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Creating a Rochester Environmental History Online

This Update Archive represents almost a decade of a daily chronicling of environmental events, issues and actions on Rochester's environment. My goal, back in 1998, was to catalogue and present to the public the growing influence of the Internet as vehicle of learning about and acting on environmental issues in our area. I believe, and still do, that we are living in Extraordinary Times, when our environment (all over the world) is under an unprecedented Green Solitaireassault by a plethora of man's actions: the loss of biodiversity, a diminishing air, land and water quality, a rise in toxic pollution, and much more. At the same time, a remarkable media, the Internet, has arisen to anyone with a computer to sift through the countless environmental information (without a political or corporate agenda) and find out how and to what extent our human footprints are affecting our ability to have a sustainable environment. But, while comprehensive, the Internet is a mess. Experts to idiot rule. So, my purpose was to create RochesterEnvironment.com and allow anyone—normal citizens, homeowners, teachers, students, scientists, politicians, voters--to focus on those environmental changes that might be occurring in one US city: Rochester, NY.

Originally, RochesterEnvironment.com began as GreenSolitaire.org. GreenSoliatire.org’s purpose was to catalogue all the environmental sites on the Internet. Though seemingly an impossible goal, I wanted to see what the Internet offered the public as a monitor on our environment as opposed to the major media, which I believe is not doing their job. The media should be giving us information we need (especially if our environment is breaking down), but they are giving us information we want (which is that there always environmental issues, but nothing out of the ordinary.) If you read my book, We Don’t Get It! Essays on Nature's Indifference, you’ll get exactly what I am talking about.

Also, if you peruse these pages of Updates (formerly called “Daily Messages”), you can see that issues like Global Warming transform from the speculation of a few to the conviction of the many. You can also see the rise in the Internet's ability to report on and take action for environmental measures. Now, large environmental organizations can deluge a politician’s office with e-mails on specific issues instantly and blogs can and do shape even the major media—like the present issue of the polar bear as an endanger species.

In the beginning, after finding many ways to communicate what information I discovered on environmental problems, I had spent a lot of time trying to get that information noticed by the public using the Internet. The Internet needed a good librarian. So, I created a successful Environmental Home Page Association, with almost a hundred members sites and gave out awards (The Environmental Home Page Award) each week for the best sites the served the public. It sort of worked, though mostly environmentalists were just finding other environmentalists. Gradually, with the rise of better search engines, I realized that much of my efforts at getting noticed on the web were solved by Internet Search engines like Google, where I only had to mention a topic for it to be picked up by someone looking for specific information. This is what I wanted to happen and gave up trying to compete with businesses and other sites to get found on the Internet.

Over the years, I kept at the daily task of discovering how the Internet was helping to inform the public, while the major corporate media seemed to ignore almost all but the most glaring environmental stories, especially after the Iraq War. This preemptive war of choice almost completely robbed the major media of a full airing of important environmental stories. The steady dribble of news that our environment is experiencing great change has been going on despite our attention being distracted by wars and political shenanigans. Even now, most environmental stories exist on the Internet as opposed to other forms of media, so much so that if you are not tuned into the Internet daily you are not going to see the changes occurring during this special time in history when environmental degradation is occurring exponentially. These are not the rantings of an extremist, most of the stories I post are from scientist from major organizations and reporters drawn to incidents in their areas.

The pages below reflect the threads of my education about our environmental. They run in chronological order, displaying a trend toward more Internet enthusiasm, more speed, more software, more information, more varied activity (including finding toxic listings using zip codes like scorecard.org) more involvement—and, dispiritedly less governmental and media attention to what I believe is a looming environmental crisis.

However, despite people tastes, environmental issues are compelling because they are the envelope of life that keeps us alive. What happens inside that envelope—Earth’s atmosphere, animals, plants, land, water, human beings, industry, pollution--has a way of getting your attention like nothing else. When any component of our environment fails, so does the chance that we will fail.

So, if you have the time, look over the long history of what this site has tried to accomplish. Some ideas have worked some have not. Over the years, reporters have come and gone, but largely I’m seeing a steady downturn in the amount of local reporting on our Rochester-area environment, while seeing a great upturn in major environmental sites—like Environmental Health News and GLIN—that allow me so search for Rochester area issues. Our environmental problems are not going away and they are not a special interest avocation. Our human population has recently swelled to 6 billion people and are moving rapidly to 7 billion. Each of us (especially those in the First World) has a profound effect on our environment and there’s little evidence that there is a change in this direction. Most of all, the Internet can not only catalogue the steady decline in air, land, and water quality and the rise in Global Warming, but it can also provide innumerable ways for individuals to stop this destruction of what we need to live. I have merely tried to find out ways online to use this fantastic new medium to change what appears to be an almost inevitable inability to change our environmentally destructive ways. RochesterEnvironment.com has no agenda, no funding, no secret messages—it’s merely a reflection of what is being communicated with humankind about our survival.

Here are the archives of all that has been accomplished by RochesterEnvironment.com:


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