(Or, why does RochesterEnvironment.com exist?)
I know, there’s a lot of stuff on this site and to those who are just visiting it must seem overwhelming. This site has evolved over a long time. I suggest that you take some time and view this site as a daily chronicle of the changes in our local environment since 1998—that includes the steady rise in our awareness of Climate Change.
My goal when I began RochesterEnvironment.com was to compare what is posted locally in the news, with what is going on worldwide in our environment, along with my steady growing knowledge of the science of ecology. I wanted to show that our environment has just as much news as the other items (sports, accidents, arrests, festivals, etc.) our local media presents to the public and that despite our local media’s dismissal of our life support system, it is critical news.
Over the years, I have seen a rise in the importance of Climate Change, changes in many aspects of our environment do to our way of life. But I’ve seen little change in our local media to reflect that. I have been a part of the attempts to help our local environment in many aspects as writer, leader, activist, and, of course, blogger.
I suggest to this site’s visitors that they take a journey in time and follow the unfolding of the news and my comments on it on a daily basis since 1998. I believe, that this site presents an unparalleled chronicle of the changes in one specific region of the world and helps gain a sense of how a community has reacted to a major change in the most important aspect of their existence—the unprecedented change in our climate and how our past abuses of our environment have accumulated at the same time—making Climate Change the mother of all problems.
If nothing else, this site has been my daily journal since 1998, a journal I hope that can be viewed by others to get a unique glimpse into a growing concern about our environment at a critical point in its history—when humanity either will or won’t respond to the greatest environmental challenge it has ever faced.
At each point along my journey, I have tried to anchor my observations with the present climate studies, news, and expert opinions from around the world—using the internet. When I started this web site was hard to find environmental stories online and what I did post took a long time to load because of slow Internet speeds. Now, there is so much information and everything loads so quickly ((what I dreamed about decades ago)) that visitors to this site fly in and out like bees.
I’m hoping some will stay awhile and follow this site’s evolution through this amazing journey that might reveal to some, some insights as to how Climate Change might be viewed and maybe addressed. For full disclosure: I am basing my book on Climate Change that reflects what I have learned from this daily attention to this amazing subject.
Frank is one of the former chairperson of the Rochester Sierra Club, conservation chair and communications chair. He was also the webmaster of that group, and headed two committees: transportation and zero waste. Frank also has volunteered for the Center for Environmental Information, writing grants, project management, and heads their alternative transportation committee. A graduate of SUNY Brockport with a MS in English, Frank is the creator, manager and content author of RochesterEnvironment.com: Since 1998, RochesterEnvironment.com has been an ongoing experiment to completely inform one community of all its environmental news and information. Frank is now working with the Rochester People's Climate Coalition (RPCC) and is writing a book on Climate Change.
Full Disclosure: Though the activities below are not related in anyway shape or form to RochesterEnvironment.com, I have volunteered my efforts to various environmental groups and activities: Webmaster of the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club http://newyork.sierraclub.org/rochester/ and webmaster of my neighborhood’s website: The Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association (UMNA) http://www.uppermonroeavenue.org/ . I have also been a volunteer grant writer for the CEI: Center for Environmental Information (where I received the 2009 Reginald W. Hartwell Volunteer of the Year Award). In May of 2010, as Chairperson for Rochester Sustainable Transportation Working Group for the Center of Environmental Information (CEI) – I project managed an alternative Transportation event at RIT: "Sustainability Mobility Fair “Future Transportation Choices for Short Trips” Frank also lead a class on Alternative Transportation @ Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). at Also, I have been chairperson, conservation chairperson, communications chairperson and presently zero waste chairperson and transportation chairperson of the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club.
Also, RochesterEnvironment.com has been around since 1998 and in all that time this site has been free and ad-free. It will remain that way. But, I have decided to post in the news some of my own articles (for example: Rochester Bike Week May 21-28 ) in which I do get paid when someone follows those links outside RochesterEnvironment.com. There isn’t much money in this (a penny per click) but it does allow me to cover some issues on our environment that are not being adequately reported on locally.
4/11/2016 - Great to be on George Payne’s Rochester Free Radio program “The Broken Spear Vision”. George and I had a chance to discuss some Rochester area environmental issues in relation to Climate Change, Earth Week, and Climate Change. Listen in | The Broken Spear Vision 33 by Rochester Free Radio Published April 2, 2016 Usage Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Topics climate change, mainstream media Frank Regan, coordinator of RochesterEnvironment.com joins George to talk about climate change. What is the mainstream media missing? What's being done in Rochester?
3/17/2011 - Good write up in City Newspaper about RochesterEnvironment.com, my blog Environmental Thoughts, and some background as to why they exist and who I am. "Environmental Thoughts Now retired after a 30-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, Frank Regan calls himself a "full-time environmental advocate." He says he became interested in environmental issues "through philosophy and listening to programs on public broadcasting about the state of our environment." Regan's an active member of the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club, leading its zero-waste and transportation committees and serving as the group's webmaster. He blogs about environmental issues at rochesterenvironmentny.blogspot.com, an offshoot of his website, rochesterenvironment.com, which he created in 1998. Each week, Regan sends out an e-mail newsletter to about 600 subscribers. In his posts, Regan takes national or world environmental issues, such as climate change, and explains how they relate to Rochester. To stay informed and find topics for his daily writings, he keeps up with the latest news, attends numerous meetings, and keeps in contact with environmental groups. Regan hopes his visitors take his message seriously. "I hope they ‘get it,'" he says. "It's not just another issue.... It's really the moral responsibility of everybody. They have a responsibility to have an understanding of what's going on and vote properly.""Rochester NY News, Events, Restaurants, Music, Entertainment, Nightlife - Rochester City Newspaper
4/07/2011 - Good encapsulation of some of my thoughts for Earth Day 2011 on renewable energy, Recycling, and Transportation. ENVIRONMENT: Environmentalists’ Earth Day pledge - News Articles - Rochester City Newspaper Mother Nature has been kind to the Rochester area. The region has great natural features like Lake Ontario and the wetlands along its shore, glacial formations in Mendon Ponds Park, and ample freshwater resources, including the pristine Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, which provide drinking water for some Monroe County residents. The region also includes mature forests, and migratory bird habitat and stopover points. Area environmentalists say all of this is worth fighting for. They tackle invasive species, work to stop or minimize water pollution, and push for cleaner, more efficient options in transportation and energy generation. As new threats emerge, they respond. (April 7, 2011) Rochester NY News, Events, Restaurants, Music, Entertainment, Nightlife - Rochester City Newspaper [more on Environmental Education in our area]
2/06/2010 - You cannot really appreciate the purpose of RochesterEnvironment.com until you understand 'get' the severity of our media/investigating reporting crisis going on in our country. Though our cables, satellites, and Internet connections seem awash in news, they are simply awash in recycled news from a vanishingly few media sources doing real investigative reporting.
Especially, on the state of our environment: There are looming environmental concerns that the public does not fully understand the consequences of because mainstream media are not doing their jobs—for a variety of reasons. If you are continually listening to the same media sources that have their own agenda, which is not investigative reporting critical for a Democracy and a sustainable environment, you cannot see the severity of this problem.
But, listening to Robert McChesney and John Nichols on “The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again”You can get good picture of the media crisis we are in. Check out some short interviews about this issue:
Interview #1: Robert McChesney and John Nichols on "The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again" "University of Illinois Professor Robert McChesney and The Nation correspondent John Nichols, two leading advocates of the media reform movement, join us to talk about their new book, The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again. " --from (February 4, 2010) http://www.democracynow.org/
And. Interview #2: Robert McChesney and John Nichols on The Death and Life of American Journalism -from (February 5, 2010) Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Welcome to the most comprehensive listing of environmental services and web sites on the Internet for the Rochester, New York area. This site is a non-profit, non-commercial portal for all Rochester-area environmental links. Use this web site to monitor the health and find ways to get involved in sustaining of our area's environment using your Internet connection.
The mission of RochesterEnvironment.com is to give the public a complete online snapshot of one community and all the environmental information online that can be obtained for this Northeast city and archive it so that (as environmental problems go) when someone is ready to tackle an environmental issue that information will be retrievable. This site is vast and has many features that link it to all environmental recourses that could conceivable influence Rochester. I’ve tried to make it easy to search this site for information, while at the same time display to those not familiar with our environmental issues the full range of possible online information necessary to sustain our environment. The Internet, I believe, is especially suited to learning about and sharing critical information about how to keep our environment healthy and RochesterEnvironment.com has been active since 1998 doing just that.
Goal: My goal is to get the public, politicians, and scientists to view our present day environmental situation in a new way: If you think that it is obvious that our environment is in trouble and you are not doing anything about it –You Don’t Get It! RochesterEnvironment.com is my attempt to demonstrate by the example of one specific community that environmental issues at this point in time are extraordinary. That is to say, that I believe that there is no other time in man’s history where the simultaneous compromises to our environment (where man needs to survive) have occurred before and thus no model for us to use to get our environment back to a healthy balance. My position is explained in detail in my companion book to this site: We Don’t Get It! I am not trying to make money on this book; in fact you can go directly to Iuniverse.com (the book’s publisher) and read all of the contents on line. I had no control over the price of purchasing the book ($16.95), I merely wanted to put my views in a context that were easily assessable by anyone. Also the goals of RochesterEnvironment.com are specific:
- To increase independent and objective studies of our environment to find out the affect of industrial pollution, sprawl, invasive species and other assaults that would affect our environment.
- To keep the Rochester-area continually informed of events that would affect their environment and explain why.
- To gather all information pertaining our our Rochester-area environment as provided by the Internet so as to inform and to allow visitor's to communicate directly with the sources of governmental branches, studies, reports, etc.
Purpose: The purpose of this site is to give an example of one specific community's entire environmental compass. Though I focus sharply on Rochester, NY, on this web site, there is nothing particularly ominous about this mid-sized, upper New York State community’s environmental situation. I merely use Rochester as an example of one community’s entire environmental scope because I live here and have better access to much of the information needed to demonstrate my position than I would another.
As a matter of fact, albeit from my limited knowledge, I believe that Rochester, New York is probably doing better on our environmental problems than most communities. Just recently in the Democrat & Chronicle, our city has been singled out as a very livable city in many respects: Rochester rated 6th-most livable U.S. city & Rochester quality of life ranked No. 1 of 50 metros - (July 11, 07) Democrat & Chronicle. We have and continue to have many capable and concerned leaders working towards a better environment. Also, Rochester has many inherent environmental features that might help propel it into one of the greatest sustainable environments in the future. We have almost unlimited fresh water, because we already draw most of our drinking water from Lake Ontario—one of the Great Lakes, which together contain about 20% of the world’s fresh water supply. We also have a confluence of trails along the Erie Canal and around Rochester that could be a way of increasing bike comminuting. We have many colleges and universities that are deeply involved in monitoring and developing new technologies (like fuel cell research) to save energy and increase fuel efficiency. A natural resource that we have not used much before, but probably will in the future is wind power—and many surrounding communities around Rochester are considering a major shift to this renewable and non-polluting energy source. And while, Rochester has many environmental issues that need immediate attention, like the continual reports of air quality being compromised, and brownfields that need to be cleaned up—so do all US cities.
Finally, it is not my desire to have you drop everything you are doing and become a rabid environmentalist, but rather to acknowledge that our times are extraordinary and allow that knowledge to influence how you vote, how you purchase, travel, what news sources you get your news from. Remember; only a few years before the Katrina Hurricane disaster, the New Orleans Times-Picayune had run a complete scenario of the probable consequences of a probable force-four hurricane if it hit New Orleans and its levees. The information was there, but few acted on it. Similarly, much of the information we need to know about the state of our environment already exists, but it is not, for various reasons, reaching the public and those in power who are responsible for keeping our environment healthy. We the public have to begin paying attention to our environment and make sure our political leaders act so that our environment remains healthy for our children.
- Encourage all media (radio, T, cable, Internet, newsprint) to present local environmental news every day and archive those stories freely for future research.
- Connect all the dots with Rochester’s environment and that of the world at large.
- Create a sustainable environmental philosophy to help citizens, public officials, and industry decide future environmental projects and solutions based on science and a practical philosophy.
- Encourage all branches of government and private industry to solve similar environmental problems in the same comprehensive way.
- Recycle everything, not simply collect every by-product we produce, but create new industries and resources for existing industry.
- Promote continual objective and preemptive research on probably environment problems.
- Assist all communities to create and maintain environmental portal sites like RochesterEnvironment.com for every city everywhere.
- Encourage all governments, educational facilities, private and public institutions to archive all pertinent environmental information.
- List all environmental events for the largest public participation.
- Create an atmosphere on environmental issues that are nonpartisan and nonpolitical.
- Provide the best references to the best experts and problem solvers for the public and others.
- Promote local citizen groups who are organizing to protect their environment.
- Monitor climate change in our area and offer the best solutions for this on-coming change.
- Accomplish all of the above free of charge and open to the public
When I began RochesterEnviornment.com almost two decades ago, my goal was to demonstrate that environmental news was just as important and occurred as frequently as other news. Only, our local and national media weren’t paying much attention to the condition of our life support system. The Internet, I thought then, could provide anyone with an opportunity to collect news and information from an incredible number of sources—including all local media, governmental agencies, universities, digital books, and similar sources from around the world—that would help reach everyone.
I focused my efforts on a single region—Rochester, NY—as an experiment to find out what effect providing every environmental resource available to the public, media, environmental groups, governments, businesses, and individuals.
I found over the years that there was an incredible amount of environmental information and news that our local media was not disseminating to the public. Finding environmental news in the public interest was slow at first during the late 1990’s but as major issues evolved such as plastics pollution, water quality issues, and Climate Change, it became more important to prioritize environmental news than post whatever I could find. Also, many institutions, official agencies, and environmental groups were increasingly providing news, online studies, all free. Climate studies, official reports, and data abound on the Internet, ready for public consumption.
My position on getting environmental information to the public grew as I saw environmental issues like Climate Change grow, while public interest and knowledge on these critical issues seem to waiver and then diminish. (Note that the election of Trump to President, who is filling top positions in science agencies with climate deniers, is a low point in the public’s environmental awareness. Last November’s elections weren’t entirely a fluke, as still too many Americans don’t appreciate the urgency of addressing Climate Change.) Which is to say, my efforts and a lot of others to get the public to appreciate the urgency and scope of Climate Change and other environmental problems has failed.
Protecting our environment, I’ve come to believe, requires a different kind of journalism, one that communicates to the public the potential of various environmental threats before these issues reach the front pages of our media in the traditional way. By the time oil spills, invasive species breakouts, and climate warming itself reach public attention, they are oftentimes at a stage in their development that makes it difficult if not impossible to address them.
During RochesterEnvironment.com’s existence, I’ve witnessed many positive developments that demonstrate a growing awareness of environmental concerns in our region: more.
RochesterEnvironment.com is the most comprehensive online portal of environmental information for one municipality--Rochester, New York--in the world. This site provides an example of one specific community's entire environmental profile. Though I focus sharply on Rochester, NY, there is nothing particularly significant about this mid-sized, upper New York State community’s environmental situation. I merely use Rochester because I live here and thus I have better access to much of the information needed to demonstrate my ideas.
In 1998 I began RochesterEnvironment.com both to inform myself about the Rochester-area environment and to share what I discovered using the new and quickly-growing medium of the Internet. What I was learning from scientific studies, books, public documents, environmental reports, and online articles about the growing plight of our environment did not match what was being reported locally. My observations revealed a looming disaster while the local mainstream media plodded on with business as usual. So, over the last ten years, RochesterEnvironment.com evolved towards the premise that our mainstream media is not doing a good job on informing the public about our environmental priorities. If the public does not have a correct model of reality, we are doomed to serious environmental degradation, maybe even environmental collapse.
Over the years, I have shaped RochesterEnvironment.com to provide at least one small enclave against the suppression of environmental information we need to know in order to have a sustainable environment. The site is an objective, non-profit, connect-the-dots presentation of all the environmental information pertaining to one area. Instead of measuring how environmental stories will bring readership to the news media or fit within a political agenda, I ask, how will Global Warming affect Rochester? How does the deterioration of the oceans and other bodies of water like the Great Lakes affect Rochester? Or, when will brownfields be cleaned up in our community? In addition, RochesterEnvironment.com catalogues all the environmental events and activities (which constitutes a large interactive part of this site’s work) going on in and around this community. My hope is that this vision of an all-encompassing environmental web site devoted to one community would take hold in others areas—and then connect with each other.
The advantage of this wholesale approach is a complete monitoring of our environment sourced from many online news publications, near and far, while providing primary sources from university, libraries, cities, counties, state, federal, and environmental organizations. Truly, the Internet is an excellent vehicle for making the public aware of our environment. It is paperless, instantaneous, world-wide, interactive, comprehensive, and mostly free. The web allows for feedback, self-correcting, and even allows detractors to have their say.
While we share many environmental concerns with other communities around the world, some of the repercussions of these issues and the solutions to them are unique to the Rochester, New York area—just as other locations would have their particular environmental issues, taken on in their unique way.
As catalogued in News Archives (a ten-year list of environmental news links about our area) and Daily Update Archive (a decade of events, actions, and thoughts on our environment), there are some unique stories about the Rochester area environment that provide lessons and suggestions for future study. Here are some issues and trends I have reported on in the last ten years:
- the rise and fall the Rochester-to-Toronto Fast Ferry project the rise and fall of the attempt to expand Seneca Park Zoo into the Olmstead designed Seneca Park
- an increase in dog fighting stories
- fewer asthma stories (which, given the nationwide epidemic, I doubt is actually dwindling)
- against most expectations, the adoption by our county of the state 48 Hour Pesticide Notification Law of pesticide lawn spraying
- lingering brownfields and several major pollution outbreaks
- an attempt by the county to put a NYS Thruway exit at Chili, an area of dwindling population that would have uselessly spilled a major thoroughfare on to an open corn field
- fewer stories on acid rain (probably because of efforts to curb energy plant emissions that caused acid rain)
- the rise in outbreaks of diseases like Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), West Nile Virus, and deer wasting disease (CWD)
- the rise and predictable nuisance of the Zebra Mussel
- more stories on local predictions of how Global Warming will affect the Rochester area
- a movement against burning coal for energy
- rise in recycling, and the proper disposal of hazardous waste with many ‘disposal’ events provided by Monroe County
- the steady rise in businesses “going green”
- more sightings of coyotes, bears, beavers, cougars, and even a moose
- growing concern over fresh water diversion and a plethora of environmental issues around the Finger and Great Lakes
- more environmental health reports and more studies on animals diseases, pollution, and invasive species
- Rochester becoming a leader in the reduction of lead poisoning detection in homes
- more lands set aside for open space
- periodic attempts by businesses and sports organizations to take over parts of our public parks
- rise in farm co-ops and organic farming
- a steady stream of various scenarios for solving Ontario beach pollution
- rise in wind farms, renewable energy sources, and local universities taking on research on renewable energy
- more stories about air quality, smog, and ground-level ozone pollution
- fewer environmental stories locally, likely due to a loss of dedicated environmental reporters and more online stories pertaining to our region coming from far and wide
- rise in trails and use of bikes for commuting
Now here in 2008, as the Internet grows in availability and use, I hope
to see RochesterEnvironment.com grow as an online newspaper. This
might seem pretentious to some in a world where there is more information,
more media outlets, more web sites, more governmental agencies, and
more universities doing more reporting on our environment. And
while these points are true, ironically it is also true that it is getting
more difficult to actually find out what is going on in our environment.
Governmental environmental agencies are underfunded and subject to political and economic pressures; the mass media is undeniably collected under fewer corporations dedicated to profit first. Also, in all sectors of the media our environmental problems are but one of the many issues confronting the public whereas in reality the state of our environment must be our first priority. As Carl Sagan has stated, “Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water."
Because of the primacy of our environment, I disagree with the view that the public is overwhelmed by the complexity and urgency of our environmental problems. That is an irresponsible and irrational attitude towards a real danger. We need more objective, interactive, and continual environmental information to help us protect our environment, not less. Regardless of environmentalism’s state of popularity, I believe that we must all monitor our environment daily, like we do sports, accidents, celebrity’s quirky predilections and the other things that attract us to the daily news. Further, we must compare the information we get from the government and the media with information from scientist and other media. At the level of societal choices, not necessarily scientific inquiry, the public must be ready to make profound decisions and wise votes that will affect our environment.
Many of us assume that the future will be much like the past, but a great deal of evidence suggests otherwise: There are manmade chemicals and genetically modified plants radiating into our environment that never existed before. Mankind, since the rise of agriculture ten thousand years ago, and his footprints on his environment escalating geometrically since the Industrial Revolution, has been profoundly altering air, land, and water on this planet. We must change our information priorities. We must all pay attention to what is going on in our environment locally and world-wide.