Monday, July 04, 2016

Paris Agreement, Climate Change, and Rochester, NY--an update

This week St. Vincent and the Grenadines ratified the Paris Agreement which they and 176 other nations signed the climate accord last Earth Day. Only 19 nations have ratified Paris at this time, though by the end of this year, signings by China and the USA could get the job done. We have until April 22, 2017 “the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depositary.”(1.) (You can track Ratifications here: United Nations Treaty Collection.)

Already markets are seeing an uptick in renewable energy since Paris, but still the fossil fuel industry holds on tenaciously. Credit rating industries are using the Paris Agreement as a guide for future credit assessments, which bodes well for our future. Investors need to operate in a somewhat predictable world where they are assured that every country is doing its best to achieve a sustainable existence.

However, it’s not all peaches and cream for our future. Despite the evidence that the fossil fuel industry knew that the results of their own investigations indicated a causal and dramatic relationship between the use of fossil fuels and Climate Change, they threatened the organizations calling them on this—instead of shifting gears and helping the world out. Reason and science and good will towards all don’t seem to be enough to fix this problem.

In Rochester some ground has been gained on addressing Climate Change because of the near-completion of the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). (We’re hearing it could pass city council by end of the year.) In and of itself, the CAP can’t fix this worldwide crisis, but it could go far in getting local businesses and the public prepared for the consequences. But for this to happen, the Rochester’s CAP needs public attention so it will get the support a climate plan needs.  For this to happen, our local media needs to connect the dots: Sustainability => Climate Change => public => media => government climate plan => actions on a speed and scale that will matter.

However, our local media still seems oblivious to Climate Change. According to this week’s news, the only downside of low gasoline prices is the probable increase in holiday accidents—not how our region will contribute more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere. Perhaps our local media thinks that because the national media fails the public on Climate Change, it’s OK to fail us locally too.

Nothing is made of the increase of Zika Virus in New York and the relationship to Climate Change.

State Identifies 324 Cases Of The Zika Virus New York's Health Department says it has identified 324 cases of Zika, all associated with travel to areas where mosquitoes are known to transmit it. The department says Thursday it has found no cases so far from mosquito bites in the state. It has reported 22 pregnant women with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infection may cause birth defects. (July 1, 2016) WXXI News 

This is odd because the mosquitoes that carry the Zika Virus will fare better during Climate Change in NYS and so will the Zika Virus. Read the NYT story: “In Zika Epidemic, a Warning on Climate Change” Our New York State Public Health Department, which is all over the Zika Virus outbreak, is sadly dropping the ball on informing the public of the Zika Virus/Climate Change relationship.
There is a little hope in the reporting of harmful Algae blooms (HABs), where local media are finally starting to connect the dots with the warmer waters of the Finger Lakes, HABs, and Climate Change.

Health advisory issued for blue-green algae in Conesus Lake Conesus Lake has the dubious distinction of sporting the first confirmed outbreak of blue-green algae in the Rochester region this summer, prompting the Livingston County Department of Health to issue an advisory. Thirteen lakes now appear on the DEC's harmful algal bloom alert page. Among them is the Avon Marsh Dam Pond, also in Livingston County, where there is a suspicious but unconfirmed bloom of something nasty-looking. “Outbreaks of blue-green algae are become more and more common, with warming temperatures and other aspects of climate change partially to blame.” (June 24, 2016) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Last year Seneca Lake had its first official case of blue-green algae. Canandaigua Lake continues to be plagued by toxic algae. And the shallow Honeoye Lake usually has an on-going blue-green algae problem. Climate Change is changing our Finger Lakes and this needs to be on our list of present consequences of this crisis so we can plan properly. Read the EPA factsheet on blue-green algae and Climate Change: “Impacts of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms
One of the more pernicious cases of the media’s fossil-fuel amnesia involves the link between Climate Change and Bomb Trains. Whether you know it or not there has been a vast increase in the transporting of dangerously volatile crude oil since 2011 through our communities on railcars meant for corn syrup. To show your support locally for the need to reduce fossil fuels, consider attending this memorial rally: 4:15-6 p.m., Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at the Federal Building, 100 State Street, Rochester, NY.

Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                
CONTACT: Linda Pratt at (585) 729-2558 or

Mothers and Others Remember Train Victims, Warn of Danger
Rochester, NY —Wednesday, July 6, at 4:15 p.m., citizens decrying the continued passage of explosive Bakken crude oil trains through Monroe County will line the sidewalks in front of the Federal Building to name and mourn the 48 victims of the 2013 Bakken train oil derailment in  Lac Megantic, Quebec.  The Toronto Star recently stated that apart from war, the destruction from this event was unprecedented in Canadian history. 30 buildings, about half the downtown, were destroyed, and most of the remainder are too contaminated to allow to stand.

The memorial rally was called to draw attention to the tragic consequences of Bakken oil trains. 
There have been 11 explosive derailments since 2013, including the most recent one on June 3, 2016 in Mosier, Oregon.  The Fire Chief there has called shipping Bakken Crude by rail “insane.” 
Monroe County sees a daily average of over 200 Bakken oil tanker rail cars, “and each tank car of crude holds the energy equivalent of two million sticks of dynamite (WSJ, May 22, 2014: The National Transportation Safety Board calls these unit trains of Bakken crude “an unacceptable public risk.” (

“Lac Megantic has been the only accident in a populated area so far. In Monroe County, trains run through highly populated areas, past dozens of schools, and across sensitive waterways. Derailments have happened here before, but this kind of explosive derailment would be worse than anything we have seen, with fireballs larger than our downtown skyscrapers,” explains Linda Isaacson Fedele of the Rochester Mothers Out Front Bakken Research Team.
Mothers Out Front of Rochester and Monroe County researches the dangers of fracked Bakken crude, and has recently been presenting to local governments and school boards about the risk. The most effective prevention for all the risks involved would be to leave the oil in the ground. This memorial protest will call on congress for a national ban on transporting this oil by rail.

·         WHO: New York Mothers Out Front (“Mobilizing for a Livable Climate”) and supporters
·         WHAT: Lac Megantic Memorial/Action Rally
·         WHEN: 4:15-6 p.m., Wednesday, July 6, 2016
·         WHERE: The Federal Building, 100 State Street

On the Oregon derailment:

On the 2013 Lac Megantic derailment:

About  Mothers Out Front: Mothers Out Front Is a group of mothers, grandmothers, and other caregivers coming together to make climate change an issue that our leaders can no longer ignore.

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