Sunday, May 04, 2014

Redacting Climate Change won’t work


CCRedactOne of the goals of the Rochester Sierra Club’s 2014 forum "Climate Smart Communities: Let’s Get With the Program" was helping to inform communities west of Syracuse about the state’s volunteer climate adaptation and mitigation strategy. Not only did we fill the place with folks learning about how Climate Change will impact the state and the state’s program, some communities signed the pledge. It was a thrill to get this feedback by Bill Moehle, supervisor of the Town of Brighton:

“The cover headline of City laments government inaction when it comes to climate change, but in Brighton, we take sustainability seriously. Brighton has signed on to become a Climate Smart Community ("Climate Change: It's All Up to You"). It may be up to you, as City's cover states, but in Brighton you're not in it alone. Brighton is working hard to become a more walkable, bikeable community. We have completed a Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan, and are planning our first bicycle boulevard. We also plan to reduce South Clinton Avenue from four lanes to three south of Westfall Road, improving bicycle access to the Erie Canal Trail.” (Feedback, Climate change and local action, Rochester City Newspaper, 4/30)

No local news reported on Brighton’s effort. It would have been nice to have more than one reporter to show up and describe the state’s solution to Climate Change, but I guess they were busy framing other issues for their subscribers. Hopefully, more communities will sign the pledge for the state volunteer program: Climate Smart Communities. That effort would accelerate if folks contacted their community leaders and asked them to join this program. Solving Climate Change cannot happen without full public, government, and media support.

You cannot solve Climate Change alone. It’s a worldwide crisis happening far too quickly. Openness and media involvement should dominate the Climate Change issue. Folks must understand the full implications of this worldwide crisis or the public funds for adequate measures won’t materialize and politicians who do something positive (but costly) may be ousted as soon as they enact unpopular programs that last longer than an election cycle.

Certainly, redacting public documents about transportation infrastructure and endangered species locations because they are considered “a security risk” don’t contribute to the sort of openness we need in a rapidly changing environment.

Irondequoit Bay Bridge, redacted The missing information was a surprise. The justifications for the redactions were even more of a surprise. Some material was withheld, the cover letter said, because it would reveal the location of the habitat of an endangered species. State law forbids the disclosure of such habitats to protect vulnerable animals and plants from human intrusion or exploitation. While we have none of the notoriously endangered owls, there is a bald eagle nest a few miles south of the bridge; maybe the inspectors mentioned the eagles in their report. Or maybe some other endangered or threatened species – a bird, a bat, a butterfly – has taken up residence on or near the bridge. DOT would have felt obligated to black that out, I guess. (May 2, 2014) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Good Grief! As if Climate Change deniers aren’t enough of a hurdle to properly informing the public of this worldwide crisis, now it looks like we are going to have to tease national security out of environmental security. Which, admittedly, is going to be tough. Folks want to be secure from both immediate threats and slower-moving but just as deadly environmental threats. We should have a discussion about these security issues openly and honestly (not like the deceptive build-up to the Iraq War) because both issues intersect and are equally critical to our existence.

We cannot redact ourselves out of Climate Change because Nature has a way of extreme-weathering its way to your attention—not in a good way.

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