RENewsletter | August 22, 2010


The Free environmental newsletter from

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

[8/15/2010 – 8/22/2010]


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Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet. -- Carl Sagan


*** The August 2010 Environmental Site of the Month Award goes to  Greenovation | Think local, think sustainable   | Go to Environmental Award.


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



[Hyperlinks work by CTRL + click to follow a link]




Opening Salvo:  “Delaying decision time”


The flurry over reports that the Emerald Ash Borer recently arrived in Monroe County serves as an appropriate metaphor for how we make decision on environmental problems.  Picking one of the articles, I don’t fault this article in any way but only wish to focus on the lead sentence: 


Emerald ash borer threatens millions of Monroe County trees | | Democrat and Chronicle Decision time is nearing for Rochester-area residents and institutions that own ash trees: Try to save them, or let the emerald ash borer have its way? The tiny green pest, native to eastern Asia, was found last week in southern Chili, its first confirmed appearance in Monroe County. Dead or distressed ash trees are evident alongside the rolling corn fields there, and officials say perhaps 100 trees have been affected.  (August 16, 2010)


“Decision time is nearing…” The inference of these words and its use as a metaphor for how we presently address environmental issues as a whole is this: “When and only when the problem gets in our face, then we’ll address it.”  In other words, we have known for awhile that it would only be a matter of time before the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species, would make its way to our area.  (Actually, the insect in question has been here for awhile, we just hadn’t caught one chewing up one of our trees until recently.)  But we took the attitude that there’s little we can do until it gets here and when it does, we’ll circle the wagons (so to speak), break out the pesticides, and do battle.  Decision time gets delayed until it’s too late.


I suggest that we should stop addressing environmental issues in this hopelessly ineffectual way.  Instead, we as a society should be constantly informing ourselves of possible environmental problems and seeking solutions long before the present media even considers splashing them on the headlines.   By the time most environmental problems get to the headlines they are unsolvable, inevitable, and become the new environment—one in which we may or may not survive.   Hence, in this case, we are going to learn to live without a lot of ash trees for awhile, pesticides or no pesticides.


Decision time for solving the invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer should have begun long ago.  It’s going to wreak havoc on our ash trees.   Granted, many environmental departments have been aware of the Emerald Ash Borer for a long time and taken some measures, like informing the public about transporting of firewood and putting out traps.   But this wasn’t enough.  A real decision on Invasive Species wasn’t made.  These solutions were implemented because they caused the least amount of money and disruption to our way of life—which is what we do.  We think our environment isn’t absolutely important.


The Asian Carp problem, zebra mussels, Climate change, oil spills, and most environmental problems are not impossible for us to solve.  They are made impossible because they are perceived as too hard politically, economically, or too inconvenient.  For example, Climate Change can be addressed by switching wholesale to renewable energy—but we won’t do it.  It will irritate too many vested interests.  Invasive species can be curbed by better enforcement and monitoring of entry points to our environment, better educating the public, and staffing our environmental departments with experts who can take this issue on.  But we won’t do it.  We won’t do it because we think it will cost too much or it would put too many government officials in our face with too much power. 


I don’t mean to downplay the efforts that have been employed to stop invasive species, but they aren’t enough.  Our environmental problems, which are growing increasingly dear, are not going to be adequately addressed by doing the same old thing--the economically and politically safe route.   We’re going to have to make environmental decisions far earlier in the environmental decision making continuum than we do now, and we’re going to have to realize that our environment comes first.  The calamities we are experiencing lately—the Emerald Ash Borer, the BP oil spill, the loss of biodiversity—are not inevitable, they are the consequence of delaying Decision Time.   If you think this view is absurd and that Nature will just have to deal with our way of doing things, think again.  (Click on my email for feedback)




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





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.]





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.


September 2010



October 2010



November 2010





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.]


The August 2010 Environmental Site of the Month Award goes out to: Greenovation | Think local, think sustainable  As the heat on Net Neutrality heats up and the FCC makes its ruling on what the Internet will look like in the future, there will be those who think it won’t matter.  It will matter.  It will matter who gets to express Freedom of Speech on the future’s communication system.  It will matter because it could decide whose voices will be heard on Democracy and our environment.  If large corporations are allowed to rule on the Internet in the future, as they have in past media formats, we will lose entrepreneurs like Greenovation trying to engage and inform our area’s residents on our environmental matters.  We need many voices on what constitutes a sustainable environment, not just a few with deep pockets.  Greenovation is an example of the kind of start-up media our area, and all communities, need.   Here you will find the elements of the new wave of media--articles and essays focused on sustainability, events, green products from our area, and the kind of social media that engages with the public--that represents the direction media is moving towards.  Take a moment and visit Greenovation and see how our environmental issues can be addressed using the new tools of the new media.  


Greenovation | Think local, think sustainable  “Greenovation started back in June 2009 as a consulting business, assisting clients with green design choices for their homes. Things would’ve been fine had they remained that way, but dreams don’t ever come in small sizes. When I ask people where they think of when I mention green living, the answer is likely to be the West coast, or cities like Asheville, NC or Austin, TX. What about Western New York? Sprinkled across the map are pockets of green innovation, from the ecovillages of Ithaca to the co-ops of Rochester. Small businesses thrive in a green niche, and there’s enough of a following to promote them to anyone searching for them. But what about the average person who lives and works every day, surrounded by these forward-thinking people and businesses, but never takes advantage of them? What about the green startup that’s looking for a community to call home? Is our area the best choice, or should they look somewhere in North Carolina or Texas? From a consulting business to an online retailer to a community, Greenovation is as big as you want it to be. If there’s a desire to put our area on the map as a leader in sustainable practices, or promote local business and talent, Greenovation is the vehicle to make it happen. Giving power to the people who live and work sustainably can only result in more great ideas, a wider acceptance of green practices, and a shared vision for our communities. The website,, is what you make of it. We have contributors sparking ideas in a wide variety of local topics. Readers may then expand on these ideas, spark new conversations, which (I hope) will result in action. Someone in the community sees a need for more community gardens? Start a thread in the forum, get your friends involved, make a plan. Make a difference”



Frank J. Regan ( or ( ) - Please visit: Where you can get all the environmental news, events, documents, and services on the Internet for Rochester, New York. is the most complete, non-profit environmental site for any one city in the world. You can also subscribe to RochesterEnvironment.Com. Once a month, get's "RENewsletter in your mail" - Or, join in discussion on Rochester environmental matters at Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY -