RENewsletter | March 7, 2010


The Free environmental newsletter from

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

[2/28/2010– 3/072010]


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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:  “Green Warning Signs”


Recently, we’ve noticed several signs that our environment is undergoing dramatic changes. Some of the most salient signs are the mercury-ridden fish in all of our streams, the collapse of the Copenhagen Climate talks, the release of methane gases from the Arctic Ocean, and a great resistance to greener transportation and energy.  In that vein, the auto show I attended recently revealed little interest or efforts in adapting our vehicles to the reality that the automobile and its infrastructure greatly affect the health of our environment.  I thought after all that talk about electric cars and fuel efficiency I’d see a new day at the shows. But there were the same old sexy cars and trucks—except now they cost more, still had lousy gas efficiency ratings, and have far more driver-distracting gadgets than ever before. 


Not all the signs are bad.  Bald Eagles have been increasing in New York State since 1970 and many Brownfields are getting cleaned up.  We got a few bucks (compared to other regions) for high speed rail, and some federal funds to clean up the Great Lakes.  However without an accurate model of what a sustainable environment is, it is difficult to know how good these signs actually are.  For example, are the animal and plant populations recovering quickly enough to establish themselves, or are they being sustained artificially?  And we may be spending a lot of money and creating jobs for Brownfield cleanups, but have we located all the Brownfields, and do we know what poisons they are leaching and what environmental and health problems they are responsible for?  I doubt it. A story gets out that something is being done and the public becomes complacent, mollified that things are going well. But Signs indicate that that they aren’t. 


For some reason, we (Homo sapiens) tend to have an unreasonable reaction to many warning signs. Perhaps we see signs like those little numbers on a roulette wheel. Sometimes the wheel stops at your number, sometime it doesn’t. Maybe, just maybe, that great big wheel of chance won’t nail us. Maybe this is a sign that Climate Change is true or maybe it’s a sign that it’s just another case of these climate scientists fudging the data: “Climate scientists have long warned that global warming could unlock vast stores of the greenhouse gas methane that are frozen into the Arctic permafrost, setting off potentially significant increases in global warming.” (3/4/10 NYT).


Maybe this story about fish contaminated with mercury doesn’t really mean much because they didn’t really test all the streams: “100 Percent of Fish in U.S. Streams Found Contaminated with Mercury” (3/4/10 – Natural  Maybe we just won’t eat fish from streams or any fish at all. 


What’s certain about environmental signs is that even when catastrophe occurs, like Hurricane Katrina, even when every fish still alive is contaminated, even when many of the predictions of Climate Change are not only coming to pass—but far more quickly than predicted—we ignore them.  However, as many a hapless driver who has strayed into a construction zone will tell you, you can only ignore the warning signs up to a point.  (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.





April 2010


May 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.]