Monday, October 05, 2015

Climate Change in Rochester, we are here:

Scientists say we should bring climate temperatures back down to preindustrial levels. We’ve increased climate temperatures to about 1C above those averages. At the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks the world agreed to hold climate temperatures increases to 2C, which is what the COP21 Paris climate conference this year is struggling to achieve. But it looks like present efforts would only reduce climate temperatures to 1C from its present trajectory of 3.5C by 2100. If we fail altogether to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, we’re slated for about 4.5C.

Offers for Paris Climate Talks Would Reduce Warming by 1°C Warming could be reduced from 4.5˚C to 3.5˚C under INDCs submitted to date The current national offers of climate action submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would reduce projected warming by approximately 1°C, according to a new analysis released today from Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan. A Paris agreement based on these offers would put the world on track for a global temperature increase of 3.5°C (6.3°F), with a range of uncertainty from 2.1 to 4.6°C (3.7 to 8.4°F), down from the 4.5°C (8.1°F) of warming above pre-industrial levels if nations continue on the business-as-usual track. (September 28, 2015) Climate Interactive

Some say that 4.5C is game over. Some say 3.5C is unendurable. Some say 2C is dangerously high and our lives will be dramatically altered. Some say the 1C we’ve already warmed our climate has set in motion catastrophic sea level rise, caused climate refugees and wars, produced extreme weather, and jeopardized our food production. And some say, humanity thrived in the Holocene which gave us a stable climate temperature for 10,000 years and that’s where we ought to reset the thermostat given that we haven’t a clue as to how our planet and all the beings on it will adjust to a tenfold increase in climate temperature changes.

Given all this and the media drama caused by Pope Francis’s spectacular climate-messaging visit to the US, you’d think we here in Rochester would be alarmed, exhilarated, and ready to join the world community on tackling this worldwide crisis. Many are. Most are not. The pope’s visit garnered a lot of media attention in Rochester. But local media did not connect the dots between the pontiff’s visit and his message on Climate Change. (Except one local media “Pope in D.C., calls for climate action” from the Daily Messenger, which to be exact was a reprint from AP.) In the local media there was no connection between the pope’s visit and how Climate Change is connected to our region. It’s as if the local media went out of their way to not report the obvious—if Climate Change is true in Washington, DC it must be true here also.

Despite the science, the danger of the COP21 Paris Treaty failing to deliver realistic goals, and the pope (with 4.2 billion followers) and the Muslim community (with 4.3 followers) pressing our leaders for Climate Change actions, Rochester is still, even at this late date, shrouded in climate silence. Local media ignore candidate forums on Climate Change, as well as a massive march through downtown (complete with police escort) highlighting the pope’s climate message.  It makes these heart-felt actions about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.   

It’s not hopeless. Many intrepid souls in Rochester are determined to get this community in sync with this global moral and physical disaster.

Thanks to Indymedia, Rochester, NY we got coverage of our local People's Climate March in Solidarity with Pope Francis. There were lots of labor and environmental leaders along with candidates for the up-and-coming local elections who validated the connection between what is going on internationally, nationally, and locally on Climate Change. 

People's Climate March in Solidarity with Pope Francis Marchers met at Rochester's Liberty Pole on September 24 2015 in an event to call attention to Climate Change.  The march coincides with Pope Francis' visit to the United States.  In June the Pope published an Encyclical (official proclamation) in which he said “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” (September 26, 2015) Rochester Indy Media    

Thanks to the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition and the League of Women Voters Rochester Metropolitan Area, we had an amazingly fruitful forum to educate the public on how and why our local leaders need to address Climate Change. Just in case you missed the “Building an Economy for Climate Stability Candidate Forum 2015” Wednesday, September 16th (which is understandable because only a couple of local media mentioned it coming and none of them covered it when it occurred), here are some photos and highlights of this critical forum before this year’s local elections: Candidate Forum 2015 Recap.  

So it’s curious that the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle editorial board started carping about a non-substantive campaign for Monroe County Executive amidst their own campaign to obfuscate the local issues related to Climate Change that will affect all our lives: “Dinolfo and Frankel: How about a campaign of substance?” (9/26/2015, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). It’s 'curiouser and curiouser that the D&C editorial staff accuses Frankel of “… emailing reporters because you are wondering if Ms. Dinolfo might be a climate change doubter, you are not really doing the voters a favor either.”

Throughout this year, with harmful algae outbreaks (which the EPA links with Climate Change) in four of our Finger Lakes, 10 million gallons of raw sewage overflowing into the Genesee River on June 2nd due to the flooding that comes with heavy rainfall (now a feature of Climate Change in our region), and the pope coming to the USA to get our leaders to act on Climate Change for the Paris Climate Treaty in November, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and most of the other local media have been mostly mum. 

So when Sandy Frankel talks about addressing this crucial and substantive issue in debates, rallies, and discussions that are not attended to by this media, it’s no wonder that she must resort to constantly questioning whether her GOP opponent is a climate denier. One can and should wonder if our media and candidates are climate change deniers when they do not proactively report their position on this mother of all problems.

As the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities program points out, in Climate Smart Communities Guide to Local Action, leadership is going to be required at the local level. “Altering the built and natural environment in anticipation of predicted climatic changes, or in response to actual changes, which will alleviate the risks associated with unavoidable changes in climate.”

Ms. Frankel has been continually speaking on the importance of addressing Climate Change since this election began, but our local media have not been covering Climate Change and questioning how all the candidates will lead on this issue—which will have a great impact on all the other substantive issues in this campaign.

We are at a quite amazing point in Rochester as we head towards a very important local election that will determine our collective response to Climate Change. Most of us are unperturbed, uninterested, and unconvinced that this crisis includes us here in Rochester. There at least three more forums where our three county executive candidates will talk to the voters.

Time passes. 

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