on the nuclear facility in our region and the ongoing effort to clean up the waste that remains. From: Mapping Waste: Setting the Stage to Clean-Up Niagara* In 1961, New York State acquired a 3,345-acre site of farmland and woods in Cattaraugus County, NY, mostly through the process of eminent domain, as a future site for a new venture encouraged by the federal Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).  This new venture, then known as the West Valley Nuclear Facility, was the first and, as of this date, the only commercial reprocessing facility in the United States.  Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) was selected as the operator and did so from 1966 until 1972 when it suspended operations to apply for modifications and re-licensing. " (March 15, 2011)  GrowWNY

Monday, April 04, 2011

New zoos:

 

This story about videoing eagles in-situ highlight a version of a new zoo concept that would be a better idea for our environment than existing zoos. If you maintain that we need zoos to educate the public on wildlife and the role they play in our environment, wouldn’t it make more sense to video creatures as they shape and are shaped by our environment—instead of putting them into cages so people could just stare at these homeless entities?

We could have educational outlets where the public came in and viewed wildlife on special cameras that were placed so as to watch wildlife doing what they do—maintain our environment.

Though each moment may not be as dramatic as the clip mentioned below, even a sleeping creature would afford the viewer to contemplate the role that these creatures play in our environment. Top predators like wolves and lions, ripping up and devouring prey, are not depicting human soap-opera-like behavior. They’re doing something else: controlling the lives of the plants and animals in their ecosphere and keeping populations down.

There would be so much more to learn from an unobtrusive zoo of cameras where humanity could watch their environment in action without tearing it up hoping to preserve it for another time.

WXXI: New reality show: Millions watch bald eagles nesting (2011-04-03) CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new reality show has gone viral on the Internet featuring a life and death struggle, a love story and a birds eye view of -- an eagle family. More than 11 million views from 130 countries have been recorded by a streaming video of a nesting bald eagle couple in Decorah, Iowa. The first egg was laid in February, the eggs were incubated for weeks and the eaglets finally emerged. (April 3, 2011) WXXI NewsRoom

Critical environmental information darts behind a pay wall

 

To those who believe the marketplace should rule the planet (and not something as amorphous and unforgivable as Nature) must be heartened by the movement of one of our most important news sources behind a pay wall. The New York Times recently took a leap into the online media payment regime:

“This week marks a significant transition for The New York Times as we introduce digital subscriptions. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications. This change comes in two stages. On Thursday, we rolled out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the United States and the rest of the world. “(March 17, 2011) A Letter to Our Readers About Digital Subscriptions - NYTimes.com

It may be a big gamble, one of desperation, for such a large news organization to force its readers to pay for what they have been freely able to attain for years. There are so many other free media outlets online to choose from, albeit not with the quality and clout of the New York Times. Nevertheless, whatever your views on the media business model in the digital age, everyone, even those without resources, need to have some basic information about the state of our democracy and environment.

I am not against the New York Times, or any news outlet, making a living wage so that their business can sustain itself. What I question is that critical information, major studies that the NYT has conducted on our environment, will no longer be available for the huddled masses who don’t have the resources to subscribe to this newspaper or any other online content.

Please note: This is not a polemic about money and how news outlets stay alive; this essay is about how the majority of the public will get critical information in the future. We are at a juncture in this country where public broadcasting funding is being questioned, where the FCC has given mobile Internet servers free reign as who goes where online, where funding for libraries is dwindling because of community budget crunches, where extreme political networks are viewed as mainstream media, and serious, well-trained journalists are scurrying for a livelihood. And while many may think this is just ol’ creative disaster capitalism at play, it means the light is going dim on thoroughly researched and objective information that can reach a mass audience.

The majority of folks don’t need to know how many moose Sara Palin has shot or dreams of shooting, but the public does need to know if our atmosphere is warming up and what is causing it. How will the average citizen learn about the state of our environment if all serious media closes the door to them by making this information too expensive?

It is ultimately in no one’s best interest to have a sizeable portion of our public ignorant of the basic information they need to know. Eventually, and probably when it’s far too late, no matter how well a media has spun the truth about Climate Change, things will get hot.

An informed public must be the most important goal throughout this media upheaval. Other countries like Great Britain and the Netherlands understand this dilemma and are willing to steer public funding towards that end. We, however, have had that discussion hijacked by extremists who believe only the rich should be given tax breaks so they can gobble up and consolidate the media and then fill the airwaves with counterproductive claptrap.

So how are we in the United States going to have objective, mass distribution of information on energy (oil, nuclear, renewable, and natural gas) or Climate Change, when the major media outlets don’t even believe in science? How will the masses make informed choices if the news we need to know is only available to the rich?

Luckily, there are many who recognize the desperate situation our media is and have resolved to solve it: Check out this major media conference where the best and brightest will be assembling to make our media functional:

National Conference for Media Reform 2011 “The conference is your chance to meet, share ideas with and be inspired by thousands of people who care about the future of media, technology and democracy. You’ll join activists, media makers, educators, journalists, artists and policymakers in sessions about journalism and public media; technology and innovation; policy and politics; arts and culture; social justice and movement building; plus how-to workshops and hands-on trainings. You’ll see creative, courageous and conscientious films and meet with writers during book signings. And of course, you won’t want to miss the parties.”

Friday, April 01, 2011

April 1st and the new NYS E-waste law begins:

 

And this is only the beginning, as the restrictions and enforcements ramp up each year.

New York Passes Strict E-waste Law - Earth911.com It has been hailed as “the most progressive, best researched e-waste bill in country” by the Natural Resources Defense Council. While New York is the 23rd state to pass an e-waste law, this new legislation is more stringent, holding both manufacturers and consumers responsible for disposing electronic waste. Starting in April 2011, manufacturers across the state must offer free programs allowing consumers to drop off their items for proper disposal. Manufacturers will also be prohibited from dumping e-waste in landfills. That same rule will go into effect for consumers starting Jan. 15, 2015. According to The New York Times, the state will mandate the amount of electronic waste each company is required to recycle or reuse annually. This number is based on each manufacturer’s market share of electronics sales in New York. I can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from those struck dumb by yet another rule and regulation restricting their lives. Because there are those who believe that they should have unfettered freedom to do as they please, there will be continual fights over any kind of regulations—regardless of their necessity. And, if that mean tossing their toxic electronic waste (TV’s and other E-waste have lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals that are very toxic to humans and other life) so be it. Complete freedom to dump anything anywhere would make sense if we lived on a magical planet where all the stuff we discarded got magically taken away, broken down into good stuff, and never came back to haunt us. But that isn’t the case on this planet, which is ruled by physics not people’s opinions. Let’s be honest, our sense of freedom must change because our stuff is piling up: Ocean garbage: Floating landmines | A new B.C. study found 36,000 pieces of debris along our coastline. Experts say it's just the 'tip of the iceberg' of a problem that's growing alongside our demand for disposable goods. No matter where you travel on the B.C. coast, no matter how remote or seemingly untrammelled and pristine the fiord or inlet, a piece of plastic, Styrofoam or other garbage has been there before you. God knows how it got there: Dumped recklessly off a vessel, swept down a river or through a storm drain, blown by the wind off the land, or brought in by the ocean currents flowing across the vast North Pacific - including debris from the Japanese tsunami, which could start arriving on our coast in two years. (SunMarch 19, 2011) Vancouver Sun | Latest Breaking News | Business | Sports | Canada Daily News

Our new E-waste law in New York is an attempt to stop toxic E-waste from going into our landfill. It would be great if everyone had disposed of their E-waste properly and got it recycled, and the manufacturers made sure they could take their stuff back, but only a few did. Thus, we have to protect our environment and urge businesses and citizens to take responsibility by ramping up our laws. Here’s the law:

The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation “The NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act (PDF) (39 kB) (Article 27, Title 26 of the Environmental Conservation Law) was signed into law by the Governor on May 28, 2010. The law will ensure that every New Yorker will have the opportunity to recycle their electronic waste in an environmentally responsible manner. The law requires manufacturers to establish a convenient system for the collection, handling, and recycling or reuse of electronic waste. Manufacturers of covered electronic equipment (CEE) will be responsible for implementing and maintaining an acceptance program for the discarded electronic waste, with oversight by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (Department).”

So, this may all seem very intrusive to your tastes. More and more regulations and more restrictions on your life and business, but think about it: Given the past history of pollution and Brownfields (where industries just pickup and leave toxic land for the public to clean up after them), do you really want the environmental constraints pulled away from the public and business.

Do you really want anyone to drill for anything, anywhere after the BP Oil Spill? Do you really want the Environmental Protection Agency gutted so everyone can just do what they please without being monitored, licensed, and not held accountable? Is this the world you want, a kind of childish freedom with no responsibility to future generations? Already, we are being held hostage to a few who think we can have a sustainable existence by taking away the environmental officials:

Michigan vs. California: The global warming smackdown continues - Global warming - Salon.com Senator Debbie Stabenow joins the cripple-the-EPA crowd. Got to keep those tailpipes polluting!“ Brad Johnson has a useful update on the various EPA-crippling Senate amendments under consideration this week. Environmentalists have a right to be nervous -- more than a handful of Senate Democrats are already on record supporting efforts to stop the EPA from enforcing limits on greenhouse gas emissions, which strongly suggests that it won't be too hard for Republicans to get 60 votes in favor of gutting the EPA. (The Senate was supposed to vote on the amendments on Thursday, but a squabble with Sen. Coburn, R-Okla. has gummed up the works.)”(March 31, 2011)

This world is getting really crazy. We believe that our wishes and desire have co-opted our need for a healthy environment.