RENewsletter | December 25, 2011
The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com
“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”
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[12/02/11 – 12/18/11]
* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY or Tweet me @ http://twitter.com/#!/FrankRrrr On Twitter and Facebook and Examiner/RochesterEnvironment, I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens. 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 need to Occupy the Rochester media to change how the public views environmental news.
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 safe 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
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Opening Salvo: “Brown Christmas in Rochester, NY 2011: a harbinger of Climate Change?”
These unusually warm days before Christmas 2011 are but a few of the predicted thousands of extreme weather events that will come with Climate Change. Though it is incorrect and very unfashionable to say that these particular rainy and warm days during this December 2011 are a direct result of Climate Change, it’s just as incorrect to say that the February 5–6, 2010 North American blizzard also known as "Snowmaggedon" that put hope in the souls of a dying breed of Climate Change deniers proved that climate warming isn’t true. Actually, Climate Change models do predict periodic big snow fall events because our warmer air holds more water (about 4% more), and when that warm moisture hits cold air, you get snow—sometimes lots of it.
Back and forth those trying to engage the public on Climate Change, some who know what they are talking about and some who don’t, are trying to convey to a reluctant public their views on the greatest calamity humanity has ever faced . But it isn’t easy. In today’s political climate, where the old order of world views and economics prevail, where many are trying to hold on to their incorrect models about the way the world actually works, are fighting tooth and nail against the looming reality. This is the looming reality:
· The Year in Weather: It Was a Disaster Some areas experienced historic floods, others saw historic droughts. Is climate change to blame? A once-in-five-hundred-year flood inundated the Mississippi River valley. A once-in-a-century drought in Texas shriveled the summer's crops and sparked sweeping forest fires. The deadliest tornado season on record tore communities to splinters. 2011 was clearly a year of extreme weather. Perhaps it is a sign of the pending 2012 apocalypse, but more likely, it is the result of a changing climate that is amplifying extremes. The chart above marks more than 2,900 separate weather records broken this year, and these records were costly. In all, Mother Nature inflicted $52 billion dollars in damage on the United States. (December 22, 2011) The Atlantic
· Environment world review of the year: '2011 rewrote the record books' The ecologically tumultuous year saw record greenhouse gas emissions, melting Arctic sea ice, natural disasters and extreme weather – and the world's second worst nuclear disaster. The year 2011 was another ecologically tumultuous year with greenhouse gases rise to record levels, Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007's record melt, and temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded. It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold in the US, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa, and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters. (December 22, 2011) The Guardian
· Climate Scientists Hampered in Study of 2011 Extremes Scientists say they could, in theory, do a much better job of answering the question “Did global warming have anything to do with it?” after extreme weather events like the drought in Texas and the floods in New England. But for many reasons, efforts to put out prompt reports on the causes of extreme weather are essentially languishing. Chief among the difficulties that scientists face: the political environment for new climate-science initiatives has turned hostile, and with the federal budget crisis, money is tight. (December 25, 2011) The New York Times
Dismissing, ignoring, and putting off reality for a future time just won’t do. Things are getting hot. But how do Climate Change communicators talk to the public about this unsavory topic? Right now, in order to be a Climate Change communicator, one has to bend over backwards not to say things like ‘Climate Change Crisis,’ ‘Global Warming’, ‘Methane Bomb’ (the potential massive release of stored up methane gas in permafrost regions), or anything else that seems offensive to the social standards of good taste. Even religion is having a tough go of it:
From the pews: Facing the reality of climate change Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian climate scientist who, when asked whether she “believes” in climate change, answers “no.” Don’t get Hayhoe wrong: She’s convinced that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it, like the vast majority of other climate scientists. She just doesn’t like talking about something like climate science in terms of “belief.” (December 16, 2011) Climate Reality
Here’s the thing: Should Climate Change communicators use fear, hope, or military thinking that says Climate Change will put more stress into all world conflicts like those that will arise over water shortages? Should they present the possible green energy paradigm, where we can use all our gadgets without guilt, or really advocate that we stop buying anything that isn’t energy efficient? Or, should they cling to sports events, movies, and vacation trips, thus pandering to the public’s tendency towards escapism?
Should they link every extreme weather event to Climate Change, or never do it and let the message seep in through a kind of unconscious osmosis? Should they connect the dots between expert studies on Climate and local news stories areas (like Rochesterenvironment.com does)? Should they use psychology and sociology or just the power of the market? Should they use the insurance argument that it’s going to get very expensive to live next to coastal areas because of sea rise due to glacier calving? Maybe we should use the World War II analogy where we all got together and faced the common enemy when the time was ripe—though, with something so all-over-the-board as Climate Change it’s hard to tell when the time is ripe so people can get going.
Or should we just lay out the facts and say things like the last time our planet’s atmosphere was at our present 390ppm of Carbon Dioxide, sea level was seventy-five feet above what it is now-- which, if enough time were to pass and the concentration was held at 390ppm, the glacial melts and other associated effects (like warm water expansion and the oceans being less capable of sequestrating carbon dioxide) would put us at that mark. Florida, by the way, which is only a few feet above sea level, would be long gone.
The truth is that our environment has changed. However Climate Change communicators spin the message, our planet’s atmosphere is warming up. As Bill McKibben states in Eaarth, our atmosphere holds 4% more water vapor since the era in which we evolved. Everything now and in the future on this planet must be viewed through the lens of Climate Change. Even those environmental groups who view themselves as preservationists will have to change how they act as environmentalists because their targets will be forever moving in a changing climate.
This brown Christmas might be a moment to reflect that this Christmas weather might be the new normal for Rochester, NY.
FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com (Click on my email for feedback)
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.]
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.
· SAVE THE DATE!! 2012 HYDROFRACKING DAY OF ACTION IN ALBANY JAN 23, 2012 http://www.citizenscampaign.org/special_features/fracking/fracking-day-of-action.asp
· Friday, April 27, 2012 At "The Links" in East Syracuse, New York
o Eighth Annual Symposium on Energy in the 21st Century | DescriptionofSymposium A Division of Synapse Sustainability Trust Inc. Looking Ahead to a Future in Renewable Energy A Local & Global Perspective Friday, April 27, 2012 At "The Links" in East Syracuse, New York Symposium on April 27, 2012. Registration opens today. This Symposium is noted as one of the most important energy conferences in the Northeast. This will be a very well attended Symposium and I encourage you to register ASAP. Last year we closed registration early at 360 attendees. This year we are going global, and including successful models of energy sustainability from other countries. Ruggero Schleicher-Tappeser, will be flying in from Berlin exclusively for this Symposium to speak Germany's success in using renewable energy, particularly solar voltaic. Willett Kempton, Ph.D, Visiting Professor at Denmarks Tekniske Universitet, will be speaking on Denmark's model, particularly in wind energy. Other esteemed speakers include Garry Brown, Chairman PSC, Laura Morton, Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy, U.S.D.O.E, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Paul Tonko, Congressman, Nathanael Green, Director of Renewable Energy Policy, NRDC, Michael Gerrard, Director Climate Center, Columbia Law School, and Kit Kennedy, Counsel to Air & Energy Program, NRDC, who will be the moderator. Our keynote will be Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Included in the program is greetings from Frank Murray, President & CEO NYSERDA, and Joe Martens and, Commisioner DEC. We are giving a special award to Joanie Mahoney, County Executive of Onondaga County for her exceptional work. This will be a landmark Symposium!!
Action – Take 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 January 22, 2012
o DEC to Hold Public Information Meetings on Draft Regulations to Protect New York's Water Resources - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation 60-day Public Comment Period Runs through January 22, 2012 Three public information meetings will be held in December on draft regulations to protect New York's waters, including the Great Lakes, by requiring users of significant volumes of water to obtain a state permit before withdrawing the water, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today. The comment period for the draft water withdrawal regulations concludes on January 22, 2012. "These regulations will better preserve and protect New York's water resources and implement the requirements of legislation Governor Cuomo signed into law earlier this year," said DEC Commissioner Martens. "DEC's proposed regulations will protect the environment while also fostering economic growth through enhanced water resource management for the benefit of New York's residents, businesses and farmers." (December 3, 2011) Press Releases - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation [more on Water Quality in our area] December 8 West Henrietta Fire Training Center (Station 6) 60 Erie Station Rd Extension West Henrietta, NY 14586
· ACTION:Due Date Now
o Request from the DEC for some help on keeping our Great Lakes healthy: "Your Observations Can Help the Health of the Great Lakes! If you spend time around the Great Lakes shoreline, please consider sharing your observations of injured or dead animals, or algal blooms by using the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Wildlife Health Event Reporter (http://glri.wher.org/) (GLRI-WHER). Scientists working in state, federal and non-profit agencies are looking for your help to identify events that are important in research of avian botulism and algal bloom outbreaks, in the interest of protecting wildlife from this disease as well as algal neurotoxins. For a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, do your part and share what you see by setting up a reporter account (http://glri.wher.org/users/add) on the GLRI-WHER website. E-mail any questions regarding reporting to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details on avian (type E) botulism (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/28433.html), visit the DEC website. "
· ACTION: Due Date: Now
o Think Fracking is a bad idea for New York State, and maybe even around Rochester, NY? Then, go here and sign yet another petition to stop it: Ban the gas harvesting process known as Fracking in the United States. | The White House Ban the gas harvesting process known as Fracking in the United States. Hydraulic Fracturing, or "Fracking" as it is more commonly referred to is the process of extracting natural gas from beneath the planet's surface by pumping pressurized fluids deep underground, causing fractures and releasing gas. There have been many reports of health problems that may have been caused by this process as well as well documented videos showing people who live near these facilities turning on their kitchen sink, and being able to light the running water on fire because of how much gas is in it. There is even evidence that fracking may be the cause of some earthquakes. Congress exempted fracturing fluid from regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, despite the fact that they contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, biocides, and other petroleum products.
· ACTION: Due date: Now
o Take action for our Great Lakes "Speak Out Now to Set the U.S.-Canada Strategy for Protecting our Great Lakes The health of our Great Lakes is threatened by new challenges — including invasive species, climate change, habitat loss and emerging contaminants. The United States and Canada are now completing negotiations on an updated version of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a binational agreemet to address Great Lakes threats. " from Alliance for the Great Lakes
· ACTION: Take action, due Date: January 11, 2012, make public comment, on the most important and immediate environmental concern in our area.
o DEC Begins 90-Day Public Comment Period on Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Four Public Hearings Planned DEC to Move Forward with Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations Concurrently with Draft SGEIS Socio-economic Study Shows Potential for 6,200 to 24,800 FTE Positions with $420 Million to $1.7 Billion in Wages The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation opened a more than 90-day public comment period on its revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. In addition, the agency will issue its proposed regulations governing high-volume hydraulic fracturing in early October. (September 7, 2011) Press Releases - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation [more on Energy in our area]
· ACTION due date now
o Take action against hydrofracking. Not enthralled with the possibility of hydrofracking in New York State possibly contaminating our drinking water? Take ACTION: Take Action to Help Food & Water Watch Protect the Commons | Food & Water Watch "With mounting evidence that fracking for natural gas is poisoning our air and water, and a national movement against fracking that continues to grow, why is Congress poised to commit us to an energy policy that will encourage even more fracking? Please fill out the form below to take action. Your message will be sent directly to your legislators. To edit the letter, take action here. "--from Food & Water Watch
· Action: Due Date - Now
o Join a new local Hydrofracturing Action Alert email list by contacting Anna Sears email@example.com. Also the local Sierra Club's Global Warming & Energy Committee has been addressing the topic of Hydrofracturing. They meet the 2nd Monday evening of the month. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Also - you may wish to review this coalition letter Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling | Toxics Targeting and Governor Cuomo issued a "continuation" of Executive Order No. 41 on his first day in office, as he earlier signaled he would. See: No. 2 REVIEW, CONTINUATION AND EXPIRATION OF PRIOR EXECUTIVE ORDERS | Governor
· ACTION: on or before December 31, 2012.
o Review information from webinars and make public comment on “EPA is requesting public input on proposed new safeguards for hazardous secondary materials recycling to protect public health and the environment.” DSW Rulemakings for RCRA Hazardous Waste Regulations | Definition of Solid Waste | Wastes | US EPA This page provides information on current and past rulemakings and links to Federal Register Notices specific to the definition of solid waste. | 2011 Proposed Rule EPA is requesting public input on proposed new safeguards for hazardous secondary materials recycling to protect public health and the environment. The proposal modifies EPA’s 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule, which revised hazardous waste regulations to encourage recycling of hazardous secondary materials. EPA is asking for comment on potential revisions to address concerns raised by the Sierra Club, as well as other environmental organizations. Under a settlement agreement with the Sierra Club that has been filed with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, EPA has committed to take final action on this proposed rulemaking on or before December 31, 2012. Federal Register - July 22, 2011 US Environmental Protection Agency [more on Recycling in our area]
Award – Environmental 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 December 2011 Environmental Site of the Month Award goes to Green Monroe.org. Our county, Monroe County, has taken a big step in educating the public by using the Internet in a very environmentally specific way. Sure, our government has always understood the importance of recycling and educating the public about doing the right thing for our environment, but Green Monroe.org takes that responsibility a step further by taking the initiative on new ideas for jobs and energy that will be critical in world that is warming—because of Climate Change. Governments, businesses, environmental groups, and the public are all going to have to focus sharply on the looming environmental issues that come with Climate Change and Green Monroe.org ‘gets it.’
Green Monroe.org “Welcome to GreenMonroe.org – a place to find rebates, subsidies, incentives and grants available to community of Monroe County to lower energy cost and buy renewable energy.” MyMonroe. Opening Up Government. | Monroe County, NY