RENewsletter | January 17, 2010


The Free environmental newsletter from

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

[1/10//2010– 1/17/2010]


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* Found an important Rochester environmental story from a credible source that you think needs attention? Please, SEND ME THE LINK.


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 Loss of Rochester’s Biodiversity”


The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a wake-up call because we know that biodiversity around the world is crashing, which is why our age is sometime referred to as either the Holocene Extinction or the Sixth Great Extinction.  However, unlike the other five mass extinction events (caused by asteroids, volcanoes, or global warming), this one is human caused.


It is big news: “The UN launches the International Year of Biodiversity on Monday, warning that the ongoing loss of species affects human well-being around the world. Eight years ago, governments pledged to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but the pledge will not be met.” (January 11, 2010) BBC.  


So, how does this affect the Rochester, New York area? To answer that we must first ask: What is biodiversity? “Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or for the entire Earth. Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems.”—from Biodiversity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Next, we must ‘see’ our region not only as our home, our place of work and play, but as a distinct part of our planet’s environment.  Sounds silly to have to make this point, but you’d be surprised how many people tend to forget we are an integral part of the four billion year experiment called life on this planet. And if you think those new HDTV’s are complex, they’re nothing compared to LIFE (biodiversity). Life is a factor of complexity on this planet beyond your wildest dreams with its components so interconnected as to make the smallest change affect all other life—sometime big changes (like death), sometimes small changes (like a faint whisper when a bug buzzes by your ear).


So, what is the state of our area’s biodiversity?  Answer: Hard to tell. No individual or institution has actually gone out and compiled all the information and reviewed all the historical data one would need to come up with that information.  You’d think people would want to know; how else can you tell how things are going?  How do you know what we are losing in biodiversity without a sustained effort to collect the data?


What can be teased out of just the Wildlife (sorry, no room for Plants in this essay) news of the past couple of years to get a sense of the biodiversity in our region? Here’s what I came up with: These guys are doing well: dogs and cats (boy, these creatures made out great hitching their fortunes to us humans) and deer, crows and pigeons. Bears are coming back and so are Bald Eagles, otters, Peregrine Falcons, and cormorants (which have come back so quickly that measures are being considered to halt their spread for fear of robbing fishermen of fish).


Troubling are the species that aren’t doing so hot. Bat populations nearby are collapsing (due to white nose syndrome) so rapidly that some fear their disappearance altogether. Great Lakes fish populations are being decimated by VHS disease, botulism, and toxins (Up to the Gills: 2009 Update on Pollution in Great Lakes Fish), and maybe the Asian Carp if it gets established.  Bird populations have changed according to “the National Audubon Society that shows how local and national threats are combining to take a toll on birds, habitat and the environment across the country.” (June 15, 07) New York State News on the Net!


What does it all mean?  Can we possibly tell from the ad hoc information that exists on our local biodiversity whether we have enough endemic plants and animals in the right proportions for a sustainable biodiversity here in Rochester, NY?  I’d say we should be conduction studies trying to find that out—as a part of a larger, comprehensive study.  Just guessing about the state of our area’s biodiversity might not turn out so well for us.  (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.







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. 


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

o        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

o        Action Due Date: EPA will take public comment for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. |

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 for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. 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:  (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.]