RENewsletter | August 9, 2009


The Free environmental newsletter from  

“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”

[08/01/09– 08/09/09]


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Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Environmental Site of the Month | Take Action |



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Opening Salvo:  Green Teaching Moment


Reel mowing my postage stamp lawn last night, I seemed to have opened myself to some inadvertent ridicule.  “Old codger continues to mow lawn with ancient equipment.”  Anyway, I’m mowing my lawn near a busy Rochester street listening to my iPod (Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, as it were, the part where Boris Yeltsin’s popularity plunges to an unheard of 6% after the Cold War because of his political shenanigans) when a couple of young lads (early twenties) heading to the local bar called out something I couldn’t hear.  Naomi was lambasting Boris on how he used the public’s shock to advance his agenda. I stopped mowing and pushed my iPod’s pause button. I had liked Yeltsin, now I was hearing that he started the war in Chechnya just to get his popularity back with the Russian people.  


One of the young gentleman (full of mirth) was saying, “Sir! Sir! Gas!” I couldn’t figure why they were yelling about the existence of a popular petroleum resource, so I said, “What?” “Sir, they have gas now, gas lawnmowers, you’ve heard of gas, right?” one of them said.  They looked to each other and giggled and walked on. Immediately, I blurted, “Sure, sure, I’ve heard of gas.”  “You’ve heard of Global Warming, right?  They taught you about Global Warming in School?” Stunned for the moment, they continued on.  I had had my teaching moment and then it was back to Yeltsin.


Epilogue:  I mow my lawn with a reel mower because I have such a small lawn and because gas lawn mowers with their two-stroke engines are especially polluting.  Manufacturers fight tooth and nail whenever legislation shows up demanding that they install catalytic converters.  We often don’t think about just how polluting they are when we use those small engines for our lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and snow blowers.


Here’s something I came across awhile ago: “These small gas-powered engines have considerable per-engine emissions and are significant contributors to smog pollution in communities nationwide. In fact, EPA estimates there are over 52 million residential and commercial walk-behind lawn mowers and ride-on lawn, garden, and turf equipment in-use in the United States today, with estimated usage of 3 billion hours per year. On a per engine basis, small gas-powered engines emit more smog-forming pollution than highway cars, for example, a handheld piece of turf equipment can emit as much hydrocarbon as three cars and as much nitrogen oxides as 65 cars.” –from “Environmental Defense Welcomes EPA's Proposed Standards for Small Gas Engines / Small gas-powered engines emit more smog-forming pollution than highway cars” Posted: 17-Apr-2007 []


After the young gentlemen went on to their favorite tavern joyful in anticipation of imbibing their favorite brew, I thought how doing the right thing (say, mowing your lawn with a reel mower, instead of a gas-mower) offers the opportunity for a teaching moment about Global Warming and other environmental problems: the way we use and misuse our natural resources.  Something to remember when you’re riding your bike to work and someone yells out, “Get that bike out of the road!”  (Click on my email for feedback)




NewsLinksEnvironmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]


         EPA: Input on Clean Water

         NYS Gov: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution

         Unwanted Pharmaceutical Collection

         Possible Law: Banning Large Trucks on Certain Highways

         Methane Gas Energy From Cows

         Zebra Mussel Solution?

         NYS: Green Jobs Webcast

         Diesel Canandaigua Lake

         Beach Problems & "Smart Sponge"

         NYC: Green Job Training - EPA

         EPA: Comments on Perchlorate

         Penn: Gas Contamination

         Kodak Green

         Canandaigua Development

         Zero Waste

         Great Lakes Water Levels

         Wind Farms & Birds

         EPA: Green Power Purchasers Award

         DEC: Landfill Permit

         Vacant Lot Toxins Concerns



UpdatesDaily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments.]

         8/06/09 - How does Rochester, NY stack up in being bike friendly for commuters? Click here and vote us un The Top 10 U.S. Cities For Biking Americans overwhelmingly continue to drive alone to work. With more than nine out of 10 workers favoring driving. But these 10 cities are definitely taking the initiative to change that. Here are the top 10 U.S. cities for bicycling commuters. 

         8/06/09 - I told you so.  There’s something eerily familiar about this plastic accumulating in the oceans story.  Back in the day, some forty years ago when I was a college kid a friend of mine used to mention this story. No one but my friend had heard of this story, but because he was older and a great guy, we didn’t mock him.  Nonetheless, it was a weird story that strained credulity even back in those early seventies, when just about everything strained credulity. So, wherever my friend is today, he must be saying “I told you so to someone who probably thinks he’s made the whole thing up.     Just think what of what our world would look like to today if we had heeded all those ‘chicken little’ environmentalists of the past, like John Muir.  We might just have that clean and verdant world where we could drink our water without manmade chemicals and not have to worry about the vast accumulation of pollution in our oceans.  Of course, we can dismiss this story about the plastics as I did forty years ago and in our minds it will be out of sight out of mind.  But, one day like most pollution, someone is going to have to address the abuses of our past, so our grandchildren can have a future. Scientists study huge plastic patch in Pacific | U.S. | Reuters LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of miles (km) of open sea dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

         8/06/09 - Business are going to green and the NYS DEC helps: Greening Your Business - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Incorporate sustainability into your everyday business practices Today's businesses face many challenges. Greening up your operation shouldn't be one of them. DEC has a variety of programs to help you meet your economic and environmental goals.

         8/04/09 - Simple idea, spread far and wide, could have a profound energy efficient and global warming effects: By Degrees - White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters - Series - SAN FRANCISCO — Returning to their ranch-style house in Sacramento after a long summer workday, Jon and Kim Waldrep were routinely met by a wall of heat. (July 29, 09)

         8/03/09 - Eco-film opening in New York: "THE COVE" A very important documentary film is opening today in LA and NY and you can be part of the movement to let the secret out of the bag. "The Cove," is a must see for anyone who cares about the planet. Winner of audience awards across the world, including Sundance, "The Cove" follows a team of activists and filmmakers as they infiltrate a heavily-guarded cove in Taiji, Japan. Join the 1,306,744 supporters of the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now. We are all contributors to global warming and we all need to be part of the solution.

         8/03/09 - Bike to work, to that festival, that trail, or just about anywhere you want to go in Rochester by using the map: Genesee Transportation Council - TIP Greater Rochester Area Bicycling Map Now Available | The Greater Rochester Area Bicycling Map, prepared by the Genesee Transportation Council utilizing road ratings provided by volunteer members of the Rochester Bicycling Club, is now available.   The ratings represent the opinions of experienced bicyclists on the rideability of major roads based on existing road conditions and features such as pavement width and quality, traffic volumes, presence and type of shoulders, and posted speed limits.

         8/01/09 - Savings on renewable energy, it's the real deal: U.S. Treasury Department - Registration/Sign on Welcome to the United States Department of the Treasury's Application Submission Page for payments in lieu of tax credits for specified energy property.  These payments are authorized by Section 1603 of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's tax title signed into law on February 17, 2009.  



EventsRochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.]  If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: with (EV event) in the subject line.





ActionTake Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date. 




AwardEnvironmental Site of the Month Award – [On the last Sunday of each month, we present an environmental award for the Rochester-area environmental web site or blog that best promotes the need to protect and offers solutions for our area's environmental issues.]