RENewsletter | February 21, 2010


The Free environmental newsletter from

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

[2/14/2010– 2/21/2010]


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




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




Opening Salvo:  “The Green Paradox”


Being able to see the correct model of reality is often the key to finding the solution to a complex problem.  Take Zeno’s paradox of infinite regression: “Suppose Homer wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a fourth, he must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.” Zeno's paradoxes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 


If you remain fixed on solving this paradox mathematically or logically, you’re probably going to be frustrated.  Makes sense in a way, but it cannot be! Obviously, Homer will make it to his destination without getting lost in an infinite regression of half-distances. But, focused merely on the internal logic of the question can make this paradox unsolvable. The answer (provided by Aristotle) is that distances can be halved in your mind, but in the real world it doesn’t work that way. 


I’ve been noodling over this old philosophy puzzle because I see a connection between Zeno’s paradox and the flurry of articles on wind farms and wind turbine placement in our region lately. This present controversy, whether our region should support or avoid wind turbines, is spreading like wildfire. Lots of folks are getting mad as hell. (Check out these local newslinks on the matter: Wind Power Newslinks


Here’s the connection to Zeno’s paradox:  No doubt most people in our region have an opinion about whether we should allow wind turbines in our area.  Some may agree that wind farms or just wind turbines are OK, depending on where you place them.  But mostly, opinions run strongly in favor of them or against.  Groups have formed to accentuate the positive arguments and other groups quite the reverse.  You can find the list of groups against wind power in our area and all those for this renewable energy source at: Wind Power Rochester | Wind Energy | 


I myself almost got caught by the Green Paradox in an online discussion (friendly argument) with a physicist who asked me just how many wind turbines did I think it would take to replace one coal-fired plant?  He was fixated on forcing me to admit that it would take a lot of wind turbines, in terms of megawatts—which, of course, it would.  However, agreeing with the physicist would be like falling into the problem of the paradox:


The question “How many turbines does it take to replace a coal-fired plant” derives from a wrong model of reality.  The physicist’s assumption was that maintaining our present and future base load energy needs will not be supported by wind turbine technology. Likewise, most of the discussions by individuals, groups, town boards, politicians, and business, for and against wind turbine placement have good logical arguments—if you accept their premises. Premises, like aesthetics, property rights, energy base loads, costs, lawsuits, bird kills, noise factors, land value, are all good arguments, except they are all trumped by reality, Climate Change.    


Any other line of reasoning that doesn’t assume the need for renewable energy sources allows us the illusion that we have choices other than a healthy environment. If you are against renewable energy sources like contributing wind power from our area and don’t consider the repercussions of Climate Change in your decision, then you are going to get lost in an infinite regression of good arguments that fail to see reality.  When you fill your atmosphere with greenhouse gases, weather gets screwy and warms up. QED. Here’s a more appropriate paradox for our times: How has such a supposedly intelligent creature as Homo Sapiens put environmental health on the backburner and placed all other considerations before it?  (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.


February 2010







April 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. 


Action Due Date: Today

 Donate to a worthy cause: Christine Sevilla Project (Christine Sevilla Project) "Welcome to A Living Project to Preserve a Place in Christine's Honor  For All to Enjoy in Perpetuity Christine's family and friends envision a natural area, including wetlands, preserved in her memory.  This vision includes an educational component, like an interpretive trail to help others recognize what Christine saw - an interconnected natural community of flora and fauna, soil and water. Perhaps even an  Arts and Music Festival to celebrate what Christine so treasured. "

Action Due Date: Next Count: February 12-15, 2010

Get Involved — Great Backyard Bird Count "Your Help Will Make a Difference The success of the Great Backyard Bird Count depends on participants from every community to count birds across the United States and Canada. Help spread the word in your town by asking people to count birds for at least 15 minutes during the count. It's fun, easy, raises awareness of birds, and provides an important record of where the birds are--a record that scientists can use well into the future to track how birds are faring as their environments change. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon invite everyone to “Count for Fun, Count for the Future.”  --Great Backyard Bird Count — Great Backyard Bird Count

Action due date: February 23-24  | Washington, DC

Great Lakes Day 2010 – February 23-24 – Washington, DC – Registration is now open! - Healthy Lakes - Healthy Lives Time for Action! With your help, the effort to restore the Great Lakes has made significant progress in the past year, which is why it is more important now than ever to attend Great Lakes Day, February 23-24 in Washington, D.C.! In 2009 Great Lakes advocates helped secure huge victories for the Great Lakes, including an investment of over $1 billion to repair aging sewers and restore habitat in the economic recovery package and an historic $475 million for the new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative aimed at restoring habitat, cleaning up toxic pollution and confronting invasive species.

Action Due Date: March 22

EPA Strengthens Smog Standard/Proposed standards, strictest to date, will protect the health of all Americans, especially children The United States Environmental Protection Agency today proposed the strictest health standards to date for smog. Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Ozone can even harm healthy people who work and play outdoors. The agency is proposing to replace the standards set by the previous administration, which many believe were not protective enough of human health.  EPA will take public comment until March 22. The agency will hold three public hearings on the proposal: Feb. 2, 2010 in Arlington, Va. and in Houston; and Feb. 4, 2010 in Sacramento. More information: Ground-level Ozone | US EPA  (January 7, 2010)  [more on Air Quality in our area]




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.]