Saturday, November 30, 2013

Water quality concerns for Rochester, NY’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program

 

Genesee River Lower Falls The due date for public comment for Rochester, NY’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) comes to an end this December. You can complete a survey and/or submit a comment online here: Rochester LWRP Update. The description of the program is as follows from the City of Rochester: “The purpose of this project is to update the city’s LWRP and expand the boundary of the plan to include all of the city’s waterfront areas along Lake Ontario, the Genesee River and the Erie Canal.”

The ten questions on the survey mostly contain a wish-list of projects to make life more appealing to those who visit, live, or want to develop along our city’s waterfronts. Stuff like creating a skate park, more fishing sites, more bars and restaurants, more residential homes, and more trails figure large. And then there is a project peculiar to our city, and I suspect wildly expensive, the ‘re-watering the old Erie Canal through downtown’. There’s also the Garden Ariel loop project that would “Through stewardship, innovative design, and community outreach to preserve natural and historic resources, and cultivate High Falls transformation into a world-class public green space.” One survey option—“naturally preserved, undeveloped” must have been thrown in as a sop to hardcore environmentalists because out of all the options this would be the most expensive, spending millions of dollars to clean-up this developed and historically abused region—and then do nothing with it except let Nature be Nature. If this option sends chills down the spine of future developers, don’t worry; it has about the same chance as a rich climate denier passing through the eye of a needle.

My focus is on the water quality of one these projects’s centerpieces, the Genesee River. It’s going to be hard to enjoy any of the suggestions listed in the survey (they mention casinos) if the water is lousy. The Genesee River has been given some negative news lately, as it has been named the 32nd most toxic polluted river in the US according to this report: Wasting Our Waterways 2012 by Environment America Research and Policy Center, March 22, 2012.

A troubling note comes from a local mainstream media article. While rhapsodizing on the Genesee’s great fishing, it just happens to mention “Most fish caught here are stocked rather than wild” Rochester's Lower Falls an angler's paradise  (November 16, 2013) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). A healthy, thriving riparian and river ecology with a healthy fishing industry is not one that has to be continually stocked.

And then there’s this from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation:

Various recreational uses, aquatic life support and aesthetics in urban waterways of the Lower Genesee River are significantly restricted by pollutants from various industrial, municipal, commercial and other sources in the highly-urbanized metropolitan Rochester area and surrounding suburban communities. Nonpoint urban runoff flushes a variety of pollutants and debris into the river. Contaminated sediments, inactive hazardous waste sites and other impacts attributed to past/historic discharges also limit uses. (Page 5, The 2001 Genesee River Basin Waterbody Inventory and Priority Waterbodies List, Bureau of Watershed Assessment and Research, Division of Water, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

There’s a wonderfully comprehensive and detailed study from the University of Rochester on how we, and perhaps other communities around the state, might develop their waterfronts with the public’s health in mind. It’s the Healthy Waterways: A Health Impact Assessment of the City of Rochester, New York’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Report, May 2013

Healthy Waterways was a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the City of Rochester, NY's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) update. … In the Healthy Waterways report, we provide information and recommendations to help decision makers and stakeholders understand how to maximize the positive health impacts of water resource related decisions, while minimizing negative effects on the health of Rochester’s communities. In so doing, we hope to create a statewide model for incorporating HIA in the LWRP process. (University of Rochester Medical Center)

This report and the cautionary reports that the Genesee River needs some serious TLC for its water quality, should come before any of the other projects of the (LWRP) are entertained—not as an afterthought.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

US role in Climate talks puzzling given its history of ducking hard choices

 

WhatCCIt’s almost the end of the Warsaw Climate Talks 2013, and things are not going well on that planetary discussion about the world crisis facing all of us. A large faction of environmental groups just stormed out of the meeting in protest. “Six groups leave climate negotiations in Warsaw after saying the talks are a waste of time,” (Green groups walk out of UN climate talks 11/21/2013, Aljazeera), though they didn’t say all Climate talks were a waste of time. They said this particular Climate talk, where the developed nations balked at any financial redress for Climate Justice and even stepped down their previous commitments to curb their greenhouse gases, was an outrage.

3 Countries That Are Bailing on Climate Action Japan isn’t the only country walking away from climate promises. When Japan dramatically slashed its plans last week for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, from 25 percent to just 3.8 percent compared to 2005 figures, the international reaction was swift and damning. Britain called it “deeply disappointing.” China’s climate negotiator, Su Wei, said, “I have no way of describing my dismay.” The Alliance of Small Island Nations, which represents islands most at risk of sea level rise, branded the move “a huge step backwards.” The decision was based on the fact that Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors—which had provided about 30 percent of the country’s electricity—are currently shuttered for safety checks after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, despite the government trying to bring some of them back online. That nuclear energy is largely being replaced by fossil fuels. (November 19, 2013) Climate Desk

The United States hasn’t come away from the talks unsullied either. Our lackluster approach to addressing Climate Change got outed by a Hindu journalist. [The Western press has ignored this issue and chosen instead to obsess over the anniversary of the JFK assassination—which is not news, just media-fed mass nostalgia.]

Leaked Memo Reveals U.S. Plan to Oppose Helping Poor Nations Adapt to Climate Change Newly leaked documents have revealed how U.S. negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw are opposing efforts to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to an internal U.S. briefing memo seen by Democracy Now!, the U.S. delegation is worried the talks in Warsaw will "focus increasingly on blame and liability" and that poor nations will be "seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts." We speak with Nitin Sethi, a journalist with The Hindu newspaper who first reported on the leaked document. (November 19, 2013)Democracy Now!

Our country’s lackluster approach to Climate Change is puzzling given our own history of ducking hard decisions on hard questions. The United States Constitution protected the institution of slavery for fear of not being able to produce any constitution at all. For the sake of expediency, it inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of hapless souls a great evil until a country divided for’ four score and seven years ‘reached a tipping point of moral outrage in 1861. Because Climate Change is a problem of physics and our window of opportunity is quickly closing before catastrophic warming is unavoidable, we do not have the luxury to forfeit the lives of billions before we act, and in this case we ourselves will get swept along in the crisis.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Will Rochester, NY slash its climate reduction target at Warsaw Climate talks like Japan?

 

CCWarsawJapan decided to slash its climate reduction target at the Warsaw Climate talks because the Fukushima nuclear disaster is “forcing the country to increase its burning of fossil fuels.” (November 14, 2013) BBC ) One has to wonder if others will follow suit, searching their ‘excuses boxes’ to see if they have a handy excuse not to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG’s) even though we know the 'Window of Opportunity' to Curb Climate Change Quickly Closing.

How about Rochester, NY? If our local media is any indication, Rochesterians don’t even know that the Warsaw climate talks are going on. But if the climate talks this year were on our radar, and we too were going to come up with an excuse not to keep our promise on our climate reduction target, this is what we’d throw overboard: “We strive to reduce energy consumption, waste generation, our dependence on fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gases.” (City of Rochester, NY Environmental Mission Statement) It’s not much, and it’s kind of fuzzy because it doesn’t have any red lines that won’t be crossed, but it’s something, I guess….

I know, you’re thinking what I’ve said so far is very unfair. Japan really got nailed and any reasonable person would expect them not to keep their promises on Climate Change because, heh, they just gotta have as much power as they had before the nuclear disaster no matter what. However, Japan’s excuse is probably hard to swallow by developing nations that don’t even get to have a good day because of increasingly horrific typhoons and sea rise caused by the developed nation’s lack of agreement year to year on climate talks.

The Warsaw talks are the 19th in a series (COP 19) in our “attempts” to address Climate Change, and almost zip (“modest”) is expected to be accomplished. That’s not a prognostication in this particular case, that’s an order by the developed nations. If they were to jump the gun and start reducing GHG’s before 2020, as planned, the developed nations would freak. So everything is being done to have a non-climate talk with no hard decisions, just some clarifying, launching a PowerPoint display, and delivering a “path”. Really, a path? in 2013?

We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas. (Opening address by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

Ok, so Rochester, NY didn’t even get invited to the Warsaw Climate Talk because it’s not a country—though it’s probably bigger than some of those sinking nations (caused by sea level rise due to Climate Change) who were invited. But the United States (which sabotaged the Kyoto Protocol by not ratifying it) did get invited. Our goal at the talks will be (as usual) to kick the can down the road:

“Our task now is to fashion a new agreement that will be ambitious, effective and durable,” Todd Stern, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for climate change, said in a speech in London last month. “(Washington Post)

While our leaders dillydally about bringing down atmospheric GHGs’s let’s be clear about some Climate Change assumptions: For one, the Fukushima nuclear disaster did not force Japan to increase its burning of fossil fuels. When you drive a nail into a board with a hammer, the nail is forced into the board. More likely, the political will failed keeping to their promise and using everything in their tool box--including energy efficiency, renewable, and energy conservation—would have made Japan’s leaders unpopular. No one seems to be questioning the Holy Premise that we, the developed nations, must all have energy and more of it—even if it means crashing the planet’s environment.

Also, there is a growing movement around the world to create a carbon tax, new generation nuclear power plants, and numerous geoengineering schemes. And while they all have their merits, they all assume that we must address Climate Change with as little inconvenience to the developed nations as possible. This trajectory, that includes many assumptions about what the public will tolerate and actually do, will only address a few of the myriad problems that come with Climate Change. Along with Climate Change comes economic justice, the loss of biodiversity, floods, incredible typhoons, and a whole lot of warming that’s already locked in because we keep letting the only platform for planetary agreement on Climate Change turn into excuses for not doing what we must.

Excuses are what you tell your teacher when the dog eats your homework.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

USA takes baby steps on Climate Change

 

You have until January 3, 2014 to comment on EPA’s draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans—I focus on the Region2 in this article but there are many more. Please frame your response according to the enormity of the problem, not on what you think is merely feasible in our present state of denial.

CCBigBecause of Congress’s continual dysfunctionality on addressing Climate Change, President Obama has had to resort to executive orders. On November 1, 2013, the president issued Executive Order -- Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change:

PREPARING THE UNITED STATES FOR THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE |By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience, it is hereby ordered as follows: more…

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who the president can direct without kowtowing to the deniers in Congress, released the Climate Change Adaptation Plan on February 9, 2013, which received input by all federal agencies. Here’s the list, just in case ‘all federal agencies’ is merely a vague abstraction in your mind: the Department of State; the Department of the Treasury; the Department of Defense; the Department of Justice; the Department of the Interior; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Commerce; the Department of Labor; the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Department of Transportation; the Department of Energy; the Department of Education; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Homeland Security; the United States Agency for International Development; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Environmental Protection Agency; the General Services Administration; the Millennium Challenge Corporation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the U.S. Small Business Administration; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; the Council of Economic Advisers; the National Economic Council; the Domestic Policy Council; the Office of Management and Budget; the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs; the United States Trade Representative; and such agencies or offices as the President or Co-Chairs shall designate.

I know, it seems that anyone who is anyone is on the job solving Climate Change over here at the USA. But not so much. Mostly, the EPA’s recommendations for Region 2 cover only what should have taken place in the last century. Things like fixing up our highways for more extreme weather, preparing for more emergencies, getting the agencies listed above to talk to each other on Climate Change, talking to decision makers (corporations? mayors? ordinary folks like you and I?), educating public health departments about the impacts of Climate Change on public health, providing some communities who are onboard with addressing Climate Change (communities that aren’t onboard can continue with their self-destruction) with some materials, noodling over some environment permitting and enforcement possibilities, getting ready for more major cleanups like Hurricane Sandy, and (my favorite) “Bring air pollution consequences of transportation systems due to climate change to the attention of state and local partners.” Like they don’t already know cars cause air pollution and will continue to do so as things warm up?

These measures seem pretty milquetoast in light of the news on Climate Change—just this week. Here’s a few items: The Climate Impact Of Canada’s Tar Sands Is Growing; As crop indicators, weeds spread in warmer world ; New greenhouse gas record set ; Deaths From Heat Waves May Increase Ten Times By Mid-Century; Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies; Carbon emissions must be cut ‘significantly’ by 2020, says UN report; New Report Examines Complex Threats Facing Our Oceans; and Leaked IPCC report: Humans are adapting — but hunger, homelessness, and violence lie ahead. I’m not the only one getting alarmed. Check out Change The Earth - Music Video Project where some major music figures and environmental groups are trying to reach the public on the immensity of this issue. This 10-minute video Last Hours is trying to do the same thing. Also, the Arctic 30 are still sitting in a cold hard Russian prison for delivering the message that taking advantage of a melting Arctic (caused by manmade Climate Change) by drilling for more fossil fuels is a really depraved idea.

So, here’s the deal: the EPA wants you to comment on its plan.

The EPA released its draft agency on February 9, 2013 for public review and comment, and expects to issue the final version this fall. In 2009, all federal agencies were required to develop Climate Change Adaptation Plans by the federal Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Under Executive Order 13514, the Task Force was charged with developing recommendations for the President on how to increase the nation’s resilience to climate change. The new Implementation Plans provide information about how EPA will meet the agency-wide priorities identified in the draft Climate Adaptation Plan released earlier this year. (EPA Releases Agency Plans for Adapting to a Changing Climate, Nov. 1, 2013)

This is how you provide comment, if you are in Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands): Surf over to www.regulations.gov and copy and paste this (Docket Number EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0568) into the SEARCH box. This will display “Request for Public Comment on the Agency’s 18 DRAFT Program a…”, then click on the ‘Comment Now!’ button. Remember: If you are providing comments through the public docket, it is important to identify which of the 17 Plans your comments refer to. We here in the Rochester, NY region live in EPA’s Region 2, so you have to read the EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013—some 40 pages. The comment period on EPA’s draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans closes on January 3, 2014.

All very nice but I’m thinking we need bolder measures to address Climate Change here in the USA and the Region 2. Here are a few of my suggestions and you may use them.

  • Increase the role of trained citizen scientists to monitor our land, water, and air to give ourselves a more thorough idea of how are region is actually changing because of Climate Change. Hard to adapt to Climate Change if you don’t have critical information.
  • Clean up Brownfields ASAP. "The prospect of more intense and more frequent storms and sea-level rise carries with it the risk of contaminant releases from RCRA Corrective Action sites, Superfund sites, Brownfield sites and landfills. As noted in EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, inundation and flooding may lead to transport of contaminants through surface soils, groundwater, surface waters and/or coastal waters. Uncontrolled migration of contaminants may pose an increased risk of adverse health and environmental impacts. " (Page 24, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013)
  • Change the way we farm, including how we use the soil for farming so there is no runoff. Don’t even think of using soil fumigation. Only use pesticides and herbicides as an absolute last resort. “For instance, soil fumigation as a method to apply pesticides is now rarely used in Region 2 but would be expected to become more common as crops move into the area that requires pest techniques that are associated with longer growing seasons and warmer winters (NYSERDA 2011). Soil fumigants are among the most hazardous of all pesticides and rapidly volatilize once in the soil. Once in gaseous form, the fumigant can disperse throughout the soil and contact target pests making them extremely effective. However, because of the volatility of fumigants, people who live, visit, and/or work near fumigated fields may be exposed to these toxic emissions if the gases travel offsite either via wind aboveground or through wells, sewers, vaults and other underground pathways to the surface. " (Page 26, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013)
  • Absolutely no Fracking. Climate Change is why, if nothing else, we cannot allow Fracking in New York State: “Increased precipitation may also result in additional pollutant loadings of nutrients, pesticides, and other chemicals, further challenging permittees’ ability to meet water quality standards and permit requirements. For industrial dischargers and wastewater treatment plants, lower baseflows due to increased evapotranspiration and increased likelihood of drought conditions will make meeting permit requirements more challenging.” (Page 20, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013)
  • It would be nice if the EPA, DEC, or NYS Dept. Health got going on this, as nary a word is heard from these departments or in the local media at present: “Integrate climate impacts into public health information.” (Page 38, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013)
  • Rethink our transportation system. This is crazy: “Extreme events experienced in Region 2, such as hurricanes, that hinder refinery operations or fuel transportation could require EPA to grant fuel waivers to allow more polluting fuels to be used for a short time period. Extended periods of congestion could arise in areas that are flooded, which would lead to increased transportation related emissions.” (Page 19, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013) Instead of digging deeper into the hole of asphalt highways that provide a pleasant world for gas guzzle, but not living creatures, we should move rapidly to a system that includes public mass transportation, more active transportation in urban regions, and better Internet service so folks can conduct business without having to travel.
  • To adapt to Climate Change in our region, we need to set aside a lot of money that we are not going to get from the private sector. For one, we cannot just leave abandoned buildings and old infrastructures around as we always have: “EXPOSURE TO TOXIC CHEMICALS FROM INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGE The extreme weather events that are likely to occur as a result of climate change (e.g., high winds, heavy precipitation events) may damage community infrastructure (e.g., schools and child care facilities) and residential homes. As a result, there may be an increased risk of exposure to lead, asbestos and PCBs, when these buildings are initially damaged and when they are renovated/demolished as part of the recovery efforts.” (Page 26, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013
  • Start a major education of the public on Climate Change. How about requiring mainstream media to give the EPA free primetime, or take their freaking licenses away so they cannot use our public airwaves. ‘Cause this ain’t going to do it: “Disseminate factsheets on re-entry to homes, schools, daycare centers, buildings, etc. Address energy efficiency impacts on indoor air quality for homes and schools to avoid maladaptation.” (Page 33, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013)
  • Put some teeth into EPA Climate Change Adaption Plan. As for this long term solution “Bring air pollution consequences of transportation systems due to climate change to the attention of state and local partners.” Your ‘partners’ already know, they just haven’t been pushed to change their ways. Also, most efforts will be ad hoc if there isn’t a way to get all local governments onboard: “Coordinate with states and local governments that are piloting and demonstrating use of climate information in research, planning and rebuilding efforts.” In other words, if communities are not “piloting and demonstrating use of…”, which is most of Region2’s communities, what is the EPA going to do about that?
  • As I’ve been working on active transportation issues as chair of the Rochester Sierra Club Transportation Committee for five years, I know this is not going to work: “Increase number of communities that receive information about availability of technical assistance, such as Complete Streets, planning for older populations in communities.” (Page 35, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013) The trouble is that NYS’s Complete Streets Law is so vague and easy to get around, it’s useless. Engineers just want to build more expensive highways, not bike lanes, with signs, and educational programs so bicyclists don’t get whacked by the public who don’t even know what painted bike lane symbols are for. ‘Availability of technical assistance’ is not the problem.
  • Lastly, this is an interesting observation: “There are additional actions that EPA has not included in either the short-term or long-term actions, above, because the timing of those additional actions might not be clear or because this document is not seen as the vehicle to drive those actions. In addition to funding and employee resource constraints, these additional actions may require difficult policy or legal decisions before we can implement them.”(Page 36, EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013) It suggests that the EPA has a good idea of the scale of the actions which are really needed to address and mitigate Climate Change, but realize in this present political and economic climate they can only take these baby steps.

We understand the constraints under which the EPA must adhere to, but the physics of Climate Change is not waiting for our politics to become functional. If this scenario -- Last Hours- awaits us because of the above constraints, well…, Goodbye Tomorrow.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

20 Excuses US public uses to dismiss the urgency of Climate Change

 

CCProblemDespite the urgency exclaimed by scientists around the world Climate Change has languished in a sea of indifference by most of the affluent public since the 1980’s. When Dr. James Hansen, of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. tried to alert the public to the dangers of Climate Change in his 1988 testimony to Congress, he thought that would be that. He, as a climate scientist, would inform the public and they’d get going. That hasn’t happened. Except for a slight lull in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s) in the US because of the 2008 Recession, there has been a steady increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) over the world.

Until we recognize the kind of transformative issue Climate Change is we have no chance of actually addressing it. Too many at this point in time think Climate Change is an issue that can be put off, that other problems are more important: or, that it can be solved by environmental groups, a sudden shift to a green economy, or placed on governmental authorities--most of which the public would not support election after election if climate adaption caused their taxes to go up. Climate Change is the perfect storm of human frailties: our dislike of change, our tendency to heed mainstream thinking instead of science, our need for normalcy, and our insatiable desire to be comfortable, free from Nature’s wrath red in tooth and claw.

If Climate Change is such a transformative issue then why are the majority folks in the developed nations not alarmed? True, many are alarmed and acting; others are alarmed but somehow have been rendered impotent. Besides the fabulously rich ideologues and/or those addicted to the large profits from the fossil fuel industries, we can only speculate why the majority of the affluent public avoids this issue. Here’s my short list the US public uses to dismiss the urgency of Climate Change:

1. Our economic system, built upon the fallacy that our survival system is merely an externality, has upended our priorities. It’s like building airplane without a clue about aerodynamics—and expecting it to fly.

2. Ubiquitous propaganda that places our economic health on an even footing with (or supplants) our biological underpinnings. This is so interwoven into our politics, media ads, mainstream environmental reporting, and what’s deemed appropriate talk in polite society that we don’t even notice.

3. Adapting to Climate Change would be too inconvenient, like it is for most of the developing countries who cannot do much about the crisis we have caused.

4. There’s a tendency in human nature to continue on the same path they’re on regardless. It explains why we still love the automobiles even though they are killing over 30 million in this country each year.

5. Present day discomfort at addressing Climate Change is thwarted because we believe we won’t appreciate immediate results in a climatic system already scheduled for decades of warming. If we’re going to do good, we want immediate feedback. Altruism, which many species unwittingly practice, is sacrificing oneself for the survival of the group. (Tough to practice in a ‘Me First’ economy.)

6. Trying to reduce the impact of warming on future generations exposes us to the prisoner’s dilemma, where folks won’t cooperate to solve a common problem even when it’s in their best interest to do so.

7. We have more immediate and important things to take care of and besides it looks like the activists have stepped up to the plate on this one and, by the way, thanks for that.

8. The shift in many environmentalists’ strategy on Climate Change by framing it as a green energy opportunity has placed the burden of success on those groups pandering to an economic system based on endless growth and consumerism. [Note: Naomi Klein’s article: Green groups may be more damaging than climate change deniers]

9. Activists successes sometimes work against themselves: Efforts like those of 350.org to get universities to divest from fossil fuel is a remarkable effort. It is also limited because it only attempts to solve only one aspect of the problem (making the fossil fuel industries the enemy), and allows many in the public to sit back and think this is the entire problem.

10. Shifting baseline syndrome, where we fail to notice change beyond our particular life spans, blinds us to longer-occurring events. Climate Change, though it is warming our atmosphere at an unprecedented rate in human times, is unfolding slower than we are used to noticing in our daily lives. This defect in our ability to observe multi-lifetime-long events was supposed to be one of the reasons why we studied history, so we can follow the implications of our actions beyond our own lifetimes. History has failed us on Climate Change because mostly it has been interested in wars and cultures and violent leaders.

11. Many environmental efforts are evangelical (marked by militant or crusading zeal) in their construct, as this way of getting large groups of people to act en masse on issues historically has worked well. [Note: women’s suffrage.] The problem with this strategy is that the activists get to own the problem and take all the heat for trying to solve everyone’s failures. Though all women and men have benefited from the 19th Amendment, only a relatively few of the entire population actually fought this for this issue.

12. We encourage media that blinds us to the reality of Climate Change by continuing to support their editors, reporters, and corporate owners who pander to our desire for denial. Hence the plethora of mind-numbing minutiae that is now local media and very little about important survival information so we can properly plan. (Why your dog wags its tail should not be headlines.)

13. Some brainy folks think humanity is in our adolescent stage and we’ll outgrow it. Well, some adolescents don’t make it to adulthood.

14. Humans are a part of nature so everything we do is natural and good. The lunacy of this line of reasoning is exposed by mountain top removal that destroys ecologies, streams, and communities’ livelihoods to warm the planet up even faster.

15. Because we are not actually desperate for our next meal (as millions in the world are) we tend to believe that we are living in the best of all possible worlds, but forget it’s not the best for everyone. [Note: see the film The Fever]

16. Alarm on Climate Change is like someone yelling ‘Fire!” in a crowded movie house, but nobody moves because nobody else is moving. Our species tends to look around at each other for appropriate responses to stimuli--mainstream thinking. This might explain why many passersby avoid getting involved in reporting on raping or mugging incidents in a crowded area.

17. Most folks need to feel that their efforts will matter. Making money has magically (despite the morality of what one actually does money for) solved this inherent human motivator. Solving Climate Change doesn’t pay all that well. In fact, some, the Arctic 30, are suffering in a cold Russian prison because they took on the role of protectors of our planet’s refrigerator.

18. We feel trumped by the argument that excoriating fossil fuels makes us hypocrites, as we all use fossil fuels to heat our homes and power our gas guzzlers. Well it’s true and get over it. We didn’t get born in 1491, America. We have to metamorphose the system we have been delivered to a system that is sustainable.

19. Many favoring the ‘wait and see’ approach will enjoy this new report this week from the BBC “Report suggests slowdown in CO2 emissions rise.” It suggests that if we drag our feet long enough some study will come out and stop all the worry. I wouldn’t bet on it.

20. The ‘I just don’t give a damn about Climate Change’ excuse, the mother of all excuses. There aren’t many deniers in the drought-stricken regions of Australia, or waterlogged Bangladesh, or sinking Maldives. [Watch: The Island President.] Only those not experiencing these disasters have the luxury of such an excuse.

None of these excuses will change the physics of Climate Change. They are merely a partial list of the possible excuses that many use to avoid the Climate Change issue. Some of these excuses may or may not offer clues to solutions. Some of these excuses may be the bailiwick of various fields of expertise--engineering, psychology, sociology, political science, and philosophy. But one thing is for sure: none of them are offering solutions on scale that will matter.

A couple of more Hurricane Sandy’s in a row would accomplish what an auditorium full of so-called experts on human motivation cannot do. But the point of addressing Climate Change is to adapt to the warming before we get to the point that we cannot solve them. Figuring out how to get a majority of folks on this planet to do just that should be (but are not) paramount in any strategies to address it.