RENewsletter | June 29, 2014
The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com
“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”
[06/22/2014 – 06/29/2014]
Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Take Action
Opening Salvo: “Messaging Climate Change is “Risky Business” if not impossible”
One of the prevailing thoughts that must pass through the minds of climate messengers is how to reach a public who is sick and tired of hearing about Climate Change. The science aspect of Climate Change is no longer being questioned by reasonable people. Most folks get it, in theory, but not as a top priority. Climate messengers know that heaping more scientists on board and going over the facts again and again are probably not going to work. Nor will psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists noodling how to get folks to care about what kind of climate they are bequeathing to their great grandchildren.
Though we are a species blessed with the ability to connect cause and effect, seemingly we have little regard for the consequences of a warmer world for ourselves, our children, other folks, and the creatures we share the planet with. Aren’t we humans just the darndest?
The National Climate Assessment (NCA) tried to convince Americans that Climate Change is happening now: “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.” But even this immediate threat to our own self interest isn’t causing much change in the media, nor in the public’s concern, and not even a blip in our political world. Actually, it’s causing an anti-blip where President Obama‘s critics believe the report and his Climate Action Plan are merely ploys to mess with their agenda. American politics, ya gotta love it.
Climate messengers could try and be nicer, I suppose. Apocalyptical scenarios are very off-putting. One could say (and some do): just drive an energy efficient car, march against the fossil fuel industry, or walk more and all will be fine. (It is fine, but it’s not enough.) But climate messengers are truly getting tired of a public content to let our life support system tank because they’ve got other stuff to do, and aren’t willing to do the little that is asked by science (lower GHGs). Everyone knows at this point in time that Climate Change is happening, and there’s absolutely no indication we can marshal the will to do something about it. Not on a global level that will matter, anyway.
Humm …, What will work? What would be a teachable moment, a moment when we collectively sit up and say, “Ah ha, we need to get moving on Climate Change!” The West Antarctic glacier melting beyond the point of no return? Too far into the future. More warm-related diseases? Naw, we got health insurance. Food shortages because of droughts? We got supermarkets. Heat? We’ve got air conditioners. Yep, it’s tough trying to convince folks whose ancestors have given up so much so we can live so insulated from the real world.
How about: “RISKY BUSINESS: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States”? This report just released may be one of those teachable moments (though to be truthful, Hurricane Sandy should have done that). This report is not written or compiled by the usual suspects, but by some not given to the green agenda: economists. And they aren’t even asking fellow conservatives to morph themselves into limp-wristed liberals. Just a carbon tax. Just a reality check; for if the free market fundamentalists cannot even find it in their hearts to patch up their crazy economic system with a ‘carbon tax’ to offset their historical distain (negative externality, where they don’t have to pay for polluting our commons ((our air and water)) for our environment (our life support system), then we must give up all hope to reason with them.
With “Risky Business…”, the core conservatives are themselves trying to message climate and reason with the loony end of their party, those who hear TAX! and think BIG GOVERNMENT! But a co-author of “Risky Business”, Henry M. Paulson Jr, US Secretary of the Treasury under Bush II, is saying (pleading, actually) to his own party that what the climate-denying, Big Government haters don’t get is that they’re causing government to get bigger!
“Some members of my political party worry that pricing carbon is a “big government” intervention. In fact, it will reduce the role of government, which, on our present course, increasingly will be called on to help communities and regions affected by climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms. We’ll all be paying those costs. Not once, but many times over.” (The Coming Climate Crash Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession | (June 21, 2014) New York Times
Sorry about all the exclamation points. (!) But it’s hard not to get a little excited when economic experts set out to prove Climate Change will be an economic meltdown if the business community doesn’t change their attitudes. If the GOP, who are seriously jamming up our efforts to address Climate Change, cannot hear environmental distress, maybe they can understand economic distress. Maybe there’s hope. Maybe not.
Right here in New York, we might not pass a bill “that would require state-funded projects to factor in climate change”1 because it might piss off some business groups. This is pathetic because nothing is more critical than making sure projects and planning of all types (not just state-funded projects) must factor in Climate Change—this integration of Climate Change and planning is in every freaking climate study you read. Maybe these “business groups” just haven’t read “RISKY BUSINESS.” Maybe they should.
FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com (Click on my email for feedback)
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I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens. The ability of this newsletter to inform and get the public focused on our local environment is dependent on reaching a lot of folks. If you think this newsletter, which continually informs our community on our local environmental news, events, actions, is worthwhile, please encourage others to sign up. We who care about our environment and future need to ‘Occupy’ the Rochester media to change how the public views environmental news. This newsletter looks and works great on your tablet device.
The great conundrum of our times is that in a time of rapidly occurring Climate Change and a rapid disintegration of the environment that we need to thrive and survive, mainstream media still marginalizes environmental concerns. [Check often for this continually updated list on the possible consequences of Climate Change in our region--supported by facts.] If there isn’t a quick and substantial change in how environmental concerns are reported, edited, and chosen in mainstream media, the public will continue to believe that environmental concerns are merely special interest matters, issues they can avoid if they choose. How can we inform the public and monitor our environment without abridging our Freedoms--in enough time to save ourselves?
“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
My companion book to RochesterEnvironment.com written in 2005 still holds true. Now, “We Don’t Get It!” is an E-Book on Amazon.com and Kindle Amazon.com: We Don't Get It! eBook: Frank Regan: Books
NewsLinks – Environmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]
Updates – Daily 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. Text in BOLD are my comments.]
· 6/28/2014 - Local opposition to lake-level plan highlights the intractability of addressing Climate Change without compensating victims. When folks, like shoreline property owners, are disproportionally affected by new regulations that attempt to address Climate Change and other environmental issues by making adjustments to environmental regulations, like fixing a lake-level, then something should be done to compensate the shoreline property owners—not abolish measures to address Climate Change. The answer is not to disproportionally get the ear of our local officials to roll back decisions that would affect all of us. Shoreline property owners have a unique place (a great privilege) in our environment –they ‘own’ the ring, the borders, around our waters. They are the gatekeepers to OUR waters. The placement of wind turbines and the setting of lake-levels should not be decided by a relative few whose self-interests out rank the interests of our environment, our life support system. Compensating shoreline property owners in some way, maybe a tax reduction or something, might be the way to fix what will be a continual issue of trying to address big issues related to our environment and a disproportionate impact of a few who can get media attention and an unfair hearing by our representatives. Officials join opposition to lake-level plan There's a growing chorus of elected officials raising their voices in opposition to a plan for new guidelines to govern the water levels of Lake Ontario. This week, state Sen. Joseph E. Robach, R-Greece, wrote Secretary of State John Kerry, urging that the United States refuse to sign on to the proposal issued earlier this month by the International Joint Commission, the U.S.-Canadian agency that oversees the lake. June 17: Shoreline residents: Lake plan ignores concerns The new regulatory plan would replace 50-year-old directives that have artificially kept the lake's levels within a narrow band of highs and lows that environmentalists and commission members say has devastated the lake's coastal wetlands. The lake has been stabilized via dams along the St. Lawrence since the 1950s. (June 27, 2014) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Great Lakes in our area]
· 6/28/2014 - Update on Climate Change (not good news) and ‘People’s Climate March’ in Sept, by McKibben (good news). Few writers can explain the necessity of addressing and mitigating Climate Change like Bill McKibben and he’s been doing it a long time. Be nice if folks would start listening to Bill more and the loony climate deniers less. The deniers have had decades to make their point and they have lost and now they need to move out of our way. Climate: Will We Lose the Endgame? We may be entering the high-stakes endgame on climate change. The pieces—technological and perhaps political—are finally in place for rapid, powerful action to shift us off of fossil fuel. Unfortunately, the players may well decide instead to simply move pawns back and forth for another couple of decades, which would be fatal. Even more unfortunately, the natural world is daily making it more clear that the clock ticks down faster than we feared. The whole game is very nearly in check. (July 10, 2014) New York Review of Books
· 6/28/2014 - This bill that “requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to consider the effects of climate change and extreme weather events when allocating monies or issuing permits” isn’t just a victory, it’s a no-brainer. Who in their right mind would have voted against addressing Climate Change and making it a part of how we plan our future? State lawmakers give green light to Community Risk & Resiliency Act ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental organizations hailed today's passage of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (A.6558-B-/S.6617-B) in the New York State Assembly and Senate as an important step in preparing the Empire State for a changing climate. This bill was one of NYLCV's top legislative priorities of the year. The Community Risk and Resiliency Act requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to consider the effects of climate change and extreme weather events when allocating monies or issuing permits. The legislation calls on state agencies to create model local laws concerning climate change risks to aid New York municipalities in preparing for extreme weather events, and also requires DEC to adopt regulations establishing science-based sea level rise projects by 2016. The measure was approved in both houses by wide margins, underscoring its strong and bipartisan support among lawmakers across the state. (June 19, 2014) New York League of Conservation Voters [more on Climate Change in our area]
· 6/28/2014 - Major waterways in New York State, including lower Genesee River, heavily polluted by industrial toxic waste. Let’s face it; we’ve got more problems with our water quality in our region than raw sewage from sporadic sewer overflows. Why isn’t the local media addressing this issue? Read “Wasting our Waterways. TOXIC INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION AND RESTORING THE PROMISE OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT” Released by: Environment New York Research and Policy Center” Toxic Chemicals Found in New York Waterways New York, NY—Industrial facilities dumped 5,303,190 pounds of toxic chemicals into New York’s waterways in 2012 making New York’s waterways the 15th worst in the nation, according to a new report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center. The “Wasting Our Waters” report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in New York and across the nation. "New York's waterways should be clean -- for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife," said Heather Leibowitz, the Director of Environment New York. "But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways." Environment New York Research & Policy Center’s report on toxic pollutants discharged into America’s waters is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available. (June 19, 2014) Environment New York [more on Water Quality and Genesee River in our area]
· 6/27/2014 - What kills more birds that wind turbines (573,000)? Windows (1 billion) and cats (3.7 billion) by far. But because Climate Change is a political issue in the minds of too many, bird kills get connected with renewable energy. If we really care about birds why don’t we keep our cats inside and do something about our windows before we attack Wind Power using the bird-kill argument? If we plan to do anything about Climate Change on a level that will matter, we have to have Wind Power and, of course, anything that can be done to protect birds from wind turbines should be done. But let’s get this argument in perspective. Why up to 1 billion birds crash into windows annually -- and how you can help reduce that Inside the all-glass atrium of the Syracuse City Hall Commons this morning, a bird expert said up to 1 billion birds a year die by crashing into all-glass atriums - and building glass in general. "They are running a gauntlet of glass wherever they go," said Christine Sheppard, the American Bird Conservancy's bird collisions campaign manager. (Yes, that's her real title.) The big problem is birds can't see glass. Birds have eyes on the sides of their heads and are busy scanning for food and predators. "They're not necessarily looking where they're going all the time," Sheppard said. Sheppard explained to the monthly meeting of FOCUS Syracuse why birds crash into glass and what homeowners and architects can do to make buildings safer for birds. (June 20, 2014) Syracuse.com [more on Wildlife and Wind Power in our area]
· 6/27/2014 - NRDC’s “Testing the Waters” also focuses on “Swimming in the Great Lakes”, which is what Rochesterians tend to do. Read the “Swimming in the Great Lakes” section of the report and find out the challenges we face and how Climate Change will affect (and probably already is) the future of swimming in our area. And, just to be thorough, remember this water quality thing in our area isn’t just about us; the Great Lakes waters need to be part of the thriving ecosystem—the least of which is us having fun swimming. If the waters get really bad, folks will just go to their swimming pools, if they think water quality in the Great Lakes is just about swimming.
· 6/27/2014 - Of course, for our U.S. Eastern Ecosystems to sequester and counter GHGs contributing to Climate Change these ecosystems have to stay, more or less, intact—which is the rub. We’ve already lost most of our wetlands in the Eastern US, and development threatens more and more ecosystems. So, while this report is seems to be comforting, we must remember that our global GHGs are rising in spite of this and we haven’t slowed down development, which destroys our ecosystems, much at all. Point: If we want our ecosystems to help with Climate Change we are going to have to protect them. Carbon Storage in U.S. Eastern Ecosystems Helps Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions Contributing to Climate Change Interior Releases Report on Anniversary of President’s Climate Action Plan; New Visualization Tool Helps Land Managers Make Smart, Informed Landscape-Level Decisions WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a new report showing that forests, wetlands and farms in the eastern United States naturally store 300 million tons of carbon a year (1,100 million tons of CO2equivalent), which is nearly 15 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions. In conjunction with the national assessment, today USGS also released a new web tool, which allows users to see the land and water carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states. This tool was called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan. “Today we are taking another step forward in our ongoing effort to bring sound science to bear as we seek to tackle a central challenge of the 21st century – a changing climate,” said Secretary Jewell. “This landmark study by the U.S. Geological Survey provides yet another reason for being good stewards of our natural landscapes, as ecosystems play a critical role in removing harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.” (June 25, 2014) U.S. Geological Survey [more on Plants and Climate Change in our area]
· 6/26/2014 - Climate Change causing air stagnation events is not good. Think ‘Great Smog’ and ponder whether this is the future we should bequeath our children. “The Great Smog of '52 or Big Smoke was a severe air-pollution event that affected London during December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly from the use of coal to form a thick layer of smog over the city. It lasted from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 December 1952, and then dispersed quickly after a change of weather. Although it caused major disruption due to the effect on visibility, and even penetrated indoor areas, it was not thought to be a significant event at the time, with London having experienced many smog events in the past, so-called "pea soupers". Government medical reports in the following weeks estimated that up until 8 December 4,000 people had died prematurely and 100,000 more were made ill because of the smog's effects on the human respiratory tract. More recent research suggests that the total number of fatalities was considerably greater, at about 12,000.” Wikipedia | Climate change will concentrate deadly air pollution, study says Climate change-related shifts to weather patterns are poised to worsen air quality around the world, according to a new study led by a Stanford University researcher. The research team responsible for the study used 15 global climate models to track the number and duration of atmospheric stagnation events and predict their future incidence. Atmospheric stagnation is a weather phenomenon that occurs at the convergence of light winds, a stable lower atmosphere, and low precipitation. Stagnation magnifies the effects of pollutants like soot, dust, and ozone by holding them in place—resulting in deadly consequences for nearby communities. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution already causes 7 million premature deaths each year, representing one in eight total global deaths. Excessive air pollution is linked to a slew of maladies including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and lung cancer. Even in face of these striking numbers, the report claims that climate change could make the effects of air pollution even worse. (June 25, 2014) tcktcktck [more on Air Quality and Climate Change in our area]
· 6/27/2014 - Studies on Climate Change and altruism boil down to this: Don’t help your grandchildren and you don’t get any great, great, grandchildren. Duh. I’m thinking that it would be more productive if studies found out how to convince folks that the market should not be their moral system. Another, Duh!: “So some kind of regulation is really essential — you can’t just leave things to the free market and hope that it will work out.” And that’s because the free market gave us Climate Change. What It Takes To Cooperate With Future Generations On Climate Change Simply cooperating in everyday life is hard enough, but cooperating with future generations is a whole other challenge — and one that makes addressing climate change so difficult. Why people are willing, or unwilling, to make present day sacrifices for future generations is the topic of a new study called “Cooperating With The Future” from researchers at Harvard and Yale. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the study looks at how people weigh decisions that are dependent on the continued help of subsequent generations, such as climate change and resource management. “There has been a great deal of work on how people cooperate with those they see every day — their colleagues or friends,” Martin Nowak, director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, said in a statement. “But an open question is how people cooperate with future generations. How do you make altruistic decisions today that benefit people tomorrow?” (June 26, 2014) Think Progress/Climate Progress [more on Climate Change in our area]
· 6/26/2014 - Who doesn’t love to watch the spectacular frenzy of wildly jumping invasive species fish making their way to our Great Lakes? But are we doing enough to stop this invasive species coming and potentially disrupting the greatest fresh water system in the world? Let me phrase this question another way: Is our government, because stopping invasive species is not something the private sector can do (though they’d love to make money off fishing for Asian Carp), doing enough to prevent a species that could change the entire environmental and economic character of the Great Lakes? BTW: For those who think small government is best, let them climb on to an Asian Carp and ride them back to Japan. Asian Carp IPM: Demonstration Project on the Illinois River (Trailer) Published on Jun 24, 2014 USGS and partners conducted an integrated pest management project on the Illinois River to determine the effectiveness of combining multiple tools in limiting populations of Asian carp. (Trailer version). Special Consideration: 1- Research partners - Southern Illinois University and Illinois Department of Natural Resources have provided images of field work for use in this video. 2- Free images have been used from websites of the following agencies: USDA Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Great Lakes Fishery Commission. (June 24, 2014) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) [more in Invasive Species in our area]
· 6/26/2014 - Got ideas on who should get a local environmental award in our region? Make a nomination for this year’s’ Environmental Excellence Awards’ by the Center – from Center for Environmental Initiatives" The Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI) plans to present several Environmental Excellence Awards at its 40th Annual Community Salute to the Environment on September 30, 2014. Please help us recognize our region’s environmental leaders by making a nomination now. The process is easy, just use the forms provided on our website. Nominations are due by July 31, 2014, so please do not delay. See our website for more information about the Community Salute including registration and sponsorship opportunities. This year's featured topic: The Genesee River - Its Past, Present and Future. "
· 6/26/2014 - If our beaches are at a state where we have to check every day before we swim, what about challenges from Climate Change? We’ve become so inured to ‘issues’ with our beach water quality from storm overflows and raw sewage discharges that we just check with our beach monitors (media, apps, lifeguards). This seems normal. But it isn’t. It’s what been happening over a series of years where we haven’t stopped sewage discharges, industrial pollutants, and blue-green algae outbreaks (which are occurring more often because of Climate Change). So we think it’s normal to check every day before we take our kids to swim to make sure they can swim safely, information built on shaky ground—as beach water quality standards arecomplicated, if not delusional. Our beaches should be continually safe to swim in and because more extreme weather that is coming with Climate Change, our beach water should be set to a very high standard. Take Action: Protect clean water. Tell the EPA and the Corps you support restoring Clean Water Act safeguards for critical streams and wetlands. Take heed from the major climate plan in our state about beaches: “While speculative, if the interval between storms did increase in the future, this could result in a decreased summer frequency of acute pollution events, such as those that cause beaches near urban areas to close due to high pathogen levels.” (Page 95, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID) Testing the Waters 2014A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches A good trip to the beach promises sun, surf, and relaxation. Visitors should expect to leave sandy and smiling—but not feeling ill. Unfortunately, the water at your local beach might be contaminated by human or animal waste, putting your health at risk: bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in that waste can make exposed swimmers sick. What causes this contamination? Across the country, the largest known contributor to beach closings or health advisory days has historically been stormwater pollution. Untreated sewage spills and overflows are also frequently to blame. This report presents information on water quality at more than 3,000 U.S. beaches along the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Explore the interactive map below to learn about beaches in your community. You can also click here to learn about superstar beaches—popular beaches that routinely have had low bacterial levels. (June 2014) National Resources Defense Council (More on Water Quality in our area]
· 6/25/2014 - I applaud Rochester’s plans to become “a world-class bicycling community” but painting the streets is not enough. The public needs to be educated what the paint on the roads for bicycling means. The media needs to become a part of the community and continually remind folks that cars and bicycles are allowed on our streets and what the laws are. Motorists need to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclist. We have a pretty lousy record of whacking bicyclist and pedestrians in our area [ Watchdog: Making roads safe for the unprotected , June 15, 2014, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]. Bicyclists need to be predictable and follow the laws, so motorist can figure what the hell their next move will be. Bicyclist need to learn to ride in the streets and get off the sidewalks where they are a danger to pedestrians. The City of Rochester needs to connect the dots between active transportation (walking and bicycling) as their serious attempt to adapt to Climate Change. But what I really wanted to talk about was my bike trip yesterday that included biking a stretch between the intersection of Monroe Ave. and Clover Street and the entrance to the canal—about a mile. There’s a big shoulder on both sides of Clovers Street for this section so this rant isn’t about engineering, or about vehicles dismissing an old bicyclist. It’s about everybody and their mother using this shoulder for every conceivable reason—parking cars, parking lawn debris, parking lawn care equipment, construction crews heedless of bicyclists, service crews using shoulders for parking, and you-name-it. Here’s the thing. You cannot just paint the streets with big shoulders and bike lanes if you don’t enforce the rules. If you are going to say that our region wants to be a world-class bicycling community, you’ve got to prove it. I don’t know who ‘owns’ this stretch of Clover Street—Pittsford, Brighton, Monroe County, Rochester, whatever—but it’s not the point. The point is that if we are really serious about making active transportation safe and doable in this region we’ve got to get serious and make sure pedestrians and bicycling can get around all the freaking construction going on and start handing out tickets to anyone who using bike lanes for piling lawn garbage. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be hurtful, but what’s the point of creating a bike lane if nobody knows what they are and everyone just parks all their crap on them? Maybe if the local reporters biked to work, they’d get the message they should be giving the public.
· 6/25/2014- I looked through Rochester NY local news and found nothing on “The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States” [http://riskybusiness.org/]You’d think a smart city like Rochester would get hip with Climate Change and how that might crush us economically if we don’t get our heads out of the sand. But ‘Climate Silence’ seems to the be the word around here and maybe our media thinks if they keep it all hush hush, even when major reports come out about the need to plan, it will just freaking go away. I’m thinking, Climate Change will not go away, not even if the media suppresses the truth.
· 6/25/2014 - Oh no, I understand completely: Can’t imagine why doubling nuclear waste near Great Lake might be a problem at all. What could be a better nuclear waste dump than plopping it right next to the largest fresh water system in the world that serves millions of folks? What could possibly go wrong? It sounds completely sensible to me: we never hear of problems with nuclear power. Doubling nuclear waste site won’t boost risk, says safety regulator Doubling the size of a proposed nuclear waste site near Kincardine won’t harm the environment, say staff of Canada's nuclear safety regulator Doubling the size of a proposed nuclear waste site near Kincardine is not likely to harm the environment, says staff of Canada’s nuclear safety regulator. Hearings are already under way before a federal review panel on a proposal by Ontario Power Generation to excavate a disposal site for 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste near Kincardine. In material filed with the review panel, staff of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says they see little change to the impact of the project despite the doubling in size. In the jargon of the nuclear industry, the project is referred to as a “deep geologic repository” or DGR. “The expanded DGR, as currently conceptualized, is expected to remain acceptably safe in the long term,” says a report from safety commission staff. “There are no likely adverse cumulative effects on the environment from the DGR project,” it concludes. (June 25, 2014)Toronto Star [more on Great Lakes in our area]
· 6/25/2014 - Even in the Northeast we’ve been putting major upgrades to our aging water infrastructure aside in spite of warnings: “Devise wastewater treatment plant upgrades and combined sewer overflow mitigation strategies (for communities that do not have one in place) to address possible changes in flood risk, sea level rise, and increases in large rainfall events. Modest water infrastructure design changes at the planning stage will avoid more costly modifications to constructed” [Page 105, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)| Aging water infrastructure ‘nearing the end of its useful life’ Even though a government report revealed that most experts foresee water shortages within the next decade, countless of gallons of water are currently wasted every day by an aging and inefficient infrastructure. In its 2013 report card on America’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded drinking water infrastructure and its 240,000 water main breaks a year as a “D+.” In comparison, the group issued a higher grade to the often criticized bridge infrastructure at a “C+.” “We lose a lot of water in our aging water disruption infrastructure,” said Jared Bales, a chief water scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey, a federal research agency. The Government Accountability Office released the report last month. In it, 40 out of 50 state water mangers reported in a survey that they expect local, regional or statewide drought under normal conditions in the next 10 years. (June 23, 2014) Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting [more on Water Quality and Climate Change in our area]
· 6/25/2014 - Read about how Climate Change will affect the US Northeast’s economics in this section of “Risky Business”. Northeast “While the Northeast region of the U.S. is expected to experience a sizeable increase in temperatures and average number of extremely hot days over the course of the century, the region’s major climate impact will be sea level rise and its effect on coastal infrastructure. Rising sea levels are a direct consequence of rising temperatures: As the oceans warm, they expand. This phenomenon is further exacerbated by land-ice melt, particularly the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Scientists have recently found evidence of accelerating and perhaps unstoppable land ice melt in West Antarctica. 14 A further (and more minor) contributor to sea level rise is groundwater withdrawal, which can literally sink the land adjacent to the ocean. All of these factors—thermal expansion, ice melt, and groundwater withdrawal—can lead to higher water levels along the coasts.” (June 2014 RISKY BUSINESS: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States)
· 6/25/2014 - Read yourself, before evil pundits translate for you, the new economic report “Risky Business” on Climate Change. RISKY BUSINESS: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States "The U.S. faces significant and diverse economic risks from climate change. The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation’s current assets and ongoing economic activity. To date, there has been no comprehensive assessment of the economic risks our nation faces from the changing climate. Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change to the United States uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path. The Risky Business research focused on the clearest and most economically significant of these risks: Damage to coastal property and infrastructure from rising sea levels and increased storm surge, climate- driven changes in agricultural production and energy demand, and the impact of higher temperatures on labor productivity and public health." (June 2014)
· 6/24/2014 - Want to learn more about Climate Change and sustainability? Ask your kids. Check out Greening Forward. Rochester Regional Group Brings 18 Year Old Greening Forward CEO to Rochester Schools Charles Orgbon III is not your average high school senior. While still in elementary school, his concern for a littering problem on school grounds prompted him to start the Earth Savers Club. Then, he decided to create a website originally named Recycling Education, now Greening Forward. That’s when this author found him, as I was also putting together a website that offered “green” tips and info, and links to hundreds of other environmentally-oriented sites. Soon, Charles was also writing a guide to starting an Earth Savers Club for students in other schools to use. I wound up volunteering to help edit it, but at the same time was very impressed with his thoroughness and writing ability. Today, you can buy it on Amazon! Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club
· 6/24/2014 - GREAT NEWS! Boaters are completely banned from discharging raw sewage into Lake Erie--but about two centuries late. I know, this new restriction from our nanny state government will put a tremendous burden on boaters who want to stay out on the lake all day, but .., jeeze some people drink that water. Just saying… EPA and New York State Announce Ban on Dumping Sewage from Boats into Lake Erie The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation today declared the New York side of the Lake Erie shore line a “no discharge zone,” which means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water. The EPA reviewed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposal to establish a no discharge zone for the lake and determined that there are adequate facilities in the area for boats to pump out their sewage. Boaters must now dispose of their sewage at one of the lake’s specially-designated pump-out stations. This action is part of a joint EPA and New York State strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the state’s waterways. The no discharge zone for the New York State portion of Lake Erie is a 593 square mile area and 84 miles that includes the waters of the lake from the Pennsylvania-New York State boundary, as well as the Upper Niagara River and numerous other tributaries, harbors and bays of the Lake, including Barcelona Harbor, Dunkirk Harbor and the Buffalo Outer Harbor. Lake Erie and its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating, and recreational opportunities. (June 23, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency News Releases from Region 2 [more on Water Quality in our area]
· 6/24/2014 - Sorry, I’m racking my brain here…, I put it somewhere, but I cannot find it…, why would NYS even consider Fracking? I know it’s here some place. Marcellus waste ends up in NY landfills, study finds it could be radioactive Whenever an oil or gas well is drilled, the material that comes out of the well can include rocks and drilling mud and brine and water. New York and the other states in the Marcellus region allow that waste, which comes up before a well is fracked, into municipal landfills. A study by the US Geological Survey found that the radioactivity associated with the Marcellus Shale is three times higher than in other layers. The element of greatest concern is radium, particularly radium-226. It has a half-life of more than 5,000 years. So, basically, once it’s in the environment, it’s there forever. Duke University professor Avner Vengosh co-authored a 2013 study that found elevated radium levels near treatment plants in Pennsylvania that handled Marcellus wastewater. (June 23, 2014) Innovation Trail[more on Fracking in our area]
· 6/24/2014 - I know this is heresy, but characterizing environmental health by reminding the public that our rivers are no longer on fire doesn’t cover it. Instead of investigating how healthy our environment is according to environmental science, the press is looking back and saying it’s not as bad as it was. And thinking we’ve made progress. This is like saying your house that was on fire is OK to go back into and live because it’s not a raging fire anymore and the firemen aren’t still squirting it with a lot of water. We need a realist appraisal of our environmental sustainability, especially as we plan for Climate Change. Our environment must not simply no longer be on fire; it actually has to work as it is the system that keeps us alive. And, OBTW, if we hadn’t reversed course, created the EPA and the Clean Water Act, and no longer allowed business as usual that freaking river would be still burning. Let the case of a river on fire be a warning that only environmental restrictions on corporations who know nothing but profits to their shareholders is the only way we can survive with such ruthless disregard for our life support system. 45 years later: Cuyahoga River pollution much lower than ‘the day the river burned’ CLEVELAND, Ohio — Gaze down the Cuyahoga River near where its mouth opens into Lake Erie, and you will see rowers and boaters, people on jet skis and others just fishing. In other words, you will see a lot of people enjoying the river. Forty-five years ago, that wasn’t the case. On that date, June 22, 1969, the river caught fire, sparking a national debate about environmental standards and making Cleveland the butt of national jokes. “We came down, and we saw it burning,” said Angelo Cammarato, who was a teenager at the time. “And we thought it was very unusual for the river to be burning.” (June 22, 2014) Fox 8 Cleveland [more on Environmental Health in our area]
· 6/24/2014 - ‘Clean Power Plan’ Attend public hearing, comment on plan, get toolbox for states, don’t sit this one out. Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule “On June 2, 2014, EPA proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. States, cities and businesses across the country are already taking action to address the risks of climate change. EPA's proposal builds on those actions and is flexible - reflecting that different states have a different mix of sources and opportunities, and reflecting the important role of states as full partners with the federal government in cutting pollution. This proposal will maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment now and for future generations.” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
· 6/24/2014 - I know, getting outside more will get us closer to nature, but it’s hard to see Climate Change without some app help. Seeing Climate Change From Space: NASA Creates Image-Based iPad App We humans have made great progress to get to this unique point in our history. But those very strides now pose us with the greatest challenges. The combination of a booming population, increasing industrialization and the ability to exploit Earth’s natural resources like never before is, quite literally, changing the face of our planet. The app offers a collection of some of the best before-and-after image pairs from this site, NASA’s Webby-award-winning Global Climate Change website. The site is a larger effort to make information about climate change, images and interactive tools more accessible to citizens and decision makers, which is also a key aspect of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. (June 18, 2014) EcoWatch[more on Climate Change in our area]
· 6/24/2014 - Dangerous Pennsylvanian Fracking methane Earth burps doesn’t sound all that enticing to us here in New York State. No thanks. We’d just as soon get great jobs, and adapt to and mitigate Climate Change with renewable energy like Wind Powerand Solar Power. Fracking increases dangerous earth burps A study of derelict Pennsylvania oil and gas wells has spotted what is possibly a huge source of additional greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, which is pound-for-pound a much more potent climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide, could be leaking from hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells. And that’s just in the Keystone State. A growing body of evidence says countless old wells across the country — most poorly monitored — could be belching up the same dangerous emissions. The study by Mary Kang of Princeton University measured 19 abandoned oil and gas wells and found all of them were leaking various amounts of methane. Extrapolated across a state where there may be as many as 970,000 such wells, the leaks could account for between 4 and 13 percent of anthropogenic methane released in the state. The methodology of this study is also significant. The Environmental Protection Agency uses a so-called “bottom-up” approach, where gas leakage is measured at individual points on the equipment used in exploration and extraction. The new study uses a “top-down” estimate, taking measurements from above predicted sources of greenhouse emissions. (June 20, 2014)Aljazeera [more on Fracking in our area]
· 6/24/2014 - Sounds pretty alarming to me: “time for all American business leaders and investors to get in the game and rise to the challenge of addressing climate change." Climate Change is about planning and if we don’t plan properly it’s going to get very expensive. U.S. to face multibillion-dollar bill from climate change: report Annual property losses from hurricanes and other coastal storms of $35 billion; a decline in crop yields of 14 percent, costing corn and wheat farmers tens of billions of dollars; heat wave-driven demand for electricity costing utility customers up to $12 billion per year. These are among the economic costs that climate change is expected to exact in the United States over the next 25 years, according to a bipartisan report released on Tuesday. And that's just for starters: The price tag could soar to hundreds of billions by 2100. Commissioned by a group chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of the Treasury and Goldman Sachs alum Henry Paulson, and environmentalist and financier Tom Steyer, the analysis "is the most detailed ever of the potential economic effects of climate change on the U.S.," said climatologist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University. (June 24, 2014) Reuters [more onClimate Change in our area]
· 6/23/2014 - If we don’t plan for Climate Change properly, our knee-jerk response to increase insect pests will be Pesticides. Everything should be planed to avoid allowing this dangerous default to be our way of handing increased insects that will cause more crop damage and more mosquito driven diseases. There are other ways to grow crops than flooding them with pesticides that will increase our health problems—but only if we plan and don’t leave adapting to the last minute. Business as usual is not the way to handle Climate Change. Don’t let this be our future: “Within the agriculture sector, increased use of pesticides as an adaptation to climate change may lead to increased chemical exposure for farm workers (many of whom are international migrants or members of minority groups). (Page 70, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID) funded by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (2011) | Autism risk higher near pesticide-treated fields, study says Babies whose moms lived within a mile of crops treated with widely used pesticides were more likely to develop autism, according to new research published today. The study of 970 children, born in farm-rich areas of Northern California, is part of the largest project to date that is exploring links between autism and environmental exposures. The University of California, Davis research – which used women’s addresses to determine their proximity to insecticide-treated fields – is the third project to link prenatal insecticide exposures to autism and related disorders. (July 23, 2014) Environmental Health News [more on Pesticides in our area]
· 6/23/2014 - Slow and steady is probably not one of the future weather patterns coming with Climate Change. Waves in the Atmosphere Fueling Extreme Weather The pattern of a wavy jet stream was a recurring theme in U.S. weather forecasts this winter as a particularly jagged one essentially split the country in two. While there is a debate over whether climate change causes that pattern, new research shows that the waviness does exacerbate extreme weather. The research, published in Nature Climate Change on Sunday, looked at planetary waves on a monthly timescale. Waves are essentially the ridges and troughs left as the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air, cuts it way across the middle of the northern hemisphere. The jet stream essentially helps drive weather patterns around the northern half of the globe by pushing around storm systems and sometimes impeding their progress. (June 22, 2014) Climate Central[more on Climate Change in our area]
· 6/23/2014 - US politics and Climate Change, how are they related? The same way ice cream and furniture are. Without mentioning any political parties (because doing so seems to set our hair on fire) let’s try and imagine what the future will be like if we install leaders who don’t believe in science will look like. Republican EPA Chiefs: No Excuse for Congressional Climate Inaction Hearing meant to highlight some bipartisanship on EPA's new climate plan did more to expose the deep partisan divide over the issue. By inviting four former Republican heads of the Environmental Protection Agency to testify in favor of prompt climate change action, Democrats on a Senate committee hoped to highlight some degree of bipartisan support for the EPA's crackdown on carbon emissions from power plants. The four duly defended the agency and disputed the notion that air pollution regulations are harmful to the economy. They also declared their acceptance of the established science on man-made global warming as an increasingly compelling reason to cut emissions. (June 18, 2014) Inside Climate News [more on Climate Change in our area]
Events – Rochester 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: FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com with (EV event) in the subject line. Also, be sure to check other calendars and environmental series for multi-day events.
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