Monday, April 07, 2008

Hot March 08 Issues

Two important issues stand out as the hottest Environmental issues of the month—the approach of Earth Day and the Great Lakes. Since Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, his and the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change winning of the Nobel Peach Prize, Earth Day has become a major event in every city.

Just as a reminder of who the heck the IPCC is and why their addition to winning the Nobel Peace Prize is so important, I want to post their description of themselves. I don’t think a lot of the Global Warming naysayers get the how pivotal the IPCC’s role is on vetting the Global Warming science and alerting the world to this issue’s primacy. The IPCC is not an obscure bunch of environmental bug-eyed zealots slinking behind Al Gore’s agenda. Here’s a description of the IPCC:

“The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they need to deal objectively with policy relevant scientific, technical and socio economic factors. They should be of high scientific and technical standards, and aim to reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage.” --from IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

There are a lot of environmental events on and around Earth Day in Rochester and I hope everyone will pick at least one event to attend. As I have been mentioning for years, it is important that everyone get out on these Earth Day events to show the media and influential politicians that the public understands and cares about our environmental issues—and celebrating Earth Day in public puts it in the public’s face. Check’s Environmental Calendar ( ) and please show up to one of the events (in green.). Let me make special note of Rochester’s Mayor Duffy’s MAYOR ANNOUNCES EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES & Rochester’s Major Earth Day Event - SIERRA CLUB TENTH ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM.

The other hot issue for the month of March was (and always will be) the Great Lakes. The stories for the month of March run the gambit on the continual problems that are associated with this major feature of our local environment—one that Senator Schumer accuses the Federal Government of dragging their feet on. Trying to find the appropriate water level for the Great Lakes leads the pack. Then, invasive species, which are reeking havoc on the lake. Ask your fishermen friends and see if they have even heard of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)—an invasive disease that is going to seriously impact their sport. Also, there’s some movement on ridding the Great Lakes, or maybe smaller waterways, of the Zebra Mussel, which may have a problem with a specific bacteria. National Public Radio (NPR) has an interesting piece about the beneficial effects of the Zebra Mussel—though that certainly has to be ‘sour grapes’ because one little benefit cannot outweigh a zillion bad effects of this European pest on our waters. Diversion of Great Lakes waters is discussed again this month and our new governor is committed to addressing this issue. The continuing saga over the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) report: Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern is still raging in Congress. More congress people are joining the effort to find out why, or if, this study was suppressed.

On this issue of setting the correct lake level: I want focus on one of the Great Lakes issues that grabs public attention and put my particular spin on it: Controlling Great Lakes and the difficulty of coming up with a level suitable to all –lake shoreline owners, environmentalists, boaters, fishers, etc.-- presents humanity with major conundrum. Once it is in our power to control Nature, whose interests come first?

And, are we really in control, or are we merely fiddling with a complex system we barely understand? Besides, homeowner values and other economic considerations, there are other factors to consider. The Great Lakes are a part of the global ecology and when we tweak lake levels here, what effect does this have in other areas or to the planetary environment as a whole. Also, as Global Warming takes affect in our area, over time the glacial sheets which supply the Great Lakes with water will rise as the ice melts and then fall as the major source for the water in the system dries up. So, over time (which probably cannot be calculated yet) shouldn’t we also be adjusting the lakes levels in anticipation of this major long-term effect on water levels—perhaps trying to shore up as much water as possible before dramatic shortages to the system occur?

Consequently, the problem of lake level controls is one of priorities: short-term gains, economic solutions, or sustainable lake levels? If we are a responsible people to our children and our way of life, shouldn’t our priority be for a sustainable future? Also, on a more deeper level, what is the future going to be like where more and more environmental features of our planet are controlled by mankind?

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