Monday, October 29, 2012

The trouble with Climate Silence

The 2012 presidential debates are over and Climate Silence ruled. Didn’t hear about Climate Silence? That’s because the two candidates for the most powerful job in the world kept their mouths shut about the most important issue in the world—accelerated anthropomorphic Climate Change.

On one level it’s understandable how the two candidates, starving for more billons to feed the mainstream media machine, would be reluctant to talk about an issue so riddled with fake doubt by those whose ideology doesn’t match reality. “Climate of Doubt”, a major investigative report by PBS’s Frontline, gets to the heart of the matter, though sadly it aired just after the last debate.
On another level, it’s incredible that the American public would allow the politicalization of a scientific issue. You cannot just vote Climate Change away, or gravity for that matter.

ClimateSilenceBut it seems we are hell-bent on doing just that. For me, the most poignant moment in “Climate of Doubt” came when a Republican senator just ousted from office by his stance on the science behind Climate Change said at a senate hearing (and I paraphrase) “What do you do when your child is sick and 98 doctors tell you a procedure will save him, while 2 tell you not to do it?”

 It looks like we are going with the 2% of scientists who don’t back Climate Change—even though that’s not in the 100%’s best interest. Not only that, we are increasing oil production in our own country where soon we may be producing more oil than any other country—even more than Saudi Arabia. At the same time, we are going to eliminate the production tax credit for renewable energy at the end of this year.

One of my heroes, world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough,  whose1980’s program “Life on Earth” first woke me to the deep resilience, persistence, and interdependency that exists in the four billion years of life on this planet, highlights the Climate Silence problem in the US.  Viewed from the perspective of an expert on the biological machinations of our planet who is also independent from the dysfunctional American press, Attenborough says:

US politicians duck climate change because of cost The naturalist warned it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to global warming. One of the world's leading naturalists has accused US politicians of ducking the issue of climate change because of the economic cost of tackling it and warned that it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers of global warming. Speaking just days after the subject of climate change failed to get a mention in the US presidential debates for the first time in 24 years, Sir David Attenborough told the Guardian: "[It] does worry me that most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don't know what you do about that. It's easier to deny." (October 26, 2012) The Guardian

The candidates debated and their handlers calculated that they need not debate Climate Change. And they are right, the American public goes mum. We have this strange capacity to marvel at our own self-destructive behavior then proceed regardless. Nevertheless, you cannot have a sensible and useful debate if you structure the debates in such way that only a few (the Green Party was forced out) are allowed to participate. Critical issues like Climate Change, which are going to have to be dealt with by all branches of government, have been pre-agreed not to be discussed. That’s not a debate; it is a dangerous delusion—a game where only a few can play and the outcome affects everyone. It’s like the spats of old between Feudal-era kings that forced peasants to war with each other, creating untold misery upon those who have been excluded from the decision-making process.

Yet, there are instances when we the people finally rise and face the facts and change our behavior—a Pearl Harbor moment. For Climate Change, this moment of clarity may come if the Arctic melts soon. That’s when our planet’s air conditioner becomes our planet’s fireplace.

A North Pole Without Ice Scientists say this year’s record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences. (August 30, 2012) Environment 360

My suggestion (though, admittedly, if you’re not going to listen to climate scientists why listen to me?) is that while humanity kicks this hot little can down the road a little further, experts might poke a new bullet point into the numerous Climate Change studies. Right after the point where a study says we should pour a lot of bucks into educating the public about this scientific phenomenon, include a bullet about combating the folks thwarting our collective action to save ourselves. Sure, it would be costly. The 1% has a lot of money to convince the 99% to sacrifice the 100%’s planet for the 1%’s whims. Even so, a planet that isn’t continually passing warming tipping points is a very handy thing to have.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The great 2012 non-accomplishment for Rochester, NY area media - Fracking

Every year Rochester City Newspaper puts out its Best of Rochester Series attempting to highlight some incredible local accomplishments.  It’s a good idea to pause once a year and see what amazing things a community so gifted with universities, technology, and artists can do.  However, somewhat buried in this report is the acknowledgement of the most important, but ignored, story of 2012: Local News Story Ignored in 2012 - Fracking.  This incredible non-accomplishment is worth contemplating for a moment. 

Try to suspend for a moment your awareness of the controversies surrounding Fracking (slang for hydraulic fracturing) and focus on its newsworthiness. Try channeling Walter Cronkite -- consider what should be editorial objectivity on an issue as contentious as Fracking—not your opinion. 

Note: I’m not going to pummel you with my opinion on Fracking—at least right now.  Although I do beg your patience on this one caveat:  If your opinion on Fracking in New York State is that you just don’t care, then you are either too ignorant of the subject to know what you are saying, or just too craven.  If for example, you had called up an airline company and tried to book a flight out of an American city on the evening of September 11, 2001 and started crabbing at the attendant because she said there were no flights, we can forgive the attendant for hanging up on you. Sometimes some opinions are just too ridiculous to consider.  We’ll put aside sheer lunacy for the moment.

To be for or against Fracking in New York State based on your beliefs or your sense of priorities is one thing; to be uninformed about this issue because the Rochester region’s local media has ignored it is quite another.  No objective position on the imminent lifting of the moratorium on Fracking in New York State would rationally conclude that it wasn’t important, wasn’t worth adequately informing all our state’s communities, including Monroe County.  You might like the idea of Fracking, you might not, but you wouldn’t say that it doesn’t concern us and that we shouldn’t pay attention to it.

Objectively then, without pandering to either side on the Fracking issue in our region, here are some of the reasons why Fracking should garner continual front-page attention in our local media (as it often does in the southern tier of our state, the purported ‘sacrifice zone’), complete with comprehensive investigations, not tomorrow, but now, immediately.  Waiting for the consequences of Fracking to play themselves out in our county will be too late. Every reasonable person in Monroe County should want the answers to these questions before any Fracking begins:

  • In Monroe County we need to know how much gas Fracking companies might possibly drill for in our area.  Our county lies above the Utica Shale, which is one of the shales included in the Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program that will shape the legal framework for Fracking in our state.  As this report--Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Ordovician Utica Shale of the Appalachian Basin Province, 2012--recently completed by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests there are “38 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 208 million barrels of natural gas liquids” in parts of the Utica Shale but no word of gas amounts directly under our region.  “We don’t know because we haven’t test-drilled.” Is not an adequate answer.
  • Even if it becomes certain that our region won’t be Fracked, it is uncertain if our county will engage in ancillary Fracking activities (Fracking waste disposal in our waste water treatment plants, landfills, or along county roads and properties).  Because the Fracking industry enjoys special exemptions, including the so-called "Halliburton Loophole" sidestepping the Clean Water Act and other restrictions, our region’s public needs to know what environmental and public health risks might be on our horizon.
  • Whether we Frack in this region or just engage in ancillary Fracking activities, we need to know how our public roads and bridges might be impacted by the high-volume, heavy trucking this industry requires.  Will our tax burden on our local infrastructure increase as a result of New York State’s decision to Frack?
  • We need to know if there is any possibility that Hemlock Lake, which exists in the Marcellus Shale and provides our region with much of our clean fresh drinking water, might be threatened.
  • In the light of studies on Climate Change and how that will affect our water cycle, including an increase in late summer and early fall droughts, we need to know how much of our fresh water might eventually be required—even if Fracking or its ancillary activities is not practiced in our region.
  • We need to know, given reports about the massive release of methane gas in the Fracking process, Fracking’s relationship to Climate Change. 
  • In order to make a responsible decision on whether to Frack in New York State, our region, along with all the other regions of our state, needs to know the chemical composition of fluids used in the Fracking process.
  • We need to know what potential jobs will become available and what possible effect Fracking will have on our local economy, both short and long term. 
  • We need to know what the exact state of our water quality—in our rivers, streams, and near-by lakes--before Fracking begins to establish a water-quality baseline so we can adequately assess the damage and assign responsibility when an accident occurs. 

I can think of many more important questions concerning Fracking and our region—including insurance related issues—but the above list alone reveals how much we don’t know about an industry that will change our state forevermore. Our local media has been dismissive at best and misleading at worst on an issue that will affect our region if Fracking is adopted in New York State.   

Granted, there is a media crisis out there.  Don’t take my word for it; look around, the media has indeed changed.  This week’s story about Newsweek’s move to drop print and go totally digital to save its investigative reporters highlights the crisis.

In short, there are fewer investigative stories (a news reporter surfing over to the NYS DEC site to find out what the DEC chief says about Fracking doesn’t count) being spread by more and more aggregative news-collecting web sites and applications and no money left for print media—because advertisers are giving up on that. But consider this; one of the most frightening things that the present media collapse portends are the nearly insurmountable hurdles, the almost impenetrable walls, our particular online news sources have created.  The new news environment has become an insularity of self-absorbed silos.  You can now live your life completely involved in sports or movies and not have a clue about Climate Change, Fracking, or who’s running for president.  Walter Cronkite is gone.  We’re on our own.

Even so, the whole point for the existence of local news, news pertaining to your community, should include stuff you need to know about. You need to know if your government is solvent, whether your leaders are committing crimes and betraying your trust.  Despite the local fascination with sports, construction delays, dog love and the innumerable festivals that engage our city, you need to know if there is a rash of diseases coming our way.  You need to know if your water is clean, if your air is breathable, and whether or not your environment is sustainable—able to be there for your kids.  Some stuff is just interesting, some other stuff is critical to know.  There’s a difference. 

If our local media has failed to adequately report on Fracking, one of the most important stories that will affect every single one of us in the Rochester, NY region, we have to question the reason for their continued existence.  If our local media editors are lying low on Fracking because they think they’re being ‘objective’, we must ask: in what sense they are using the word?  Going mum just as a major change comes to our region is not objectivity in any useful sense.  Why continue the delusion that watching local news is actually informing us of things we need to know if they are not actually doing that?  Why put yourself through all that reading and tube-gazing when at the end of the day you cannot drink the water?  What reasons can local media editors provide to explain this incredible dearth of information on Fracking?  Are they being paid by the fossil fuel industry to shut up?  Or are they merely afraid of boring the bejesus out of their paid subscribers and potential ad consumers? 

A very dangerous argument has crept into the Fracking issue in NYS, and the blame can be put squarely on local media.  The Fracking people believe that they have waited long enough for Governor Cuomo to decide on Fracking.  They really want the money promised them by Fracking leases on their land.  In fact, no they really haven’t waited all that long.  We are missing a lot of important information about our environment as it relates to Fracking and we as rational folks just as soon we get all the info we need.  We the people really don’t need to be hasty on this matter, and we really need to take the time to look before we jump. 

We the people should be able to depend on news that informs us of important stuff.  Distracted news gathering, with the media desperate for funding, is going to be a great challenge for an industry that used to compete with each other for real news, investigative journalism.  Throughout this media transformation, we still have to keep our eye on the ball.  We cannot depend on media the way we used to.  If you are only attending to a media that blinds you on critical issues, you, ultimately, are responsible.  If your local media is blinding you on important matters, stop consuming it, go find out what you need to know, even if the answer is not what you want to hear. 

The acceptance of Fracking in New York State would have a tremendous impact on our future.  The local media’s failure to cover this issue in full is an outrage.  I view this failure of local media on the issue of Fracking in New York State, and possibly our county, as a tragic microcosm of how our local media has failed to adequately inform us on most environmental issues, especially their failure to connect the dots between Climate Change and probable consequences of Climate Change in our region.  Also, the failure of local media to even mention a Fracking rally and a petition delivery to Monroe County legislature questions our media’s competency and integrity on a matter so critical to our region’s environment and public health: Are our local media editors pandering to the fossil fuel industry, their subscribers, or both?

Finally, some would say if you are ‘pro’ Fracking or ‘anti’ Fracking you cannot be objective on Fracking. I say that is the wrong heuristic because the focus of our attention should be on the health of our environment, not on the health of a particular industry. Our media needs to change their notion of ‘objectivity’ when it comes to environmental issues, especially as Climate Change becomes the lens through which we should view all environmental issues. Fracking, because it involves drilling for natural gas, will impact Climate Change. We are supposed to be informed about important issues by our media, not blinded by them.  If our local media is avoiding and failing to inform us on something as important as Fracking, do they deserve our trust? 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some Fracking/Brownfield questions before New York State takes the plunge


Doesn’t the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have enough to do cleaning up Brownfields without the specter of Fracking?

Shouldn’t these basic questions be considered before New York State even considers Fracking:

  • How many Brownfields does NYS have now?
  • How many Brownfields are getting cleaned up?
  • Shouldn’t we get the existing Brownfields cleaned up before we start Fracking?
  • How many personnel does the DEC have on cleaning up Brownfields and how many will they need to monitor Fracking wells?
  • Why should we the people of New York State trust the Fracking industry with its bad record of environmental performance to run a clean environmental operation when our state already has a large burden of Brownfields as an albatross around our necks?
  • Wouldn’t it make a lot more environmental sense to clean up the abuses of past industries in our state and watch how the Fracking industry treats Pennsylvania before we Frack New York State?

I know, many folks think we gotta get jobs from Fracking because we are desperate—but we are not. Up renewable energy and wait to Frack makes a lot more sense than appeasing the Fracking industry and drilling lease holders. Fracking New York State is not like putting up wind farms and solar panels, which you can take down if that isn’t working out. Fracking, once adopted by New York State, is forever.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cuomo ‘in a very lonely place” on Fracking


A candidate for New York State Senate accused ‘celebrity’ opposition to Fracking in New York State that puts Governor Cuomo “in a very lonely place”.

I think Cuomo is “in a very lonely place” because he is truly agonizing whether or not Fracking is a responsible thing to do. 

He’s agonizing because the fossil fuel industry is hounding him about the leases they’ve already bought up and want a return on their money—despite what this might do to NYS’s environment. 

He’s agonizing because our state, the Empire State, and a leader since Teddy Roosevelt and FDR in environmental stewardship and does not want NYS to devolve to a resource curse.

Cuomo is agonizing because he knows how easy it is for a politician to promise instant fossil fuel jobs (even though they will continue to warm our planet) when renewable energy would provide better long-term jobs and help our environment. 

Cuomo is agonizing because his public, the New York State citizenry, is not giving him a clear signal they understand the complexity of this Fracking New York State issue and are willing to demonstrate that conviction.   

One way the public can demonstrate their commitment to a Frack-free New York, is to have a major county, Monroe County, put a ban on all Fracking related activities. 

Folks in Monroe County can demonstrate that online here:   Monroe County, show Cuomo the way!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Become the Media! and do a Hail Mary pass around corporate media

Last Tuesday, over 4, 000 petition signatures to ban all Fracking and related activities were delivered to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and members of the Monroe County Legislature.  But presumably that wasn’t enough because the press didn’t even show up.  Alas, our mainstream media (which continually barrages us with countless ads and news that isn’t news) did not show up for this local event against Fracking either: Cobbs Hill rally against fracking (October 3, 2012) indymedia Rochester, NY.

Hummm… I thought the press was supposed to give the public a full airing of major issues in our communities.  I know the Communications Act of 1934 has been ripped to shreds and turned into the you-can-talk-about-anything-you-want-to-the-publc-even-hate-radio Telecommunications_Act_of_1996, but still I thought there would be some vestige of the First Amendment and a desire to act in the public interest.  Call me stupid, but tearing up our countryside, threatening our water, jeopardizing our right to self-determination, and potentially transforming the Empire State into a Resource Curse sounds like an issue of interest to the public to me. 

Apparently, I was wrong.  I looked around the legislature and not a commercial reporter could I see.  I looked under my seat.  I looked down the rows of our county representatives, thinking maybe one of our intrepid reporters tripped and fell while trying to interview one of Those Who Represent The People, but not an investigative soul did I see. I looked down the four flights of stairs from our room and no “Wait! I’m coming” from the press did I hear. What was wrong?  What was I missing?  Maybe it was because we here in Monroe County aren’t ‘sweet’ enough.  Huh? Let me explain.

The reason why the press didn’t show up for the release of 4,000 signatures could be that Monroe County is an “Unsweet Spot”.  I know, you think I’m toying with you now.  But, wait.  I’m completely serious.  The just released USGS Releases First Assessment of Shale Gas Resources in the Utica Shale: 38 trillion cubic feet says that the part of the Utica Shale that doesn’t include Monroe County is a ‘Sweet Spot’ and quite a nice place to Frack—in fact ‘sweet’.  But although we here in Monroe County are still in the Utica Shale (we haven’t moved, folks), we are in the ‘Unsweet Spot’ (I kid you not, this is the word they use) “The Utica Shale Oil AU is an area of about 15,000,000 acres at the mean and is divided into a sweet spot and a nonsweet spot.” (Page 5, Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Ordovician Utica Shale of the Appalachian Basin Province, 2012)

So, the reason that the local press doesn’t show up to anti-Fracking events and continually dismisses the idea of Fracking in our Monroe County area (which, is larger in population than the state of Vermont) is because the press thinks there is no need to worry our pretty little heads over something that they think is not going to ever happen?  But wait!—again.  Sorry, for the dramatics, but this sentence on the same page as the above quote is quite a kicker: If I’m reading this study correctly, “Based on these input parameters, recovery of the resource would require at the mean about 7,000 wells to be drilled within the sweet spot and an additional 10,500 wells at the mean to be drilled in the nonsweet spot to extract this potential resource.” (Page 5 Ibid.)

Read it and weep: “an additional 10,500 wells at the mean to be drilled in the nonsweet spot to extract this potential resource.” If you are thinking that Monroe County doesn’t have to lift its finger to protect itself from Fracking, because we’ll never get Fracked, you’d better read the fine print: Hydraulic Fracturing SGEIS that says NYS is considering Fracking in the Utica and Marcellus Shale. Could it actually be the case that because we are a’ nonsweet’ spot instead of a ‘sweetspot’ we could get drilled with a lot more wells as the Fracking industry madly burrows under our region for every darn fix of fossil fuel?

Here’s the news that the local news media couldn’t bother themselves to print: Thousands Sign Petition to Ban Fracking and Related Activities On Monroe County Properties.  This is what we really should be doing: ‘Become the Media!’ instead of waiting for mainstream media to ‘get it’ on Climate Change, Fracking, and other critical environmental matters.  We have social media and web sites and email lists and we can reach the public just as well as the present-day dysfunctional media—if we change our attitudes.  Let’s not pander to the media and street-theatre for their attention, let’s BE THE MEDIA! So, let’s give that a try by demonstrating that we can get into the Monroe County Legislature next time and fork over 20,000 signatures? Be hard to ignore 20,000 signatures.  And it would prove to ourselves that we can do a Hail Mary pass around the corporate media and get our message out to the masses.  

Become the Media! And get everyone you know to sign this petition: Prohibit All Fracking Related Activities on Monroe County Properties, NY

Saturday, October 06, 2012

To Frack or not to Frack NYS: That is not the question.


By now, regardless of where you stand on Fracking in New York State, you’re probably getting weary of it. Four years ago few of us heard of Fracking (slang for hydraulic fracturing), and now it permeates our media. On either end of this issue (for there is almost no middle ground), all have marshaled their best arguments and continually hone them to convince the few who still haven’t made up their minds. Added to all that are the daily updates—delays, new scientific findings, public health issues, moratoriums, rallies, and the eerie subliminal signals by our governor that leave the public frantic as to where he is leaning at any given moment.

However, bored or not, we are at a critical point, like our ancestors were back in the early 1800’s when Clinton’s ditch (the Erie Canal), was being considered. Back then many feared that the fertile soils of our Rochester, NY region would remain unproductive because moving produce took too much time, cost, and energy to get them to market. It was thought that a canal could help move tons of grains quickly and cheaply across the state and eventually the world. And it did just that. New York State became the Empire State.

Few today think the canal was a bad idea. But it did not go off without a hitch. The canal wreaked havoc on what is now the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, one of the major wetlands and migratory marshes in our country, by lowering the water levels of some 80 square miles of wetlands by 12 feet. Also, in the rush to develop the canal, a swath of dead trees were left to rot, giving our state for awhile the unworldly look of biological destruction. However, the first travelers on the canal were delighted because the horrors of the wilderness had been beaten back; they reveled in what looked to them as the road to European-like modernity. Whatever the negative externalities or reservations the public had then about the canal, today the benign ditch that meanders across our state is often heralded as one of our state’s greatest accomplishments.

But that was a different world. The canal was officially completed in 1825. From that point to the present, the planet’s carbon dioxide concentration went from 280 parts per million (ppm) to today’s 394ppm, when 350ppm is considered by climate experts to be safe. Or, use this calculation:

“The global average surface temperature rose 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.1 to 1.6° F) between 1906 and 2005, and the rate of temperature increase has nearly doubled in the last 50 years.” from NASA Earth Observatory

Comparing the canal with Fracking, as a boom for our economy, conveniently forgets 187 years of spectacular change. New York State has millions of more folks than 1825, far less clean water, far less fish and wildlife, far more invasive species, far more man-made toxins, far more impermeable surfaces, and far less biodiversity, adding up to a land far less resilient to human machinations. And New York State is warming.

It is the success of the canal perhaps that causes many to believe Fracking will create jobs and transform New York State once again, this time by providing trillions of tons of natural gas and recreating us into a major player in world economics. This is a dangerous delusion. What makes the Fracking issue different from the heady days of canal building are the accumulated environmental issues and Climate Change that have transformed our understanding of our own role in the biological system that keeps us alive. We don’t get to have deniability anymore when it comes to our environmental responsibility.

Introducing Fracking as a job recession solution in a time of Climate Change is like starting a war with Iraq after 9/11, a country which had nothing to do with the attack: You wouldn’t think of doing either unless you already had a plan to do them in the first place, suddenly finding an opportunity to use these catastrophes as excuses to push your agenda. Natural gas as a transitional fuel only makes sense if you are actually transitioning to renewable energy. That is not only not happening, the tax incentives for wind and solar are about to expire at the end of this year, while the fossil fuel industry continues to enjoy billions in tax subsides each year.

The cries for jobs that can only be created by Fracking maniacally omit that these jobs will threaten our water and warm our planet more. They dismiss that many more useful, sustainable and productive jobs can be had with renewable energy. In the four years that Fracking has come to our attention, there is much to be suspicious about this industry. Evidence accumulates that Fracking is not safe for our environment, that what rules they do follow are too lax to prevent them from polluting, that their undisclosed chemicals have already contaminated a Wyoming lake, that they are a rapacious industry ready to take land when they cannot buy it, that they haven’t cleaned up after normal drilling, and an industry so in a hurry to drill and so dismissive of public health concerns that scientists must hurry to establish a water quality baseline before Fracking begins.

BTW: Speaking of the Montezuma Refuge and its thousands of acres of marshes for migratory birds and a major wetland, our government has its own concerns about near-by Fracking.

“Oil and gas reserves are currently extracted from shale using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking) (see EIA 2012 for a more thorough discussion of how oil and gas are produced from shale). Environmental effects of these methods are not well documented at this time; however, there are concerns about potential effects particularly related to water resources. USGS (2009) has identified three major concerns related to hydraulic fracturing: 1) it requires substantial amounts of water for well construction, 2) movement of heavy equipment during well construction in rural areas can degrade small watersheds, and 3) large quantities of potentially contaminated water and fluids recovered from wells need to be disposed of safely. In addition, there is some concern that injection of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into deep wells (one method of disposal) can cause earthquakes large enough to be felt and cause damage (USGS 2009). As with more conventional oil and gas operations, there are also concerns about potential negative effects from gas well blowouts, infrastructure development, and water and soil contamination from transport, storage, and disposal of chemicals and waste (Zoback et al. 2010). Pages 2-39 & 2-40) Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment May 2012 – US Fish and Wildlife Service.

We cannot keep exploiting our environment the way we have in our past, as the accumulated consequences of dumping toxins and warming are catching up with us. Our present economics have failed us. Only when we face this truth will we shift to a sustainable economy—one that rewards environmental security as well as economic rewards.

The Fracking moratoriums that have sprung up around the state give testimony to the reservations that millions of New Yorkers have about this new threat. For now most of the moratoriums have held, but just this week in Binghamton, one such Fracking moratorium was overturned , a decision that has thrown self-determination for our communities into question.

As the moment for decision arrives on Fracking, we have a far greater understanding our how our environment works than our ancestors. With this knowledge comes responsibility. It demands that we think before we give into the same arguments that convinced our ancestors. Because of this knowledge, and the massive transformations that have occurred in our state in the past two hundred years, doing something as potentially disruptive to our environment as Fracking must be considered in the context of this new planetary responsibility. We are not simply desperate for jobs. We are also responsible for the sustainability of our environment for our children and other species.

The question that we should be asking ourselves at this time is not whether to Frack New York State. Rather we should be questioning how our energy use relates to our environment as it becomes less resilient to man’s disruptions during Climate Change. In the last two hundred years there has been a sea-change in our environment and our understanding of it—acting like pioneers in the wasted marshes of New York will no longer do.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Why not slow down on Fracking and get the facts—all of them?


The operative word in this article is ‘hurrying’. Why should scientists have to hurry to get a water sample baseline before Fracking begins in NYS?

Scientists set baseline for pre-fracking water quality Two Syracuse University geology professors - along with a graduate assistant or two - are hurrying to collect water samples from drinking wells in the Southern Tier before - and if - the natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing is approved in New York. (October 2, 2012) North Coast Public Radio

If, as the governor says, the Fracking decision in NYS will be based on scientific facts, then finding out the state of our water, which will be threatened by Fracking, before we Frack should be paramount.

Only a craven desire to get a relatively few folks a lot of money from the natural resources of all New Yorkers would explain the need for scientists to ‘hurry’ to find out the scientific facts. That gas lying underneath our feet has been sequestered there for millions of years.

Taking a couple of years to find out the consequences of piping it out of its tomb so it can be thrown into our atmosphere as more greenhouse gas should not be that much to ask.

Four years ago, most New Yorker’s didn’t even know what hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking was.

Now, because land leases have been bought up and investors are hot to make a buck on our environment (again) everyone’s got to act hastily. For whose benefit must we hurry?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Don’t be a Corporate Head, but a responsible citizen: Watch Frontline’s “Climate of Doubt”

Climate Change isn't on the presidential debate schedule, but it is on Frontline’s schedule “Climate of Doubt” 10/23/2012.

It is beyond tragic that the most important issue of our age, Climate Change, will not be a major part of the presidential debates.

You’d think the evidence of extreme weather, droughts, heatwaves, and ocean acidification would be obvious enough for people at this point in our history to have that discussion as they (allegedly) choose their next leader.

But so much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted US politics that the media and the candidates are petrified to talk about the man-made warming of our planet.

At least one of the most respected news programs, Frontline, is going to take on Climate Change and how money, not facts, has created doubt on a subject that most scientist do not doubt. This critical report will not show before the debates, but at least it will be aired before the elections.
Maybe that is enough time.

FRONTLINE | "A Climate of Doubt" Preview | PBS Four years ago, climate change was hot. Politicians from both parties, pressed by an anxious public, seemed poised to act. But that was then. Today, public opinion about the climate issue has cooled, and politicians either ignore the issue or loudly proclaim their skepticism of scientific evidence that human activity is imperiling the planet. What's behind this reversal? FRONTLINE correspondent John Hockenberry of PRI's The Takeaway goes inside the organizations that fought the scientific establishment, environmental groups, and lawmakers to shift the direction of debate on climate issues and redefined the politics of global warming. Watch on air and online beginning October 23 at 10 pm ET on PBS.  Climate of Doubt - from Frontline
Don’t be a Corporate Head; think about your responsibility to our environment, which keep us alive, and demand that Climate Change be a part of the presidential debates.

Climate Change denial is an American problem fueled by the fossil fuel industry and it threatens our future. Go to the League of Conservation voters and send a message to debate moderator Jim Lehre to SIGN OUR PETITION TO ASK OBAMA AND ROMNEY AT THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: "HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ADDRESS THE CLIMATE CRISIS?"