Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If you’re disinclined to believe the pundits, political parties, and scientists on the Climate Change Crisis, check with the birds

 

Birds, which don’t lie or have a need to, have a story to tell about Climate Change. They’re saying that things are warming up and they have to move quickly to areas that are more suited to their needs. Read “Birds and Climate Change, Ecological Disruption in Motion, A Briefing for Policymakers and Concerned Citizens on Audubon’s Analyses of North American Bird Movements in the Face of Global Warming” 2009, Audubon. This report is only 16 pages and is probably a lot more interesting that reading about how some candidates for the office of President of the United States in 2012 hasn’t the slightest intention of leading our country on the Climate Change Crisis. The media is entertained by loud, loony statements on Climate Change denial, but the public needs real action on a real issue.

Even if you aren’t interested, or too busy, to address Climate Change in your life, you want the leading public official in our country to be on top of it. Simple denial in the face of overwhelming evidence just won’t do for those in charge of protecting us. Your public officials are going to be held accountable, just as those officials who had to make a decision to evacuate before Hurricane Irene, to the consequences of Climate Change. In our region alone there are a lot of “Likely Changes” coming our way because of Climate Change. They cannot be ignored.

So, rather than take the word of those with another agenda on their slate than survival in our changing environment, check out what the birds have to say on this issue. Birds because of their high metabolism and ability to move quickly are reacting very quickly to the changes brought by Climate Change.

Birds & Climate Change “Nearly 60% of the 305 species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. Audubon scientists analyzed 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data — and their findings provide new and powerful evidence that global warming is having a serious impact on natural systems. Northward movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70 percent of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds.” National Audubon Society

Birds have been watched and monitored for a long time. Take a moment and listen to them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You cannot vote away the Climate Change Crisis and create good jobs

 

As I’m almost 60 years old, I’ve been around the block awhile. Nowhere in my memory have I come across the logic where can you solve a problem by denying its existence. The crazy strain of the Republican Party that caters to an idea of reality that we can do anything we want with no repercussions is a dangerous illusion that the media helps fosters to gain readership. Removing environmental regulations, the folks who enforce them, and open wide the floodgates to those warming the planet spells doom:

House GOP to focus on EPA, labor regulations this fall | wbir.com “WASHINGTON - Scaling back environmental regulations on coal ash and power plant pollution will be a top priority for House Republicans when they return from summer recess next week, according to a memo that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent fellow Republicans on Monday. Several proposed or recently enacted Environmental Protection Agency rules addressing coal ash disposal and emissions from power plants number among Cantor's list of 10 "job-destroying regulations" that the GOP will seek to undo in the next few months, his memo said.” (August 29, 2011) Knoxville, Tennessee | Knoxville News and Weather | Home Page

We have become so used to the political rancor that surrounds our presidential nominations that many tune out the issues figuring, I guess, that no matter what we would never vote of ‘the other party’ so let them yell and scream.

But we have to pay attention now. There’s a political party that seriously needs to go back to school and learn some science and history. Climate Change Crisis is physic’s based and the history of pollution came about because of the lack of environmental regulations and enforcers. It should be up to these extreme Republican views to prove that you that their ideas about the state of our environment and a society free of environmental regulations would benefit all of us. History has shown otherwise.

A Fundamental Republican Science Problem – “Many efforts to gauge why most Republicans reject or doubt the science pointing to risks from unabated emissions of greenhouse gases are issue-centric. It’s fossil fuel money. It’s disinformation campaigns that spin scientific complexity and some overheated warming rhetoric into a carbon-tax conspiracy.” (August 22, 2011) Natural Resources and the Environment - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com

You cannot vote away the Climate Change Crisis. Regardless of your political bent, and how you’d like your government to be (big or small), you still have to abide by the laws of physics. When we put more greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere the place warms up. That is the simple, yet profound, issue we must face right now. Measures that deal with Climate Change can create jobs, if you move away from fossil fuels.

Putting the creation of fossil fuel jobs at the cost of our survival seems to be the most perverse political logic yet in the country. No matter how desperate we get with ourselves on how to handle our economic and social problems, we should not be advocating shooting ourselves in the foot.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Worry about Climate Change Crisis up in the world, except the US not so much

 

A new poll states that while there are more immediate concerns in people’s lives, worry about Climate Change have gone up a bit, though down from 2007.

Global climate worry up slightly since 2009 - poll “(Reuters) - Global concern about climate change has risen only very slightly over the past two years, as consumers have focused on more immediate economic worries, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday. Nielsen's latest global online environment and sustainability survey showed that 69 percent of 25,000 Internet users in 51 countries were concerned about climate change in 2011, slightly up from 66 percent in a similar poll in 2009, but down from 72 percent in 2007.” (August 28, 2011) Reuters.com

Not to mention those who did not cause Climate Change but are suffering the consequences do consider Climate Change important:

GoUpstate.com | View topic - Global warming fears rise in developing world “Global warming fears rise in developing world”

But in the United States, where a lot of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goes on, the public is getting less concerned:

“In the United States, the second biggest emitter and the only industrialized nation not signed up to the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for curbing emissions, the number of those concerned has fallen steadily to 48 percent, from 51 percent in 2009 and 62 percent in 2007.” (August 28, 2011) Reuters.com

This US indifference to the Climate Change Crisis in the US and around the world is probably the reason why the US will go ahead, despite all the protest: NASA's Hansen Explains Decision to Join Keystone Pipeline Protests | SolveClimate News

Oil Sands Pipeline Won't Wreck Environment: U.S. State Department “State Dept says EPA 'seems pleased' with agency's final environmental review of Keystone XL. A final decision could come by the end of 2011” (August 28, 2011) | SolveClimate News

This will also mean that the 2012 presidential debates in the US will hardly mention Climate Change—even though one of the Republican contenders believes that his party is becoming the non-science party.

Jon Huntsman speaks out on climate change “In a tweet last week, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made the apparently super-controversial claim that he "trust[s] scientists on global warming." This weekend, he went a step further, telling ABC's Jake Tapper that his opponents' opposition to the idea of climate change is wrongheaded and extremist.” (August 22, 2011) Grist

So, at this point in time it does not look good for change our collective attitude towards the most important issue of this century—our planet warming up. We aren’t even past the stage of acknowledging that the Climate Change is occurring. Who will we blame when we finally do get going on this issue, when it will be far too late to avert much of the damage?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why isn’t the public focused on Climate Change? An arm-chair psychology view:

 

Beyond the changes that will be coming to our environment because of Climate Change, which can and must be addressed, is the realization that without a wholesale cooperation from the public there will be no real solutions to adapting to and averting more Climate Change. It still is the case that the real power in this country resides, despite great doubts by many, in the people. What the public chooses to buy, where they choose to work, how they choose to move around, and who they choose to vote for matters a lot—even though all these elements are influenced by advertising, the need for a job, and more. At the end of the day in this democracy what the public thinks matters—and it really matters on Climate Change.

So, on to my arm-chair psychology: Why is the public, most of the public, sitting on the sidelines on Climate Change even though most know that it is a major game changer? The world is getting hotter and the public, most of the public, still goes about their daily lives as if everything, our environment, our weather, and our public health is going to go on as it always has.

There are a zillion theories as to why the public doesn’t consider Climate Change as a measure of who they vote for, or any other important deciding factors in their lives. I’m not going to go into them, you know most of them. Here’s my spin. I think conventionalism, what others near you think, is one of the greatest determinates of our species’ behavior. When reading about why soldiers in the North went off to the Civil War, this remark from a farm boy in New York struck me: “I’m going to the war because the boy in the farm next to ours is going.”

When reacting to catastrophes, we tend to look around and see how others near us are responding. If you are sitting in a theatre munching on your popcorn, gazing intently on a film you’ve been waiting a long time to see, and then someone yells “Fire!” your first reaction is not to bolt out the door. Your first reaction is to look around and see if anyone else in the theatre is doing anything different. If no one, a theatre manage for example, or the person next to you isn’t even changing their expression, odds are that you’ll sit right there and continue watching the film.

It’s what we do; look around to see if our actions and reactions fit societal norms. The Climate Change Crisis is real and it is happen now, but to most it is happening too slowly to see. We look around to see what our neighbors, our families, our fellow employees, and our groups are doing. If no one is reacting to Climate Change, then we think it isn’t happening. Climate Change, an unprecedented warming quickly of our planet due to burning fossil fuels, is very unconventional—now at least.

There will come a tipping point of public awareness and attention to Climate Change eventually because it’s about physics. Put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the place warms up and causes all kinds of disruptions. The problem with this conventional reaction to an unconventional problem is that by the time the Climate Change Crisis becomes conventional, and very obvious, it will be way too late to address it.

We need you on a bike to Greentopia September 17th

 

img4What has become crystal clear to me as Transportation chair of the Rochester Group of the Sierra Club is this: Active transportation (walking and bicycling) can be one of the most important Climate Change solutions for the Rochester, NY region. As transportation accounts for 27% of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and even 40%, according to the Executive Summary New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report, how we get around each day matters a lot to our environment. Riding a bicycle as transportation is mentioned in all Climate Change actions for the federal, state, and community plans as an important component in reducing greenhouse gases.

For some time now, the Rochester, NY region has been engaged in an effort to increase bicycles as a realistic mode of transportation:

So, this is all to say that now we need you bicyclists, you casual bike riders, the Rochester-area bicycling community, those who are concerned about our environment, and those who care how we address Climate Change to come to Greentopia’s* Moving Planet Bike the Bridges Self-Guided Bike Ride. Meet us on Saturday. September 17th, 9AM -10:30AM, Genesee Valley Sports Complex, 131 Elmwood Avenue.

Here’s my final main pitch: Getting Rochester to the goal of a truly bicycle-friendly community, where anyone who wants to can bike those short distances (that now most use their vehicles for) and relieve the pressure on our transportation system and our environment, is a chicken-and-egg problem: in order to get folks on bicycles as transportation we need safe infrastructure, but we cannot do that if the public doesn’t demonstrate that they want it. Here’s your chance to solve that conundrum. Get the flyer and get the details: http://newyork.sierraclub.org/rochester/Transportation/bike%20brochurevfinal%20(2).pdf

*Greentopia Festival “Think Green. Live Green. Save Green| Rochester New York’s First Green Festival |The Greentopia Festival is Rochester New York’s and the Finger Lakes celebration of the green movement sweeping around the globe. The two-day, interactive festival in historic High Falls will reveal what the Western New York region is doing to help the environment – and envision a greener Rochester of the future.” High Falls, Rochester, NY | September 17-18, 10AM-6PM.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Warnings and worries is our Climate Change future

 

Of course we do not know what role Hurricane Irene plays in the Climate Change scenario for our region.

Cuomo orders prep for possible Hurricane Irene hit “MPNnow.com — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has instructed the state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany to track the path of Hurricane Irene and to work with other state agencies to prepare the state's response in the event of a direct hit. Today, agencies and local governments around the state will meet to plan coordinated response efforts for the areas that may be the hardest hit, according to a press release from the governor's office. Long Island and New York City, are considered most at-risk.” (August 24, 2011) Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

There have been hurricanes which reach our New York State coast. And, there have been earthquakes, like the one that hit our area this week, before.

Earthquake gives Rochester a mild nudge | Democrat and Chronicle For the second time in 14 months, western New Yorkers experienced the jolt of an earthquake Tuesday with none of the destruction that can accompany it. (August 24, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle

And:

Experts, activists debate nuclear power safety following earthquake - The Washington Post The two nuclear power reactors in North Anna, Va., were cooling off Wednesday after being shut down by Tuesday’s earthquake, but the debate about what lessons should be learned for nuclear safety was still simmering. Dominion Resources, owner of the reactors, said that its safety procedures worked. When three shaken transformers tripped like circuit breakers, four locomotive-size diesel generators kicked in. When one of those generators sprang a radiator water leak, another backup generator was turned on.  (August 24, 2011) The Washington Post

What is different and perhaps ominous for our future is that these events must now be seen through the lens of Climate Change. There will be more hurricanes in our region and they will impact our environment, our economy, and more. I’m not the only one who thinks so:

Extreme Weather Disasters Take Record Toll in U.S. in 2011 The U.S. has already tied the record for the number of extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in damage in one year, with the cumulative tab so far reaching $35 billion, government officials said. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been nine separate natural disasters causing damages that totaled more than $1 billion, including summer flooding along the Missouri River, a crippling drought across the southern plains and Southwest, and a series of devastating tornadoes across the Midwest in April. (August 18, 2011) Yale Environment 360: Opinion, Analysis, Reporting & Debate

Earthquakes, though not an environmental phenomenon (meaning they are not biological incidents) will impact us because of concern about the various nuclear power plants in our area. Our nuclear power plants are not rated to withstand a massive earthquake because they were not built to withstand massive earthquakes and that is because we don’t usually have massive earthquakes.

Rather than tie ourselves in knots denying Climate Change and worry about the increase in every prediction of this phenomenon, all communities should be doing what this community is doing:

St. Lawrence County studies climate action plan Last month, the St. Lawrence County legislature considered a measure to create a climate action plan. The plan would find ways to save money while reducing the county government's carbon footprint. That could include anything from energy audits in county buildings to anti-idling policies in county parking lots. The legislature tabled the matter because it wanted a better cost-benefit analysis of the plan. (August 25, 2011) NCPR: North Country Public Radio

Somehow the majority of the public must understand Climate Change and how it will impact our future. Efforts like Tar Sands Action, which has been in the news for the last week, can help focus the public’s attention on specific things that we should not do to increase our vulnerability to Climate Change.

But what are needed are Climate Change action plans (check Regional climate change initiatives in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) for each community to plan ahead so that this slow moving catastrophe can be a positive marshaling our efforts. Climate Change actions plans will convince the public and the media that our public officials are serious about Climate Change and action plans can provide a level playing field from which to develop a more sustainable economics. Waiting around until everyone, even the Climate Change deniers, are completely convinced that our atmosphere is warming up is far too late to do something about it. We cannot act on Climate Change at the last minute, because those minutes have long gone by.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Canada’s oil sands project, arrests in Washington, DC, and Rochester, NY

 

It is getting harder and harder to focus on Climate Change amongst all the other travails affecting everyone. The debt-crisis solutions loom, which many fear will be worse that the debts crisis itself. And, the ubiquitous wars and trying to make ends meet working all those jobs. But there are still other things going on that merit your attention. Our generation has a responsibility to address Climate Change, as the decisions we make now will affect all generations hereafter. Here’s what coming down the tubes for Rochester, even if we do address Climate Change because of what we haven’t done before “Likely Changes.” You don’t want to even think about what lies ahead for your children if we now don’t do something about Climate Change.

As you know, Bill McKibben one of the activists helping to focus President Obama’s attention on Climate Change with a two-week demonstration in Washington on the Canadian oil sands project (check Tar Sands Action) is going to be speaking at Greentopia on Sunday, September 18th via Skype in High Falls, in downtown Rochester, NY. Get the news on what’s going on in Washington, DC:

  • Environmentalists put Obama to test on climate over pipeline plan “WASHINGTON — Ranchers from Nebraska, people in car caravans from California and hundreds of others plan to hold daily sit-ins at the White House starting Saturday, protesting against a planned pipeline that would greatly expand the flow of oil from the black sands of western Canada. Two weeks of protests will raise the question of what the United States should do about climate change, putting the topic back into the spotlight. They'll pressure President Barack Obama, who must decide whether the pipeline is in the national interest and whether it will be built.” (August 19, 2011) McClatchy
  • Arrests continue at White House oil pipeline protest U.S. Park Police arrested another 45 environmentalists near the White House Sunday, the second day of a two-week demonstration urging President Obama to block a proposed pipeline that would greatly expand imports from Canada’s oil sands projects. Police say 110 people over two days have been peacefully arrested after engaging in civil disobedience in front of the fence north of the White House. (August 21, 2011) TheHill.com
  • Protest Makes Canada-To-U.S. Pipeline Project Newest Front in Climate Clash “In the year since a cap-and-trade climate bill failed on Capitol Hill, a funny thing happened -- gradually but unmistakably -- to the U.S.-Canada pipeline project known as Keystone XL: It became the global warming fight's new guise.” (August 19, 2011) The New York Times

In a time when our president is dragging his feet on Climate Change and only one of the GOP presidential candidates believes in science (Huntsman Slams GOP Presidential Field - Politics - The Atlantic Wire) we need Climate Change champions to help the rest of us focus on what is important: “Yale Environment 360: Extreme Weather Disasters Take Record Toll in U.S. in 2011

So, our local media won’t connect Bill McKibben and the Canadian oil sands project and our region, but I will. And, I hope you will send this message throughout our region because just you knowing this information and doing something about it isn’t enough. Everyone has go get onboard with solving the Climate Change Crisis, or our future will be in jeopardy. Check these short videos by the experts on Climate Change: NSF.gov - To What Degree? - What Science Is Telling Us About Climate Change - How Do We Know?

Don’t get politicalsized, don’t get bored, and don’t get frustrated. There are things you can do. Granted, combating Climate Change may be more complicated that firing off a photo of a local flood (a new effort to get citizens to participate in our increasing dysfunctional media, I guess) to our local intrepid media, but it’s going to have more impact. Come to Greentopia and learn about Climate Change. Protest in Washington, DC by checking out Tar Sands Action; go to the City of Rochester Public Market this Saturday and check out the Moving Planet table; or attend one of the Moving Planet events in Rochester next month:

  • Here in Rochester, one Moving Planet effort is “No to Fracking, Yes to Renewables.” At Farmers’ Markets and Greentopia, info and materials will be provided to enable folks to submit comments to the DEC on the SGEIS. Same goes for postcards to our state legislators, in favor of curbing carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy. THEN, on Monday, 9/26, those items will be walked/marched/biked… delivered to the respective DEC and legislators offices. Details: http://www.moving-planet.org/events/us/rochester-public-market/693. Please check the bottom part of the page for ways you can get involved! If interested, you can contact the organizer via the website, or simply respond to me: lci_msw@hotmail.com.
  • Important event for understanding Climate Change in our area, part of Moving Planet | A day to move beyond fossil fuels. Bike to Schul | Moving Planet "Members of Temple Sinai in Rochester will be biking (walking or at the very least carpooling) to Temple on Sat. Sept. 24th and Sun. Sept. 25 to show our support of Moving Planet and to demand action on Climate Change. (We will also be celebrating our new bike rack courtesy of the Confirmation class of 2011.) All are welcome to join us. Pictures will be taken during morning and afternoon Sunday school sessions. We call on other synagogues and faith organizations to join in. The time is now to get moving toward a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future. "

Nothing flourished when our environment tanks

 

It seems counterintuitive for many to want less environmental enforcement during a time of severe economic stress—as the GOP desires.  Perhaps the environment seems an easy target because the ramifications of pollution, Climate Change, and loss of biodiversity take a while to occur, when the loss of jobs and people’s houses happens quickly. 

But nothing flourishes when the environment tanks. 

A long history of abuse to our environment in Brownfields, pollution, and now Climate Change prove that more than ever we need more environmental enforcement, not less.  We cannot let the ideological goals of desperate political party override our knowledge that we depend on a healthy environment. 

NCPR News - Senior EPA official says more "environmental cops" needed There are growing calls these days in Washington DC to abolish or scale back the power of the Environmental Protection Agency. In recent weeks, three of the leading Republican presidential candidates - Michele Bachman, Rick Perry and Ron Paul -- have attacked the EPA out on the campaign trail. (August 22, 2011) NCPR: North Country Public Radio

Friday, August 19, 2011

Climate Change Crisis, our future, and the presidential race coming up

 

While the GOP presidential hopefuls fall all over themselves avoiding the Climate Change Crisis as they propel their way to the presidency, scientist and activist are willing to go out of the comfort zones to stop a major fossil fuel project: Keystone Pipeline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Climate Scientist Sees No Choice but to Risk Arrest at Keystone XL Protests | SolveClimate News Jason Box, known for his study of glaciers, says oil sands mining is a moral issue that he feels compelled to address. The two-week sit-in begins Saturday. “ (August 18, 2011) | SolveClimate News

This juxtapositioning of world views, this battle between two very different views of reality, of scientist vs. ideologues highlights the conundrum we are in. Do we hold to a world where corporations, who provide jobs and feed off the intellectual and physical infrastructures provided by the ‘big’ government they allege to hate, or to those who believe in a Climate Change Crisis that awaits us if we don’t change our ways?

This isn’t merely a question of values and faith. This conundrum is a slow-moving disaster that our species seems quite incapable of facing. It’s so easy to take an issue clouded with science, intentional misinformation, and a lack of complete knowledge about our climate system and turn it into a raging battle about values.

But the Climate Change Crisis is not about values. No one in their right mind would say that they don’t care if humanity perishes on a planet that is doomed to warm up. This crisis would not be a crisis if everyone took a cold hard look at the facts, the accumulated evidence, and the horrendous potential for a runaway warming of our planet. We are, for all the attributes that make us human, avoiding the clear and present danger of Climate Change—and it may spell our doom.

The problem is that the majority of folks on this planet won’t look at the Climate Change Crisis full in the face. An unprejudiced look at the case for Climate Change would, I maintain, reveal the need for everyone’s attention to this planetary show-stopper. Put away your prejudices, your beliefs, and your anger at other ideologies, and take a ninth-grade science look at the Climate Change situation and then judge.

But because of the rage going on amongst ourselves, most won’t even clear their minds for one moment to see what is before them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bad responses to Climate Change

 

In this age where more evidence accrues that Climate Change is happening and far more quickly than predicted and more people steadfastly insist that Climate Change isn’t even occurring, we ought to be happy that those who do ‘get it’ on Climate Change are going to do something about it at all.

The problem is that there are many bad ways to respond to the global catastrophe called Climate Change. One of the bad responses is the inclination of those who always respond to imminent danger by holing up somewhere with guns and ammunition ready to open fire on trespassers. Besides the paranoid idiocy of this response, it’s a bad response because Climate Change is a world-wide phenomenon that needs the participation of all—and there are no safe havens. There are going to be fresh water shortages and other natural resources in scant supply and the best response is to anticipate these conditions and work out ways to adapt as a community.

Another response that spells disaster is the loss of ice in the Arctic could increase drilling for oil and oil trafficking through pristine waters. Scientists Predict End of Arctic Sea Ice by 2060, after Possible Brief Expansion | SolveClimate News Check out this crazy scenario where water routes never before possible because of ice cover might now be the new stomping grounds for the very industry responsible for the ice melt.

Arctic Warming Unlocking A Fabled Waterway : NPR “The Arctic may be the world's next geopolitical battleground. Temperatures there are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, and the melting ice will have profound consequences for the roof of the world, opening strategic waterways to shipping, reducing the ice cap on Greenland, and spurring a rush to claim rights to the wealth of natural resources that lie beneath. NPR examines what's at stake, who stands to win and lose, and how this could alter the global dynamic.”

But perhaps the most pernicious reaction to the Climate Change Crisis is to deny, despite the overwhelming evidence that it is occurring at all. Note the new Republican presidential hopeful doesn’t even believe in the Climate Change Crisis: Rick Perry: Climate Change Is A Hoax Drummed Up By Scientists Looking To Make Money | TPMDC. And for that matter the entire stable of GOP candidates aren’t very interested in environmental issues at all: E.P.A Draws Harsh Words From Most G.O.P. Candidates - NYTimes.com)

What is to become of us if we place a president in office who believes in protection corporations before our environment and doesn’t even believe in the Climate Change Crisis. Let’s say we get away with that. Let’s say we retreat into environmental isolationism, rattle our military might, and stick to our guns that Climate Change is nothing but a hoax to get money for the money-grubbing scientists. How would that work in the real world? Here in the US, the major Climate Change causing country in the world, not only refuses to do anything about the problems they are largely responsible for, they challenge anyone to confront them. What will Europe and the other nations around the world who are moving full tilt towards solutions to Climate Change think of this country of ours? American exceptionalism will look like at threat to their existence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The unthinkable could be our reality: No EPA

 

If you are of the opinion that corporations should be set free to thrive without any constraints, except those placed by the free market you haven’t been paying attention to history. With this new assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which began because of the horrific rise in pollution due to corporate abuse and indifference, we are entering a new level of delusion.

Analysis: Republicans turn sights on activist EPA | Reuters “(Reuters) - Emboldened by their success wresting concessions from the Obama administration in debt-limit talks, House Republicans now plan an assault of similar vigor on the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans, backed by wealthy conservative lobbyists, are determined to stop the EPA and what they see as an activist agenda that is costing jobs and hurting corporate profits. "Right now for House Republicans one of their important rally cries is that EPA regulations are excessive and even abusive," said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.” (August 16, 2011) Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com

Not only is Climate Change upon us but the oceans are dying and there’s pollution everywhere—caused in large part by the rise in corporate abuse. The answer, the response to the litany of global environmental issues, is not to deregulate environmental enforcement, but to create a level playing field so that all industries and countries play by the same environmental rules. We are a long way from a sustainable existence—by any measure.

You cannot possible believe, giving the state we have put our environment in since the Industrial Revolutions, that dismantling the EPA is the answer to our problems. It’s so mind-bogglingly stupid that our country would even consider something so outrageous to dismantle the EPA—the one department of government keeping us from destroying our environment and ourselves—that we have to wonder our own collective sanity. Voting for, or allowing a major political party that doesn’t believe in Climate Change to reign at this time in history, is like giving a drugged adolescent a loaded gun.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who’s prettier: wind turbines or fracking sites? The New York energy argument from aesthetics.

 
For a moment, let’s forget about Climate Change and renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions and all the usual stuff about what’s right for the environment and our economy. Let’s look at the energy options in New York State only from the perspective of a beauty contest.
I mean, when you’re out in the country enjoying the landscape as it melts because of Climate… (Whoops, sorry, I promised I wouldn’t go there) and you grab your morning coffee and go out on your porch, what would you rather see?

The visage of fracking or the looming towers of wind turbines? (To be fair, I tried to find negative images for both categories in order to fortify the aesthetics argument—that we should be choosing our energy options on how they look.)

So, with wind turbines you have these gigantic monsters whirling away, ugly as sin to some, destroying the landscape with their incessant droning of those spindly blades.

With fracking sites you have a landscape scarred by trucks, newly built roads, and open dirt and little pools of grey water that look like you wouldn’t want to swim in them.

Just based on looks, what method of getting energy is prettier? Wind turbines or fracking?
From the perspective of the wind turbine haters, wind turbines are just downright ugly. But then there are those who just love them, as they whirl away producing energy from the wind making the planet inhabitable. (Sorry, there I go again.)

I heard a lot about fracking; but I haven’t heard anyone say that they just look terrific. Not even their proponents have said how great tearing up the New York State countryside and placing drilling apparatus all over the place will enhance our state’s looks.

There you are: on the whole, wind turbines are prettier than fracking sites.
I know, this probably isn’t a fair or a sane argument, but a beauty contest is a beauty contest. One wins and goes on to promote events and sell stuff in skimpy attire and the loser goes on to live a normal ‘just-get-over-it’ kind of life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are we getting the real dope on nuclear power?


Check out this discussion about how the press might be framing the news on the nuclear industry.  As if nuclear power were not dangerous itself, it doesn’t need to be more dangerous by spinning the news on what is actually happening.  Nuclear energy, indeed a ridiculous way to heat water, needs to be fully understood by the public so they can determine how safe and efficient it is. 
The kind of danger that a nuclear power plant gone bad is an entirely different kind of danger posed by other energy sources—no matter how many times folks say it will curb Climate Change.  Read this conversation about what we have learned about coverage about the Fukushima nuclear accident:
Karl Grossman & Steve Wing on Fukushima “This week on CounterSpin: Japan's Foreign Minister has told officials to stop claiming Japanese food is safe. This after beef contaminated by radiation from Fukushima’s No. 1 nuclear power plant was sold and consumed around the country. Meanwhile a devastating report from Associated Press reveals that a system to forecast radiation threats did function but was ignored by top officials who didn’t understand its significance. One result: the Karino Elementary School, which the system predicted would be directly in the plume coming from Fukushima’s nuclear plant, was not evacuated, but instead used as temporary shelter for people fleeing their homes.” (8/12/2011) CounterSpin

Moving towards a cooler planet in Rochester, NY

 

When you consider that New York State’s goal for curbing Climate Change is “reducing GHG emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 (or 80 by 50),” you begin to appreciate the quiet drama in the NYS Climate Action Council’s report:

“Managing the Risks in New York State Associated with a Changing Climate | Climate change has already put in motion certain environmental impacts in New York, and further changes are likely. According to the latest assessment from a team of scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the City University of New York—the average air and water temperatures in New York and the region are projected to increase significantly over the coming decades and heat waves are expected to become more frequent and more intense. Summertime rain is expected to fall more often as heavy downpours, leading to more flooding; at the same time, the periods between these rainstorms are likely to be drier, leading to droughts. By the year 2100, sea levels along our coast and the Hudson River estuary are projected to rise between 12 and 55 inches, increasing storm-related coastal flooding. The projected rate of change in our climate is unprecedented in our human history. And only through aggressive global action will we be able to change this path.” (Page 4) Executive Summary New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report, New York State Climate Action Council, Interim Report 11-9-10

I say ‘quiet drama’ because regardless of how ambitious our state government decides we the people should march our greenhouse gas (GHS) emissions back to normal ranges, it’s not going to happen without massive compliance by we the people. We the governed, we the proud and free, are not particularly fond of our government telling us what to do. Just note how effective stopping cell phone use while driving is working. Nada. So, how is something so incredibly life-altering as the massive collective action needed by the public to change our energy sources to renewables, increase energy efficiency of our buildings (which, in NYS accounts for 40% of GHS), and change our transportation habits (which account for 27% of GHS) going to happen?

Curbing Climate Change acceleration is not going to happen in our region if we stick to our present behaviors. We want our cake and eat it too: we want a healthy planet to thrive without considering the physics involved. Anytime renewable energy, such as wind power, comes up, the media focuses on how many hate the idea because of aesthetics, noise, bat and bird kills, and more. Climate Change isn’t ever mentioned. But fracking for natural gas is mentioned a lot in our media. Many are trying to stop fracking, but not because of Climate Change issues, even though natural gas is a GHG. And, alternative transportation is nowhere near the levels it needs to be to be an effective alternative to fossil fuel burning vehicles. Great idea ’80 by 2050,’ but it’s not going to happen because the public is not even remotely engaged. All the government regulations in the world won’t matter if most of the public is not on board trying to solve this issue.

There are a zillion reasons why the public doesn’t see the Climate Change crisis (including the great distain of one of our major political parties that finds Climate Change a major inconvenience), but I’m only going mention one. One of the reasons why the public, in my view, doesn’t appreciate the Climate Change crisis is because of Intentional blindness: “also known as perceptual blindness, [it] is the phenomenon of not being able to perceive things that are in plain sight. It is caused by an absence of attention to the unseen object and is clear evidence of the importance of attention for perceiving. Without attention we are as if functionally blind.” Think of the “Invisible gorilla test.” We are so focused on so many other things in our busy lives we don’t see the show-stopper that is moving quickly, but more slowly than our lives move, upon us.

Our planet is warming up. Our region’s environment is going to change dramatically and relatively soon. (See the ‘likely changes’ that are coming to our region.) And we aren’t even going to be able to slow accelerated Climate Change down because we don’t have a way to shift the behavior of the majority on this planet short of starting a world war. All the technicians and politicians can’t stop Climate Change until someone figures out how to get everyone to see the gorilla.

One person doing that is Bill McKibben, and he’s going to be speaking in Rochester at Greentopia this September via Skype. Bill and others have put together two previous attempts to engage the public on Climate Change, via 350.org and now there’s Moving Planet | A day to move beyond fossil fuels. Two events in Rochester are a part of that. Please join at least one of them, and help the media and all of Rochester see the gorilla.

  • Here in Rochester, one Moving Planet effort is “No to Fracking, Yes to Renewables.”   At Farmers’ Markets and Greentopia, info and materials will be provided to enable folks to submit comments to the DEC on the SGEIS.  Same goes for postcards to our state legislators, in favor of curbing carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy.  THEN, on Monday, 9/26, those items will be walked/marched/biked… delivered to the respective DEC and legislators offices.  Details: http://www.moving-planet.org/events/us/rochester-public-market/693.  Please check the bottom part of the page for ways you can get involved!  If interested, you can contact the organizer via the website, or simply respond to: lci_msw@hotmail.com.
  • Moving Planet | A day to move beyond fossil fuels. Bike to Schul | Moving Planet "Members of Temple Sinai in Rochester will be biking (walking or at the very least carpooling) to Temple on Sat. Sept. 24th and Sun. Sept. 25 to show our support of Moving Planet and to demand action on Climate Change. (We will also be celebrating our new bike rack courtesy of the Confirmation class of 2011.) All are welcome to join us. Pictures will be taken during morning and afternoon Sunday school sessions. We call on other synagogues and faith organizations to join in. The time is now to get moving toward a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future. "

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The August 11th GOP debate over Climate Change

 

According to GOP Debate Watch | Obama for America | 2012 the Climate Change crisis did not come up for debate at the GOP debate last Thursday. Sure, the above site is partisan and I’ll admit I didn’t listen to the debates, but none of the coverage that I listened to mentioned anything thing about Climate Change begin discussed at last Thursday’s GOP presidential debate. If you did listen to the debate and you did hear a question and an answer from any of the candidates on Climate Change, please contact me and I’ll take note.

I believe we can take it for fact that the GOP debate did not even mention Climate Change last Thursday and unless someone sucker punches one of the candidates during the insular coverage on the potential nominees for the highest office, Climate Change won’t come up as an issue at all. It will be avoided like the plague. The GOP is disinclined to even speak about Climate Change (How Republicans Learned To Reject Climate Change : NPR ) as it’s not one of their strong points. And, I’m not getting political here, as Obama didn’t dare mention Climate Change in his last State of the Union Address last January.

No one in either of the two major parties wants to discuss their position on the Climate Change crisis and the media, slavish to corporate interests, are not inclined to press the issue.

Politics has become a way of deluding ourselves that we can trump reality by how we frame reality. This certainly works when we decide who runs for president of the US and what gets covered. In other words, if the parties don’t discuss Climate Change and the media don’t ask candidates how they intend to solve the most important crisis of this century, it doesn’t get discussed. And, the public doesn’t think about it as an issue—a positive delusional feedback loop.

This would all very interesting if politics could trump reality. But it cannot. The planet’s atmosphere is warming up and it is rapidly causing changes to our economics, our public health, and just about anything you can think of. You really should read the US’s own report on Climate Change: Global Climate Change Impacts in the US (2009). This report came from our own government, not a suspicious left-wing group. This report isn’t something to be buried during the next presidential debates; it should be front and center.

Every candidate, Republican or Democrat, should be grilled by the media on how they have and will address the Climate Change crisis. It’s not a special interest item as the president of the United States and every public office in the United States is going to have to deal with their community’s response to Climate Change—whether they like it or not.

We look around and people are not talking about Climate Change. They talk about jobs, the budget debacle, the Tea party, the blue Dogs, and everything under the sun except an entire planet warming up that cannot be avoided.

How can we possibly, at long last, be having debates about who is going to be president without even mentioning the most important issue facing humanity? Mentioning the obvious that most corporations which fund the media and the major political parties who rely on the production, distribution, and continued use of fossil fuels is so accepted (just the way the press didn’t question the candidates about their personal lives back in the day) that we don’t even question it.

Well, there you are: We’re going to cook.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Environmental concerns in Rochester, NY overshadowed by fracking because of GHG fuel addiction

 

Despite the myriad of environmental issues in the Rochester, NY region including ( Climate Rochester |Wetlands | Brownfields |Urban Sprawl |Plants (Rochester's flora) | Air Quality |Great Lakes |Pesticides | Water Quality |Recycling | Transportation |Food & Environment |Genesee River |Wildlife | Geese Problem |Deer Problem |Environmental Health | Lyme Disease |Rabies |West Nile Virus| Lead Poisoning |ViralHemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) |Parks| and Invasive Species) hydrofracking looms over all other issues lately. If you are one of the vanishing few in our region who has never heard of hydrofracking, go here: Hydraulic fracturing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

There are many reasons why our region is seized by this issue: There are water quality concerns; heavy truck traffic and road wear concerns. There are concerns about the disclosure of the fracking fluids, which the fracking folks are disinclined to reveal. There are possible public health concerns because of air quality and many more.

But to truly understand why, despite all the environmental and public health concerns, New York State is probably going to go ahead and drill for natural gas is because we are addicted to fossil fuels—and our state could be the new gas-drilling state. And the thing about addictions is that reason and caution takes a step back and we go ahead and do it anyway. In New York State, it’s going to be a great big battle about hydrofracking but we are going to go ahead and do it because we don’t want to face Climate Change and change our energy habits. We should at least be honest with ourselves. We are addicted to fossil fuels and it’s going to take a lot more that this hullabaloo to stop it:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Quietly, and without fanfare, the City of Rochester is ramping up bicycling as transportation

 

For some time now, the City of Rochester has been engaged in an effort to increase bicycles as a realistic mode of transportation. Of course, bicycles already have the same rights on our streets as vehicular traffic, but in order to be a safe viable way to get around our community there needs to be a concerted effort to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians in a system mostly designed for cars and trucks.

Here are some improvements to our area’s bicycling commuters; you may have seen them: City of Rochester has portable Event Racks for loan | Rochester Cycling Alliance; Shared Lane Pavement Markings – now appearing in Rochester | Rochester Cycling Alliance; and City of Rochester’s first installed Bicycle Shelter | Rochester Cycling Alliance. (Articles courtesy of Rochester Cycling Alliance, where you can find more information and activism for bicycles as transportation in our region.)

Even if bicycling is not your thing, remember transportation accounts for 27% of greenhouse gases according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which contributes, except for energy, most of our human caused Climate Change crisis. So, bicycling for those short distances from our homes (6.5 miles) instead of driving our gas guzzlers can have a profound effect on our ability to curb Climate Change. Think about it: bicycling is transportation not just a weekend toy.

What makes these efforts by the City of Rochester so important is that in order to really have an effect on our climate, we have get as many folks as we can engaged in active transportation (walking and bicycling). Large numbers of Rochesterians on bicycling in our streets following the NYS traffic laws will help us fight Climate Change, make us healthier, make car drivers more aware of bicyclists, and make for a more pleasant community. Other cities like Portland, OR have made the transformation to a more bicycle-friendly community: League of American Bicyclists * Bicycle Friendly States. Bicycling as an important feature of Rochester transportation, as it has been in Rochester’s past, can be an important component in Rochester’s future. You support for this mode of travel by who you vote for, the articles you write, accommodating cycling on our streets, and more could move us towards a more sustainable community.

Until trash magically disappears in Rochester, NY

 

Let’s face it: A lot of folks won’t recycle unless it’s almost effortless. Sure, there are the dedicated folks who read all the instructions by the county and their communities and make sure all the right stuff gets to the right places. But you only have to look at the size of our landfills and the trash along our streets to see that far too many still march their old TV’s, computers, and you-name-it to the curb whenever the idea occurs to them. We are a long way from Zero Waste—which is the Holly Grail of sustainability. Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Any trash sent to landfills is minimal.

Landfills, for all their salient convenience (throw all your stuff in a great big hole and forget about it), are not good for our environment. Meaning, landfills do not a sustainable environment make. What little methane gas we burn for energy from rotting biomass (about 20% if we are lucky and the rest goes into our atmosphere as a very potent greenhouse gas) is nothing compared to the mountains of stuff that cannot be reused as resources, but must be dug anew from our land. A landfill is simply a black hole for those who think that stuff disappears when we are done with it. Trust me, it doesn’t. In fact what we need is not a delusional disappearing act, we need a waste stream that is green all the way down—meaning some kind of universal waste stewardship standard to make sure waste gets treated properly and never contaminates.

Our county and state government have recently ramped up their efforts to get junk out of landfills and recycled properly with the passage of the expanded plastics measure, the new ECOPark (that will be a one-stop-shop for the disposal of everything not accepted by refuse haulers), and the The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. But even when offered a myriad of places to recycle--hazardous waste and pharmaceutical drop-offs, recycling business, non-profit groups that take hard to recycle stuff for you, non-profit donations centers where you can have your stuff reused, and special recycling events--many just want their items gone—not a lecture or a long search. They want instant trash be-gone gratification.

Also, many folks don’t like the government telling them what to do, like fining them if they don’t recycle properly. For them the market system becomes the Holy Grail so that all your trash pays you back. As you guessed it, there are folks working on that:

Taking It Back “Material makers will have to adapt to help consumer goods firms fulfill product stewardship goals | “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s one of the seven habits of highly effective people, according to leadership guru Steven R. Covey. Highly effective consumer products companies are leaders at prototyping, consumer research, and creating inviting retail environments because, for them, a happy customer is the ideal end state. But companies are starting to recognize that their products have a life after the customer, and that life often isn’t pretty. A cell phone, a car tire, or a plastic bottle will, more often than not, be thrown away after use. But “away” is not a mythical nonplace; it usually means either a landfill or trash incinerator. All three objects are made with materials that can be recycled, and increasingly they are being recycled. In the U.S., 34% of municipal solid waste was recycled in 2009, versus 10% in 1980, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For the most part, however, the products consumers use every day were not designed with any end-of-life destination in mind.” (Aug 1, 2011) Chemical and Engineering News

But it’s not going to be easy. How would the market create a waste system that doesn’t cheat, that doesn’t allow toxins and other contaminants to be shipped away to be contaminated in other areas, and one that insures that everyone recycles? Governments are the only folks who can compel those who don’t want to recycle to do so. And, of course, there will be those (as there always are) who say their freedom to trash the planet is secured in the US Constitution. (Even if it is, we’ll be knee-deep in trash in no time at all if that loony notion prevails.)

It’s not hopeless: There are ways to insure that your neighborhood doesn’t turn into one big trash heap. Contact Monroe County and report those who aren’t following the law: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recycling Laws and Regulations. In the City of Rochester, report those folks who march their trash days ahead of the pick-up day and refuse to put their stuff in the proper containers so it blows all over the place. Get your neighborhood association to hire folks to pick up trash a few hours a week. Or, go to the Rochester Sierra Club Zero Waste site and gets some ideas on how and where to recycle in our area. You might even put in a request to their Facebook page for that hard-to-recycle item of yours. There is no limit to the amount of places where you can recycle, once you take responsibility for the health of your planet that you plan to leave to your kids.

Until the day comes when trash magically disappears it will be a threat to our public health, the value of our properties, and continue to contaminate our environment. There are an incredible amount of folks who do care about the proper disposal of trash and when their numbers predominate in a community, you have a clean community. Until then, your government will have to ramp up enforcement and compliance as is happening around the world because living in trash is just not sustainable.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Despite media taking the bait on GOP debit crisis scam, Climate Change looms large

 

The debt crisis that has just tanked our economy (US Loses AAA Credit Rating for First Time | USA | English) was a chimera for a political party bereft of ideas and solutions. Raising our debt ceiling, which has happened many times before, did not have to be an imaginary line in the sand that now has become a reality--a bad reality that is going to hurt many who did not cause our economic problems and help many who did.

But what’s more disturbing is that when a real news story looms about all of us the media is mum. Even our public officials who do understand the threat of Climate Change agree that until we convince the public that Climate Change is happening, they are going to have a tough time addressing it: ““Convincing the public that climate change is happening” is the education and outreach need most often ranked as primary (21%), followed closely by “lack of national leadership and education awareness campaign” (19%).” It’s all here in this report:

Ready or Not --- Here Come the Impacts of a Changing Climate First region-wide report points to growing local awareness that it’s better to be prepared Portsmouth, NH -- Clean Air-Cool Planet today released a first-of-its-kind report on the needs, concerns, and activities of communities throughout the Northeast that are beginning to confront the realities of a changing climate. Preparing for the Changing Climate: a Northeast-Focused Needs Assessment is based on direct outreach to over 200 communities from Maine to New Jersey, including survey responses from 34 local governments, 6 regional governments, and 8 state agencies. LINK TO REPORT www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/climate_preparedness/NortheastAssessment2011.pdf The report is the first region-wide snapshot from regional, state and local governments on how communities are preparing for a changing. (June 2011) Clean Air - Cool Planet | Climate Preparedness | Needs Assessment

Because our political systems is so screwed up we are not only rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks (as the old refrain goes) we are fighting over the chairs. When are we going to be able to step back and see what is really going on? With a little political sanity, we can fix our economic problems. But our Climate Change problem isn’t even a problem to most Americans, our media, and certainly not our policies leaders. And somehow, because we don’t want to face physics, that becomes our reality.

So, you gotta see these photos. Take a deep breath from the nonsense coming from the GOP about our debt crisis and how Climate Change is a great big hoax and see these great pictures. They’re great, quite a change from the usual media stuff. These photos are a series of little pin-prick lights that represent cities where they broke their heat records last July. What’s gotta hit you over the head, even more that the GOP yelling their heads off about an economic crisis that they created , is that you can see the whole outline of our country just from these lights. Think of it: there were so many cities in the US last July that broke heat records that our entire country is lit up—both day and night. Really think about Climate Change coming down the road and compare that with the GOP’s policy of taking our government down at any cost just to win and drive us off a cliff. Forget what the media usually rants on about ant really, check out these pictures:

Heat Defines the Country in July How hot was the month of July in 2011? So hot that just by plotting the location of each daily heat record that was broken, a nearly complete image of the contiguous United States is visible. Almost 9,000 daily records were broken or tied last month, including 2,755 highest maximum temperatures and 6,171 highest minimum temperatures (i.e., nighttime records). It should be noted that the tally of records collected so far is not complete – more are expected to come in as station data from across the U.S. is mailed to the National Climatic Data Center. The statistics reported here only include weather stations with real-time electronic reporting, which accounts for about two-thirds of the locations. Final numbers should be available later in August. NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Friday, August 05, 2011

Rochester, NY can see Climate Change happening if they look

 

One of the most difficult things about the Climate Change crisis is that for those who don’t want to see it, they can conveniently do so. Climate Change is many things, but it’s not a car crash. It is happening now, it’s happening all about us in longer growing seasons and extreme weather, and slowly in the sense that it isn’t hitting you over the head.

But it will hit you over the head if you look at some of the graphs from NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense. We applaud NRDC for their efforts in getting the public to visualize Climate Change in specific areas because without the public understanding this issue in massive numbers, legislation, politics, energy use, consumer habits, and much more won’t happen on a scale that need to be done to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change.

Climate Change Health Threats in New York : Air Pollution | Extreme Heat | Infectious Diseases |Drought Flooding Climate change will worsen smog and causes plants to produce more pollen pollution, increasing respiratory health threats, particularly for people with allergies and asthma. See how New York is vulnerable to air pollution impacts >> -from NRDC: Climate Change Threatens Health

More efforts to help the public visualize the immediacy and wholesale effect of Climate Change in specific area will go far in the challenge to engage the public on this issue. Here’s another example of how data is being gathered to get more information on the science of Climate Change.

NASA's Eyes In The Sky Study Pollution On Earth : NPR NASA, the agency best known for exploring space, is trying to answer some urgent questions about air pollution right here on Earth. For much of July, the agency flew research planes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as part of a mission known as DISCOVER-AQ. The planes, along with weather balloons and ground stations, were gathering data on how pollutants such as ozone and particulates behave in the atmosphere. (August 3, 2011) NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR

Because the Internet offers everyone a chance to see this real-time information about Climate Change we have a better chance of getting the public onboard with this issue and solving it. It shouldn’t have to be a contest to fight the Climate Change deniers and prove to the public that Climate Change is happening. It should be a full engagement by the public to use all the resources available to them to understand this issue and what will be required of them as responsible citizens of this planet to solve. A few greenies walking to work instead of driving just isn’t going to do the trick.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Climate Change will be unsolvable, even in Rochester, NY

 

You would think that because we got ourselves into this mess of Climate Change that we could get ourselves out. But despite all the ingenuity and knowledge our species can bring to play there’s a major snag: we have a major political party hell bent on an ideology that doesn’t accept science. The GOP will stop at nothing to halt all our country’s attempts to solve the most important issue of this century.

Senate Democrats Confident They Can Keep Anti-EPA Bills at Bay in Fall To preempt regulation of, action relating to, or consideration of greenhouse gases under Federal and common law on enactment of a Federal policy to mitigate climate change. When Congress returns in September from its month long recess, House Republicans say they will pick up where they left off in crafting and passing legislation to restrict U.S. EPA's air quality rules. "We're going to continue to fight them every step of the way," said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who earlier this year introduced legislation (S. 228 (pdf)) that would prevent any federal agency from implementing programs linked to climate change. (August 3, 2011) The New York Times

This time they aren’t going to just take away your pension or your health benefits, so you can live a decent retirement that you earned. This time they are going to thwart every effort you make to prevent the changes coming from Climate Change. These efforts by California and everyone else will be compromised by the relatively few and powerful who can negate your efforts:

INLAND: Website details climate change health effects “Communities in Inland Southern California and elsewhere should prepare for health problems caused by climate change, including an increase in infectious diseases such as West Nile virus, heat-related illnesses and asthma attacks brought on by smog and smoke from wildfires, scientists said Wednesday. Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing the nation, yet few people are aware of how it can affect them, said Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental action group.” (August 3, 2011) PE.com | Southern California News

For all the work you do to prevent Climate Change; for all the changes you make in your life; and for all the hope you place in our efforts to turn around more than a century of spewing carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, they will come to naught. This is because there is already 50 years of warming in the pipeline (greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and in our oceans) and only a sharp turn towards renewable energy, conservation, energy efficiency, and better energy storage technology will give us a chance to adapt to the changes that are coming and also get a sizeable amount of greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere. That effort to save ourselves can be stopped and worsened by a relative few who fight to keep things the way they are.

It is one thing to entertain mean political policies that encourage the benefits of the relatively few rich under a lie that their earning will increase jobs and the better welfare of the rest of society. It’s quite another to actively thwart all efforts to stop and reverse Climate Change which will fry us all, regardless of race, creed, and level of income. Refusing to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change is insane.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hard not to view our environmental issues politically

 

In these days of extreme environmental awareness and education by the public, it’s very strange to be still hampered from addressing our environmental issues by a US political party bent on returning to an age of corporate irresponsibility.

U.S. House Debating "Mother Of All Anti-Environmental Bills" | New York League of Conservation Voters The U.S. House is debating a series of bills that would rollback dozens of environmental laws and initiatives. The League of Conservation Voters called it the "Worst. Bill. Ever." The Environmental Defense Action Fund decried it as "monstrous" and the "mother of all anti-environmental bills". Are these strong words warranted? You decide. (July 27, 2011)

It’s not just a few incidents here and a few there of the GOP fighting, as would any party, to fight for what they believe in, it’s a secret and concerted effort to undermine all the laws and regulations protecting our environment in a time of Climate Change, pollution of our land, air, and water. Check out this breaking story about how the American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC is quietly undermining the public desire to preserve and protect our environment.

Our Step-By-Step Guide to Understanding ALEC’s Influence on Your State Laws - ProPublica For decades, a discreet nonprofit has brought together state legislators and corporate representatives to produce business-friendly “model” legislation. These “model” bills form the basis of hundreds of pieces of legislation each year, and they often end up as laws. As media scrutiny of the nonprofit—the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC—has grown, we’ve built both a guide and a searchable database so you can see for yourself how ALEC’s model bills make their way to statehouses. (August 1, 2011) ProPublica

I can see why a group of folks with a certain view should be able to push their agenda in a free country. But the power and influence by a major party who thinks that protecting businesses before our environment is irrational and dangerous. We are being overwhelmed by a party fighting tooth and nail to foster the business environment at the expense of our natural environment.

Can you imagine what kind of a country would it be if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were stripped of its power to enforce clean air? How quickly would our environment degenerate if we pulled all the stops on polluting water and leaving Brownfields around? Our ability to address our environmental issue is being severely challenge by a party that does not take responsibility for our environment, treats it like a garbage bin, and is so extreme as to be threat to our environment.

How can we strip our political arena, where true battles over democracy and who we are to become should be discussed, are freed from the actions we must take to insure a healthy environment? How do we detach politics from our environment? For, like it or not, the world is moving towards more government involvement in protecting and creating a level playing field of environmental rules—not a world where business is free to do whatever they want. Think about it.

Whoops, you missed yet another chance to learn about possible hydrofracking in the Rochester, NY region

 

There was a chance to learn about drilling in the Utica Shale (where Rochester, NY resides) in a webinar, but whoops we missed it.

Hart Energy - Unlocking The Utica: The Next Big Northeast Shale Play? The Ordovician Utica shale is an international shale play, stretching from Quebec, Canada, down in the U.S. portion of the great Appalachian Basin. The Utica offers strong attractions: excellent rock properties, low acreage costs, and proximity to premium gas markets. This emerging play is on the cusp of exploration, with operators beginning to probe its potential in earnest. Here, in the webinar “Unlocking the Utica: The Next Big Northeast Shale Play?” you will hear the latest insights on this fascinating reservoir from two industry experts. The 55-minute webinar will include a live Q&A moderated by Peggy Williams, Director of Unconventional Resources, Hart Energy. Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guess we’ll have to keep hunting around like crazy to find any information about possibly drilling for gas in our area. Why doesn’t our local media, after they’re done reporting on all the vehicles crashes in our area (what is it with our transportation system?) report on possibly hydrofracking in the Utica Shale, which is being shaped in the latest report Preliminary Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (July 2011) - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. It says “Marcellus Shale” in the title of this document though it includes Utica Shale in the language.