Monday, October 31, 2011

What could the local media be doing to help combat Climate Change?

 

The media, mainstream media, could be doing lot to inform the public about Climate Change. Few things a government, environmental groups, or even businesses can do inform the public on Climate Change would have the impact of a responsible media that continually reminded everyone to change their behavior to make our environment sustainable. At present, we are running off a cliff.

Besides the immediate effect of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) across the breath of our population this media engagement in the most serious problem facing the world would help convince the public of a real condition that has previously been treated as doubt-ridden. Climate Change, the warming of our atmosphere due to human activities, is as real as gravity. It would become real for the public, who admittedly has a lot of other issues on their plate, when Climate Change is dealt with honestly and realistically every day in the media that folks actually attend to. Media editors around the world need to focus on their role in convincing the public of a major threat to our existence: They need to get off the sidelines and enter the game.

The kind of changes warranted by an environmental issue on a planetary scale cannot be accomplished by few activities by only a few that make them feel good. We need to reduce GHG on a massive scale and it doesn’t have to be so painful if it is shared by a knowing public.

We cannot wait until everyone ‘gets it’ on climate change before they start action:

Skeptic finds he now agrees global warming is real Washington — A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly. The study of the world's surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of "Climategate," a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists. (October 31, 2011)  Home - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

Mainstream media, which has previously only been able to address Climate Change by sowing doubt and using environmental groups as the only spokespeople for the planet, could take charge by educating the public on the most important news of the day. The prominent display and interchange of Climate Change issues on the media would convince the public that this issue is real—in a way that they do not understand it now.

Here are a few things that the media can and should begin right now to engage the public on Climate Change—and it would only take a few moments of each day.

  • Suggestion One: Because transportation accounts for 27% of GHG and most trips in vehicles are less than 6.5 miles, the media could do a short piece each day instructing drivers that bicycles have a right to be on the streets. Bicycles must follow the rules of the road also so they don’t confuse drivers. Helpful hints each day, maybe one minute long, could have a profound effect on people attitudes and behavior towards people getting around without burning fossil fuels.
  • Suggestion Two: Encourage area residents to Recycle. Recycling and Climate Change are strongly related (read: Stop Trashing the Climate) and recycling is something everyone can and should be doing. However, the compliance rate isn’t that great and many folks haven’t a clue as to what and when to recycle; despite the new Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation and that Monroe County now recycles all plastics and has a new EcoPark for everything else. It is easy to recycle, but not so easy to find out where to recycle every single used item in our area, but the information is out there. If media got on top of this and informed everyone every day, in the public interest, it would have a major effect on getting folks to recycle and doing so properly. It could also be a major boom for recycling businesses and recycling businesses want-to-be’s. Recycling is the easiest thing the public could be doing to affect Climate Change but they need to be convinced by an engaged media.
  • Suggestion Three: Much of our GHG comes from energy production. If the media continually reminded folks how to save energy (and in the meantime save money) by insulating their houses and getting energy audits we could save a lot of energy. When you flip that switch to turn on a light or warm your house, you are mostly burning coal and oil and gas, which are all fossil fuels that put carbon dioxide into our atmosphere and warm it up. Again, there is an almost overwhelming amount of information available on how folks can save energy and the media could continually (at no charge) give out that information.

Sure media wants to make money. And they could make more if they were a source of information that people actually needed, instead of the sports scores and holiday reminders that blanket the front pages and major news slots today. What if instead, you could always depend on your media to give you the information you needed to help combat Climate Change and actually make our environment sustainable, instead of the dreary track we are on now?

Everything you wanted to know about Fracking in Rochester, NY but couldn’t find the sources

 
One of the most informative sessions that I have attended that actually spoke about potential environmental, economic, and health issues related to hydrofracking (Fracking) and Rochester, New York is now on video.

Even though, I have been paying attention to this issue and thought I knew a lot about it, I learned a lot more. Rochester, NY folks need to see these videos of this meeting.

Read my previous description of this meeting I thought I knew how bad Fracking was going to be for Rochester, NY. I was wrong. It’s much worse. What we need to know here in Rochester, NY is that even though the experts say it is ‘unlikely’ that the gas companies (and there are many with many different environmental track records) will be drilling in Monroe County there are leases already being drawn up nearby because the law being drawn up includes the Utica Shale—not just the Marcellus Shale.

Don’t sit this one out Rochester, NY. Listen to these video clips and get informed about what Fracking might mean for our area. Once approved, there is no going back.

Forum Video Clips - Welcome to R-Cause: Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction FORUM: How Hydrofracking Will Impact Rochester October 16, 2011 --from Welcome to R-Cause: Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction - ABOUT R-CAUSE

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Greentopia Festival creators win major Environmental Award in Rochester, NY

 

We are happy to announce that the creators of Greentopia, the first green festival in our region, are winning a prestigious award for their herculean efforts.  As having been but a very small part in the helping form the first green festival in Rochester, NY that netted 18,000 who got exposed to some great environmental fun, green practices, green businesses, zero waste recycling, and some great speakers, like Bill McKibben,

I can say without reservation that these two guys walked the walk.  It took a long time to put the Greentopia Festival on last month, including developing working relationships with hundreds of volunteers, businesses, and organizations. 

Check out the press release announcing the local winners of the Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award presented by the Center for Environmental Information.

SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP ALIVE AND WELL IN ROCHESTER - Greentopia Festival Co-Founders Receive the Center for Environmental Information | Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award of the Year -Rochester, NY (October 28, 2011) – The 38th Annual Community Salute to the Environment, hosted by the Center for Environmental Information, was held this week at the RIT Inn & Conference Center. This year Michael Philipson and Lewis Stess, co-founders of Friends of the Garden Aerial, were awarded the Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award in recognition for their efforts in organizing, producing and executing the first annual Greentopia Festival. This award is given to organizations or individuals who have shown exceptional leadership throughout the community in promoting positive environmental change.”

Occupy the media – we now have the talent and tools

 

As the Occupy Wall Street movement grows it will transform. It is the John Brown to the institution of slavery, as Occupy Wall Street is to the present economic and political system—an upset to a lousy collective behavior and rules that benefits a few and renders the rest a quiet desperation. It’s the result of rapacious workings of Capitalism, laissez faire capitalism, without restraints that treats labor and our environment as magical resources willing to take all using its unsustainable ideology of greed.

But like John Brown, a wrench gets thrown into the machinery, and the institution of slavery, a horrifically cruel and demeaning economic system, things don’t often go as planned. Some things are so rotten they have to die. John Brown’s uprising at Harpers Ferry; the greatest fear of the South that those they had suppressed for so long would rise up, put that simmering indignation on another level. Not even a century of bad decisions by landowners and even the Supreme Court could make an inherently bad system thrive. It took the Civil War to end slavery—but it shouldn’t have.

John Brown and Fredrick Douglas are part of Rochester, NY’s history. And now in that vein Occupy Wall Street has come to Rochester, NY:

32 Occupy Rochester protesters arrested after group refuses to leave downtown park | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com Rochester police arrested 32 people taking part in last night's Occupy Rochester rally in Washington Square Park downtown. Officers used a bullhorn about 11:20 p.m. to inform protesters that they were in violation of city ordinances and gave them 15 minutes to pack up and leave. About 100 people had marched through downtown Rochester on Friday and about 150 occupied the park as part of the nationwide movement. While a good amount of people left shortly after the police deadline, about 70 people remained in the park just before midnight.  (October 29, 2011)  Democrat and Chronicle |

One of the conundrums of the Occupy Wall Street movement is mainstream media’s inability to characterize it coherently. Mainstream media is looking for ‘what Occupy Wall Street wants.’ But what Occupy Wall Street wants is to have mainstream media’s slavish devolution to the plutocrats gone. Though, there are some media that do get what’s going on and you ought to check them out daily: Democracy Now!

Part of the Occupy Wall Street transformation must come from our relationship to our environment. We have let Capitalism rape the environment too long, by (without even paying for it) poisoning our drinking water, taking fossil fuels from the ground and putting the greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and warming it up. Check out this great essay about Occupy the Environment:

“The Occupy Wall Street Movement reflects a growing realization that our Democracy has been usurped by corporate power that drowns the voices, votes and concerns of average Americans. While the corporate hijacking of our democracy has been made clear for most Americans in the realm of finance with the Wall Street collapse and bailout, there is an analogous, but lesser known corporate hijacking of environmental policy. As a nonprofit environmental attorney, I have been very concerned about the growing power of corporations to railroad existing environmental laws and to prevent new environmental safeguards. I wrote in The Huffington Post about my fears that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United would further tip the balance toward corporate interests in exploiting our natural resources and away from protecting those resources for this and future generations. In that article, I stated that the Executive Branch was our last remaining hope for environmental protection, but recently that branch seems to have thrown in the towel too. I regret to say that we are witnessing a greater corporate impact to democratic decision-making and related threats to our environment than I had feared when the Citizens United decision came down.” Occupy the Environment

Sounds impossible to occupy something as vast and as troubled as our environment, but it’s not. Change the media so the real consequences of using our environment for our economy are revealed. RochesterEnvironment.com has been doing this for over a decade. You can create your own media in your own community and do the same. Here are some thoughts on how that might be done:

  • Social networking the environment Many of you may not remember a world without the Internet. Now social networking has revolutionized the net—a communications medium that has already radically changed how we interact. Books, newspapers, and maybe even websites may become passé. Spreading the news will never be the same. And while social networking is probably responsible for an incredible increase in environmental awareness, it is not a replacement for environmental journalism. It may actually increase the marginalization (putting it on the backburner) of environmental issues. My concern over the popular platforms -- that easily allow its members to throw lots of information (texting, photo sharing, forwarding news links, audio, video, anything digital actually) at each other -- includes several issues. First, too few corporations mediate too many individual’s ability to communicate. You create an environmental group, for example, but no one can join unless they are a part of the platform. Or, the platform goes down and everyone is silenced. Or, the programming goes awry and heaven knows what happens to your personal stuff. Maybe those corporations won’t like what you’re saying. more...
  • Kill Your TV! When you're in a hole, stop digging: Stop listening to the same media that misinformed you about the Iraq War and the dangers of Global Warming! Why do most Americans say they are concerned about the environment (at least in some polls), but don't vote for candidates with strong environmental records. Why do we continue to living our destructive, non-sustainable way of life (the United States has only a fraction of the world's population and uses 25% of the fossil fuels) despite all the evidence that it going to be a terrific cost to future generations? Is it because Americans are especially selfish or dense? I don't think so. I think the answer to most of our environmental problems is that we really don't get it; we don't understand the depth of our environmental problems because most of us are still trying to inform ourselves about the world in the same old way that led us to the state we are in--our environment on the brink of disaster. (By the way, if you think this last statement is an exaggeration, it's an indication that your listening to the same deluding media.) more...
  • Thoughtful Feedback Seemingly, online media has opened itself to a plethora of mindless rantings by those without even a crazy ideology to spur them on. I speak of feedback on online news sites that are unmonitored and unfiltered so any nutcase with a computer, an Internet connection, and only a modicum of sense is allowed to write responses to local news stories online. You know what I’m talking about: follow any online article that offers reader’s responses and you’ve probably long since avoided those parts of the articles because it’s a vast wasteland of craven lunacy. This is a tragedy because the medium where we get our news is moving to the Internet where interaction between the media and its readers is critical and will add greatly to our Democracy. more...
  • Environmental groups pick up where the media falls down The public is more aware of the importance of environmental issues because environmental groups are helping to connect the dots. Left to their own, the media only publishes environmental stories when something happens that their editors think will grab the public’s attention and bring in more money. more...
  • A Question: Mainstream Media and Climate Change News Recently, I’ve come across on the Internet environmental scene speculations that the mainstream media refuses to connect ‘extreme’ weather events like the increase flooding in the West, Hurricane Katrina, droughts around the world, to Global Warming. Global Warming does predict that there will be more extreme weather events, including not so much more hurricanes (for example) as most intense hurricanes when they occur. more...
  • Media Responsibility As I live and Breathe: Just when you think the media has become so Objective in their reporting that somehow they think they can stand outside of our environment and simply report on the decline of our environment, you read a story like this. Major Kudos for News 8/FOX Rochester. The movement is growing. The pubic and even the media is realizing that we cannot stand aside while that which keeps us alive, our environment, is in serious jeopardy - just check out some of these Rochester Environmental Issues. Hopefully, more and more mainstream media will recognize their innate responsibility as our informers, who have been protected with a special privilege under the US Bill of Rights, to inform us on the state of our environment—so that we may have the information we need to make informed choices about that which matters most. more...
  • Media Priorities Hannah Montana made it to Rochester during an almost blizzard and out again. I don’t know who Hannah Montana is, but I’m glad she made it safely to and from Rochester. I know this because the local news was saturated with this topic all weekend. I could not find, however, a story about the climate talks in Bali, where the US dragged its feet on coming to an agreement with the rest of the world on curbing Global Warming gases. more...
  • Stop Big Media & Stop Global Warming In just five days, the Federal Communications Commission plans to open the floodgates of further media consolidation across America. If FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gets his way, your community will be inundated with even more mass-produced celebrity gossip and infotainment, and less local reporting and quality journalism: more of the the junk news that is making us sick. more...
  • About changing your media I believe in this day, when mainstream, corporate media blurs and spins important environmental information that we need to survive because of their specific ideologies and their shareholder’s economic interests, we have to change our media. We have to change how we get our media and the sources we use to inform us of what’s going on. If the media we are accustomed to has mislead us or chooses on an unsound basis which stores we shall listen to and which they want us to ignore, then we have to change. There’s no shortage of new and old media out there. And by “out there,” one of the main conduits for finding out what exactly is going on in our environment is too surf around the Internet for trusted news sources, which can come from other countries, other industries, other groups—voices that don’t appear on our television or radios (Or, maybe they do, but we could not reach them except for the power of the Internet). more...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chilling thought about Global Warming in Rochester, NY and beyond

 

Back in the eighties, scientists were beginning to go out in force to rule out the hypothesis of Global Warming (now Climate Change is more universally accepted for the crisis). They looked at Arctic and Antarctic ice cover, they measured carbon dioxide in ice cores 10,000 years old, they counted the size and amounts of tree rings, they started monitoring all sorts of things until there was enough evidence for the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to state that Climate Change is occurring and most likely doing so because a human actions.

Since, the last decade or so there has accumulated overwhelming evidence that our climate is warming. Today no serious scientist denies that Climate Change is happening and doing so because we are putting carbon dioxide and methane and other greenhouse (GHG) into our atmosphere at an unprecedented rate.

But here is a (more) chilling thought from the US Department of Agriculture, those governmental folks who are charged with making sure our food production remains sustainable. In their report to our government and the IPCC about Climate Change and how it will be affecting our ability to produce food in the future, they say:

“All of the existing monitoring systems, however, have been put in place for other reasons, and none have been optimized specifically for detecting the effects and consequences of climate change. As a result, it is likely that only the largest and most visible consequences of climate change are being detected” The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity | Executive Summary (pg 4)

In other words, the information that scientist have been gathering to access whether or not Climate Change is occurring, has come about with information that has not been actually designed to monitor Climate Change. Even with this ad hoc system—computer modeling, pulling out old farmer’s records, measuring water height and temperature, and the like—scientists can unequivocally say that our planet’s temperature is rising and we have to change our ways. This report also says because we have not designed and shaped our wholesale research around the world to monitor Climate Change we are probably only capturing the tip of the iceberg on what is really going on. We are flying blind.

Few things in this universe are as complicated as our climate system—as it involves the chaotic interrelationships of the sun’s heat, gases in our atmosphere, local heat and cold coming off lakes and oceans, winds, phenomenons like El Nino and La Nina —you name it. There’s so much we don’t know about Climate Change: health issues related to heat and vector-driven diseases like West Nile Virus. Though we know Climate Change is happening and can predict many things like extreme weather because warmer air holds more water vapor, there is a lot of doubt.

And strangely enough this doubt about a crisis that certainly is befalling us is being used as a reason not to believe that Climate Change is happening! Many in the Republican Party are using the inherit uncertainty about Climate Change predictions to further their case that we should ignore it altogether, which is strange when you think how diligent they were back in the 1950”s in following up on every possible doubt about a Communist threat in the Cold War. No ludicrous possibility was overlooked and no weapon to deal with it went unfunded.

All this is an absurd position for a species as intelligent as ours to be in. Why aren’t we scouring the planet to rule out Climate Change, as any competent doctor who do when a patient comes asking about an alignment? Why are we dismissing Climate Change in our media, not asking candidates questions on Climate Change, and not addressing Climate Change without making sure we know as much as we can about it?

If the majority of scientists around the world are saying that we are warming up the planet and there are going to be dire consequences, wouldn’t we the people want those scientists to have all the tools and resources they need to come back and tell us everything they could possible know so we can make a genuine effort to solve Climate Change? Considering the changes in extreme weather events, droughts, and water shortages we are already experiencing, shouldn’t we be putting out the kind of energy we did during World War II to combat a lethal enemy—instead of shooting ourselves in the foot with political gamesmanship”

Apparently not. We argue Climate Change, when we talk about it at all, with an appalling lack of specific information and use that as a sludge hammer to make our contrary points. We the people refuse to provide funds for our experts to do the kind of research needed to exactly describe our situation so we can make informed choices for our future. We seem for more interested in saving our ideology instead of finding out exactly what is going on in our world and addressing it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Discovering Climate Change near Rochester, NY --our grandparents were on to something

 

There were indications from various sources in bygone days that our atmosphere has been warming up for some time. Many tend to think the idea of Climate Change has sprung from nowhere sometime in the 1980’s—just to annoy the Republicans. But some scientists thought there would be repercussions from putting a whole lot of manmade carbon dioxide into our atmosphere long ago. To get and idea of this trend read a series of scientific thought since 1900 on Climate Change from Bill McKibben:

The Global Warming Reader, by Bill McKibben “This is a book for all of us: students, activists, Earthlings. Edited by perhaps the most widely-respected writer on the environment today, GWR is a comprehensive resource that collects seminal texts and voices on climate change from the phenomenon's discovery in the late 19th century to the present.” Official site for Bill McKibben: Author - Educator - Environmentalist

If your mind is not already clouded with corporate glee over the use of fossil fuels, Climate Change in the face of burning massive amounts of wood, oil, coal, and natural gas for more than a century makes a lot of sense. The carbon dioxide, which is released from fossil fuels, is the same stuff that warmed our planet enough to grow something. Don’t try putting your tongue on an icicle on Mars.

There is other data from farmers, naturalists, weather gathers for whom Climate Change was not even a glitter in their eyes at all. They were just trying to figure out when to plant, when they could expect to boat across a lake without hitting ice, and go ice fishing. A lot of information about Climate Change has been gathered from these sources. And our area, the North American Northeast, is one of them.

“In the Northeast there are 56 stations that have been continuously operating since 1899, providing the best record of temperature variations for the region.” Indicators of Climate Change in the Northeast 2005, by Clean Air - Cool Planet and Cameron P. Wake,The Climate Change Research Center,, University of New Hampshire, Copyright 2005 © Clean Air - Cool Planet (Pg. 2)

Even in the Northeast, where weather tends to vary quite a bit, a trend towards warming can be seen in this ad hoc, though rigorous, data from our area’s forefathers. The Climate in our region warms steadily then spikes upwards even more in the later part of the twentieth century. Read this report, it gives some great insight into warming trends in our region of the world: Indicators of Climate Change in the Northeast 2005 Our grandparents were on to something.

BTW: We here in the Northeast, who are one of the main contributors to Climate Change via our ubiquitous factories over the years, which by the way we are still trying to clean up after with Brownfields, are going to experience a lot of Likely Changes. But those changes are probably little (at least for a little while) compared to those areas of the world that did not contribute greatly to Climate Change, but will suffer a lot:

Map shows stark divide between who caused climate change and who's being hit “The global north is at lower risk of global warming impacts and is better placed to cope than the global south, but globalisation means we are all affected. When the world's nations convene in Durban in November in the latest attempt to inch towards a global deal to tackle climate change, one fundamental principle will, as ever, underlie the negotiations. Is is the contention that while rich, industrialised nations caused climate change through past carbon emissions, it is the developing world that is bearing the brunt. It follows from that, developing nations say, that the rich nations must therefore pay to enable the developing nations to both develop cleanly and adapt to the impacts of global warming.” The Guardian

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don’t need a casino in Rochester, NY; with Fracking we are already gambling on our future

 

Hydrofracking should assuage all those who believe gambling should be the way to pay for our future. Taking the beautiful New York countryside and all its fresh water (with the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes, the largest fresh water system in the world) and subjecting it to the chance of environmental damage that hydrofracking brings should be enough of a gamble.

Poll finds support building for Rochester casino More people now support a casino in the city than oppose it, but there is still action on both sides of the debate. In a Voice of the Voter poll of 500 likely Monroe County voters, 50 percent of respondents said they would support allowing the Seneca Nation tribe to build and operate a casino in the city. (October 26, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle

I don’t know how opinion polls are accomplished and conducted; and, I have no idea how valid they are. People have opinions and in a Democracy they should be expressed and listened to. But should we be using polls to solve scientific problems? Check out this poll on solving Climate Change:

Public support for 'hacking the atmosphere' is high (Wired UK) Support among the public for scientists deliberately altering the Earth's climate on a vast scale to counteract global warming is at 72 percent, according to a recent survey that appeared in the journal Environmental Research Letters. 3,105 individuals from the United States, Canada and the UK responded to the internet survey, which was weighted to be representative of the wider population, making it the first large-scale international survey of public perception to the field. (October 25, 2011) Wired.co.uk – Future Technology News and Reviews (Wired UK)

Why can’t we fess up to the oblivious: Our present economic structure cannot solve Climate Change, poverty, joblessness, health care reform, the student loan crisis, and most of our social issues. The ideology of laissez-faire capitalism that many American have based their moral and scientific opinion on, doesn’t work. Read social history. You need restraints so the rich don’t gouge the poor. Thus: Occupy Wall Street:

Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution “is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

The press and those who dismiss the Occupy Wall Street movement (a movement not a protest) scorn their lack of focus, which is actually not a lack of focus, but a lack of desire of the moneyed media to listen. (Our present economic system that favors the rich is breaking down and turning our country into a Plutocracy instead of a Democracy. Sounds pretty clear to me.)

What I find interesting is that the answer the conservatives and their lapdog media come up to solve apparent scientific and social unrest with are opinion polls. They take a limited script that they’ve shaped to produce the results they want and run to the public for their opinion. These might be some likely poll questions:

  • If you believe we have a problem funding our education, our transportation, and our health system where 50 million American’s don’t have adequate health care, should we take the trouble to find out how to address it, or should we open up a casino and siphon off some bucks for that?
  • If you believe in Climate Change, would you rather change our way of getting energy and start recycling more, or would you like the scientists to invent something to change our planet’s atmosphere so you won’t have to trouble yourself?

We have serious environmental and social problems that need to be addressed—not in the way that continues the same old system that preys on the public and their environment. We need to upset the cart. Gambling is the last desperate hope of a system that fails to recognize that their way doesn’t work. We know what to do to address Climate Change and make our system more economically fair and it isn’t gambling—no matter what the polls say.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaving from Rochester, NY to Washington, DC on Nov. 6th for Environmental Change – got 10 bucks?

 

It’s not often that the ordinary citizen who knows our environment is in serious trouble from Climate Change can actually do something that will have an immediate and major effect on something so incredibly large as the planet’s atmosphere. You can do a lot of things in your daily life to mitigate Climate Change by conserving energy, recycling, voting for candidates who believe that physics, and you can even blog for our environment: Interested in blogging? - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow. However, things must be done quickly and on a massive scale to reverse the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. 350ppm (parts per million) is the recommended carbon dioxide concentration for human existence, we are presently at 395ppm. Do the math.

So, it’s rare that you get an opportunity to do something that has a planetary effect. Changing President Obama’s mind on Keystone Pipeline Project and demonstrating that US citizens want action on Climate Change can have that kind of effect.

You cannot sit Climate Change out. You can adapt to a warmer Climate Change, which will bring a lot of Likely Changes in the Rochester, NY area, for a while. But then things will get too hot. And with New York State giving up on large-scale wind projects like the Great Lakes Off-Shore Wind Project (GLOW) and (despite all sense and sensibility) rushing towards Fracking, we are going to warm up sooner than expected. We could have had renewable energy rule in New York, instead we are going to have this: New Era for Drilling Raises Tensions in Fast-Growing Areas - NYTimes.com because too many folks just watched instead of acted. (You might want to go and take photographs of our countryside before those drilling rigs change our environment.)

We are asking that you get on bus (only $10)in the early morning hours of November 6th to Washington, DC help us encircle the White House sending President Obama a clear message that US citizens are concerned about Climate Change (specifically, about the Keystone Pipeline Project) and then come home. No arrests. No confrontation, just a peaceful reminder to our president who said he ‘got it’ on Climate Change, but has somehow forgotten about it. President Obama failed to mention Climate Change in his last State of the Union Address. We need to remind the president that Climate Change will define his legacy—not on how he battled the loony GOP ideology.

Sure, you might finish out your life with only the disruptions caused by Fracking (and they bode to be substantial) and only experience a few major storms and droughts, but your grandchildren might not be so lucky.

Here’s the skinny”

For more info on the Keystone Pipeline which is set to bring dirty oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the refineries along the coast of Texas, please see:
http://www.tarsandsaction.org/
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text
http://www.transcanada.com/keystone.html
On Nov. 6, we will form a human circle around the White House to remind President Obama of his campaign promises to address global warming and hold Big Oil and Dirty Coal accountable for their widespread destruction.  Please get on the bus to DC and be a part of the effort.
350.org will defray our costs to bring the per person cost down to $10! That’s $10 roundtrip to go to DC!!! Not bad! So, if you were holding back due to finances….register now before your bargain seat gets taken!

To secure your spot, just send a check (with your name and phone number on it, please) to:

Barbara Bangs – Tar Sands Action

80 Briarwood Drive

Rochester, NY 14617

PLEASE PLAN TO ARRIVE AT THE EAST END GARAGE BY 4:00 AM on Sunday, November 6th.  We will get home around 3am on Monday Nov. 7th.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Even a Laissez-faire Capitalist needs a parking spot for their car

 

Solving transportation issues are tough because despite the economic and environment problems singular vehicles cause most believe that have an inalienable right to them. Cars and trucks pollute our air with particulates and add greenhouse gases (GHG) to the tune of 27% (according to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA) costs our public health heavily with a death rate consistent with the Vietnam War in its worst years, and makes it a major part of anyone’s budget because of insurance rates, purchase price, upkeep, and infrastructure (roads and bridges) to accommodate them. Not to mention parking:

“Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed a $2 fee on weekday parking in downtown public lots and garages to help pay for other transportation improvements like new bus routes and bike lanes. Other cities have had some success with similar plans, but some Chicagoans are skeptical. “ Chicago's 'Congestion Fee' Gets Chilly Reception - NCPR News from NPR Oct 21, 2011 (All Things Considered)

Under our present transportation structure, where vehicles define our neighborhoods, all need them to get around no matter your political, philosophical, or religious affiliation. Meaning, even if you are a Laissez-faire Capitalist you still depend on your government, public funds, to provide you with roads and bridges and street lights and all the other accoutrements needed so you can move that car someplace. And, all that costs a lot of money, public money in taxes that will suck the money from the state long before it gets to education and protecting our environment. When the roads are broke transportation stops.

Groups, individuals, and governments are trying to fix this bad decision to go whole-hog with vehicular transportation instead of rail back in the 1950”s, when we had a lot of, subway, light-rail, and active transportation. At the Toronto Film Festival this year, I saw a great documentary Urbanized: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit where one industrious mayor stated outrageously, “It’s not the government’s job to provide drivers with parking spaces.” Or, something like that. Be sure to see “Urbanized” it is a great documentary about urban existence, where most of our world’s population is living.

Imagine if our government of which President Reagan said, “Government is the problem” suddenly stepped away from providing upkeep to our transportation system and even providing parking spaces. What if those loony’s who think money and the greed for it can solve for all our problems, including transportation issues, with the “invisible hand” were really able to get away with the inconvenience of their ideology?

Then, without the government providing us with roads and bridges, we’d be on our own. We’d ride bicycles, we would walk, and we would get on buses.

Think of it: Is it the job of the government to provide you with a parking space for your car? And, if not how are you going to park your car downtown?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 reasons why you shouldn’t attend a Rochester-area Occupy Wall Street movement, or anywhere else for that matter

 
As you may have heard, depending on the media you watch, there’s a world-wide movement against the excesses of Capitalism, including too much corporate monies in our political system. Students trying to get a college education are increasingly discovering that they’ll never make enough to pay off their school loans. Millions aren’t getting sufficient or any health coverage and too many who want to work cannot. There is only a bleak future for millions around the world while a few are doing just fine. There’s a lot of rage out there. Our environment is going to hell in a hand basket and the only thing our government and all the present political parties can think of is to halt regulations that would preserve a sustainable environment for generations to come. But on the whole it’s a general rage with many components: Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution
‘Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.’ Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution
I’m thinking that despite it all, you shouldn’t go out in the streets and join the movement to make this world a better place. And I have ten reasons why, even in Rochester, NY ( Occupy Rochester), you should just stay home rather than make a spectacle of yourself.
  • Reason one: Downtown at the Liberty Pole is too far to travel to join the movement and besides there are too few places to park your car. Even though it’s not the job of your public servants, who are getting too much public money, to create public parking garages (which sound very socialist) you might have trouble finding a place to park your car. You would then have to walk several blocks to where folks are gathering and carrying signs. You could walk, but that’s a real inconvenience. And you could take the bus, which all arrive at the Liberty Pole at some point, but it’s public transportation, which means you won’t be able to smoke and listen to your favorite tunes real loud like you can in your car.
  • Reason two: You already have a great job that will last forever that gives you a great pension and you’ll make enough to pay all your medical bills and put your kids through college so they won’t have to spend the rest of their lives paying the student loans back.
  • Reason three: If you go to one of the Occupy Wall Street rallies, a reporter from a major media outlet could take a photograph of you and your boss would see it and fire you. Though, what is much worse is that one of the conservative political pundits could show your photo on one of their hate shows and sneer at you. Few things are more to be avoided that the dreaded pundit sneer, because these are the folks who mainstream media asks what’s going on in the world, instead of going out and finding out for themselves. And, they are expert and making your troubles your fault—not the system that is funded and believed in by you.
  • Reason four: You don’t have to get out in the streets to get unfairness and money out of our political system, because soon a political party that wants to change the tax system and the “Hail to the Chief” presidential theme song will be in power. The GOP will take care of the unfairness in our wealth distribution and money in politics by putting in more Supreme Court justices who’ll watch out for your Constitutional rights and not the corporations’.
  • Reason five: You don’t have to get out in the streets to express your concerns about our environment (like the Sierra Club states: Sierra Club: Email - Sierra Club Stands in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street Protests) and issues like Climate Change because your next leaders who you’ll vote into office because Obama didn’t solve all the problems the last GOP president caused don’t’ believe in Climate Change. See, it will be easy. All those environmental problems you’ve witnessed and heard about will just go away because our next leader will just dismiss the whole thing. Imagine the power that will have on physics.
  • Reason six: You shouldn’t go to the Occupy Wall Street because you might have to talk to someone who is angry about not having a good future. They’ll probably be so well-informed about the plight of others and concerns about their own future that you’ll be overwhelmed. They probably won’t talk about sports or that new TV show that’s suddenly the rage. You will look like a fool by not having all the answers—which as you know is one of the greatest threats to our existence.
  • Reason seven: It would be pointless to join your neighbors who are suffering because the 99% who are not doing well (and you aren’t doing so hot yourself) because there will be too few for the media to notice. Let’s be honest if you go to one of those events and only a few show up you’ll look like a fool and the media, which likes controversy and noise, won’t be there to catalogue your efforts. You should wait for everyone else to fight for your rights.
  • Reason eight: You shouldn’t help spread the message about the unfairness of our plight because the message is unclear. Imagine complaining about the myriad issues that you cannot find a job or have to leave your house because it being foreclosed or the shenanigans at Wall Street really annoy your and all the other stuff. It’s so unfocused. It will prove you don’t have all the answers so the smug talk hate radio folks can slam them down with their crazy ideology and weird interpretations of history. (Again, the dreaded political pundit sneer.)
  • Reason nine: You’ve got to work and sleep and get up and work another job because working more and more, while those who caused the world-wide collapse of our economy thrive, will eventually (maybe in a couple of generations) get your kids, or their kid’s kids to the top and prove what a great system we have. (Or, those lottery tickets that you have been buying like crazy will finally pay off and you can bypass the whole system and get all the health care you want.)
  • Reason ten: Working within the system of present-day politics where lobbyists and money rule will solve all the issues Occupy Wall Street is ranting about. Hey, our American exceptionalism will prove that we are unlike the Greeks or the Italians and all the others protesting around the world because we are special. We’ve seen all those great Hollywood films about how great we are and so it must be true.
So, stay at home and don’t do a thing about the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can stay comfortable while the movement solves your problems or (if it fizzles out) prove how sitting at home in times of troubles is the best way to solve problems of unfairness and injustice and an environment that is collapsing.

Change only comes about when others change things, right?

Monday, October 17, 2011

I thought I knew how bad Fracking was going to be for Rochester, NY. I was wrong. It’s much worse.

 

Yesterday, I showed up to this long-awaited meeting on how hydrofracking would affect the Rochester, NY area: Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction Upcoming Forum: How Hydrofracking Will Impact the Greater Rochester Area. There were about 300 hundred folks in attendance. Most, when asked to raise their hands, volunteered that they thought they knew a lot about hydrofracking. They were surprised. We didn’t know the half of it. Hydrofracking is not your grandfather’s well. It’s not a 60-year-old-tried-and-true technology—in its present form it’s about four years old and they’re still fiddling with it and the government is racing to keep up with the technology. It’s not adequately described in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, where public comment is due on December 12th. It’s full of illusions, delusions, and downright lies.

For example, here’s a list of the SGEIS flaws we learned: “Does not ban fracking chemicals that are known to be toxic and carcinogenic. Does not offer solutions to disposing of toxic fracking waste fluids. Does not close regulatory loophole declaring that drilling wastes can never be considered hazardous. Banning of open waste pits is temporary. Water protection standards are inconsistent. Impacts on public health are ignored. Analysis of DEC staffing or enforcement issues is omitted. Cumulative impacts from multiple wells, long-term or short-term are omitted: we need full build-out modeling. Regulations are being created before the SGEIS is complete. Outdated information for global warming assessment was used. Analysis of Pennsylvania groundwater contamination incidents is inadequate. Protection of agricultural land is inadequate. Impact on infrastructure and disturbance of other surfaces is ignored.”

To get an idea of what might be coming our way, check out this photogenic (lost of Fracking photos) blog: Blog and photos of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling near Hickory PA. And check out more stories about hydrofracking here Fracking - ProPublica and here:

Drill panel delay raises concerns -- A postponed meeting of a state advisory panel on natural gas hydraulic fracturing had one member saying Friday that it showed the state was rushing an approval process for drilling to start next year. Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and a member of the hydrofraking advisory panel set up this summer by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said Friday's meeting was scrapped because state Department of Health, Transportation Department, Public Service Commission, and Agriculture and Markets Department are still estimating demands that gas drilling will place on staff and resources. (October 15, 2011) - Times Union

But locally, where was the press? I could not find a single story on the event—a major event to inform Rochesterians of the most dramatic change coming to our area in a generation. Where were those reporters who should be helping our local public get informed on major changes that will affect their lives? We talk about Occupy Wall Street right now because it’s so in our face that even the corporate media cannot ignore it: Occupy Wall Street Hits Rochester Streets - YNN, Your News Now But unless the public does rise up in enough numbers on critical anti-corporate issues, the media goes silent.

BTW: One of the lessons that the public should learn about the Occupy Wall Street protests if we don’t learn anything else: We need to change the media. Go here to find out more about that: Free Press | Media reform through education, organizing and advocacy “Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism and universal access to communications.”

Once they start drilling after the public comment period on the SGEIS on December 12th, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to recover our clean water (with the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, the largest fresh water system in the world) and our land again.

To find out more about hydrofracking in our state and what to do about commenting on the drilling that is going to change your lives, go the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club: Sierra Club: Atlantic Chapter http://newyork.sierraclub.org/index.html

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A modest Fracking proposal for New York State: Frack-A-Thon

 
FrackingProposalAs the debate heats up and more of the public becomes aware of the Fracking boom coming to New York State, it’s only fair that all proposals come to the table. On December 12, 2011 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will close public comment on the Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program. Then, sometime after that, the drilling will begin because if there is fossil fuel to be burned, we will burn it even though it makes the Climate Change Crisis worse.

Remember, the SGEIS we are shaping into the drilling law of the land includes the Utica Shale (though they don’t say it in the title, it’s on page 7 of the Executive Summary) and Rochester, NY lies well within the Utica Shale, Google ‘Utica Shale’ and click on images. There you’ll see a lot of images and drawings of the Utica Shale blanketing the Rochester, NY area.

Though Fracking for natural gas is being heralded as a great transitional energy option from bad energy to good, it is not because there is not at the same time an equal and urgent attempt to create renewable energy. As a matter of fact, the New York State Power Authority has dropped the greatest attempt to kick start renewable energy, the Great Lakes Off-shore Wind project (Glow). Read “New York State: No! for renewable energy and Yes! for greenhouse gases and Climate Change.”
And, Fracking will be transformative to our region just like it has been for Pennsylvania:
Hydraulic Fracturing Brings Money, and Problems, to Pennsylvania “The gas boom is transforming small towns like this one (population 4,400 and growing) and revitalizing the economy of this once-forgotten stretch of rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The few hotels here have expanded, restaurants are packed and housing rentals have more than doubled. “There’s been a snowball effect due to the gas companies coming in,” Mr. Diaz, 33, said recently at his bustling empire near here.” (October 14, 2011) The New York Times
So, my proposal this: We, New York State residents, all get come together and have a major funding event to raise the money that Fracking will bring to our state, stop all attempts to drill, and use that money for renewable energy. I know this flies in the face of laissez-faire Capitalism but instead of potentially ruining our local landscape, putting immeasurable burden on our roads with heavy truck traffic, threatening our water quality, and putting more greenhouse gases (GHG) into our atmosphere, we could be creating green jobs and have a sustainable energy supply. Instead of scouring the financial books to find the money to increase renewable energy and stop using fossil fuels we could bypass all that with a great big funding event. We’d just up and do it, man.  Call it a Frack-A-Thon

There’s funding events all the time for specific projects. Sure, getting enough money to replace the gobs of money that many expect from Fracking will be daunting, but we can do it. Famous people could come on TV and speak and we could have matching pledges from big corporations who want our environment to survive into the next generation too. We are very creative when it comes to getting money—just think of how the Tea Party gets all those rallies that the mainstream media comes to.
Let’s be honest. Most folks don’t care where the heck we get our energy. As long as it’s cheap and their stuff turns on when they flick the switch—it works for them. Fracking, nuclear, wind power, solar, burning coal--whatever.

So, instead of appealing to the public’s sense of environmental stewardship, or whether they think Fracking can be done safely and won’t harm the environment (which is ludicrous because who the hell can tell what happens far underground when you blast unknown manmade chemicals, using tons of our fresh water, with all those natural fissures running through the Utica and Marcellus Shales?), we solve the money issue with one great big funding event. We make a quick shift to renewable energy, without the continual subsidies that the fossil fuel industry gets, and get going on environmentally friendly energy.

We could avoid this:
Tests: Pa. gas drilling town's water still fouled “DIMOCK, Pa. (AP) -- Three years after residents first noticed something wrong with their drinking-water wells, tanker trucks still rumble daily through this rural northeastern Pennsylvania village where methane gas courses through the aquifer and homeowners can light their water on fire. One of the trucks stops at Ron and Jean Carter's home and refills a 550-gallon plastic "water buffalo" container that supplies the couple with water for bathing, cleaning clothes and washing dishes. A loud hissing noise emanates from the vent stack that was connected to the Carters' water well to prevent an explosion -- an indication, they say, the well is still laced with dangerous levels of methane. Recent testing confirms that gas continues to lurk in Dimock's aquifer.” (October 15, 2011) The Crescent News
I hope folks will take this funding idea seriously. It has the advantage that’s it is easy and painless. Everyone--pensioners, those with or without jobs, rich and poor, young and old—will just kick in a little money and we all benefit. We won’t have to do the mental summersaults trying to make ourselves believe that Fracking, which is a great financial boom for some, is a great idea for all of us and good for the environment. The public won’t have to read up about Fracking or spend time away from their favorite sports programs. Even those spending most of their time working several jobs or spending all their waking moments looking for jobs, will know that their leaders are at least taking care of their children’s environment while they deal with the economic collapse that a few moral idiots have created.

We all win with a great big funding event for Fracking and then (for a moment) we can be relieved of the monstrosity of behavior that our present economic system wreaks. We could humanize the way we pay for stuff and take responsibility for our environment without being so mean and craven towards the majority, who are just trying to cope.

Friday, October 14, 2011

When the GOP grows up we can have an adult conversation about our future and our environment

 

Not only is the GOP trying to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which educates and regulates environmental practices on a federal level and tries to address Climate Change, the GOP is pulling the ‘Freedom to buy’ card to pander to those who don’t read or care about our environment. Adults inform themselves and take responsibility for their actions. Not the GOP. They have a childish devotion to the laissez-faire Capitalism at the cost of our environment and our future.

This new insane bill that would give Americans the right to buy any darn light bulb they want is just childish and unworthy of an adult conversation about our future.

House passes bill supporting old-style bulbs On a 62-46 vote, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would skirt a federal phaseout of older, less efficient light bulbs and allow Michigan manufacturers to make and sell them in the state. State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, called the bill the Right to Light bill and said consumers should be able to choose what products they buy. (October 14, 2011) Detroit Free Press

Countries, including Australia and Canada, are moving towards banning incandescent lights because they are so wasteful of our energy and contribute greatly to Climate Change. Check this info out from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Remember ‘Energy Star’ is not a brand name. Energy Star “is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America” Energy Star - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Start Saving Today with Energy Efficiency Lighting Options for Home and Work “Simply replacing your traditional bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) will save you $10 annually for each bulb you replace. But you don’t have to stop there.”

So, the GOP marches out a bill that, like a child, ignores all the disastrous implications of sticking with incandescent lights and hammers home the idea that you as an American, an exceptional people if there ever was one, should be able to fill your home with energy wasting bulbs and warm up the planet. Never mind what the world has leaned about wasting energy and Climate Change. All that matters to the GOP is their droning imbecility that your government is telling you what to do—again. And, that’s all you need to know. You should get angry, the GOP implores, because you should be able to buy anything you want. (Should you also be able to buy bombs and poison and small island countries that cannot fight back?)

But check this out from the Australian government:

Lighting - Think Change “Working with the states and territories, the Australian Government will gradually phase out all inefficient incandescent light bulbs. Savings to the environment: The phase-out will deliver considerable savings to the environment and the economy. Across the country, the move to more efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent lamps, is expected to save around 30 terawatt hours of electricity and 28 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2020. This is equivalent to permanently decommissioning a small coal-fired power station or taking more than 500,000 cars off the road permanently. It is expected to result in savings to the Australian economy of around $380 million per year by 2020 and result in net savings of more than $50 per year for each household that changes all of its incandescent light globes to compact fluorescent lamps.” Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency - Home - Think Change

The Australians can have an adult conversation about Climate Change and light bulbs, why can’t we? It’s going to be very difficult to have an adult conversation about how to address Climate Change when something as important as changing our light bulbs, which everyone can do and make a significant contribution towards addressing Climate Change, is addressed by the GOP by ranting about Freedom, the freedom to buy whatever the heck we want. However, they no longer rant about the freedom to buy leaded gasoline. Nobody in their right mind, not even a Republican, would march that card out.

Can you imagine what would happen if we allow the GOP to run this country if their answer to everything related to our environment is to gut the government’s role in regulating environmental practices? We have to get real. The GOP party of the past, where President Nixon passed the Clean Air, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and established the EPA is not the extremists of today. A bill, like the one about the right to buy any light bulb you want, is extreme childishness in the face of terrible environmental problems that must be addressed. The GOP is ready to hold to their extremist ideology at all costs to our future. Are you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Protests against present policies on our environment health and our economics are going in Rochester, NY and around the world

 

Though, like the teleological argument, where you argue that everything around us looks so well placed and designed (like the exquisite perfection of pigeon feathers) it must have been designed by god, and our absurd tendency to view this world as the best of all possible worlds, things don’t appear to be so wonderfully inevitable as evidenced by a rising activism going on worldwide. In fact, many seem quite unsatisfied with the stare that unfettered Capitalism has led us and quite disinclined to tolerate it. Sure lots of billionaires are doing great, but the majority are losing the middle class life they had and the possibility of having a healthy planet to strive on to regain it. Take note:

Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution “Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

To be quite blunt about it: things suck. And, what I find amazing is that mainstream media covers the GOP candidates running for the US presidency as if Climate Change were nonexistent and the demonstrators demanding a more fair economic system invisible. It’s a version of the big lie, which is if you tell a lie often enough people believe it. In this case if you (the media) ignore critical issues of the day, they too will go away.

The GOP are not talking about jobs, how to address Climate Change, how they are going to extract us from the wars they started, or what they intend to do about the millions upon millions who cannot afford health care—and the media is going to go right along with all that. The GOP candidates running for that office they are now just saying “No!” over and over again are a tempest in a teapot, but the teapot is filled with poison.

Meanwhile, the public is focusing on the fallout from lousy environmental policies that allow corporations to trash our environment and our political system that is so clogged with corporate cash that it’s impossible to come up with sane way to fix things.

Here in Rochester, NY folks are getting fed up and getting tired of being treated like mushrooms—kept in the dark and fed crap.

ACTIVISM: Rochester, meet your Occupiers - News Articles - Rochester City Newspaper The Occupy Together movement is spreading far beyond its initial protests on Wall Street to places as far flung as Oakland and The Hague. There's even an Occupy Puerto Rico. And Rochester is among the cities that now have "occupations" of their own. At 4 p.m. every day, Monday through Friday, individuals and groups gather at the Liberty Pole. They also meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays at the Flying Squirrel Community Space, 285 Clarissa Street, in their general assembly: essentially an organizing session. (October 12, 2011) Rochester NY News, Events, Restaurants, Music, Entertainment, Nightlife - Rochester City Newspaper

And, another uprising is coming together worldwide to fix our environment and put it on a sane footing. Check it out:

15th october: #United we will re-invent the world “OCTOBER 15TH | UNITED FOR #GLOBALCHANGE |On October 15th people from all over the world will take to the streets and squares. From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest. The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end. United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us. On October 15th, we will meet on the streets to initiate the global change we want. We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen. It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen. People of the world, rise up on October 15th!”

Read more from 350.org

Peaceful Occupations Planned Worldwide for #GlobalChange | 350.org “In London, there is a bridge the spans out across the Thames River right next to the Houses of Parliament. On the other side of that bridge is a St. Thomas’ hospital. A few days ago thousands from around the UK gathered to block that bridge in protest. We were not afraid, and we were looking ahead towards October 15th.” (October 13, 2011) 350.org

So, lots of folks are thinking: “What does it all mean? All these people going to the streets and demanding a just and verdant world, what will become of that? Corporations, who are now legal individuals because of Citizen United, can do just about anything they want: toss people out of work, stop environmental regulations, and make lots of money so they can do more of the same. It’s the world we live in. It’s the way things are. Just look around it’s all for the best, the way it was meant to be. Someone or something is behind the scenes and will make everything OK.

But just when you think it’s all hopeless and the great unwashed will put up with just about anything and any environment, they go and get out in the streets—and stay there. Is that the way it’s supposed to be also?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Fracking in Rochester, NY so don’t worry your pretty little heads

 

Those of us with the jitters about such things as the possibility of hydrofracking drilling (or Fracking) in the Rochester, NY area, even though we are in the Utica Shale, can stop worrying. It isn’t going to happen. There’s not enough gas under us that would attract the gas companies. So sayth the experts: “…some local residents are concerned because a gas-bearing shale layer passes under Monroe County. But as the Democrat and Chronicle learned in interviews with geologists and industry officials, there is likely to be no natural-gas drilling in Monroe County in the foreseeable future. “Drilling leases: Some wary, many welcoming . (October 9, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle

To get a real sense of relief, you need to Google ‘Utica Shale’ and click on images. There you’ll see a lot of images and drawings of the Utica Shale blanketing the Rochester, NY area. So, when the experts tell us that there is ‘likely to be no drilling-gas in Monroe County’ I get a great sense of relief. It’s like going to the doctor’s office and despite all the tests that say your body is riddled with cancer, you don’t have to worry your pretty little head because the doctors says the kind of cancer you have doesn’t need any treatment. No need to get a second opinion: the doctor said just what you wanted to hear so look no more.

It’s those poor people who live in the Marcellus Shale who have something to worry about. They’ve got the bad cancer; they’ve got a lot of gas under their feet and every gas company is drill-ready to get it just as soon as the Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (September 2011) – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation is over. Then, through the close of business on December 12, 2011, they’ll be drilling in down there in the Marcellus Shale, but not here in Rochester. It’s a shame because they’re going to go crazy drilling down there—just check this drilling map Finger Lakes Region –from Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

We are lucky. But, then cancer is cancer. What if they find out later that we do have cancer, the bad kind? What if they drain the Marcellus Shale and want more gas? I know those experts are always correct in their predictions and even though they don’t want to divulge what’s in that Fracking chemical soup they’re stuffing down into our fissure-ridden rocks, we can feel comforted that they are right. After all, they’ve dug a lot of holes in their time. So, even this story shouldn’t shake us up:

Utica Shale is the next fracking frontier | syracuse.com It’s unlikely that anyone’s going to drill in the town of Tully into the now-famous Marcellus shale because the rock is too close to the surface. But that doesn’t mean drilling rigs and hydrofracking will bypass the town — and a large piece of Central New York. Despite all the attention given to the Marcellus shale, there’s another, deeper rock layer in New York that is an intriguing mystery — bigger but economically an unknown. It’s the Utica shale: a layer of rock thousands of feet deeper than the Marcellus and less well-studied. (October 10, 2011) Syracuse NY Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather - syracuse.com [more on Energy in our area]

Even though this SGEIS we are shaping into the drilling law of the land does include the Utica Shale (though they don’t say it in the title, it’s on page 7 of the Executive Summary) and the experts have admitted they haven’t studied gas in the Utica Shale in full, when they do I’m sure it will be found to have so little natural gas that it’s silly even to think about it.

And remember, what Former Pennsylvania Governor, former National Security Chair, and now gas lobbyist Tom Ridge said about all that water in Pennsylvania lighting on fire because of nearby gas drilling. “Yes, it [water catching on fire] happens all the time but it has nothing to do with hydrofracking.” Tom Ridge - The Colbert Report - 2011-09-06 - Video Clip | Comedy Central Tom must be right. He makes a lot of money and probably has no need for any more.

Besides, I lived way out in the country and for ten years I used well water. Though, my well water never caught on fire, it’s probably a very common event around here and Pennsylvania. I was just one of the lucky ones whose well water did not catch on fire. Those people in Pennsylvania should fess up and admit they’ve been heating their homes with well water all these years.

Finally, let’s admit it. We here in the Rochester, NY region are special. All the stuff you’ve been hearing about the concerns of hydrofracking [like here Fracking - ProPublica ] won’t happen here. Here’s the thing. Don’t you think that if hydrofracking in our region was a real worry, your mainstream media would let you know? Of course they would.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What is more important, our environment or our economy?

 

Fundamentally, this is the question that we asking ourselves in the political arena. I think this article that contains this observation “The last thing a down economy needs is new regulation, and the EPA is overstepping its boundaries” captures the essence of a deep assumption that some us make.

Two New Reasons to Worry about Air Pollution: Obesity and Diabetes - Forbes The debate over air pollution and, more specifically, the regulation of air pollution, raged on this week as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) watered down its cross-state pollution rule and House Republicans moved to delay new rules on toxic air pollution from cement plants, solid waste incinerators, and industrial boilers. These latest debates come on the heels of President Obama’s move last month to reneg on promises to tighten up smog standards, a decision that angered environmentalists and led to speculation that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson might be ready to walk. In all cases, the argument against regulation goes something like this: The last thing a down economy needs is new regulation, and the EPA is overstepping its boundaries. (October 10, 2011) Information for the World's Business Leaders - Forbes.com

We have become so used to believing that our economy, the systems of economics we have devised to reward ourselves for work, is the fundamental ruling principle of existence. At least one political party has seized on this convenient line of reasoning: in order to survive in this society we need money—in some form or another.

But this question --what is more important our economy or our environment?—is an illusion that we have created in our minds, put forth and maintained by the influential and powerful. Blinded by facts and figures, those that fortify their arguments, they tend to think that the backdrop to our lives, our environment, is a secure and static stage that will remain as it is while we rage on.

We are having fighting each other while the boat that keeps us afloat is sinking. Climate Change, pollution, and the rise of the human population to seven billion people are threatening our existence and our chance to have a sustainable environment, but we don’t care. We are like the endemic peoples that the Europeans discovered when they came to the New World over five hundred years ago: If the endemic peoples of the New World had recognized that those coming on the ships from over the oceans were their enemies, not each other, they could have had a less tragic blow to their existence.

If we don’t find a way to present and address the true threat to our existence—an environment in trouble—we too, with all our technical and adaptive powers will find that we have been robbed of our future.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Worst mistake US could make: Elect a president who does NOT believe in the Climate Change Crisis

 

Not all the citizens of the world are dismissive of the Climate Change Crisis. Figures vary about how many American believe that we are in the midst of a Climate Change Crisis but usually the number fall below 50%.

Americans' Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop “Multiple indicators show less concern, more feelings that global warming is exaggerated. PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual update on Americans' attitudes toward the environment shows a public that over the last two years has become less worried about the threat of global warming, less convinced that its effects are already happening, and more likely to believe that scientists themselves are uncertain about its occurrence. In response to one key question, 48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.” (March 11, 2010) Gallup.Com - Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Government, Politics, Economics, Management

However you see the figures there still is a sizable portion of US citizens who would consider putting in a President of the US who does not believe in the Climate Change Crisis. I don’t think they would get away with that in Europe:

Europeans fear climate change more than financial turmoil, poll shows “Respondents said climate change was the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty. Europeans believe that dangers of climate change represent a more serious problem than the current financial turmoil, according to a new poll. The Eurobarometer poll (pdf) suggests that the majority of the public in the European Union consider global warming to be one of the world's most serious problems, with one-fifth saying it is the single most serious problem. Overall, respondents said climate change was the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty.” (October 7, 2011) The Guardian

What is very troubling is that below most folks’ awareness on whether US citizens believe in Climate Change or not, their governments at the city and state levels are quietly (meaning mainstream media is oblivious to it) creating Climate Change Action Plans—but those plans could languish without strong support from a US President.

Many cities and states have been ramping up local efforts to deal with the many issues that Climate Change will cause—like energy, transportation, and public health issues. They have to because all governments are accountable to their constituents to protect them. Here’s what New York State is doing, for example:

“Executive Order No. 24 sets a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by 80 percent below the levels emitted in 1990 by the year 2050. The Executive Order also created the New York Climate Action Council (CAC) with a directive to prepare a Climate Action Plan.” New York Climate Change Advisory Group

But all these local efforts will be for in vain if we are crazy enough to put a leader in charge of our country who doesn’t even believe in science. These present efforts to address Climate Change by states and cities are a good start but they have to be done on a massive scale, quickly, and coordinated with other communities and countries in order to have any real effect on reversing an entire planet’s move towards warming up. This is not an opinion, this is physics. Installing a US President who would not take quick and decisive leadership on Climate Change is unthinkable as Climate Change accelerates.

@OpWallStreet has no clear set of demands?

 

Many, especially mainstream media, are puzzled and not very interested in finding out the true nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests going on. Note this story’s headline: The Occupy Wall Street Movement Needs a Clear Set of Demands (Oct.7, 2011) Politics News and Opinion on The Huffington Post

But does the protest really need a clear set of demands? From what I can understand Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution is about anger and frustration over the unfairness that the economic upheaval has wrought. Those who did not cause this world-wide economic collapse are paying with their health benefits, pensions, jobs, and their homes. We are a country that thrives on details, exact details that we can measure and quantify. This reduces complicated issues, like our environment and economics, to an equation we believe can evaluate.

But, sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes, like with our environment, we just don’t have enough facts and we have to make decisions long before all the information arrives. Climate Change cannot at this point be proven to be the cause of any particular extreme weather event. But that doesn’t mean that the warming of our atmosphere with manmade greenhouse gases isn’t a likely suspect in each case. (I challenge the deniers to prove that we haven’t caused our climate to change.) A prudent species, bent on survival and aware of the monumental changes that come would Climate Change, would not be quibbling over ever little detail at this point—they’d be doing the best to stop any chance of Climate Change happening. But that isn’t happening. Because Climate Change is still perceived as doubtful, we don’t act. It’s not in a lot of folks’ agenda to have an environmental collapse.

Because the press cannot understand this statement “The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” they characterize the protests as crazy and pointless. They don’t get it. If they got it, they’d have to question why so many are so miserable when so few are doing so well. They’d have to change their way of reporting on mass uprisings and actually go to them and find out—like they did when other countries were rising up in anger and frustration.

But we are living in an era where the media is a part of the very institutions that are sucking the life-blood from our environment and our citizens. Our minds have indeed become for rent for every ideology and government. You aren’t going to get it if you are still listening to the same media that lied us into a war with Iraq and presents GOP attempts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as reasonable fodder for a reasonable people.

The real news of today is elsewhere. It doesn’t exist in any one place on the radio, television, print, website, or TV. The real news is out there and it’s messy like a democracy that often doesn’t, at any one point, have clear goals and a set of clear demands. Maybe that’s because the wrong decisions have already been made, like bailing out the banks and not the public, and so the best solutions—going back in time and changing the decisions—are not available.

For a more rounded view of what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about try these two sources: http://www.democracynow.org/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/occupy-wall-street . But even these won’t capture it all. You got to keep looking, thinking, and acting at the right time.

Imagine how hard it must have been for the average citizen, especially if they lived far from an urban setting, to get a sense in the early 1770’s of what the Sons of Liberty were about. There were newspapers, but mostly folks went to churches and other gathering places to get the news. What was one to make of Americans getting angry at Britain at that time, however badly the Brits were acting towards their American children? One might as well have angered themselves against the weather, a seemingly fruitless position against such an implacable parent.

At Occupy Wall Street doctors and nurses and students and environmentalists and the homeless and the jobless, the sick and those without a future are really angry about how unjust things have become in what once was a Democracy but is increasing looking like a Plutocracy. The media, which has become a spokesman for the few and the powerful, is reacting with annoyance and haughtiness. Things are messy. If you don’t want to be left out of your future, you might want to chase this news item down by veering far from mainstream media that seems to be doing all they can to forgetaboutit.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Yes, New York State, the sun shines here too

 

We need to get moving on renewable energy. The collapse of the Great Lakes Off-shore wind project (GLOW) leaves our state vulnerable to the Fracking boon. A boon is the economic code word for saying forget everything you know about human rights, property rights, environmental health, and go after the stuff you want in the ground with no holds barred. Drill baby drill!

Somehow we have decided that off-shore wind turbines are so ugly and expensive that we have to tear up our New York State country-side, dig up more fossil fuel to warm our atmosphere, and put our drinking water at risk. And, just to show our distain for the Climate Change Crisis, we’re probably going to allow one of the most polluting fossil fuels to run a pipeline through our country from Canada, get refined in the Gulf, and then spewed into our atmosphere:

Final Keystone XL pipeline hearing sees show of force from both sides | Environment | guardian.co.uk Environmental groups face off against the oil industry as state department decides whether to approve Keystone pipeline Environmental groups and the oil industry will square off in their final public showdown on Friday before Barack Obama renders a decision on a controversial pipeline carrying crude from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas. The encounter promises to be contentious, with one activist Whit Jones (@whitjones) tweeting that the Occupy Wall Street movement had come to the state department.  (October 6, 2011) Latest US and world news, sport and comment from the Guardian | guardiannews.com | The Guardian

What are you going to do? Get angry? How’s that working out? How is trying to go around the mainstream media, the people you voted into office, and all the other impediments to common science sense to have a sustainable environment working out for us?

Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution “Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

Change, it could happen. We could come to our senses and tax the rich, make those who caused the 2008 economic collapse accountable and have a health plan that doesn’t bankrupt our countrymen. But it’s going to take a lot more folks protesting in the parks.

I’m thinking that what we need to do is find a way to get moving on renewable energy in a major way because all this other stuff—Fracking, protesting, pundit chatter, media coverage of wind turbine hate—is not going to provide us with an energy source that will make our way of life sustainable. Remember: how we get energy right now is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Check “Climate Change 101 Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change”.

I’m thinking Solar Power at the moment. I thinking that the sun does shine in New York State too and we should reap this kind of energy—which to my knowledge hasn’t pissed anyone off yet.

So why not surf over to some independent contractors and get solar, even in Rochester, NY. Let’s get moving on Climate Change in a real way and just blast by all the negativity:

Solar Energy - Information about Solar Power & Renewable Energy “We recently launched the independent website 'Solarcontact.com', which provides free information about solar power and solar water heating for our users. For example, we have developed an innovative solar power calculator which - and this is unique in the US - takes into account precise solar intensity on a ZIP code level. Have a look if you like! Our main goal is to inform about green energy and support the distribution of eco-friendly, renewable energies by putting interested people in contact with qualified installers. We inform about topics like incentives, profitability and installation of solar systems and keep track with new developments. Our service is completely free for our visitors.”