Saturday, April 25, 2015

Holding leaders accountable for Climate Change in Rochester, NY

 

CCHeatWavesSWhile Rochester’s winters since 1970 have been swinging from warm to cold, the temperatures are going up overall. Our summer temperatures are not so up-and-down; they are getting steadily hotter. And, although there are many consequences of Climate Change in our region (including more powerful flash flooding that can overwhelm our transportation and wastewater systems), on a personal level it is the prospect of more heat waves that our local leaders should prioritize. People will want answers when large numbers die, and (given human nature) we will hold our leaders accountable when their constituents die in droves because of a failure to plan properly. Over time, heat waves kill more people than any other weather event. In just a few days in 1995, over 700 folks in Chicago died from extreme heat. If the authorities had been on top of this issue, fewer would have perished.

In Eric Klinenberg’s book “Heat Wave; A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago”, it wasn’t simply the heat that killed so many people. It was a failure of political leaders to understand the issues facing those most vulnerable to heat waves. Especially the elderly, the poor, and isolated folk’s inability to connect to help through proactive systems that would check up and provide them with assistance. One of the special issues that often comes with heat waves is power outages—which happened in the Chicago disaster. What happens when you’re at death’s door and the AC shuts down? Who ya gonna call when you ain’t got a phone?

The City of Rochester has a “Pet Care in Hot Weather” page on their website with advice on how to protect your pet from prolonged heat. Rochester has a “Cool Down with Cool Sweep” program to help those without access to alternative remedies for overheating. The homeless (and others we tend to shun) may not be so lucky. Although the City of Rochester has an “Energy Management and Climate Action Status Report”, they have not yet come out with a comprehensive climate action plan and certainly not one that addresses public health during Climate Change.

As for Monroe County’s Public Health Department, their website doesn’t even mention Climate Change or heat waves.

Not addressing the looming issue of increased heat waves is just one of the ways our local leaders are failing to address Climate Change. Many cities in the US have comprehensive Climate Change action plans. But not Rochester--yet. We are still waiting: Rochester to undertake citywide climate inventory  (January 21, 2015) Rochester City Newspaper.

If you look hard enough, you can find information from the New York State Department of Health called “Keep Your Cool During Summer Heat”, which does connect the dots with Climate Change. And it mentions “Find out where to cool down - ask local officials about cooling centers in your area. If there are none, identify air-conditioned buildings where you can go (such as libraries, malls, supermarkets, or friends' homes).”

But this is not proactive. There is no social structure or government program to contact all those who do not otherwise have access to the help they need when they need it the most.

Addressing the public health problems that come with heat waves is far more complex than opening a fire hydrant or cracking the car window for your dog while you shop on a sweltering afternoon. Heat waves are baked into our region’s climate predictions and however awkward our government feels about Climate Change, they will be held accountable for not planning for public health issues like heat waves adequately.

Time passes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Inviting Climate Change deniers to Earth Week in Rochester, NY

 

CCWelcomeDeniersSRochester holds out a great big hand for climate change deniers, community leaders responsible for our welfare, and those who haven’t a clue what all the noise about Climate Change is about. Earth Week in Rochester starts Friday 17th and runs until 27th with more Climate Change events than you can shake a stick at. (Ok, maybe you can shake a stick really a lot.) Highlighting the events is a two-day visit by world renowned climate scientist, activist, and author Dr. James Hansen.

Why would a world-renowned superstar of science want to come to little ol’ Rochester? He wants to talk to ya’ll about the worldwide crisis of Climate Change. He wants especially to talk to those who need to know the facts (for there is nobody more informed on the facts of Climate Change) and those who still don’t understand all the fuss.

Climate scientist James Hansen proving a big draw here When the local Sierra Club chapter first approached renowned climate scientist James Hansen about speaking to the group's annual forum in Rochester this Earth Week, he wasn't particularly enthused. While he often speaks publicly about the threat posed by global warming, Hansen told the Rochester group that appearances like the one they offered left him a bit cold. Talking to environmental groups, he said, was like "preaching to the choir," chapter chair Peter Debes recalled. Then Debes told Hansen that the Sierra Club chapter had already decided to broaden their outreach and invite people from outside the environmental movement to the forum. (April 16, 2015) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

If you’re not ‘in the choir”, as it were, if you’re still dead set on believing Climate Change is a hoax, if you’re on the fence, if you’re paralyzed with fear, or if you’re a community leader who thinks they’ve got too much on their plate already, come. Come to at least one of the Earth Week events and prove you’re in touch with the defining crisis of our age.

If you are still in climate denial mode, there is probably a good reason for that. Seriously disturbed people with lots of money and political clout have been messing with your mind. Check out this crucial documentary “Merchants of Doubt” that runs in Rochester until the 23rd. It’s about all those folks who’ve spent a lot of their time and money turning you into a climate denier—whether you know it or not. Free yourself from the puppet strings of those working against your own interests. Don’t miss this crucial film on Climate Change. Dr. Hansen is featured prominently in this film as a reality check against those trying to screw up our future. This is the most important film you’ll see this year because Climate Change is not just about science—it’s about how humanity will act towards this worldwide crisis.

So we invite those who don’t think Climate Change is a big deal and challenge them to listen to a world authority on this issue. We challenge you, as a person who considers themselves intelligent and world wise, to at least hear Climate Change out. If, after all you have heard and see during Earth Week, your position doesn’t change regarding this worldwide crisis, you’ll will have at least found out what you are against—instead of some high-paid shill telling you what to think.

Earth Week 2015 is here: http://peoplesclimate.org/westernny/rochesternyearthweek2015/. Don’t just sit this one out.

Finally, a word about our local media on Climate Change over the years:

I commend Jeremy Moule and Rochester City Newspaper on this Dr. Hansen-coming-to-Rochester article as well as years of attending to the issue of Climate Change. No other media in the Rochester New York region has tried to connect the local dots between Climate Change and this worldwide crisis. There is a great hope that promoting Dr. Hansen’s visit to Rochester on Earth Day will accelerate media attention and public concern on this worldwide crisis--and finally get Rochester’s attention.

Victory over climate change  Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned about global warming for decades. We still aren't listening. James Hansen sat in front of members of the US Senate and told them that the Earth is warming and that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are to blame. Back in 1988. Hansen was director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the time and had been studying global warming and the greenhouse effect since the 1970's. Scientists had already identified and warned of the link between global warming and carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. But Hansen delivered one of the first blunt, high-profile declarations. (April 15, 2015) Rochester City Newspaper

If a large percent of Rochester’s media doesn’t show up to Dr. Hansen’s talk at MCC, shame on them. This is a talk that needs to be heard by all 700,000 of us in Monroe County. The only way that can happen is if our media comes out in force and covers this historic talk—like they do sports, or shopping events.

Time passes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Earth Week in Rochester is not just for environmentalists

 

CCCareSThe 10-days of Earth Week in Rochester, NY (highlighted by a two-day appearance of world renowned climate scientist and activist Dr. Hansen) is mostly for those who still don’t ‘get’ Climate Change. Environmentalists already know that our local community and the world at large is warming; that our way of life, our infrastructures, and our public health are in danger by not acting on Climate Change. It’s not too late to act, but it’s getting there. After a certain point, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will be simply scurrying around trying to adapt to a warming that won’t stop. The threshold where we can actually stop that warming is coming to a point of singularity, a point where all the countries of the world will decide to keep greenhouse gases below 2C (or 3.6F) above preindustrial averages at the COP21 Paris Climate Treaty in December—or they won’t. If they don’t, the ride is going to get very rough.

Rochester’s environmentalists are making a fantastic attempt to wake up the rest of our community on Climate Change this critical year. These efforts will be a great big waste if only the converted show up—as is what usually happens on Earth Day. ROCHESTER NY EARTH WEEK 2015, from Friday, April 17, 2015 to Monday, April 27th, includes: Fast Forward Film Festival (check this out, it’s really neat); Pachamana’s Awakening the Dreamer-Changing the Dream Symposium; Climate Science 101, with Dr. Susan Spencer; Dr. Hansen speaks to our community on WXXI (PBS) Connections; “Science in Film Series: Future Weather” screening at the Little Theater (with a Q&A afterwards with Dr. Hansen); Dr. Hansen speaks at a featured talk at Sierra Club Forum at MCC; RISK–Rochester “Introducing Sustainability to Kids”; “Climate Activism 101”; "Mothers Out Front Drinks"; “Ask and Activist” panel discussion; an “Interfaith Celebration of our Planet: Renewing Our Commitment to the Earth and its Inhabitants through Prayer and Song’; “Talking With Kids About Climate Change”, and a Citizens’ Climate Lobby Open Meeting (which means, ya’ll are invited). Go here http://peoplesclimate.org/westernny/rochesternyearthweek2015/ for all the details.

Demonstrate that you care about our environment and addressing Climate Change by getting a non-environmentalist to come to at least one of these events.

Filling these events with only a couple of hundred local environmentalists won’t fix a problem like Climate Change. Only when our community at large comes and engages this issue in force will we have a chance of addressing it. At its core, Climate Change is a real (physical) world issue, not one of ideology or faith. We’re not selling anything—it’s a crisis.

It is at the level of insurance costs that many who don’t believe in Climate Change will begin to finally feel its impact. For some, Climate Change is only an environmental issue and for them, environmental issues are not important, only the god almighty dollar matters. Some (actually a lot of folks and too many politicians) say that if we address Climate Change we will wreck our economy and so we should keep to business as usual--regardless. Ya gotta laugh at this craven absurdity. Mother Nature doesn’t give a hoot about our man-made economy, and when the glaciers melt the water will rise, and when the water rises, shoreline property owners will feel the pinch from their insurance companies. 

How Flood Insurance Could Drive Americans From Coasts As salty waters ride the fossil fueled escalator of sea level rise into American streets and homes, rising flood risks may force coastal neighborhoods — if not entire cities — to be abandoned in the decades ahead. “You can’t build a seawall along the entire Eastern Seaboard,” Jessica Grannis, a climate adaptation specialist at Georgetown Climate Center, said. The challenges of shoreline retreat loom large as the latest round of hiccupping reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program take effect this month. (April 7, 2015) Climate Central

Also, Climate Change is going to dramatically affect public health issues; preparing the public should be a top priority. Ignoring this issue and not preparing the public will produce doom and gloom. Not the other way around. For those who don’t like to think about Climate Change because it’s so gloomy, it is precisely because they don’t think about it and don’t press their leaders to take action that it will actually cause the doom and gloom.

Video: Researcher warns of climate-driven public health impacts in TEDx talk. University of Michigan's Valerie Tran didn't mince words at a recent TEDx talk.  "Climate change is our generation's greatest threat to public health," she said bluntly in the talk given last month.  Tran, pursuing dual master's degrees at the university's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and School of Public Health, cites weather-driven changes to pollen and allergens, decreased water availability, increased natural disasters, extreme temperatures and changes in disease transmission as some of the most pressing issues. "Climate change is going to affect all of us. Everyone in here," she said to the room of 1,300. (April 9, 2015) The Daily Climate

Climate Change is about planning. Earth Day is about reminding ourselves that our environment, our life support system, matters. If just a handful of environmentalists come to Rochester’s Earth Week events, and the silent majority sit home and ignore this worldwide crisis, then our leaders will continue to talk the talk, and no one will hold them accountable for not preparing us.

Remember: Don’t just ask our leaders what they are doing to address Climate Change. Ask them what effect their efforts are having on actually solving this problem. Simply grabbing the low-hanging fruit of this problem from a great big economic tree just ain’t going to matter enough.

Time passes.