Daily Updates - Rochester, NY area

RochesterEnvironment.com

Analysis of the environmental news in our area 

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Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care.  For all Daily Updates going back to 1998, go to Update Archives.

* Please read this carefully, it's not the usual Yada Yada

Rochester, NY with its new bridgeLocal Media Doing their Job on Our Environment?

Coming up with a policy or an evaluation on the state of one's environment is impossible without data.  This truism is so obvious that it need not be expressed if it were not a fact that so many engage in both without enough information to support either.   

The government at the local, state, and federal levels does not have enough money (for whatever reasons) to pay for all the independent, objective and thorough studies needed to fully understand all an area’s flora and fauna and their interrelations, their ecology.  Neither do universities; neither do environmental organizations--though all cover various pieces of the puzzle that is our complex environment.   

There's one group left who can and should help the public evaluate the state of our environment - the media.  Besides making a profit, the media's job historically and manifestly is to inform the public on all critical matters, which, I submit, includes the state of our environment.  We need a healthy environment to survive and to do so we need a timely and complete picture of it.  We, the public, need information to be able to form evaluations and policies on our environment, so we can anticipate dangers, decide on solutions, and choose responsible leaders. Without a media with trained environmental reporters, a vital ingredient in the equation of a sustainable environment goes missing. Scientists cannot see all that occurs in the environment despite their expertise. 

The government won't notice danger signals, except those they are predisposed to see.  Environmentalists would have little to evaluate the health of our environment and the roles of those responsible.  And the public, without a media fully tuned to the environment, will think everything is going fine until a disaster indicates a tipping point and the aftermath splashes across the headlines.     

This is all to say that in recent years it is becoming increasingly obvious that because of financial and other extraneous considerations, our local media is experiencing a dearth of trained dedicated environmental reporters.  Only these professionals, who have the time and training to gather all the information from all the participants in our environment, can fill this critical role in our society.  Without them, what we get is a disparate snapshot of events going on in our environment that may or may not spell disaster.  A dedicated environmental reporter in each of our print and visual media would have the necessary, continual contacts to provide us with the depth and perspective that environmental stories need.  If our local media were doing their job, we could be anticipating environmental problems, instead of trying to catch up to long-standing realities .

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Daily Updates: Monday, February 08, 2016

These are the daily recordings of what I believe are important indicators of our Rochester-area environment --since 1998. For all Daily Updates, go to Update Archives

* My comments are in Bold text:

  • 2/08/2016 - Pretty neat: From our NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on his commitment to address Climate Change. Nice to see our public officials get out in front of our issues, instead of waiting for them to overwhelm us. Combatting Climate Change "Whether you live in Monroe County, Manhattan, or Montauk, you’ve probably noticed the impact of climate change on your community. Major storms—along with the flooding and the damage they cause—cost taxpayers billions in rebuilding costs, while the pollutant emissions that give rise to climate change are presenting a clear and present danger to our health and environment and to our children and grandchildren. That’s why I am committed to leading the fight to combat climate change."  NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman 

  • 2/08/2016 - And so, I suspect, is the dismal pace at which humanity is addressing this existential Climate Change threat unprecedented. Current pace of environmental change is unprecedented in Earth’s history University of Bristol Cabot Institute researchers and their colleagues today published research that further documents the unprecedented rate of environmental change occurring today, compared to that which occurred during natural events in Earth’s history. The research, published online on 4 January in Nature Geoscience reconstructs the changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) during a global environmental change event that occurred about 120 Million years ago. New geochemical data provide evidence thatpCO2 increased in response to volcanic outgassing and remained high for around 1.5-2 million years, until enhanced organic matter burial in an oxygen-poor ocean caused a return to original levels. (February 4, 2016) University of Bristol [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/08/2016 - So if we install a climate denier to President’s office, do we call off war game climate change scenarios and leave ourselves unprepared? Or would a climate denier President keep the war games on and call them something else and just keep quiet about the “Climate Change” part? If we elect a climate denier President are we all going to have to keep wondering how our leader will address something the new President doesn’t believe in? Maybe the new climate denier President will just give up on denial altogether because it would be too impossible to do their job. However, we won’t have to worry about this if we elect a President who not only believes in the science behind Climate Change, but is ready to plan and get the public ready for those plans. US military to war game climate change threats New directive from Pentagon calls for climate focus at all levels of armed forces; urging commanders to prepare troops for operations in extreme conditions US military planners have been ordered to war game climate change scenarios, focusing on “geopolitical and socioeconomic instability” linked to extreme weather. A new directive says forces need to undertake joint training exercises with allies to “enhance capacity” and “improve tactics” for tackling impacts linked to global warming. (February 8, 2016) Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/08/2016 - True, “it would make little sense to tax oil companies with one hand while subsidizing them with the other…” So in order to fund our aging transportation systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would make sense to both take away the subsidies for oil companies and then “impose a $10 tax on every barrel of oil.” If we are actually looking for solutions to Climate Change on a scale and time frame that will matter, we need to make dramatic actions like what President Obama proposes. If we make only proposals that Congress will pass, we’re going to cook. Obama's Oil Tax: A Conversation Starter About Climate and Transportation, but a Non-Starter in Congress The proposal to rev up transportation investment and tap the brakes on emissions won't pass a Republican-led Congress, but it does ignite a discussion. resident Obama's proposal to impose a $10 tax on every barrel of oil and spend the money on advances in transportation is one of the most comprehensive attempts yet to address the climate impacts of moving people and freight from place to place. Linking climate policy and public works programs, however, is attempting to pave the way for a project not yet shovel-ready. (February 5, 2016) Inside Climate News [more on Energy and Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/06/2016 - Which makes me think, it would be nice to know how our recycling efforts are going in Rochester and Monroe County lately. How much of what residents should be recycling actually gets recycled? What percent of residential recycling goes to the right place—and not our landfills? How do our recycling rate figures compare with other cities, other countries? Is it even possible to compare recycling rates with other regions, meaning is every community using the same metrics?  In other words, is our recycling real or it is a fantasy? If our recycling is a fantasy, so are hopes for the future.  No — your recycling is not just going to the landfill. Well, most of it isn’t. Pittsburgh's Jana Thompson takes her recycling pretty seriously. She’s even been known to pry the unrecyclable spouts off otherwise recyclable dishwashing detergent bottles. And check out her recycling bin, and those clear plastic salad tubs are stacked as neatly as a set of Russian dolls. “Well, I do nest,” Thompson says, laughing. “But if you put two of those [in there], and you don’t nest, there’s no room left—even in a big garbage can.” Still, despite all the care she puts into it, when it finally comes time to lug her recycling bin out to the curb, she admits sometimes a certain nagging little doubt creeps into her mind. (February 4, 2016) Innovative Trail [more on Recycling in our area]

  • 2/06/2016 - Check out Genesee RiverWatch's first newsletter of 2016 “In 2013, CEI launched the Genesee RiverWatch to provide a way for the citizens of the region to get involved, to increase use of and commitment to the river and to grow the sources and levels of funding available to address water quality issues. Our work is just getting started but we have made significant progress.” CEI’s Genesee RiverWatch.

  • 2/05/2016 - Spending billions to protect our drinking water may seem like a lot of money until you cannot drink the water. Climate Change brings more heavy precipitation events in the Great Lakes region and that means our drinking water will be threatened more by combined sewer overflows until sewer systems around the Great Lakes are updated. This will cost a lot of money and the more the public learns about this threat the more likely they are to support governmental efforts to address this looming crisis. Be nice if this article mentioned the Climate Change connection so the public could connect the dots. Billions Needed To Protect Drinking Water Federal regulators say nearly $80 billion is needed over the next 20 years to reduce sewage overflows and protect drinking water in the Great Lakes region. An organization that lobbies for increased Great Lakes funding says that number comes from a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the nation's water infrastructure. (February 5, 2016) WXXI News [more on Water Quality in our area]

  • 2/05/2016 - Great opportunity to catch up on Climate Change: Cornell University Climate Change Seminar Series The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sent this bulletin on 02/04/2016 09:00 AM EST Cornell University Climate Change Seminar Series: Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Spring 2016 - Mondays 3:35-4:35 p.m. starting February 8th - May 9, 2016 (except for 2/15 and 3/28) On Campus: BEE 2000, in 233 Plant Science Building Webex Option available for Distance Participation:  This university-wide seminar provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from both Cornell University and other institutions will present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue. The seminar is being organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. The seminar is free and open to the Cornell and Ithaca Community at large, and will be videotaped. There is a live WebEx for distance participation, and the WebEx presentations will be recorded as well.  For More information, see: . (from The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) )

  • 2/05/2016 - It’s hard to believe that there were no plastic packaging before 1950 and now it (plastics that we discard) may be suffocating our life support system. There May Soon Be More Plastic in the Oceans Than Fish Discarded plastic will outweigh fish in the world's oceans by 2050, according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. That is, unless overfishing moves the date up sooner. The study, a collaboration with the World Economic Forum, found that 32 percent of plastic packaging escapes waste collection systems, gets into waterways, and is eventually deposited in the oceans. That percentage is expected to increase in coming years, given that the fastest growth in plastic production is expected to occur in "high leakage" markets—developing countries where sanitation systems are often unreliable. The data used in the report comes from a review of more than 200 studies and interviews with 180 experts. (January 29, 2016) Mother Jones [more on Water Quality in our area]

  • 2/03/2016 - We should not threaten the Great Lakes ecosystem with a nuclear waste site nearby. It’s crazy reckless. Group opposed to nuclear waste facility presents petition containing 92,000 signatures As a single individual, it's often hard to imagine that you can affect national events. But if you join together with 92,000 others, your impact can grow. That's the hope of Beverly Fernandez, founder of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, the nonprofit organization dedicated to derailing the plans of Ontario Power Generation to bury 200,000 cubic yards of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste in a 2,200-foot-deep repository in Kincardine, Ontario, within a mile of Lake Huron. (February 2, 2016) The Voice [more on Great Lakes in our area]

  • 2/03/2016 - This is awkward: What if the US does install a Climate Change denier into office? What will the world think of us if we do? Will all the departments of government who helped write the National Climate Assessment have to disavow it? Will the US military that fully understands their role in addressing and planning for the consequences of Climate Change have to stand down? Will the worldwide leadership the US has provided to get Paris Agreement agreed upon dissolve in the face of American climate denial and send the world plummeting towards unsustainability? Our votes are really, really going to matter in the next US presidential election. Clashing climate visions in Iowa sets the tone for US leadership race  As US presidential candidates sought to win over Iowans Monday evening, voters were given a taste of what lies ahead for the race to the White House, as contenders landed miles apart on climate. Leading up to yesterday’s caucuses in Iowa – the first state to hold a vote – Democratic frontrunners flagged the urgency of acting on climate, with Hillary Clinton aiming to dismantle skepticism and Bernie Sanders placing emphasis on taxing carbon. Among Republican contenders, views ranged from acknowledging climate change but downplaying its priority to fully dismissing the science behind the notion. Some candidates have even pushed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. (February 3, 2016) tcktcktck [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/03/2016 - One of the consequences of institutions like FEMA using climate data for preparedness is the realization that many of the costs of climate-related damages are preventable. This is to say that any institution that insures people and their property from damages caused in part by Climate Change are going to want people and government to do much more to prepare and prevent the consequences of Climate Change. If communities don’t plan for and address for Climate Change then institutions like FEMA and insurance companies can be quickly overwhelmed as extreme weather increases. Even if your leaders are climate deniers and don’t plan for Climate Change, they are going to have to accept help from bigger government—until bigger government, the insurer of last resort, cannot oblige. Climate Data Now Key to Disaster Preparedness, First Responders Say Emergency response organizations like FEMA are using climate forecasts to prepare for the increase in weather-related disasters. Climate change—and the extreme weather associated with it—is changing the way U.S. emergency response organizations operate, from how they spend their money to where they pre-position resources, a panel of military, emergency and climate science experts said Monday. "We pay a lot of money to have our military prepared to do something we really don't want them to have to do: go to war," said Joseph Nimmich, deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Well, we also need a FEMA and national infrastructure to deal with those catastrophic events we hope never happen… but are inevitable." (February 2, 2015) Inside Climate News [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/03/2016 - We are paying a very high cost—Climate Change, money, and public health—for polluting our ocean of air. That delicate thin membrane of air that encases our planet with life has been too long used as our trash heap. The staggering economic cost of air pollution Air pollution caused by energy production in the U.S. caused at least $131 billion in damages in the year 2011 alone, a new analysis concludes — but while the number sounds grim, it’s also a sign of improvement. In 2002, the damages totaled as high as $175 billion, and the decline in the past decade highlights the success of more stringent emissions regulations on the energy sector while also pointing out the need to continue cracking down. “The bulk of the cost of emissions is the result of health impacts — so morbidity and particularly mortality,” said the paper’s lead author, Paulina Jaramillo, an assistant professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Using models, researchers can place a monetary value on the health effects caused by air pollution and come up with a “social cost” of the offending emissions — in other words, the monetary damages associated with emitting an additional ton (or other unit) of a given type of pollutant. This social cost can then be used to calculate the total monetary damages produced by a certain amount of emissions in a given time period. (January 29, 2016) The Washington Post [more on Energy and Air Quality in our area]

  • 2/02/2016 - I suspect this disinclination to adjust our lifestyles to address Climate Change prevails among developed nations. It seems hypocritical to support the Paris Agreement and other goals to address Climate Change and yet refuse to make those changes ourselves, but it’s more complicated. Because of the wholesale nature of Climate Change, the changes that are needed to bring down the planet’s temperature and deal with the accumulated myriad environmental challenges require actions on a scale and speed that will actually matter. Sure we should all do our part—recycling, walk instead of drive a gas guzzler, use solar power instead of fossil fuel electric—and many of us do. But mostly these actions by a relatively few are not going to make the kind of changes needed. We need to get all of New York State, all of the US and the world to shift to renewable energy and the invisible hand just won’t do it. The invisible hand is being supported by billionaires and powerful groups who don’t want our economy and our energy structure to change—so it becomes a very hard burden to buy solar and drive electric for many.  It’s going to take stopping more fossil fuel pipelines, more bomb trains and set the table for renewable energy infrastructure not continually setting the table for a dirty infrastructure. We need to get everyone onboard with these enormous changes so that our way of life quickly shifts to a sustainable one from an unsustainable one. We need a change of politics, of economy, and of attitudes on a grand scale because old environmental ethics, where we just focus on the actions of a few to change their way of life, isn’t going to work in a time frame and scale that will matter. I suspect, humans being humans, when they see that our energy options are renewable across the board and our way of travel doesn’t pollute the atmosphere, folks will quickly shift to helping the planet. I don’t think so many folks in the developed world are hypocritical as they are interested in being part of a shift that everyone else is a part of that will actually make a change. If our media and leaders demonstrated that they are talking all of us on a journey to live a sustainable existence, a sizable proportion of society would get on board. If addressing Climate Change is going to be left to the few, as has been this history of environmental movements, while the rest of humanity doesn’t feel involved at all, things will go business as usual. Two-fifths of Britons 'unwilling to make any changes to tackle global warming' Despite widespread concern about climate change, many people are unwilling to do anything to help prevent it, survey finds Two-fifths of Britons are unwilling to make any changes to their lifestyle to help combat the threat of climate change, a survey has found. Despite more than 80 per cent of Britons saying they are concerned about the impacts global warming will have on the UK, 40 per cent said they were not willing to make any personal changes to help address the problem, research by solar panel manufacturer REC found. Previous studies have found widespread support for the UK signing up to international goals to curb carbon emissions, such as the Paris Agreement signed in December. (February 1, 2016) The Telegraph [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/02/2016 - Considering that Climate Change is the mother of all problems, we ought to get to know this existential phenomenon better. Maybe if we could put another Earth right beside our warming Earth and compare what Earth would look like without Climate Change, we might get a full appreciation of what baking a planet with 7 billion humans inside looks like. Until we get that kind of comparison, graphs will have to do. Climate change in charts: from record global temperatures to science denial The world’s hottest year on record has prompted much media coverage. But there haven’t been enough charts and graphs Much has been written about climate change in recent months, what with that record-breaking hot year we just had and the qualified success of the Paris climate talks. But if there’s one criticism I’d have of the media coverage, it’s this. Not enough graphs. (February 1, 2016) The Guardian [more on Climate Change in our area]  

  • 2/01/2016 - From our friends over at Pachamama Rochester, their “2016 February Newsletter” "Building a critical mass of committed global citizens… to create a human presence on the planet that is environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just.” PACHAMAMA OF GREATER ROCHESTER

  • 2/01/2016 - Are biofuels, even third and fourth generation, the answer to Energy and Climate Change? The future of biofuels In the efforts to decarbonize the transportation industry, vehicles with varying degrees of electrification get most of the attention. But liquid fuels will predominate a while longer thanks to the delivery infrastructure circling the globe, dispensing fuels that contain significantly more energy per kg than batteries. That leaves a gap for a clean liquid fuel which is quietly being filled with biofuels. They are clearly controversial, but are they getting the respect they deserve? Given how much is at stake here, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look… eniday [more on Energy and Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/01/2016 - What happens if the developed nations renege on their promises to fund the Green Climate Fund? Nothing? Australia starves green fund, denting climate credibility The budget for Canberra’s main climate policy is set to run out this year, leaving emissions to rise Australia is choking off support for its main climate policy, casting doubt on Canberra’s green commitment. There are no plans to extend the A$2.55 billion (US$1.8bn) Emissions Reduction Fund after it runs out, expected to happen later this year. Finance minister Mathias Cormann told the Australian newspaper future budgets could support the scheme – which offers incentives for businesses to invest in energy efficiency. The government will review its green arsenal in 2017, potentially introducing new policies by 2018/19. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are forecast to grow. (February 1, 2016) Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 2/01/2016 - Not to be unappreciative of efforts to capture greenhouse gas emissions, but shouldn’t we be recycling trash not burning it? Our waste, our trash, is an excellent resource for new products. Organics, food waste, should be composted so that ‘waste’ gets put back into our soils and making keeping our ecosystems healthy. Oslo trash incinerator starts experiment to slow climate change Oslo's main waste incinerator began the world's first experiment to capture carbon dioxide from the fumes of burning rubbish on Monday, hoping to develop technology to enlist the world's trash in slowing global warming. The test at the Klemetsrud incinerator, which burns household and industrial waste, is a step beyond most efforts to capture and bury greenhouse gases at coal-fired power plants or factories using fossil fuels. "I hope Oslo can show other cities that it's possible" to capture emissions from trash, Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen said at an opening ceremony at the Klemetsrud waste-to-energy incinerator which generates heat to warm buildings in the city. (January 25, 2016) Reuters [more on Climate Change and Recycling in our area]

  • 2/01/2016 - A candidate that doesn’t believe in the science behind Climate Change is unfit for office.  With Climate Change all presidential candidates have constituents to answer to. SOUTH FLORIDA IS SINKING. WHERE IS MARCO RUBIO? Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is a climate change denier. His hometown of Miami is slowly being overtaken by the ocean eroding due to rising sea levels. (January 28, 2016) Newsweek [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/29/2016 - One of the little horrors baked into most climate plans is the admission that lots more pesticides will be needed to protect our food in the future. Warmer climates bring more crop pests. The solution should be to change our farming practices so that they are organic and make our soil healthy. But the horror is that most folks are going to zero in on the panic to get more food and therefore using any ways available to create more food. And the pesticide industry is ready and willing to avalanche our soil with toxic pesticides, which get into our food, which is to say our bodies, and then wash off into our water and wreak havoc on our ecosystems. If we planned properly and responsibly for Climate Change, we would be doing everything to produce food with as little pesticides as possible—not ignore this issue and end up poisoning our future. Cumulative Risks From Pesticides Getting Look from EFSA Cumulative risks from pesticides that may affect the thyroid and nervous systems are the subject a new pilot study underway at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). With its European Union partners, EFSA has developed a software tool for carrying out exposure assessments on multiple pesticides. The results of these assessments will be published by the end of this year, and will be considered by EFSA when it produces two scientific reports on cumulative risk assessments for the thyroid and the nervous systems in 2017. (January 28, 2016) Food Safety News [more on Pesticides in our area]

  • 1/29/2015 - Study says we could get all our electricity by Wind and Solar by 2030 but study doesn’t say we’re screwed if we don’t. There are still many optimistic projections about for humanity if we move quickly, incredibly quickly, to renewable energy. But each day in the news we find that gas prices are dropping and folks are driving like crazy and the greenhouse gas levels keep going up. At some point we are going to see optimistic projections about what we can still do to bring down greenhouse gases to a safe level disappear because the ‘carrot’ didn’t work and only the ‘stick’ is left. US electricity could be powered mostly by the sun and wind by 2030: Rapid, affordable energy transformation possible The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers. The study used a sophisticated mathematical model to evaluate future cost, demand, generation and transmission scenarios. It found that with improvements in transmission infrastructure, weather-driven renewable resources could supply most of the nation's electricity at costs similar to today's. (January 25, 2016) Science Daily [more on Wind Power and Solar Power and Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/28/2016 - Cases like Flint destroys the public’s trust in science when the media doesn’t do its job. Science should not be confused with science denial by the public or there will be no hope. The scientific method is one of the greatest tools humanity has ever developed for survival and the public cannot let that be taken from them by a few who have a vested interest in science denial. If our media were continually reporting and investigating on what science tells us then the public wouldn’t even be listening to climate deniers and science deniers. One of the major reasons why the public might be distrusting science is that media has given too much credence to science deniers and those trying to sway the public to act not in their own interests. The media needs to reset its priorities so that science and news in the public interest rules—not trying to pander to those funding our media with the most money. How cases like Flint destroy public trust in science As the investigation into the water crisis in Flint, Mich., continues to unfold, disturbing reports have arisen that raise questions about the integrity of government science agencies and their possible engagement in scientific misconduct or even outright science denial. It’s a component of the story that may represent the next major blow to public trust in science — a problem that is linked to everything from doubt over the existence of anthropogenic climate change to worries over the safety of vaccines. The story in Flint began when officials opted in the spring of 2014 to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit’s water system, which it had been using for years, to water from the Flint River. More than a year later, growing complaints from city residents about the water’s apparent harmful effects led to investigations that revealed significantly elevated blood lead levels in the city’s children — the water was essentially poisoning them. Ultimately, the news broke that the river water was much more corrosive than the Detroit supply had been and was leaching metal from the lead pipes that are still used in many places throughout the city. (January 27, 2016) The Washington Post [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/28/2016 - Money for flood defense barrier may remain years away, but sea level rise from Climate Change isn’t years away. As it has been true for billions of years on this planet, you either adapt in time or you don’t live to see another day. If the public doesn’t feel a sense of urgency, a responsibility to adapt to Climate Change in a timely fashion, they can blame themselves and their media for not keeping them informed of important stuff when the shit hits the fan. Our media must prioritize Climate Change so the public and their officials can act to adapt on a scale and time frame that will matter. Flood defense barrier remains years away Despite $600M in support there's still not enough in pot After ocean waters poured into lower Manhattan during Superstorm Sandy, experts began dreaming up a solution: a U-shaped barrier of earthen berms, walls and gates that would keep floods out and the nation's financial capital dry. Now, more than three years later, a version of that idea has stacked up over $600 million in backing, including a $176 million shot in the arm from the federal government last week. But it is still hundreds of millions of dollars and several years away from being finished. (January 27, 2016) Albany Times Union [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/28/2016 - The lead poisoning fiasco in Flint reverberates in Rochester—and everywhere else when public services go wrong. That our Rochester mayor has to answer to our community’s water issues is more of a media and political issue radiating out of Flint, Michigan than any specific water problems in our area. Rochester is a known leader in addressing lead poisoning. But the problem in Flint highlights how quickly the media and the public respond when their basic infrastructures are threatened. When you cannot get fresh clean water, or use our roads, or any of the public services we depend on, you will hold your public servants accountable. This is why adapting to Climate Chang is so important. It is why planning for Climate Change is so important. When things go wrong that we depend on, our officials will be held accountable. But on the other hand it is the public’s responsibility to make sure their public officials are continually protecting our public infrastructures—especially that they are now more vulnerable due to Climate Change. Much of the climate disruption due to Climate Change doesn’t have to happening if we plan and prepare properly. Gantt Seeks Assurances About Safety of Rochester's Tap Water When Mayor Lovely Warren testified at a joint legislative budget hearing in Albany Tuesday, her mind was on securing more state aid for Rochester. But Assemblyman David Gantt wanted assurances that the city's water supply is safe. Gantt said he is concerned after hearing recent reports about lead contamination in the tap water of Flint, Michigan.  Gantt asked Warren if there are still lead pipes distributing water throughout the city. The mayor’s budget director replied that some of the lead pipes had been replaced. Gantt then questioned whether that applied to the pipes running through the city’s poorest neighborhoods. (January 27, 2016) WXXI News [more on Water Quality and Lead Poisoning in our area]

  • 1/28/2016 - We should be seriously ramping up our Climate Change adaptations actions because there will be major climate disruptions despite our best mitigation efforts. There will be a severe procrastination penalty as we continue business as usual—until the bill is so high we cannot ever pay it. Scientists Warn Against Economic Disruption from Climate Change Impacts Will Be With Us for Many Decades,Says WMO Head The trend for increasingly extreme and frequent weather matching climate change forecasts has been put into stark perspective by the latest data while the economic impact of one of the strongest El Nino's on record is acting as a red warning light of worse to come, if the world does not act fast enough to cut the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Drawing on consolidated analysis of the world’s major meteorological agencies, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has confirmed that the global average surface temperature in 2015 broke all previous records by a wide margin. For the first time on record, temperatures in 2015 were about 1°C above the pre-industrial era. (January 25, 2016) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • 1/27/2016 - Meetings in Albany, Long Island, Syracuse and Buffalo (but not Rochester) will discuss 3’ set back rule for rooftop solar panels NYS. Regardless of where you stand on this solar/safety issue this new rule could dramatically affect solar power in New York State. Discussions about this issue should include Rochester, NY also. Error clouds fire-safety regulations for solar The future of proposed rules limiting rooftop space for solar panels in New York will depend on whether the state accepts national standards that were published by mistake, the Poughkeepsie Journalhas learned. The state's Fire Prevention and Building Code Council is weighing new codes that would require a 3-foot setback from the edge of residential rooftops to allow safe access for firefighters. But the model rules were published in error in 2014 by the International Code Council, a group that develops building and fire-prevention codes for structures. The council's codes, more commonly known as the "I-Codes," serve as a template for states and federal agencies. All 50 states have adopted them at some level. An official for a statewide solar industry association that opposes the changes said the group only became aware of the publishing issue following an inquiry by the Journal. The group estimates the restrictions could reduce the available rooftop space in New York by 40 percent or more. (January 24, 2016) Poughkeepsie Journal  [more on Solar Power in our area]

  • 1/27/2016 - Putting a climate denier into public office is like putting an antelope to watch the henhouse; they just don’t have a clue what to do. Florida Mayors Want To Give Bush And Rubio A Climate Science Lesson South Florida is one of the most vulnerable regions in the nation to the effects of climate change. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the two Republican presidential candidates who have held office in Florida, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Now, a group of Florida mayors are taking Florida Senator Rubio and former Governor Bush to task on their climate denial. Fifteen mayors from cities in South Florida — including Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale — sent letters to Rubio and Bush this week, calling on them to “acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities” and to meet with them within the next month to discuss climate change. “Ignoring climate science and doubling down on fossil fuels will only make the climate crisis more rapid and expensive,” the mayors write in their letter to Bush. “With the presidential election fast approaching, it is critical that your positions on these issues are well informed by the experience of our communities.” (January 26, 2016) Think Progress/Climate Progress

  • 1/27/2016 - If we are to adapt adequately for Climate Change, we need to repair and update our infrastructures and it will cost. EPA Survey Shows $271 Billion Needed for Nation’s Wastewater Infrastructure The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a survey showing that $271 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, including the pipes that carry wastewater to treatment plants, the technology that treats the water, and methods for managing stormwater runoff. The survey is a collaboration between EPA, states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories. To be included in the survey, projects must include a description and location of a water quality-related public health problem, a site-specific solution, and detailed information on project cost. (January 13, 2016) US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [more on Water Quality in our area]

  • 1/26/2016 - Earth Day (April 22) 2016 will be the day that our leaders make the Paris Agreement official. Let’s celebrate, world. Ban Ki-moon urges leaders to sign climate pact in April 2015 landmark climate agreement open for signature on April 22 in New York, coinciding with Earth Day, says secretary-general UN chief Ban Ki-moon has invited all world leaders to a signing ceremony on 22 April to approve last year’s historic climate change treaty. In December, 195 countries struck a deal binding all countries for the first time to cap warming to “well below” 2C, “pursuing efforts” to keep it up to 1.5C by the end of this century. Some 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions must ratify the ‘Paris Agreement’ for it to enter into force for the period 2020-2030. Signing the agreement would be a bold political statement, though a president’s initials alone won’t suffice. (January 26, 2016) Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/26/2016 - One has to wonder what reality would be like if all the greenies walked away at let the polluters rule. What would the world look like if environmental heroes like Rachel Carson never existed and Earth Day 1970 never happened? If our governments were never compelled by environmentalists to protect our air, water, and land. If communities didn’t rise up when their natural resources were put in jeopardy by irresponsible industries. If the invisible hand were given complete power to regulate itself with no restraints by environmental regulations of any kind. It’s sometimes hard to believe that there is a strain of the human psyche that is entirely indifferent to environmental degradation and wholly dependent on there being a counterbalancing human environmental concern that keeps us all from destroying ourselves and everything else—with greed. Humans. Ya gotta laugh. Court Refuses to Block President Obama's Clean Power Plan The lawsuit by 27 states sought to stay the landmark carbon pollution regulations, but the U.S. Court of Appeals refused. A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down a request from 27 states to put on hold new regulations that are the central pillar of the Obama administration’s efforts to control global warming pollution. The states, led by West Virginia and supported by coal and other fossil fuel industries, had asked the court to stay the rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, pending a decision on the merits of their challenge. The rules are intended to sharply reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from existing electric power plants over the next 15 years. (January 22, 2016) Inside Climate News [more on Energy and Climate Change in our area]  

  • 1/25/2016 - In other words, in a million years from now if you want to locate our times in the geological layers, you’ll find plastic. If Climate Change hasn’t convinced you that humanity can actually have a profound effect on our life support systems, then think about this observation about our plastic pollution. Life on Earth rambled along for billions of years, each jump of evolution created by climate, species isolations, gene alterations, or some other natural event. But now humanity is the driving force of evolution and no creature or plant can thrive on plastic. We need to remove all plastics from our environment so we don’t look like a bunch of idiots several million years from how. Plastic now pollutes every corner of Earth From supermarket bags to CDs, man-made waste has contaminated the entire globe, and become a marker of a new geological epoch Humans have made enough plastic since the second world war to coat the Earth entirely in clingfilm, an international study has revealed. This ability to plaster the planet in plastic is alarming, say scientists – for it confirms that human activities are now having a pernicious impact on our world. The research, published in the journal Anthropocene, shows that no part of the planet is free of the scourge of plastic waste. Everywhere is polluted with the remains of water containers, supermarket bags, polystyrene lumps, compact discs, cigarette filter tips, nylons and other plastics. Some are in the form of microscopic grains, others in lumps. The impact is often highly damaging. (January 23, 2016) The Guardian [more on Recycling in our area]

  • 1/25/2015 - How many more fossil fuel industries will we find have been lying about their business’s Climate Change threats? Back in the day, few folks actually thought cigarettes were good for your health. Mostly, we just thought we didn’t know that smoking was bad. But it never occurred to us that the cigarette industry was actually covering up that they knew cigarettes were bad—and in fact they knew quite a lot about how the stuff they were putting into their products were adversely affecting their customers. So now we find this same phenomenon (lying) happening in the coal and gas industries. It’s going to be very hard to address Climate Change when every industry involved keeps lying to save their butts. S.E.C. Is Criticized for Lax Enforcement of Climate Risk Disclosure As recently as 2011, shares in Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private sector coal company, traded at the equivalent of $1,000. Today, they hover around $4 each. Over that time, investors who held the stock lost millions. Peabody, like other coal companies, has been hammered as cheap natural gas erodes the demand for coal. But concerns about climate change are also an issue for the company as customers and investors turn away from fossil fuels. Peabody saw this coming. Even as the company privately projected that coal demand would slump and prices would fall, it withheld this information from investors. Instead, Peabody said in filings with theSecurities and Exchange Commission that it was not possible to know how changing attitudes toward climate change would affect its business (January 23, 2016) New York Times

  • 1/25/2016 - What if environmental groups had their own instruments for monitoring pollution and environmental degradation themselves? Much of the information (besides our own senses: the unsightliness of plastics pollution, the awful smell of air pollution, and the bad taste of water pollution) that we rely on must be made available by industry themselves, like toxic release inventories (TRIs) mandated by the government. But what if ordinary folks had their own way of independently verifying water pollution and other environmental toxic assaults. Might there be a better understanding of what is happening in our environment? Eyes in the Sky: Green Groups  Are Harnessing Data from Space An increasing number of nonprofit organizations are relying on satellite imagery to monitor environmental degradation. Chief among them is SkyTruth, which has used this data to expose the extent of the BP oil spill, uncover mining damage, and track illegal fishing worldwide. When Brian Schwartz, a Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist researching the public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, read about an environmental group that uses satellite imagery and aerial photography to track environmental degradation, he was intrigued.  It was the summer of 2013, and the group, SkyTruth, had just launched a crowdsourcing project on its website to map fracking activity in Pennsylvania. The site provided volunteers with U.S. government aerial images from across the state and a brief tutorial on how to identify fracking locations. Within a month, more than 200 volunteers sorted through 9,000 images to pinpoint 2,724 fracking wellpads. Schwartz ended up using this data in a study published last October in the journal Epidemiology, showing that women living near hydraulic fracturing sites in 40 Pennsylvania counties faced a significantly elevated risk of giving birth prematurely. (January 11, 2016) Yale: Environment 360 

  • 1/23/2016 - To some perhaps the threat of putting a nuclear storage plant near the Great Lakes ‘sparks’ opposition, but in fact opposition to this insane idea has been going on for some time. We understand the media’s desire to report news as new, but this story isn’t new. Folks have been fighting this crazy idea to threaten our Great Lakes water with nuclear waste for a long time and the media should cover this story as an on-going threat (like Climate Change) instead of reporting on it, then forgetting about it, then resurrecting it as a new story.  Our media needs to be able to communicate long-term threats. Plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron sparks opposition Protest group Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump sends federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna petition with more than 90,000 signatures A group opposed to a plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron says it has sent a petition with more than 90,000 signatures to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. Beverly Fernandez of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump says the petition — which would have required 6,754 pages to print — had 92,251 signatures and more than 31,000 comments when it was emailed to McKenna earlier this week. (January 21, 2015) The Toronto Star [more on Great Lakes and Energy in our area]

  • 1/23/2016 - Old buildings contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions and there is much that can be done to fix that. NYSERDA offers program for free energy audits for both businesses and home owners. Our cities could help set goals and standards for building energy efficiency and conservation with a local robust climate action plan. Our local media could continually address this problem and make known the solutions for retrofitting old building so our built structures don’t leak greenhouse gas as much. And if these solutions get moving there will be lots of jobs to get our buildings sustainable.  It is probably hyperbolic to say making our old building is our greatest sustainability challenge (because some of our challenges are still unknown unknowns) but it is a problem and one that offers to help in addressing other problems like unemployment and public health issues if we move in the right direction. Old Buildings Are U.S. Cities’ Biggest Sustainability Challenge In the United States, buildings consume 41 percent of the nation’s total energy use, through lighting, heating, air conditioning, elevators, and the thousands of items plugged into their sockets. In large urban centers such as Chicago and New York, the figure surpasses 70%. As the world seeks to forge a path to a clean energy future, the simple fact is that we need to reduce the energy used by cities and their buildings. (January 21, 2015) Harvard Business Review [more on Climate Change and Living Green in our area]

  • 1/23/2016 - During Climate Change more powerful superstorms may well be the normal. We need to talk. We need to plan. We need to act on the level that will matter. Warmer Oceans Could Produce More Powerful Superstorms Simulations of Hurricane Sandy with warmer ocean temperatures resulted in storms more than twice as destructive Hurricane Sandy became the second costliest hurricane to hit the United States when it blew ashore in October 2012,killing 159 people and inflicting $71 billion in damage. Informally known as a “superstorm” after it made landfall, Sandy was so destructive largely because of its unusual size and track. After moving north from the tropical waters where it spawned, Sandy turned out to sea before hooking back west, growing in size and crashing head-on into the East Coast, gaining strength when it merged with an eastbound mid-latitude storm. (January 19, 2016) University of Maryland [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/23/2016 - Hard to believe how much oil the fossil fuel industry has spilled into our environment until you tally it all up. How long will be before we have a catastrophe here in Rochester? And when we do everyone will shrug their shoulders and say “We didn’t know.” When we have known the dangers and didn’t address them properly. This Is What the Fossil Fuel Industry Spilled Into Our Rivers, Towns, and Fields in Just a Year An explosion in North American fossil fuel extraction has led to a dangerous rise in pipeline spills and oil train derailments. Shipping oil and gas across our country and Canada is a dangerous business, whether it’s by rail, ship, or pipeline. Major accidents might make headlines for a few days or weeks, but after our media attention moves on, the environmental clean-up and community costs remain. So in 2015, we decided to give readers a sense of just how often transporting fossil fuel goes wrong. We didn’t have to wait long. Not one week into 2015, on January 6, a ruptured pipeline leaked three million gallons of brine into two creeks near Williston, North Dakota. It was the largest such spill since the state’s oil boom began 10 years ago, which is saying something: A New York Times report found that more than 18.4 million gallons of oils and chemicals spilled, leaked, or misted into the state’s air, land, and waterways between 2006 and 2014. Less than two weeks later, on January 17 another ruptured pipeline sent 31,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana. (January 21, 2016) Pacific Standard [more on Dangerous Crude Oil Trains in our area]

  • 1/22/2016 - Been wondering what toxic chemicals have been released into the air, water, and ground near your home? Check out the EPA’s new dedicated TRI National Analysis: "In the National Analysis, you'll find local- and national-level data on toxic chemical releases to air, water and land, and information about what companies are doing to prevent these releases. With the report's integrated mapping features, you can take a closer look at this information for specific geographic locations.” EPA

  • 1/22/2016 - Actually, President Obama, there are no good places to drill for fossil fuels. Enough with the drilling. Push for energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy so that what need we will still have for fossil fuels gets used for the development of renewable components and infrastructure. With the Paris Agreement we have agreed that in order for us to be able to address Climate Change the fossil fuel era must end. Obama's offshore drilling plan meets heavy resistance along Atlantic coast Irate residents in small coastal towns say Obama’s plan to open a new fossil fuel frontier would harm endangered marine life – as politicians warn of ‘tragedy’ Kure Beach, North Carolina, doesn’t seem a likely place to call itself “ground zero” for a key plank of Barack Obama’s presidential legacy. The small coastal town’s concerns rarely stretch beyond its golden beaches and shucked oysters; but it has found itself at the forefront of a struggle to head off a huge expansion in US oil drilling. Obama’s interior department has proposed prising open the US’s Atlantic seabed for oil and gas drilling, ending various congressional and presidential bans that stretch back to 1984. The nascent 2017-2022 plan, to be finalised by the end of the year, would lease out nearly 104m acres of the Atlantic – stretching from Maryland down to Georgia – to petroleum companies. (January 21, 2016) The Guardian [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/22/2016 - With climate lawsuit against US, kids just want to have a viable future. Catholics back children’s climate lawsuit against US government Faith networks cite Pope Francis’ encyclical in support of youth call for stronger federal carbon-cutting action Two Catholic networks are backing a youth lawsuit against the US government, calling for stronger action on climate change.1 The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and the Leadership Council of Women Religious said the case touched on a scriptural obligation to care for God’s creation. Citing an encyclical issued by Pope Francis last year on environmental protection titled ‘Laudato Si’ (‘Praise be to you’), they filed a document siding with 21 young plaintiffs. (January 21, 2016) Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/21/2016 - Even though Fracking is dead in NYS, we keep setting the table for more natural gas infrastructure when we are at warming limits. We cannot have our cake and eat it too: We cannot stop Climate Change by continuing to increase our fossil fuel infrastructure. Pipelines, loopholes at center of fight over fossil fuels in Tompkins ITHACA, NY - Hydrofracking may be prohibited in New York State, but activists say loopholes in the ban and a growing network of gas pipelines and other infrastructure still threaten the environment in Tompkins County. Walter Hang, of the environmental watchdog company Toxics Targeting, recently implored a veritable army of "fractivists" to journey to Albany and protest at Governor Andrew Cuomo's "State of the State" address. (January 18, 2016) The Ithaca Voice [more on Fracking in our area] 

  • 1/21/2016 - So, what happens if the US elects a climate denier and the new President tells the military to ‘stand down’ on Climate Change? After the Paris Agreement and after 2015 is declared the hottest years since reliable records began, is a climate denier candidate competent to lead our country? Climate Change isn’t about politics; it’s about your ability to have a future. Pentagon Ordered to Address ‘Climate Change’ All military branches required to ‘address the impacts of climate change’ A new directive issued by Pentagon leaders mandates that the agency work to “assess and manage risks associated with the impacts of climate change,” according to a copy of the Jan. 14 directive issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. As the Obama administration focuses on a larger effort to push its climate change agenda, the Pentagon will now “address the impacts of climate change.” This includes engaging in “deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning” to “improve climate preparedness and resilience,” according to the directive. (January 19, 2016) The Washington Free Beacon [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/21/2016 - Did your local media happen to mention that 2015 was the hottest year since “reliable record-keeping began”? If not, why not? Does our local media still think Climate Change is a special interest issue—only interesting to a small group of zealots?  Climate Change isn’t a special issue if everyone and every living thing on the planet is affected. The Paris Agreement agreed to keep global temperatures below 2C (and maybe even 1.5C) but we are at 1C and closing fast. What are we doing on a level that will keep global temperatures at a safe level? How is your next President going to keep you safe from a clear and present danger? It’s official: 2015 ‘smashed’ 2014’s global temperature record. It wasn’t even close Last year shattered 2014’s record to become the hottest year since reliable record-keeping began, two U.S. government science agencies announced Wednesday in yet another sign that the planet is heating up. 2015’s sharp spike in temperatures was aided by a strong El Niño weather pattern late in the year that caused ocean waters in the central Pacific to heat up. But the unusual warming started early and steadily gained strength in a year in which 10 of 12 months set records, scientists said. (January 20, 2016) The Washington Post [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/20/2016 - But here’s the thing about Wildlife vs. ‘the bottom line’. The bottom line is our life support system, not our economic system. How we decide issues about protecting various wildlife and plants should be prioritized by how vital these elements are to our life support system—not on the very economic system that has treated our environment as an externality and put it in jeopardy. If humanity doesn’t quickly change its priorities, so that the protection of our life support system prevails, there will be no balance between our economics and our environment because we will have perished. This issue is not about values, it’s about science. Reaction are mixed to new federal bat-protection law Some say new laws aimed at protecting bats impacted by white nose syndrome will hurt bottom lines New federal rules will go into effect next month to protect a bat species ravaged by a fungal disease over the past decade. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN's Brian Bull reports two Ohio groups back the protections issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (January 18, 2016) WKSU [more on Wildlife in our area]

  • 1/20/2016 - Because the Great Lakes ecosystem is largely a self-contained hydro-system, where most of the water (evaporation, rain, and watershed drainage) stays in the Great Lakes, and its watersheds diverting water out of the system could have a profound effect on the Great Lakes ecosystem (and our weather), we should pay attention to this diversion issue. Diversion is when you take a large amount of water from an area and divert it someplace else.  I suspect that when communities far outside the Great Lakes system have critical water shortages due to Climate Change predictions, they will need the waters from the Great Lakes. When folks in the South and West find themselves without sufficient fresh water how do we tell them they cannot have our water? Climate Change has some hard choices coming up and we should start thinking about them yesterday. Report on Great Lakes diversion expected Tuesday afternoon The International Joint Commission will release a report Tuesday afternoon that is expected to detail its findings about how successful efforts have been in protecting the waters of the Great Lakes over the last 15 years. In 2000, the IJC published its original report, Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes, at the suggestion of governments in the United States and Canada. (January 19, 2016) Buffalo News [more on Great Lakes in our area]

  • 1/20/2016 - It’s hard for the public to protect themselves from the vast increase of dangerous crude oil trains coming through our communities when the key details of what the public needs to know are blacked out. Rochester is among the communities threatened by Bomb Trains where the railroad industry is very stingy about releasing important information—even to our emergence response teams. Consider stopping this madness: Stop Explosive Oil Trains! Find out if you are in the blast zone and sign the petition. There is a fiftyfold increase in local transport of volatile crude oil trains (which are not and cannot be properly designed to carry this dangerous oil) through our region. Check to see if you are in the blast zone, and Take action and put a stop to this! From our friends over at Mothers Out Front! Really take a moment to find out about this clean and present danger in our community and take action here. Rail safety documents heavily redacted or kept secret by Transport Canada Company financial, commercial interests cited as reasons public can't see findings of Canada's rail regulator Transport Canada is refusing to publicly release details about a range of safety issues detected on Canada's railways. A CBC investigation has found the federal regulator has withheld — or blacked out key findings in — a number of documents related to railway safety that were requested by community groups and the media under Canada's access to information law. The requested documents included an audit, risk assessments for CP, CN and other rail companies, orders, notices and letters of concern. Of the 21 document requests made by CBC in 2015, most came back with redactions, and in the case of several key safety reports, specific details were completely blacked out. (January 19, 2016) CBC News [more on Dangerous Crude Oil Trains in our area]

  • 1/20/2016 - In the natural world there is no such thing as waste. In our anthropomorphic world “our casual attitude about waste may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet…” When I hear statements that suggest our way of life is screwing up how ‘the natural world functions’ I pay attention. Humanity has had a heavy footprint on our life support system in the last couple of centuries and we should be trying to assess how that actually impacts on the functioning of our biological world. Things like our food waste, pollution, and much more are probably having a much more profound effect than we think on the smooth running of our planet. Like it or not, our way of life is dictating much that drives life on Earth including evolution, what plants and animals get to live or die. Unnatural Balance: How Food  Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife New research indicates that the food discarded in landfills and at sea is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and fisheries. But removing that food waste creates its own ecological challenges. The world wastes more than $750 billion worth of food every year — 1.6 billion tons of food left in farm fields, sent to landfills, or otherwise scattered across the countryside, plus another seven million tons of fishery discards at sea. That waste has gotten a lot of attention lately, mostly in terms of human hunger. Hardly anyone talks about what all that food waste is doing to wildlife. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our casual attitude about waste may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet, inadvertently subsidizing some opportunistic predators and thus contributing to the decline of other species, including some that are threatened or endangered. (January 6, 2016) Yale: Environment 360 [more on Food and Wildlife in our area]

  • 1/19/2016 - Check out this excellent program about the historic Paris Agreement from local area folks (experts) who were there. Feb. 3rd COP21: Reflections on the Historic Climate Agreement PLEASE JOIN US! A panel of six people from the area who participated in COP21 in Paris will each reflect on the historic climate change agreement. Colleen Boland will represent We Are Seneca Lake! WASL's Sandra Steingraber and friend of WASL, Bob Howarth, will also be on the panel.  The evening will include a community conversation about next steps. Let's have a GREAT turnout of We Are Seneca Lake activists and supporters, to add to this important discussion. Feel free to wear your WASL t-shirts and buttons. Sponsored by the Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Tompkins County Planning Department, and the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative.  Complete panel: Bob Howarth, Cornell University Sandra Steingraber, Ithaca College Karen Pinkus, Cornell University Allison Chatrchyan, Cornell Insitute for Climate Change and Agriculture Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University Colleen Boland, We Are Seneca Lake Introduction by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 7:15pm - 8:45pm Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room

  • 1/19/2016 - Learn how maintaining our healthy soil is vital to addressing Climate Change by Soil Carbon Restoration. Check out more information about our local NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York) chapter.

  • 1/19/2016 - From our friends over at Fast Forward Film Festival - Rochester, NY is accepting short entries (5 minutes or less) on stories about the environment. Last year, the Festival Gala events sold out at The Little Theatre and George Eastman Museum's The Dryden Theatre - 16 selected films were shown on the big screen - with over $5,000 in cash prizes. I encourage you all to spread the word to friends who have an environmental passion. Any questions, email info@fastforwardroc.org . Entries due February 8. We are proud to support/partner with @FastForwardROC

  • 1/19/2016 - If our oceans are sucking up far more heat from Climate Change than we thought, we’ve have been deluding ourselves into complacency. One of the things that probably bothers the public about the continual dreadful news coming from climate science is that new studies, more often than not, are telling us that things are far worse than we thought. This news, of course, is tough to take. But it should not be ignored. These reports about how Climate Change is affecting our life support system is critical information and we should be increasing our attention to what Climate Change means not shutting down because it’s all too dismal. Deciding not to listen to any more reports about Climate Change because they upset you would be like finding out your car’s breaks are failing then taking a nap. The oceans are heating up much faster than we thought. Why that matters. The deep ocean has warmed as much in the past two decades as it did in the previous 100 years, researchers found. Heat energy from man-made global warming is being absorbed faster and deeper into the depths of the world's oceans than previously calculated, a study released Monday shows. It has long been acknowledged by the scientific community that more than 90 percent of the heat energy from burning fossil fuels goes into the world's oceans rather than the ground or atmosphere, and that ocean temperatures have gone up in recent years. But a new study culled data from the 1870s British research ship Challenger's archives, and from modern underwater monitors and computer models to create a timeline for just how much man-made heat has been buried in the oceans over the last 150 years. (January 18, 2016) The Christian Science Monitor [more on Climate Change in our area]  

  • 1/19/2016 - Cases of Lyme disease are increasing in our Western New York region and Climate Change is a contributor. “Following its onward march, or hop, across the Ohio river valley, western New York and the shores of Lake Michigan since the 1990s, there has been a tripling in the incidents of Lyme disease in the US.” In this way and others, Climate Change is affecting our public health. Information from our local public health officials should reflect this connection between vector-driven diseases and Climate Change so the public is continually aware of the many ways Climate Change is now affecting our lives and will increasingly do so. If our local media did more of this connecting, we wouldn’t be voting climate deniers into office. Ticks that carry Lyme Disease live in almost half of US counties – study Black-legged tick inhabits twice as many counties as in 1998, CDC reports, with 320% increase in number of north-eastern counties seen as high risk for disease Ticks that can carry the debilitating illness Lyme disease have significantly spread across the US over the past 20 years and are now found in nearly half of all American counties, including areas where they’ve never previously been documented, a new analysis has found. The black-legged tick is now established in twice the number of counties it inhabited in 1998, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, and has expanded its range in the northeastern states and the upper midwest. Following its onward march, or hop, across the Ohio river valley, western New York and the shores of Lake Michigan since the 1990s, there has been a tripling in the incidents of Lyme disease in the US. (January 18, 2016) The Guardian [more on Lyme Disease and Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/18/2016 - NYT journalist, Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth, brings up a crucial point about sustainability—“Sustain What?” As we learn more about Climate Change and the consequences of it, it’s going to be more difficult to have a sustainable environment. We’ll have to ask ourselves, what are we trying to sustain? Are we trying to sustain our ecosystems, our way of life, our existence, every living beings’ existence? I think there is another component of this issue and that is timing. Because Climate Change is moving our and life support system towards tipping points or limits, we are going to have to prioritize. There will be benchmarks where trying to save this or that species will be over because we waited too long to address these issues. The longer we wait to address Climate Change on a level that will matter, our choices will get more and more limited.  

  • 1/18/2016 - As we learn more about and experience the consequences of large-scale air pollution, we’ll begin to wonder how we could have ever thought our precious ocean of air could have been used as a dump. Our atmosphere is a common resource for humanity and all living beings—and we’ve long since used up our share. Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution World Health Organisation describes new data as ‘health emergency’, with rising concern likely to influence decision over Heathrow expansion The World Health Organisation has issued a stark new warning about deadly levels of pollution in many of the world’s biggest cities, claiming poor air quality is killing millions and threatening to overwhelm health services across the globe. Before the release next month of figures that will show air pollution has worsened since 2014 in hundreds of already blighted urban areas, the WHO says there is now a global “public health emergency” that will have untold financial implications for governments. (January 16, 2016) The Guardian [more on Air Quality in our area] 

  • 1/18/2016 - Considering the level of threat Climate Change poses to humanity, it’s hard to understand how climate deniers get into office. Because we have already dragged our feet on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation the consequences of this warming will continue to be worse. Climate change disaster is biggest threat to global economy in 2016, say experts Global warming heads top economists’ concerns for first time but large-scale forced migration seen as most likely risk to materialise A catastrophe caused by climate change is seen as the biggest potential threat to the global economy in 2016, according to a survey of 750 experts conducted by the World Economic Forum. The annual assessment of risks conducted by the WEF before its annual meeting in Davos on January 20-23 showed that global warming had catapulted its way to the top of the list of concerns. A failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation was seen as likely to have a bigger impact than the spread of weapons of mass destruction, water crises, mass involuntary migration and a severe energy price shock — the first time in the 11 years of the Global Risks report that the environment has been in first place. (January 14, 2016) The Guardian [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/16/2016 - If we cannot clean up the remnants of our dirty energy past because these dirty energy companies are going broke, we need to change how we fund cleanups. At the end of the day, our need for a sustainable environment trumps how we run our economic systems. The burden of environmental cleanups should be placed on our economists who must finally realize that a healthy environment is our top priority. Environmental issues were never just an externality, and we should not have to wait until things get much worse before our economists realize that. Our environment doesn’t care whether we have the money or the right attitude towards our life support system. Our environment has its own rules and we either abide by them or perish. Why coal's recent slide makes it harder to clean up its dirty past Cavazza is in charge of overseeing the state’s estimated $15 billion worth of abandoned mine clean-ups. But his funding source keeps shrinking. A key part of the problem is the federal government pays for abandoned mine clean-up by assessing a fee on current coal production. With coal production at its lowest point in 30 years, there’s simply less money coming in to pay for clean-ups. (January 15, 2015) Innovation Trail

  • 1/16/2016 - The “Poisoned Water in Michigan City” crisis should remind us that Big Government will have to step in when Little Government fails. However our politics function (or don’t) in our societies, environmental issues will trump any political concerns we have. When you cannot drink the water, it has to be addressed whether it’s been previous concern of your or not. This is why proper environmental planning is so important in an age of Climate Change: Many of the disasters, the consequences, of Climate Change will impact the public immediately (like flooding, or water contamination due to an increase in toxic algae or overflowing sewage systems) but the solutions may impossible because the time to address these issues occurred in the past. I know, this particular water crisis in Michigan wasn’t caused by Climate Change, but this crisis demonstrates the kind of immediacy that environmental emergencies demand and how important the environmental decisions made by public officials impact us all. If you put the wrong people in office, you may doom your ability to address environmental issues. This is especially true if you put a climate denier into office. Anger and Scrutiny Grow Over Poisoned Water in Michigan City Michigan’s attorney general opened an investigation Friday into lead contamination in Flint’s drinking water, and the governor asked President Obama to declare a disaster as National Guard troops fanned out across this anxious city to help distribute bottled water, water filters and testing kits. The actions drew new scrutiny to an environmental crisis that poisoned the water supply for a year and a half before it was addressed. The contamination has left a city of 100,000 people unable to use tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing, and has caused mounting political woes for the governor, Rick Snyder. (January 15, 2016) New York Times [more on Water Quality in our area]

  • 1/16/2016 - Increasingly we are finding that Climate Change is negatively affecting some fundamental operations of our life support system. It’s time to focus on adaptation when Climate Change is affecting this: “Bacteria in our oceans play a crucial role in the global cycle of elements necessary to life.” Much of the controversy about Climate Change is how humanity chooses to address climate change—climate justice, more government programs, more environmental rules and regulations—but these arguments about how to address Climate Change should be separate from what Climate Change is. Climate Change is a fundamental threat to our existence and no one should be doubting that at this point in time. We can argue about how we are going to address Climate Change, but not whether it is real and worthy of our concern. That ship has sailed. Acidification affects the ability of bacteria to clean our oceans Marine bacteria are heavily influenced by the ongoing ocean acidification caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide. This discovery was made by researchers at Linnaeus University, Sweden, together with researchers in Spain. The results are presented in an article in the recognised scientific journal Nature Climate Change.  "It is well known that the acidification of our oceans causes the degradation of coral reefs and disturbs the production of the calcareous shells of important phytoplankton", says Jarone Pinhassi, professor in marine microbiology at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden. "However, it is new that also bacteria are affected negatively by ocean acidification". (January 12, 2016) PHYS.org [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/16/2015 - Even if you or your political leaders don’t think Climate Change makes natural disasters worse, your insurance company does. I suspect that as time goes on and Climate Change makes natural disasters—hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, etc.—worse and more expensive that insurance companies will increasingly suggest that their clients do more to protect themselves and their built environment from the financial damages made worse by Climate Change. At some point, when the burden becomes overwhelming I suspect insurance companies will have to refuse to insure properties they know are unsustainable in a warming world. If insurance companies are concerned about Climate Change, so should you. Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Natural disasters such as tropical storms, floods, earthquakes, and droughts are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change, and can have a devastating effect on homes, agriculture, infrastructure, and communities. Over the last 10 years, the cost of disasters reached an average of $165 billion per year, and far exceeds the official development assistance amount. Developing countries feel the impacts of disasters most severely, and the costs of disaster response and rebuilding drain already limited resources. These costs, however, can be mitigated through financial planning. Countries around the globe have implemented regional strategies to protect themselves financially. Pacific Island nations have worked together to assess risk and utilize insurance contracts. In Colombia, the government has insured $38 billion in infrastructure. Countries in Africa are increasingly investing in drought protection for farmers. Similar programs across the globe are helping to safeguard livelihoods and restore access to health care, education, and food supply more quickly. Planning in advance allows governments to ensure that the money goes where it’s needed most. Ultimately, financial protection strategies protect lives as well as a country’s long-term stability. (January 13, 2016) The World Bank [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/16/2016 - Included in the challenges of Climate Change are the long history of manmade toxic pollutants still active in our environment. When we dump our pollutants into the water, they don’t magically disappear by some fantastic ability of nature to rid itself of compounds never before experienced by Nature. Nature didn’t back in the day and still doesn’t know how to use toxic banned chemicals like DDT and PCBs. This dangerous pollution must be figured into how we help ecosystems like the Great Lakes adapt to Climate Change. New year, old pollutants for popular Great Lakes sport fish Still on their slow decline, long-banned pollutants still “dominate” chemical loads for predator fish such as walleye, trout Toxic banned chemicals like DDT and PCBs are declining in the Great Lakes food chain, but the long-lived compounds still dominate the chemical load in top predators such as walleye and lake trout, based on a new review. “We realized 35 years ago that these might build up and be harmful," said Thomas Holsen, an engineering professor at Clarkston University who studies Great Lakes chemicals. "The lesson is we have to be careful about what we use going forward … the impact of using chemicals we probably shouldn’t use can last a long time.” (January 11, 2016) Environmental Health News [more on Wildlife and Great Lakes in our area]

  • 1/15/2016 - Interesting take on adapting to Climate Change—be flexible. Actually if we don’t address Climate Change, be extremely flexible. Climate Change Is Here, So Be Flexible Climate change has been making a strong statement throughout North America for the last month or so. And a Coastal Resources Manager with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation says in the immediate future, despite our best efforts, there’s very little we can do to turn it around. Geoff Peach explains some of the changes could even be beneficial, but also have a down side (January 14, 2016) BlackburnNews.com [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/15/2016 - Missed the change to rally for Climate Change solutions in New York State on January 13th? Go here for a video of the event “Watch: Environmental advocates hold State of the State climate rally” (January 13, 2016 Albany Times Union State of Climate Rally Cuomo Urged to be National Climate Leader in 2016 Groups Urge Him to Support 100% Renewables, Off Shore Wind in SOS Time to End Fossil Fuel Era – Stop pipelines, other infrastructure, oil bomb trains Analysis of State of the climate here. (Albany, NY) Climate change activists held a State of the Climate rally and march today at the Capitol to urge Governor Cuomo to commit to 100% renewable energy and to announce the end of the fossil fuel era in New York. The themes of the rally were:  Rapid action on climate change; support 100% Renewables Now; Climate Justice; Living Wage Jobs, and a Just Transition. (January 14, 2016) 100% Renewable Now NY Campaign  (More on Energy and Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/15/2016 - If you care about fresh clean water to drink and grow food (and who doesn’t?), then you should care about Climate Change. Here’s how Climate Change is going to impact our water: 5 things you need to know about water and climate In the Global Risks Report 2016, which draws attention to ways that global risks could evolve and interact in the next decade, water crises features highly. Here are five reasons why. (January 14, 2015) World Economic Forum [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/15/2016 - There are continual signs that Climate Change is not an ideology for a few but science for all. The permanently frozen soils of the northern reaches of Alaska are not so ‘permanent’ anymore and this fact will have consequences no matter what you believe. Information about infrastructure (road) collapse and the release of methane from thawed permafrost are not meant to scare or numb the mind with a dreary litany of catastrophes. They are meant to inform the public so they can back those who should plan ahead so we don’t get the worst of these consequences. The facts about the consequences of Climate Change are also a physical reminder that nothing but bringing down our greenhouse gas emissions will solve this problem. Warming Could Mean Major Thaw For Alaska Permafrost If you’d asked permafrost researcher Vladimir Romanovsky five years ago if he thought the permafrost of the North Slope of Alaska was in danger of substantial thaw this century because of global warming, he would have said no. The permanently frozen soils of the northern reaches of the state are much colder, and so more stable than the warmer, more vulnerable permafrost of interior Alaska, he would have said. “I cannot say it anymore” he told journalists last month at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. (January 14, 2016) Climate Central [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/15/2016 - NASA is a good place to go to track Carbon dioxide (CO2) which is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas. Carbon Dioxide Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. NASA: Global Climate Change, vital signs of the planet

  • 1/05/2016 - Though important Earth’s population should care about more than “the amount of global warming we should expect from a given amount of greenhouse gas emissions”. Sure, we want and need to know how Climate Change is going to affect our specific region so we can adapt and help our region mitigate Climate Change. But Climate Change is global and the consequences will be global and the public needs to understand and care about more than just how Climate Change is going to affect their region. How much do greenhouse gas emissions warm your part of the world? New map shows how climate sensitivity varies around the globe. Climate science attempts to answer a lot of questions, but Earth’s population probably cares about just one of them: what is the amount of global warming we should expect from a given amount of greenhouse gas emissions? There are a variety of metrics researchers use to describe that variable, differing mainly in how long you give the climate system to equilibrate. One handy metric is called the “transient climate response to cumulative carbon emissions”—TCRE for short. Given a total amount of CO2 emitted up until a point in time, this relationship tells you about how much warming will have already occurred. (January 4, 2016) Ars Technica [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/05/2016 - The big picture, though, is that the invasive Asian Carp could disrupt the entire Great Lakes ecosystem far beyond how humans presently ‘use’ this system. Our rivers and our lakes should be understood as critical ecosystems instead of how we may be using a particular fish or river at any one time. This is to say that even if you don’t care about a river, the Great Lakes, Asian Carp, walleyes, or trout, you should care about ecosystems because they are making our present way of life possible. Study: Walleye, trout will be hardest hit by Asian carp Walleye, prized for their taste and the sheer fun of hauling in a fish that can reach 20 pounds, would be among the most heavily affected in Lake Erie should invasive Asian carp establish themselves there. Projections for other native species in the lake, however, are not quite as dire, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. In fact, some species may increase due to the presence of the voracious bighead and silver carp. The Great Lakes have been under increasing threat from Asian carp in recent years as the invasive species has worked its way north through the Mississippi River system. The carp, which can quickly alter the food chain in ecosystems where it sets up a reproducing population, is seen as a major threat to the region’s fishing and water recreation industries. (January 4, 2015) The Detroit News [more on Great Lakes and Invasive Species in our area]

  • 1/05/2016 - The Arctic is a “unique treasure” in the way a major organ of your body contributes to your being alive. We ‘treasure’ our favorite baubles; we need our ecosystems. We shouldn’t drill for oil in the Arctic any more than we would needlessly poke holes in our vital organs. It’s odd that some are still referring to essential parts of our planet’s life support system as if we were back in the last century and think of places like the Arctic as only aesthetically pleasing to us, where we would be sad when we have destroyed them.  Now we know top priority should be given to our ecosystems so we have a chance for a future. Obama urged to block future Arctic oil drilling Five-year offshore oil plan set for approval later this year, which a future president would find hard to overturn US President Barack Obama could restrict the next office holder’s room for manoeuvre on energy policy by setting a moratorium on oil exploration in the Arctic. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected in January or February to advance on steps to hand out drilling rights for offshore oil and natural gas leases and finalise it later this year, reports Washington DC-based website the Hill. (January 5, 2016) Climate Home [more on Climate Change and Energy in our area] 

  • 1/04/2015 - Considering that Rochester, NY is surrounded by the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, warming of our lakes by Climate Change matters. We should be planning for the changes to these vital ecosystems as the flora and fauna in and near our lakes try desperately to adapt to a very quick warming—relative to their evolution in our glacially spawned lakes. Climate Change Warming World’s Lakes, Says Study A new study by NASA and the National Science Foundation reveals that climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, according to findings in Geophysical Research Letters. The study, published last month, used temperature data taken via satellites and ground measurements from 235 lakes around the world and analyzed temperature changes over 25 years. (January 2, 2015) Climate Central [more on Climate Change and Great Lakes and Finger Lakes in our area] 

  • 1/04/2016 - Also, our local media is a major component is our ability to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change. If our local media continues to ignore the local connections to Climate Change and fails to present it as a local issue also, it is less likely that our local population will believe that Climate Change is happening or that they have any role in addressing it. “First, there should be full acknowledgment that climate change exists [by our media], and that some [very many] of the activities of humans have [caused] contributed to the problem.” When the editorial boards of our local media get together to decide what issues to focus on in 2016, if they don’t include Climate Change as a major focus of their media, they are part of the problem—not part of the solution. Climate change accord would strike better balance As record-breaking warm temperatures descended on the Rochester area last month, world leaders gathered in Paris to grapple with how best to deal with climate change. The answers are not easy, of course, and some of the remedies could be quite painful. But 195 nations, including the United States, have pledged to do something meaningful, including working toward reducing global warming emissions. What all this means remains to be seen. Richer countries, such as the United States, are vowing to help put poor countries on a pathway to develop their economies in an environmentally-friendly way. Yet the United States and many industrial nations still have to get their own house in order. And no one solution will carry the day. (January 3, 2015) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Climate Change in our area] 

  • 1/04/2016 - If our leaders don’t properly plan for the consequences of Climate Change we may go broke trying to adapt. An issue so seemingly unrelated to Climate Change as flood insurance should be a major factor in our presidential race because after insurance companies run out of money trying to fund flood recovery, the insurer of last resort, our government, will have to step in and help. Our government, rich as it is, can only help so much. What’s needed is a sound flood policy that will help us adapt to where folks can rebuild without our government going broke. Long-term planning to prepare for more heavy flooding so that folks are removed from risk and our infrastructures fortified for more heavy rainfall will help. If you put a climate denier into our top offices, we won’t be prepared for a warmer world. The Climate Risk No One Is Talking About It’s a billion dollar problem. Ministers from across the world gathered in Paris over the weekend to hammer out the details of a sweeping climate accord to limit carbon emissions and slow the pace of global warming. While many are applauding the landmark deal, it will do little to address the financial threat millions of Americans face from increasingly severe flooding. To do so, U.S. policymakers must act to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) before its expiration in September of 2017. (December 15, 2015) Fortune [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/04/2016 - I know, It’s freaking cold outside Rochester, NY but Climate Change planning is essential because heat stress is lethal. Heat will stress our public health and our infrastructures in ways that can only be addressed by getting ready (adapting) for them. Will Global Warming Heat Us Beyond Our Physical Limits? If we don’t cut greenhouse gases, it’s not just storms and rising seas we’d have to worry about. The heat alone could kill a lot of us. If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, rising temperatures and humidity wrought by global warming could expose hundreds of millions of people worldwide to potentially lethal heat stress by 2060, a new report suggests. (December 15, 2015) National Geographic [more on Climate Change and Environmental Health in our area]  

  • 1/02/2016 - This should send shivers down your spine: “Experts say many bridges are dangerously dilapidated. The Government Accountability Office found that nearly 25% of them are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.” Our transportation infrastructure is going to get hammered by Climate Change in the form of heavy flooding, heat, and more extreme weather. We not only have to focus on upgrading this critical infrastructure so it will adapt to Climate Change, we have to drastically fix the systems we already have. When you transportation systems fails you don’t go anywhere. Lawmakers hope transportation bill helps fix failing bridges Millions of motorists use the more than 610,000 bridges in the U.S., but most are unaware of the frightening state that some of these structures are in. Experts say many bridges are dangerously dilapidated. The Government Accountability Office found that nearly 25% of them are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A transportation bill passed by Congress in December authorizes $305 billion in spending over the next five years for road and transit upgrades. Lawmakers say the legislation provides flexibility for states to carry out infrastructure priorities. (January 1, 2016) WHAM Rochester [more on Transportation in our area]

  • 1/02/2016 - An interesting viewpoint on science and GMO’s in the December edition of the local Sifting & Winnowing newsletter. “Rachel Carson knew in the early 1960s that biologists were taking the wrong path; Eisenhower warned that a science/tech elite could co-opt public policy” (Sifting & Winnowing is written and published quarterly by Audrey Newcomb. To receive an online copy, send email to audreynewcomb@frontiernet.net)

  • 1/02/2016 - There are many who think the Paris Agreement missed an historic opportunity to connect the critical links between Climate Change and agriculture creating the delusion that only ending the fossil fuel era will address Climate Change. Yet without healthy soil to feed us and store CO2, we won’t make it. There are many gaping holes the in Agreement, including non-binding goals which even if achieved will cook us and our planet. The Paris Agreement is a success in the sense that the world didn’t walk away entirely from Climate Change—it’s what we have. Our future may depend on leveraging the Agreement as a singularity of human consensus on Climate Change from which to begin filling all the holes left out of the deal and completing then ratcheting up the pledges and promises agreed to by all parties. The Fraudulent Science at COP21 Exposed Before the ink had dried on the COP21 climate agreement, many from the food movement were reflecting on the process and plans worked on in Paris. In their co-authored Washington Post op-ed piece, A Secret Weapon to Fight Climate Change: Dirt, Michael Pollan and Debbie Barker wrote, “Unfortunately, the world leaders who gathered in Paris this past week have paid little attention to the critical links between climate change and agriculture. That’s a huge mistake and a missed opportunity.” (December 17, 2015) EcoWatch [more on Plants and Climate Change in our area]  

  • 1/02/2016 - The Paris Agreement will be the test to see if given the information and direction humanity will do the right thing without the stick. If the test doesn’t work, then binding agreements (the stick) will be tried out of desperation. But by that time it may be too little, too late, and way too inconvenient. World Leaders Have Promised to Fix the Climate, but the Real Work Will Fall to Cities, Businesses, and You Cities, states, and businesses—not just those world leaders in Paris—will save us from climate change. Here’s what they’re going to do. Negotiators in Paris declared victory at the end of COP21. The international community signed on to a historic agreement that incorporates 160 commitmentsby individual countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 to 15 years, with more cuts to follow. The deal is a good excuse to drink champagne, but this agreement is the easy part. It’s just paper. It won’t stop the temperature or the seas from rising. For that to happen, every country that signed on has to keep its promises. The responsibility will fall to individuals, businesses, and local governments. It is through that hard work—not what happened in negotiating rooms in Peru or Paris—that we will stop climate change. (December 30, 2015) Pacific Standard

  • 1/01/2016 - Climate Change has forced us to learn a lot more about how our planet responds to sudden warming. But learning, for example, that Earth's climate is more sensitive to CO2 than previously thought after we have already warmed the planet considerably and not heeded decades of warnings means that we have to respond much quicker to the likelihood that climate science is correct. Are we going to drive our efforts to address Climate Change by heeding scientific information? Or are we going to proceed regardless of the warnings only able to chronicle our plight afterwards because our chances to make the proper turns at the right times have passed us by? Time passes. Earth's climate more sensitive to CO2 than previously thought, study finds Ancient climates on Earth may have been more sensitive to carbon dioxide than was previously thought, according to new research from Binghamton University.  A team of Binghamton University researchers including geology PhD student Elliot A. Jagniecki and professors Tim Lowenstein, David Jenkins and Robert Demicco examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse climate. They found that CO2 levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of greenhouse warming and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought, said Lowenstein. (November 16, 2015) PHYS.org [more on Climate Change in our area]

  • 1/01/2016 - Climate Change should be continually in the headlines to make it our priority and show its urgency. But when Climate Change is continually in our headlines because of continual disasters, it means we’ve waited too long to get it in our headlines. If we had been on the ball, Climate Change would be about planning. Now we are starting to play catchup to a phenomenon that may have overtaken us. Time passes. Global weather extremes underline climate threat, say experts El Nino, record heat and natural variability combine to highlight growing threats in a warming world Record breaking temperatures, flooding and bare ski slopes have propelled climate change back into the headlines, weeks after a UN pact was agreed in Paris to tackle global warming. The combination of the hottest December on record, natural climate variability and the warming of the tropical Pacific Oceans – known as El Nino – has sparked a string of curious weather events this month. “If you add the background global warming to natural weather phenomena, there’s a tendency to break records left and right,” Herve Le Treut, a climate scientist and director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute told AFP. “This naturally occurring El Nino and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organisation. (December 30, 2015) Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]