Saturday, June 30, 2012

Public becoming cooler on Climate Change as weather gets hotter

 

Genesee River 2010At a recent visit to Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, I gazed at a relief map of New York State blanketed by the Wisconsin Glacial Episode. Though it’s almost impossible to imagine our region covered in a mile-high glacier some 20, 000 years ago, it was so. Sometime in the Pleistocene all that ice began to melt and as it did the receding ice sheet gouged out our Finger Lakes as well as those wonderful gorges in Ithaca, NY. Then we entered the Holocene, a relatively stable climate where our ancestors thrived amongst the mastodons and mammoths. Now we are living in what many scientists are calling the Anthropocene—a geological epoch framed by our own grand experiment with Nature.

It took 10,000 years of warming to melt that burden of ice burden on our land, which is significant since “during the Ice Age temperature[s] were only 5 to 10 degrees colder than today. “ (GLOBAL WARMING AND RISING SEA LEVELS - World Topics | Facts and Details)

We’ve become so used to the stability of the Holocene (the level shaft of the hockey stick) that we are blind to the dangers of anthropogenic accelerated (the part of the hockey stick which whacks the puck) Climate Change. For example, a mere one percent rise in greenhouse gas concentrations has increased our growing season by 10 days. But, climate studies project devastating changes to our region if this goes on.

On the other hand, higher temperatures and increased heat waves have the potential to increase fatigue of materials in the water, energy, transportation, and telecommunications sectors; affect drinking water supply; cause a greater frequency of summer heat stress on plants and animals; alter pest populations and habitats; affect the distribution of key crops such as apples, grapes, cabbage, and potatoes; cause reductions in dairy milk production; increase energy demand; and lead to more heat-related deaths and declines in air quality. Projected higher average annual precipitation and frequency of heavy precipitation events could also potentially increase the risks of several problems, including flash floods in urban areas and hilly regions; higher pollutant levels in water supplies; inundation of wastewater treatment plants and other vulnerable development in floodplains; saturated coastal lands and wetland habitats; flooded key rail lines, roadways, and transportation hubs; and travel delays. Sea level rise will increase risk of storm surge-related flooding, enhance vulnerability of energy facilities located in coastal areas, and threaten transportation and telecommunications facilities. Page 3, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)

And it is going on.

Even if you, or your favorite meteorologists, local media, or politicians aren’t connecting the present heat wave with Climate Change, climatologists are.

US wildfires are what global warming really looks like, scientists warn | Environment | guardian.co.uk The Colorado fires are being driven by extreme temperatures, which are consistent with IPCC projections Scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling catastrophic wildfires in the US west that offer a preview of the kind of disasters that human-caused climate change could bring, a trio of scientists said on Thursday. "What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like," said Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author for the UN's climate science panel. "It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster … This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future." (June 29, 2012) The Guardian

In spite of this present heatwave and other extreme weather events in the past few years, collectively we’ve done nothing to halt the rapid rise of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Last week’s Rio +20 debacle should raise everyone’s alarm level. Not only is our planet’s temperature rising but we have proven to be unequal to the task of addressing it. Bill McKibben, along with many young people (who will be inheriting this tinderbox of a planet), walked out en masse—probably the only positive event of the conference.

A protest at the Rio Centro led by activists including 350.org founder and CSRwire contributing writer, Bill McKibben, called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. On the beach at Copacabana, a two-hour traffic jam away, a giant trillion-dollar bill had been unfurled to represent the trillion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies to "polluters" that could otherwise be used for clean energy and sustainable development. In the weeks leading up to Rio+20, it seemed unlikely that fossil fuel subsidies would enter into the negotiations, but massive public outcry including a viral petition to world leaders signed by over a million people, and a star-studded, record-breaking twitterstorm pushed the issue. From The Minus of Rio+20

They walked out because it was obvious that the leaders at the conference (or any world leaders for that matter) would not do anything to stop the trillions (a million million) in subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry.

To get a true sense of the horror at our species’ inability to address Climate Change you have to watch David Suzuki’s (scientist and educator) despair, as he talks truth to power: . David Suzuki on Rio+20, "Green Economy" & Why Planet’s Survival Requires Undoing Its Economic Model (June 25, 2012) Democracy Now! For someone who has worked his whole life on educating the public on science matters, with Climate Change being the most critical, David seems aghast at our inaction.

We should all be at Suzuki ‘s level of disbelief at our own Climate Change denial; Colorado is burning and there’s a major heatwave heading our way. It’s a hot one: Heat wave suspected in two deaths Kansas City’s current heat wave is suspected as the cause of two deaths, one of them a 1-year-old boy. (June 28, 2012) KansasCity.com. And it is pervasive:

Heat melts records from Plains to South – USATODAY.com A record heat wave will continue to roast much of the USA through the weekend, fanning wildfires in the Colorado Rockies, threatening outdoor workers and causing some municipalities to cancel fireworks in time for July Fourth. The heat has broken all-time records from the northern Great Plains to the Southeast already this week. The rest of the month will bring even more scorching heat from Boston to Atlanta, with temperatures reaching into the low 100s, said Meteorologist Michael Palmer of The Weather Channel. (June 28, 2012) [more on Climate Change in our area]

Rochester is preparing-- City's Cool Sweep in Effect Friday | WXXI News—but is Cool Sweep enough? Does it compare with Toronto’s approach: Heat Alerts and Extreme Heat Alerts - Toronto Public Health? Are we preparing for more heatwaves in our region with pro-active programs to make sure those without adequate health plans will get the help they need? Are we going around our neighborhoods knocking on doors to see if the elderly are staying cool, or walking our sidewalks to see if the homeless get shelter?

Whoops, this essay is getting long, so I’d better wrap it up.

Like the map of the Wisconsin glacier at the museum, we need a visual that will give us a perspective on what a six degree change in Climate—from the end of the Civil War to the end of this century—will look like. The warming that melted a mile-high ice sheet over our heads took over 10,000 years to occur and we are going to accomplish that kind of warming in about two centuries. On the scale of time that describes the heating in the Pleistocene to the Holocene we wouldn’t see a hockey stick on a graph; we’d see a vertical blur.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

RENewsletter | June 24, 2012

 

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[06/17/2012 – 06/24/2012]

Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Environmental Site of the Month | Take Action |

Opening Salvo: “Solving environmental issues from the bottom up.”

If you have been following the Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the news is pretty dismal. Here’s a story from The Guardian: Rio+20 Earth Summit: campaigners decry final document | Environment | guardian.co.uk about our inability to solve our environmental problems by world consent. The top down.

Lots of vague promises, no mandates, and only voluntary compliances.

This failure, of course, will be viewed by those against repairing Nature and not compensating those who are ravaged by ruthless free market fundamentalism, as a victory. It will encourage them to increase assaults on environmental regulations and constraints. An odd place, indeed, for us to be at this state in our knowledge of how our environment works.

In the twilight of our inability to address world-wide environmental problems including Climate Change, it looks hopeless. It looks like we will continue until enough of us understand how unsustainable our way of living is, but by then it will be far too late. Already, even if we stop all anthropogenic warming right now a lot of glaciers will melt and the atmosphere will warm up and the oceans will get very acidic. This is because we failed to act a long time ago.

So it appears that the solution to our environmental problems, including Climate Change, must default to local solutions—bottom up. Work at a local, community, and individual level, and decrease your use of greenhouse gases and stop pollution. Sounds good, fuzzy and warm, but on the scale that our environmental issues have ascended to these ad hoc personal efforts are not going to bring down the temperature of our planet. It will be ‘business as usual.’ This is all very convenient for world leaders who cannot find the political courage to lead on these issues.

On the home front, the City of Rochester, NY placed a moratorium on Fracking for a year.

Rochester City Council Votes for 1-year Moratorium on Hydrofracking Rochester City Council voted for a 12 month moratorium on hydrofracking in the city Tuesday night. The moratorium is an amendment to the zoning code. (June 19, 2012) RochesterHoomepage.net

While speaking at City Hall the other evening I said:

Because Rochester is the 3rd largest city in New York State, adopting a moratorium on hydrofracking (or Fracking) will send a strong message to Albany that there are serious flaws in the state lifting its own moratorium on Fracking. For example, the NYS DEC Hydraulic Fracturing SGEIS does not adequately address public health issues.

Fracking threatens our future as a water-safe destination state as Climate Change forces water-refugees from the South and West to New York in the near future. (Read the NYSERDA ‘ClimAID’ on water issues related to Climate Change.)

Rochester, please pass this hydrofracking moratorium. Our jobs, our environment, our ability to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change depends on renewable energy options, like wind and solar, not on another controversial way to drill for fossil fuels.

Speaking up and acting on a local level are important, but without a world-wide consensus on what should be done through coordinated action to stop and reverse the concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere we our kidding ourselves. We are kidding ourselves that we on the local level are making a difference on issues that must be orchestrated at the top. We are allowing our political nature, our sense of what is conventional; lead us on an issue that is entirely physics.

The failure at Rio + 20 must cause us great concern, as if we have finally discovered in ourselves a deep and irresolvable flaw.

FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com (Click on my email for feedback)

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* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY or Tweet me @ http://twitter.com/#!/FrankRrrr On Twitter and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RochesterEnvironment and Examiner/RochesterEnvironment, I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens. If you think this newsletter, which continually informs our community on our local environmental news, events, actions, is worthwhile, please encourage others to sign up. We who care about our environment and future need to ‘Occupy’ the Rochester media to change how the public views environmental news.

The great conundrum of our times is that in a time of rapidly occurring Climate Change and a rapid disintegration of the environment that we need to thrive and survive, mainstream media still marginalizes environmental concerns. [Check often for this continually updated list on the possible consequences of Climate Change in our region--supported by facts.] If there isn’t a quick and substantial change in how environmental concerns are reported, edited, and chosen in mainstream media, the public will continue to believe that environmental concerns are merely special interest matters, issues they can avoid if they choose.  How can we inform the public and monitor our environment without abridging our Freedoms--in enough time to safe ourselves?

Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet. -- Carl Sagan

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NewsLinksEnvironmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]

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UpdatesDaily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments.]

  • 6/23/2012 - What I find interesting about this article on The Maple Tapping Access Program (Maple TAP) Act is that there is no mention of Climate Change. It’s interesting because the maple syrup is threaten by Climate Change in our NYS region and one of the solutions is to tap many more trees—according to several Climate Change studies. But, nary a word about the elephant in the room. Schumer Announces Senate Passage of Maple Tap Act | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather | Buffalo, NY | Top Stories (WKBW release) Friday, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that his legislation, the Maple Tapping Access Program Act, has passed the Senate as part of the 2012 Farm Bill. According to a news release from Schumer's office: This legislation would provide grants to states that create programs to help maple farmers access trees that are currently untapped on private lands. The bill creates grants to states to support the domestic maple syrup industry through the promotion of related research, education, natural resource sustainability and marketing, as well as the expansion of maple-sugaring activities. (June 23, 2012) WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather | Buffalo, NY
  • 6/23/2012 - What the heck are ‘army worm’ and what are they doing to NYS and is this outbreak caused by Climate Change? Pest Alert: Armyworms "True armyworm (aka Common armyworm) larvae are being found across New York State. They do not overwinter in New York, but fly north from states to our south in the spring. Armyworm moth migrations are somewhat sporadic, cyclic from year to year, and difficult to predict. Our last notable infestations in New York occurred in 2001 and 2008. True armyworms are primarily a pest of plants in the grass family: forage / pasture /grasses & lawns, small grains and corn. " Cornell University
  • 6/23/2012 - Check out this web page by Save Our Sodus on Blue Green Algae growth in our area. It has been suggest that the warm weather, perhaps caused by Climate Change, should be investigated as being influenced by Climate Change. (see Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms by Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research: Home) Stay informed of harmful Blue Green Algae growth: BG | Save Our SodusLibrary of Blue Green Algae Information "Play it safe -- if you suspect a blue-green algal bloom, do not come in contact with the water. Stick-test -- Dip a stick or pencil in the bloom and observe the pencil as it is moved horizontally and slightly vertically until it is removed from the water. Did the algae coat the pencil like a brightly colored blue green paint without separating or falling off? If both the visual and pencil test are confirmed, it is likely a blue green algae bloom Report the location -- Call 315-946-4136. All the information obtained is being logged into a database. WCSWCD is doing it's best to confirm visual sightings. Be a good Bay steward -- conserve water, reduce uses of phosphorus based fertilizer don't mow right up to the waterfront and consider using rain barrels and gardens for storm water. Stay informed -- SOS has created a page of informational B/G links visit "
  • 6/23/2012 - Rio +20 hopeless, but I may be wrongDoesn’t sound like much progress on making Earth sustainable was made at Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which just came to a close. Lots of vague promises, no mandates, and voluntary compliances. This failure, of course, will be viewed by those against repairing Nature and compensating those who are ravaged by the ruthless free market fundamentalism, as a victory. more...
  • 6/22/2012 - State Health Department, Office of Emergency Management Advise New Yorkers to Protect Themselves Against Excessive Heat ALBANY, NY (June 20, 2012) -- With temperatures forecast to climb into the 90s over the next couple of days, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) offer New Yorkers tips to help them stay safe. "Although warm temperatures are a welcome sign of summer, when it gets excessively hot for long periods of time, your health can be jeopardized," said State Health Commissioner NiravLibrary of Blue Green Algae Information R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "Heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly, infants and young children, people with respiratory ailments or chronic medical conditions, and those who work outdoors. It is important to take steps to keep cool when temperatures are high, to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and to know what to do when you or someone else exhibits these symptoms." (June 20, 2012) New York State Department of Health [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 6/22/2012 - Big jump in Rochester, NY for increasing active transportation (bicycling and walking) to encourage folks to walk and bike for those short distances—instead of jumping into the gas-guzzler which is warming the planet. Pedestrian bridge joining lots, public market opens | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information A $1.3 million pedestrian and shuttle bridge over Union Street connecting parking lots with the Rochester Public Market was officially opened Thursday. The bridge—built on an abandoned CSX Corp. railroad trestle constructed more than a century ago—allows visitors to the public market safer and quicker access after parking on the other side of Union Street, officials said. In addition to serving pedestrians, the new bridge accommodates a market shuttle bringing shoppers and their goods to the parking lots. (June 21, 2012) Home | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information [more on Transportation in our area]
  • 6/22/2012 - Watch: THE SKY IS PINK: Josh Fox's 18 minute short created for Governor Cuomo and released by Rolling Stone Magazine: New Anti-Fracking Film by Gasland's Josh Fox Targets Cuomo: 'Governor, What Color Will the Sky Be Over New York?' | Jeff Goodell | Politics News | Rolling Stone Gov. Andrew Cuomo of the great state of New York, I’d like you to meet Josh Fox. As you may know, Josh, who is 39, wrote and directed a film called Gasland, which I’m sure is at the top of your Netflix queue. In 2010, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and helped bring the world’s attention to the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. To put it another way, Josh is the guy who is largely responsible for the political minefield that you now find yourself tip-toeing through as you consider whether or not to lift the moratorium on fracking in New York State. June 22, 2012)
  • 6/22/2012 - Live coverage of the Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development .UN Live United Nations Webcast "24 Hour Live and pre-recorded Programming The UN Web TV Channel is available 24 hours a day with selected live programming of United Nations meetings and events as well as with pre-recorded video features and documentaries on various global issues. "
  • 6/22/2012 - We are hoping that the new documentary Bidder 70 about Climate Change champion Tim DeChristoper makes it to Rochester, NY. How far will you move out of your comfort zone to address Climate Change? Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2012: Bidder 70 | The House Next Door "Tim DeChristopher was a 27-year-old economics student at the University of Utah when he interfered with an auction by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He bid on and won 12 parcels of beautiful land in Southern Utah that he had no intention to pay for and, especially, to drill for oil on. On the contrary, his motivation for his inventive form of non-violent protest was to ensure that "oil stay in the ground so that we can have a chance for a livable future." Beth and George Gage's Bidder 70 is a highly inspirational account of DeChristopher's life since then, including his beliefs on climate change, his activist efforts to bring about necessary political changes to save the future of our planet, and his reflections on his indictment on two federal charges and the current state of our democracy. There are a lot of environmental documentaries out there about inciting change, but Bidder 70 is one of the most affecting. "
  • 6/22/2012 - Important conference. Learn how your business can be green all the way down. CEI: Center for Environmental Information - Greentopia | INNOVATION "Greentopia | INNOVATION, scheduled for Friday, September 14th, is a business-to-business conference meant to enlighten, inspire, and ignite green ideas, action, and innovation. Formerly CEI's Triple Bottom Line conference, this event is geared toward professionals from all walks of life, creating the perfect opportunity to network, obtain new insights, and share business practices. As an innovation conference including presentations, case studies, and panel debates, our aim is to promote the most cutting edge concepts in business incubation and innovation, green practices, and showcase brilliance in environmentally conscious technological design and implementation. " CEI: Center for Environmental Information - home
  • 6/21/2012 - We are hearing more about ‘hydrilla in our area. What is it? Hydrilla: AN AGRESSIVE WATER WEED - Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County The highly invasive aquatic plant, Hydrilla verticillata, known commonly as 'hydrilla' or 'water thyme' was first detected in August 2011 in the Cayuga Inlet by staff from the Floating Classroom (the first spotting was in the Linderman Creek area of the Inlet). In a follow‐up survey, Robert L. Johnson, a local plant expert with Cornell University and Racine‐Johnson Aquatic Ecologists, located several areas of the Inlet with extensive populations of hydrilla. To date, hydrilla appears to be localized to the Cayuga Inlet, with no evidence that it has yet rooted in Cayuga Lake. View image of hydrilla and look-alikes, that is other water plants that look similar to hydrilla. --from Welcome to Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County
  • 6/21/2012 - Today's weather forecast is "102 - Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Health Message: Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. "AIRNow - Rochester, NY Air Quality
  • 6/21/2012 - Good blog post on the latest news on Fracking from the governor Shale Gas Review: New York fracking trial balloon quickly loosing air... Criticism of Cuomo plan comes from both sides A plan anonymously floated by the Cuomo administration last week to allow shale gas development in economically distressed areas of New York state while banning it in others is facing deflating criticism from both drilling proponents and critics. The plan, reported Danny Hakim if by New York Times on Wedneday, echoed a proposal outlined by the National Resource Defense Council earlier this year. Specifically, the NRDC advised the state Department of Environmental Conservation to consider initially issuing permits for fracking within designated communities as part of a three-year pilot project. Permitting could then proceed elsewhere when fracking was deemed safe. (June 18, 2012) Shale Gas Review
  • 6/20/2012 - Let’s not get too excited about local media awards. Excuse me if I don’t get excited over this news that Rochester, NY area media won all sorts of media awards. Please. There is so much news the local media is not reporting on that they should not be getting any awards at all. more...
  • 6/20/2012 - Stations win statewide broadcasting awards | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information Rochester radio and television stations captured eight awards Monday night at the New York State Broadcasters Association’s annual Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting. (June 19, 2012) Home | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information
  • 6/20/2012 - ACTION: Moratorium on hydrofracking for a year just passed last night at the City of Rochester, the third largest city in NYS. Now let’s get a moratorium for Monroe County too. Environment Petition: Prohibit All Fracking Related Activities on Monroe County Properties, NY | Change.org "The magnitude of New York State’s upcoming decision to permit and regulate high-volume, slick-water, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) demands immediate attention and action by our County Legislature to ensure self-determination and the health and safety of our community. "
  • 6/20/2012 - Great news from our friends over at Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction that the City of Rochester, NY has passed a moratorium on Fracking for a year. I didn’t see a lot of the media at the meeting last night so it’s good we can get the news out ourselves. "In front of a full house, the Rochester City Council voted unanimously to "establish a moratorium on permits, certificates of zoning compliance and variances for exploration and extraction of natural gas within the city". During the hearing 15 people spoke (14 anti-drilling, 1 pro-drilling) and R-CAUSE delivered about 400 petitions supporting a City moratorium. For Nedra and me, the most poignant comment was from a woman who was wrapping a gift for her new grandchild and wished that what she was wrapping was the promise that this child and all children of future generations would have clean water and clean air for ever. Very powerful words. Council Member and sponsor of the moratorium, Loretta Scott, spoke most eloquently this afternoon with Bob Smith on 1370 Connection. Hopefully it will be available Wednesday in case you missed it: 1370 Connection | WXXI Remember, if you haven't signed the Monroe County petition to ban fracking on county properties please do so and forward widely: Environment Petition: Prohibit All Fracking Related Activities on Monroe County Properties, NY | Change.org It's also attached if you'd like to take to a group a get lots of signatures. We're still trying to reach 5,000 signatures, but we'd be happy with 1,000!! "
  • 6/19/2012 - If you think ‘Climate Change’ is too toxic to talk about in the US, just imagine how hard the ‘Climate Gap’ is going to be. Denial only works for awhile, then it doesn’t. The Climate Gap Executive Summary Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap "What we used to think was tomorrow’s climate crisis is here today. Heat waves, wild fires and floods are making headlines more often. What hasn’t made headlines—yet—is the climate gap: the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color and the poor. Unless something is done, the consequences of America’s climate crisis will harm all Americans—especially those who are least able to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the worst consequences. This analysis is of California, which in many ways is a microcosm of the entire United States. "
  • 6/19/2012 - This sounds like a great program for the whole family to learn about saving our water quality for our environment in the Rochester, NY area: "FAMILY RAIN BARREL WORKSHOPS It's a Green Summer! Water usage increases by up to 30 percent in the summer months. Learn about the benefits of using rain barrels to water your gardens, and create your own barrel to take home. You’ll be conserving water in no time! Saturday, June 30: 10am–12pm, Course #F1013 Saturday, June 30: 1-3pm, Course #F1014 Saturday, July 21: 10am–12pm, Course #F1015 Saturday, July 21: 1-3pm, Course #F1016 Cost: $25 per family Pre-registration required: Call (585)697-1942 " - from Rochester Museum & Science Center—Rochester, NY
  • 6/19/2012 - Is the reason why Rio+20 meeting is not focusing on Climate Change because US finds it too toxic and so we focus on energy instead? Rio Environment Meeting Focuses On 'Energy For All' : NPR Diplomats and activists from around the world are meeting in Rio de Janeiro this week to talk about how the planet's growing population can live better lives without damaging the environment. The Rio+20 meeting marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio, a watershed meeting to address topics as diverse as climate change and biodiversity. At this follow-up meeting, delegates hope to highlight an issue that was almost absent from the Earth Summit: making energy available to everyone in the world. (June 19, 2012) Environment : NPR [more on Climate Change in our area?]
  • 6/19/2012 - Are we hearing more about army worms in NYS because Climate Change is allowing this pest to gain a foothold further north than usual? Watertown Daily Times | Army worms devour crops at 40 farms in Jefferson County Army worms were given their moniker for a good reason. About 40 farmers now have found out why, as an infestation of the worms spread to farms last week in Watertown, Sackets Harbor and southern Jefferson County towns including Adams, Ellisburg and Henderson. “They’re known as army worms because they march from field to field and destroy crops,” said Michael E. Hunter, field crops educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. “We now have tens of thousands in the county, and they can destroy a field within a couple of days.” (June 13, 2012) Watertown Daily Times | Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York.
  • 6/19/2012 - Hope for the Environment: There seems to be a lot of hope for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio and I hope this time a major world-conference on our environment can wake the public and the media up to the global environment crises were are enduring. What’s needed is a list of specific actions on a scale that will actually reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) in our atmosphere. (Here’s a plan that does that: Bridging the greenhouse-gas emissions gap : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group “Twenty-one coherent major initiatives could together stimulate sufficient reductions by 2020 to bridge the global greenhouse-gas emissions gap.”) Without engaging the world’s populations via the media do we have a change of an environmental revolution, a revolution in the way we treat our environment? Erik Rasmussen: The Revolution in Rio The U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio can be the take-off for the next industrial revolution driven by business and civil society. The conference can mark a change in leadership from a political top down process to a bottom up movement. On the 20th of June, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development can celebrate a sure success. The day marks the end of a week's intensive meetings between thousands of business leaders, institutions, NGOs, universities, etc. Through hundreds of sessions, they have presented and discussed concrete solutions to the biggest challenges of our time: How to transition the world society to a sustainable economy -- and on the 20th of June, their efforts will be put into perspective. Thus, Rio is without comparison the biggest and most important business summit about sustainability we've ever seen. (June 18, 2012) Green News, Energy, Environment, Animals, Climate Change, Extreme Weather - HuffPost Green
  • 6/19/2012 - ACTION: With accelerated anthropomorphic Climate Change hot on our tail, it’s time to stop pumping more money to the fossil fuel industry: 350 | Tell World Leaders to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies! "We need real action from world leaders at Rio's Earth Summit -- starting with the issue of fossil fuel subsidies. This year our governments will hand nearly hundreds of billions of dollars in government subsidies to the coal, gas, and oil industries -- six times as much money as we invest in renewable energy. Ending these subsidies could actually take a giant step towards solving the climate crisis, saving gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and helping make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels. "
  • 6/18/2012 - Green Drinks coming up: Third Thursday Event, June 21, 2012 Foodlink Headquarters 1999 Mount Read Blvd, Rochester, NY Sponsored by: Foodlink CEI: Center for Environmental Information - Green Drinks Events "Green Drinks is a monthly networking event where people in the environmental field and the sustainably minded meet over drinks (alcoholic or non), in an informal setting to exchange ideas, find out who's doing what and spread the word on what you're doing, find employment leads and make new friends and contacts. "
  • 6/18/2012 - For those addicted to the free market system, they should note that the fossil fuel industry, which is making more money since the history of money is still getting billions of buck from government subsidies, something the renewable industries—solar and wind—can only dream of. Get a visual on what those tax breaks by the fossil fuel industries looks like: What Does $1 Trillion in Fossil Fuel Subsidies Look Like? « EcoWatch: Uniting the Voice of the Grassroots Environmental Movement Recently we wrote about calling on governments to end global fossil fuel subsidies. Well, here’s yet another compelling reason why. In the graphic below you can see that according to Oil Change International analysis, governments around the world are spending perhaps more than $1 trillion USD combined per year subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. But what makes it even worse is that governments aren’t willing to own up to the fact that this is the case. That’s a lot of money to be wasting and hiding, and it could be put to better use for education, hunger, poverty, renewable energy and many many other far-more valid uses. It’s time for governments to own up to the truth and come clean on the billions being thrown away to a dirty industry. Check out more below: (June 14, 2012) EcoWatch: Uniting the Voice of the Grassroots Environmental Movement

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EventsRochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.] If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com with (EV event) in the subject line. Also, be sure to check other calendars and environmental series for multi-day events.

June 2012

  • June 27, Wednesday, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM | Montezuma Audubon Center 2295 State Route 89 Savannah, NY 13146
    • Dragons of Montezuma Dragonflies and damselflies are known to scientists as Odonates and observing these beautiful insects has become a popular pastime called “oding”. Become an “oder” as we learn how to identify some of the many species that live at Montezuma. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras. Fee*: $3/child, $5/adult, $15/family. Space is limited. Registration required. To register or for more information about the Montezuma Audubon Center please call 315-365-3588 or e-mail montezuma@audubon.org. Montezuma Audubon Center 2295 State Route 89 Savannah, NY 13146 *Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex receive a 50% discount
  • June 28, Thursday, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM | Montezuma Audubon Center 2295 State Route 89 Savannah, NY 13146
    • Shade Grown Coffee House and Open Mic Night The Montezuma Audubon Center hosts a coffee house/open mic featuring local music and talent. Come relax and enjoy the music or sign up to perform. The coffee house will feature a brief presentation on grassland bird conservation. Fee: FREE! Space is limited. Registration required. To register or for more information about the Montezuma Audubon Center please call 315-365-3588 or e-mail montezuma@audubon.org. Montezuma Audubon Center 2295 State Route 89 Savannah, NY 13146
  • Thursday, June 28 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 P.M. Brighton Town Hall Auditorium www.BikeWalkBrighton.org

July 2012

  • Thursday, July 19 at 7PM, The Little Theatre 240 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14604 webmaster@thelittle.org
    • A chance to learn more about Climate Change from Greentopia Festival | Rochester, NY ‘s Greentopia | FILM. On Thursday, July 19 at 7PM, The Little Theatre will be showing “The Island President”. A panel (yet to be determined) discussion will follow the film with Q&A. We will update you as soon as we know more, but in the meantime here’s the Synopsis “Jon Shenk’s The Island President is the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced—the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. After bringing democracy to the Maldives after thirty years of despotic rule, Nasheed is now faced with an even greater challenge: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the Maldives enough to make them uninhabitable.”
  • July 23 at 11AM @ East Bank - Baush and Lomb Park (U of R Campus) At the foot of the Bridge
    • Due to several logistical issues, the City of Rochester has changed the date of the Ribbon Cutting for the Erie Lackawanna Bridge Rails to Trails project to the following: Erie Lackawanna Bridge “Rails to Trails” Conversion Ribbon Cutting Event July 23rd, 2012 Monday at 11:00am East Bank - Baush and Lomb Park (U of R Campus) At the foot of the Bridge (Note: new date: Monday - July 23rd)
  • City of Rochester | Erie Lackawanna Rails-to-Trails Pedestrian Bridge "The City's efforts to improve and develop new shared use walking and biking trails, especially along the Genesee River, include converting the abandoned historic Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Bridge over the Genesee River into a Rails-to-Trails pedestrian bridge. "

August 2012

  • Saturday, August 25, noon to 6pm | Monroe Avenue between Rutgers and Oxford
    • Spokes and Ink – A Bike and Poster Party Spokes and Ink at the Genesee Center for the Arts & Education Saturday, August 25, 2012 Noon to 6pm Monroe Avenue at Oxford/Rutgers Spokes and Ink is a new festival in Rochester that brings bicyclists and artists together. This event on Monroe Avenue showcases the diversity of both groups – avid cyclists, recreational riders, the environmentally aware, letterpress printers, graphic designers and talented artists of all sorts! There will be poster art, food and merchandise for sale, live music and activities to attract a crowd. In the inaugural year of 2011, Spokes & Ink drew 600+ guests. 2012 is expected to be bigger and better! If you are interested in reaching this wide-ranging demographic who are into bicycles and art or just want to support this activity for others, please consider a sponsorship. Your business or organization could benefit from the exposure that is possible at Spokes and Ink. What: Spokes and Ink – A Bike and Poster Party Where: Monroe Avenue between Rutgers and Oxford When: Saturday, August 25, noon to 6pm Proceeds from the event will benefit the Genesee Center for the Arts & Education and R Community Bikes. The Genesee Center for the Arts & Education is a community-based 501(c)3 organization that educates, encourages and inspires all people to create and enjoy the visual arts. We have 40+ years of experience in serving the Rochester community with great arts programming including classes, exhibits, studio access and special events. R Community Bikes is a grassroots, 501(c)3 organization that collects and repairs used bicycles for distribution, free of charge, to Rochester, NY's most needy children and adults. Their mission is meeting the basic transportation needs of those in the community who depend on bikes for recreation as well as for transport to work, school, rehabilitation programs, and training sessions. If you have any questions about the Genesee Center for the Arts & Education or about Spokes and Ink, please call the office at 585-244-1730. We look forward to hearing from you!

September 2012

  • September 10th - 16th - High Falls region, Rochester, NY
    • Greentopia 2012 Greentopia 2012 is a week-long celebration of inspiration through art, music, organic and locally grown food and beverages, ideas and activism. The expanded event will contain four programmatic aspects, which include Greentopia Innovation, Greentopia Film, Greentopia Music and Greentopia EcoFest. In its first year the event drew between 18-20,000 people to the historic High Falls district. Through how-to workshops and cutting-edge films, visitors learned about big green ideas and how to apply them creatively in everyday life. There are special family activities, a community recycled art installation, mouthwatering organic and local food and beverages, and all kinds of live music. Businesses and organizations showcased products and programs that help to restore the planet, promote green living – even save consumers some money.

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ActionTake Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date.

  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
  • ACTON: Due Date: July 1, 2012
  • ACTIONDue Date Now:
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
    • Tired of meteorologists failing to connect the dots between Climate Change and our daily weather? Do something about it. Take action: Forecast the Facts WE NEED OUR TV METEOROLOGISTS TO REPORT THE FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE. According to a recent national survey, more than half of TV weather reporters don’t believe in human-induced climate change. Meanwhile, their viewers are facing unprecedented climate-change induced heat waves, droughts, and flooding.
  • ACTION: Due Date now:
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
    • Tell the NRC: Expand emergency evacuation zones Today, NIRS and 37 other organizations submitted a formal Petition for Rulemaking to the NRC to expand emergency evacuation zones around U.S. nuclear reactors and make other improvements in emergency preparedness. We're calling this the Nuclear 911 campaign. You can join us as a co-petitioner below! The widespread radioactive contamination caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster (and Chernobyl before it) makes clear that the current 10 mile Emergency Planning Zones in the U.S. are woefully inadequate to protect the American people. "Nuclear Information and Resource Service - NIRS
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
    • What to do something concrete about solving Climate Change? Go here: "Are you passionate about changing the conversation about the climate crisis? Are you interested in leading the climate movement? What if I said you have the chance to be personally trained by Al Gore to educate others about climate change? This summer, you could have that chance. I'd like to invite you to apply to be one of our esteemed Climate Reality Presenters -- impassioned volunteer leaders who bring the reality of climate change to people around the world. We call our grassroots network of Presenters the heart of our Climate Leadership Corps. Learn more: "Climate Reality "To reveal the complete truth about the climate crisis in a way that ignites the moral courage in each of us. " Climate Reality | Climate Reality Training Application
  • ACTION:Due Date Now
    • Request from the DEC for some help on keeping our Great Lakes healthy: "Your Observations Can Help the Health of the Great Lakes! If you spend time around the Great Lakes shoreline, please consider sharing your observations of injured or dead animals, or algal blooms by using the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Wildlife Health Event Reporter (http://glri.wher.org/) (GLRI-WHER). Scientists working in state, federal and non-profit agencies are looking for your help to identify events that are important in research of avian botulism and algal bloom outbreaks, in the interest of protecting wildlife from this disease as well as algal neurotoxins. For a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, do your part and share what you see by setting up a reporter account (http://glri.wher.org/users/add) on the GLRI-WHER website. E-mail any questions regarding reporting to botnet@wdin.org.
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now
    • Sewage Pollution - Citizens Campaign for the Environment "Many communities in New York State, Connecticut, and throughout the nation are served by aging and dilapidated sewage infrastructure. When our sewage infrastructure is not properly operated or maintained, billions of gallons of untreated raw sewage can be released in to the environment before reaching a treatment plant. Sewage is primarily discharged into the environment through Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO). Separate sewer systems carry only wastewater such as domestic sanitary waste and commercial and industrial waste to a sewage treatment plant. Separate sewers are not designed or intended to carry water such as storm water. SSOs occur in separate systems. Combined sewer systems are built larger than separate sewers so that they can carry two components: wastewater, carried continuously, and runoff, carried after storms. How you can help: Email your state representatives. Urge them to support a Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know law. Sewage overflows put our environment, economy, and health at risk; and we deserve the right to know when they occur. "
  • ACTION: Due date: Now

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AwardEnvironmental Site of the Month Award – [On the last Sunday of each month, we present an environmental award for the Rochester-area environmental web site or blog that best promotes the need to protect and offers solutions for our area's environmental issues.]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Results of Rio +20 hopeless, but I may be wrong

 

Doesn’t sound like much progress on making Earth sustainable was made at Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which just came to a close.

Lots of vague promises, no mandates, and voluntary compliances.

This failure, of course, will be viewed by those against repairing Nature and compensating those who are ravaged by the ruthless free market fundamentalism, as a victory.

It will forty them to increase assaults on environmental regulations and constraints on releasing man-made chemical into our environment like the European program REACH - Environment - European Commission “REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. The law entered into force on 1 June 2007.”

While conceding that the vague solutions offered by the RIO +20 talks may not have solved all our problems, we can be sure that business as usual (remaining on this dysfunctional trajectory we are on now) will be a failure that will make previous collapses of civilizations look like a tea party.

In the twilight of our knowledge of and inability to address world-wide environmental problems including Climate Change, it indeed looks hopeless. It looks like we will continue until enough of us understand how unsustainable our way of living is, but by then it will be far too late. Already, even if we stop all anthropogenic warming right now a lot of glaciers will melt and the atmosphere will warm up and the oceans will get very acidic. This is because we failed to act a long time ago.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let’s not get too excited about local media awards.

 

Excuse me if I don’t get excited over this news that Rochester, NY area media won all sorts of media awards. Please. There is so much news the local media is not reporting on that they should not be getting any awards at all.

Our local media could be reporting on Brownfields getting cleaned up, connecting the dots between the state and federal Climate Change studies and our local environment, they could be continuing to inform the public about the importance of Recycling and sharing the roads with active transportation (Bicycling and walking) instead of pushing the hottest new gas guzzler.

Our local media should explain the relationship between energy use and Climate Change and how the underprivileged are going to cope with in extended heat waves that are coming. In short, there is so much the local media is not doing to inform the Rochester, NY area public about what they should know and spewing out so much nonsense about what they don’t need to know, that this exuberance over media awards is delusional.

Stations win statewide broadcasting awards | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information Rochester radio and television stations captured eight awards Monday night at the New York State Broadcasters Association’s annual Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting. (June 19, 2012) Home | Rochester Business Journal New York business news and information

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The tragic sense of American Climate Change denial

 

Tragically Americans have stopped listening to the facts on anthropomorphic accelerated Climate Change for a variety of reasons. Many of their ‘reasons’ would sound sound if Climate Change wasn’t actually happening. Because of the economy, high cost solutions, positive spin works better than negative spin, focus should be on jobs, national security is more relevant, the Republicans won the House, Climate Change is getting old, it’s too depressing, and there’s no dramatic point at which Climate Change seems to present a clear and present danger American have fallen into denial on the greatest challenge to our existence--ever.

Here’s a great encapsulation of the American Climate Change denial:

Introduction: 10 Reasons Americans Aren’t Talking About Climate Change - US News & World Report "While many in Washington still warn about the dangers of carbon emissions and climate change, the reality, and perhaps the one thing that experts on both sides of the debate agree on, is that Americans are paying less attention to global warming than they have in the past. TV network news and print coverage of the issue in the United States reached its peak around mid-2006 and into the first three quarters of 2007, but since then it has dropped dramatically. Public interest in the issue has also dwindled; a recent Gallup poll showed that Americans rated global warming as the environmental problem they worried about the least. So, what’s caused this gradual decline of public interest? Here are some of the reasons why Americans are talking about climate change less than in recent years. " Breaking National and World News - US News

It’s tragic because warming is changing the climate all over the world, though at different rates with some catastrophes like flooding and droughts occurring disproportionally. It’s tragic because the benefiters (the fossil fuel industry) and causers are the one capitalizing on the public’s disinterest in Climate Change, which will put more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and accelerate warming even more.

Of course there are more reasons why American denies Climate Change. Economic and social justice, where the majority would have to commit their consciences and their money to help the less fortunate to adapt to Climate Change is probably the top reason. For example, there would have to be a more robust public health system in place to protect the less fortunate with air conditioning and shelter with the extended heat waves predicted for our region—not to mention the increase in vector-driven (by misquotes) diseases like Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and even malaria that will become more prevalent.

There are also the billions being poured into our mainstream media to pollute the public with Climate Change denial that panders to the public hope that this problem of physics is fantasy.

For whatever reasons Americans can come up with to not pay attention to Climate Change it is not going to stop Climate Change. Denial is going to accelerate it. The tragic sense of American Climate Change denial is that most folks think they are living their lives to make the world the better place for their children, but if we don’t address Climate Change en masse it won’t be a better place. It will be a warmer place on the road to no place.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A modest proposal for the Empire State as it risks Fracking

 

Governor Cuomo’s scheme to get the camel’s nose of Fracking into the New York State environmental tent via the tear in our economic fabric-- “…several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania...” (NYT) seems perverse at best.

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology. The plan, described by a senior official at the State Department of Environmental Conservation and others with knowledge of the administration’s strategy, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination. (June 13, 2012) Hydrofracking Under Cuomo Plan Would Be Restricted to a Few Counties - NYTimes.com

At worst, the governor’s plan is based on misinformation, the economic might of the fossil fuel industry, and science from a planet we no longer live on—one that isn’t warming due to anthropomorphic accelerated Climate Change. Tiptoeing around the powerful New York City water supplies and over the communities that have moratoriums on Fracking does not hide the danger Fracking imposes on the entire environmental health of our state.

Good grief. It’s so tiring to hear the continual bludgeoning of the governor by the economic imperatives hammered by the fossil fuel industry and those clamoring to make some rich, or even to get others saved by drilling for fossil fuels in our state.

Look. We don’t need this Fracking money. We can create jobs, long-term, great-paying, sustainable jobs that won’t run dry by developing renewable energy—wind, solar, and geothermal. Toss in battery storage, conservation, energy efficiency, and a smart grid and New York State will be ready with fresh clean water for the economic boom that will come as our water-rich state becomes a Mecca during Climate Change.

Others have talked about the dangers of Fracking more eloquently and researched this issue more thoroughly than I. And most New Yorkers don’t want the threat to our environment and well-being that this technology imposes.

Survey: New Yorkers say gas drilling not worth the risk More than half of New York state residents believe that the environmental risks of natural gas drilling outweigh the revenues produced by such activity, according to the latest Empire State Poll conducted by Cornell's Survey Research Institute. Fully 52 percent of New Yorkers polled stated that the risks outweigh revenues for gas drilling, compared with 27 percent who believe the revenues outweigh the risks and 21 percent who did not know enough about the issue to form an opinion. (June 3, 2012) Cornell Chronicle Online

So, I’ll just offer this modest proposal. Require that the companies Fracking in New York State submit a substantial down-payment (billions and billions of dollars) for their privilege to Frack our natural gas. When they are done and nothing goes wrong as they continually promise, they can have the down payment back, just as if they were renting our environment with their risky behavior—which they are. When things go bad however and our water starts on fire, or our fresh water get contaminated, and we get stuck with a state of pollution, we can just take this pittance and try to recover what we didn’t need Fracked in the first place.

If we cannot stop the continual assault on our environment that will be challenged enough by Climate Change, at least we can hold those accountable by holding onto their money—instead of trying to wrangle it out of them later in the courts.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Out doing some traffic calming.

Traffic Calming

My wife and I were out paining the streets yesterday with a lot of other folks. It was the HPNA's big BoulevArt Project.

The whole intersection of Meigs and Linden was closed off from vehicular traffic so something new could happen.

Besides something different, something beautiful, something that engaged the whole neighborhood—grand kids, mothers, fathers, and grandparents—one element of the project was traffic calming. Rochester has many plans to increase active transportation (walking and bicycling) with their City of Rochester | ROC the Bike! Program and this new idea to paint the streets in another.

Folks see a vibrant neighborhood displaying some care and concern. Along with some interesting art, it all encourages drivers to slow down and appreciate their visit, instead of dashing by at an unsafe speed.

It encourages people to walk for those short distances from their home and not burn greenhouse gases.

The world is warming and we all need to do something about that.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Climate Change, a failure of leadership and courage

 
If you are accustomed to gathering environmental news from around this region, you must have come across this news that Syracuse has completed a draft Sustainability Plan.
Comments sought on Syracuse sustainability plan The city of Syracuse has published a draft “sustainability plan” and is seeking public comments. The plan sets goals for the city in five areas: energy and green building; waste and recycling; natural environment; food systems and education. (May 23, 2012) syracuse.com
There has been scant attention to it here in Rochester, except for this sour note:
Lofty goals for Syracuse's first sustainability plan | Innovation Trail The city of Syracuse wants to get half its power from renewable energy sources by 2020. That's just one of the targets laid out in a draft version of Syracuse's first sustainability plan [PDF]. (May 31, 2012)Innovation Trail
In truth this ‘sustainability plan’ is a ‘climate action plan’, and it’s a darn shame the authors and those who handled the authors failed in courage to call it what it is. These two sentences, buried in the first paragraph of the introduction, reveal this document’s true nature:

While the use of this energy has led to the success of Syracuse as a cultural, economic and educational hub in New York State it also comes at a cost. The burning of fossil fuels for energy is the single largest contributor to climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. (Page 5, Syracuse Sustainability Plan)

Other than failing to own up to the fact that it is a climate action plan, it is not a lofty plan but a very realistic and environmentally sound position that a Northeast city in the midst of a warming planet should take. Just to emphasize what a myriad of official Climate Change Studies keep telling us, our planet is warming, and this spring was the warmest ever:
Warmest U.S. spring on record: NOAA | Reuters (Reuters) - So far, 2012 has been the warmest year the United States has ever seen, with the warmest spring and the second-warmest May since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Thursday. Temperatures for the past 12 months and the year-to-date have been the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, NOAA said. The average temperature for the contiguous 48 states for meteorological spring, which runs from March through May, was 57.1 degrees F (13.9 C), 5.2 degrees (2.9 C) above the 20th century long-term average and 2 degrees F (1.1 C) warmer than the previous warmest spring in 1910. (June 7, 2012) Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com
There are many wonderful aspects to this Syracuse draft, and I hope Rochester, when it gets around to it, adopts many of its provisions. For example, in this paragraph about food systems that are greatly influence by energy use, it mentions ‘social justice’:
What we eat seems like a matter of individual consumer choice. Yet, before food even reaches the table, it has been influenced by the decisions made by farmers, distributors, grocery store managers and other businesses, food banks, and government at all levels. Each decision has consequences not only for our health but also for the health of the environment, energy consumption, the economy and social justice. However it is difficult to see the consequences of these decisions, especially as they are often made in a piecemeal, isolated fashion. (Page 18, Syracuse Sustainability Plan
Holy cow! Did I actually read that a local government concedes that addressing food issues and Climate Change was also about social justice? Scotland was able to say it and not be vilified by the free market fundamentalists, but here in one of the major Climate Change denial countries, it just takes one’s breath away.
Scotland announces 'climate justice' fund for world's poorest | Global development | guardian.co.uk The scheme will focus on helping people in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia cope with the effects of climate change | The Scottish government has unveiled a £3m initiative to help people in the world's poorest countries adapt to the impact of climate change. The climate justice fund, launched in Edinburgh on Thursday, will disburse the money in equal instalments over the next three years to support water projects in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. The scheme, which provides new funding rather than drawing on Scotland's existing overseas aid budget, was announced by Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, and the former Republic of Ireland president Mary Robinson. Both called on rich nations to reduce carbon emissions, arguing that the developing world bears the brunt of flooding, drought and other natural disasters, despite doing little to cause such events. (June 6, 2012) Latest US news, world news, sport and comment from the Guardian | guardiannews.com | The Guardian
There are other measures in the report worth mentioning for their insight and responsible planning. Get this -- they’re suggesting to “Create and implement a municipal street lighting energy reduction strategy...” because “…in 2010, street lighting accounted for 33% of all electric use at the City. It also represents the largest percentage of the City’s utility bill.” (Page 18, Syracuse Sustainability Plan) Holy cow, again. (Sorry, I’m running out of superlatives.) Who knew that street lighting gobbled up so many tax dollars and burned so much (fossil fuel) energy? I wonder what percentage of Rochester’s electric bill street lighting takes up. Some nifty solar panels atop each pole powering our street lights would look really nice here in Rochester.

There’s more: route optimization for example. “Fully implement DPW route optimization recommendations for trash and recycling pick-up. Identify other opportunities for route optimization across departments.”(18) Imagine how much tax payer money and greenhouse gases can be reduced by the entire City of Rochester, maybe even the Country of Monroe, if all stepped back and rethought and consolidated routes covered by their gas guzzling vehicles?

Improving active (walking and bicycling) transportation, as always, is recommended: “Encourage alternative modes of transportation by improving City infrastructure for multi-modal transportation that enhances appeal and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheel chair users.” Rochester is doing their part with City of Rochester | ROC the Bike! But, again, there is no connecting the dots between active transportation and solving Climate Change by using these methods.

The report mentions deconstruction (which I’ve mentioned a lot in the past) and they mention education and training: “Raise a generation of environmental stewards to tackle the unique environmental issues associated with urban living and living with global climate change” (16). (See, they slipped in Climate Change again.) They also talk about urban forestry and capturing rainwater to ease the load on waste treatment plants.

In all it’s a very good report, but failing to call this plan what it is—an attempt by government to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change—creates the dangerous illusion in the public that the warming we are experiencing is normal. Failing to admit that conditions are so dire that major adjustments need to be made to our way of living enables our leaders to attempt the impossible: Solving Climate Change without informing the public.

The President of the United State is taking that tack by failing to even mention Climate Change in the 2011 State of the Union Address, and expressing that it is too toxic to talk about in this 2012 Address. Obama is using his energy policy Energy, Climate Change and Our Environment to wag the Climate Change dog. He thrusts energy solutions towards a problem that includes Climate Change but does not dare inconvenience the public, the media, or the political arena with all the implications of solving this issue. Because, presumably, it’s too toxic. So, we have to try and solve Climate Change by using just an energy plan, while we dragged our feet at the Durban Climate talks, and we are going to drag our feet at the Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development coming up in a few days.

Closer to home, Governor Cuomo also dropped the ball on climate action and went for the energy switcheroo: The New York Climate Change Advisory Group, created under Governor Patterson, published an exhaustive Climate Action Plan The New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report, which addressed the issues confronting our state due to Climate Change, but that effort has been quietly thwarted. The present governor won’t reconvene the New York Climate Change Advisory Group, according to NRDC’s Ready or Not report. This means Cuomo doesn’t have to mention Climate Change under his new energy plan--New York Energy Highway--and can push Fracking, which, if anything goes wrong (and it will), means he won’t even get elected dog catcher—let alone US President in 2016.

So does it matter if our leaders don’t use ‘Climate Change’ in their official language, but take on many of the policies that would address Climate Change anyway? Yes, it matters whether our government places Climate Change before energy, even though bad energy got us into this dismal state. It matters because we cannot just possibly get the public on board with the incredible changes to our environment, our economics, and our system of justice, if the government does not lead.
For example, locally there are three issues—off-shore wind farms, Fracking, and Great Lakes water levels-- that should be orchestrated under the rubric of Climate Change but are not. Instead, they are viewed in the public’s mind as ad hoc, special interests, and unconnected to anyone except those with enough energy and time to pursue them.

Off-shore wind, which is still being pursued despite the death of the New York Power Authority’s Great Lakes Off-Shore Wind Program (GLOW), is an important component of renewable energy. Renewable energy, on the scale that could be produced by off-shore wind power, could dramatically reduce our need for fossil fuels, if connected with battery storage, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and a smart grid. Without the governor leading a discussion with Climate Change as the lens through which to understand this issue, wind power becomes the prey of shoreline property owners who don’t want their view despoiled by those ugly turbines.

As for the current brouhaha over Fracking, natural gas is a fossil fuel, a greenhouse gas, and it can potentially harm our fresh water. Though this issue has been hotly debated for the last year in New York State, Climate Change never enters the argument, allowing the illusion that this dangerous energy option has nothing to do with our ability to survive. The failure of leadership on Climate Change and Fracking makes the conversation we are having about Fracking delusional.

And finally, with the International Joint Commission’s recommendation that the Great Lakes water level policy be changed, we are arguing about boat docks, shoreline beach property and boating but not about the fact that Climate Change is going to lower the levels of the Great Lakes anyway (see Landowners Tell Commission Not To Change Lake Levels - 13WHAM.com). Climate studies (check out Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region Impacts on Our Communities and Ecosystems ) suggest that there will be reduced ice coverage on the Great Lakes which will increase evaporation and lower lake levels. But this is not discussed in town meetings, in the media, or anywhere else except between the covers of some unread Great Lakes Climate Studies.

My hope is that Rochester, NY doesn’t drop the ball when it comes out with its own Climate action plan. I know Rochester cares and understands Change (see City of Rochester | Climate and Environment Protection Resolution) but saying you care isn’t enough. You have to write the words ‘Climate Change’ into the heading of your official policy so the public and the media’ gets’ it. Then, Rochester’s plan needs to be linked to Syracuse’s plan, and then all the cities in New York State, then all the states, and then all the countries. It’s a planetary problem.

Whether Climate Change is considered too toxic for beltway politics or not, it is physics. Failure by our leaders to adopt comprehensive, planet-wide, policies to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change won’t even slow the warming down. Those who still think that Climate Change is far off and not something to worry about now have our leaders to blame.