Saturday, October 19, 2013

Living environmentally friendly in a warmer Rochester, NY


EVFriendlyThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), our environmental authority in New York State, offers several seasonal ideas for living sustainably: Make a Difference “Green Living - Tips and Resources for Making Environmentally Responsible Choices in Your Daily Life | Looking up at the sky through fall foliage on trees.” There are, of course, many places online and off that make suggestions on living more environmentally friendly. Some are merely trying to make a buck on the inclination of many to continue business as usual with a greener flare; while others are very earnest in their attempts to get us all to change course and get on a sustainable path to the future.

The DEC, which runs the voluntary Climate Smart Communities programs, for all their expertise and authority, seems focused on not aggravating anyone with more robust adaptive measures. Make a Difference misses many critical aspects of living green in a warmer world, including even mentioning that our environment is warming up. This oversight is a crucial distinction because without viewing all our environmentally friendly actions through the lens of Climate Change, none of them are going to actually work. It may feel good--recycling, mulching grass cuttings instead of curbing them, installing solar panels, and taking a camping trip (really?)—but unless these actions are part of a world-wide concerted effort to stop greenhouse gases from going into our atmosphere on a massive scale, they just aren’t going to matter much.

Things that will matter are probably a lot more inconvenient than what most Green Living sites suggest. Changing the local media so they reflect the world we actually live in, instead of the world we think we live in, would be a good start. If your information system doesn’t accurately reflect reality, you’re going to think that a tiger is a pussy cat. There are consequences for relying on bad information to plan your life.  Drop your media if they cannot inform you accurately about Climate Change. 

Mainstream Media ‘Balances’ Climate Science With Fossil Fuel Funded Propaganda USA TODAY became the latest mainstream newspaper to incorrectly “balance” the views of the hundreds of scientists behind a major climate report with the Heartland Institute, a fossil-fuel-funded organization that once compared those who accept climate science to the Unabomber. In an op-ed published by the newspaper yesterday, the head of the organization portrayed outright falsehoods as simply “opinion” in order to dismiss the United Nations (U.N.) panel behind the report as a “discredited oracle.”  (October 16, 2013) EcoWatch

Mainstream local media desperately presents a delusional world, a world devoid of objective reporting on the local effects of Climate Change, avoiding their responsibility to the public. The problem is that Climate Change means planning on a long-term schedule much further away than we are used to or comfortable with. Compare the world presented by this report Study: Climate change will significantly impact ocean health by 2100  (October 16, 2013 CBS News) with the local glitz on the Democrat and Chronicle’s new format. Or compare this week-long series--In Warm Water: Fish & the Changing Great Lakes—by Michigan Radio with the incomprehensive barrage of fluff on the Daily Messenger. Really think about how you get information.

Other big stuff we can do locally is demand that our candidates for office discuss their plans to address Climate Change. Stop Fracking in New York State altogether. Bug your elected officials to address Climate Change or get yourself elected. Start reconsidering your interests so they reflect the new reality, a reality in which our climate is changing rapidly and moving quickly to something unsustainable. Invite the DEC’s Smart Communities for a free talk about how our state is actually adapting to Climate Change. Attend or create a public discussion on Climate Change. Stop business as usual.

Climate Change is like no other issue humanity has ever faced so it is very difficult to find a historical example. I find similarities to the 1850’s, with the various states, the US Supreme Court, and the Presidency desperately trying to reconcile two desperate worlds, one where slavery was OK, and the other where slavery was not. These world views were irreconcilable. But many ordinary folks were playing ‘wait and see’ as they are now, waiting for someone or something to show them the way, or maybe just to make it all go away. However, the evil of slavery didn’t go away on its own; it came to a conflagration that changed our country and killed over 600,000 souls.

Climate Change threatens to send human civilization and most of the world’s biota into collapse, beginning with the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Living green in Rochester, or anywhere else, can only happen if all our actions are placed on a scale equal to the problem of Climate Change. How that is all going to happen, and happen fairly, is something we’re going to have to begin working on—quickly.

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