RENewsletter | January 1, 2017

The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com

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

 

*Note: Henceforth ‘environment’ means ‘our life support system.’

 

[12/25/2016 – 1/01/2017]

 

Adapting to and mitigating Climate Change in a way that sustains all life while striving to do so equitably is the defining issue of our time.  How we comport ourselves during this historic trial by fire will reveal our true nature. Frank J. Regan

 

Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Take Action

 

* Having trouble reading this newsletter? Read it online here.

 

Opening Salvo: “19 years of RochesterEnvironment.com

 

When I began RochesterEnviornment.com almost two decades ago, my goal was to demonstrate that environmental news was just as important and occurred as frequently as other news. Only, our local and national media weren’t paying much attention to the condition of our life support system. The Internet, I thought then, could provide anyone with an opportunity to collect news and information from an incredible number of sources—including all local media, governmental agencies, universities, digital books, and similar sources from around the world—that would help reach everyone.

 

I focused my efforts on a single region—Rochester, NY—as an experiment to find out what effect providing every environmental resource available to the public, media, environmental groups, governments, businesses, and individuals would have.

 

I found over the years that there was an incredible amount of environmental information and news that our local media was not disseminating to the public. Finding environmental news in the public interest was slow at first during the late 1990’s but as major issues evolved such as plastics pollution, water quality issues, and Climate Change, it became more important to prioritize environmental news than post whatever I could find. Also, many institutions, official agencies, and environmental groups were increasingly providing news, online studies, all free. Climate studies, official reports, and data abound on the Internet, ready for public consumption.

 

My position on getting environmental information to the public grew as I saw environmental issues like Climate Change grow, while public interest and knowledge on these critical issues seem to waiver and then diminish. (Note that the election of Trump to President, who is filling top positions in science agencies with climate deniers, is a low point in the public’s environmental awareness. Last November’s elections weren’t entirely a fluke, as still too many Americans don’t appreciate the urgency of addressing Climate Change.) Which is to say, my efforts and a lot of others to get the public to appreciate the urgency and scope of Climate Change and other environmental problems have failed.

 

Protecting our environment, I’ve come to believe, requires a different kind of journalism, one that communicates to the public the potential of various environmental threats before these issues reach the front pages of our media in the traditional way. By the time oil spills, invasive species breakouts, and climate warming itself reach public attention, they are oftentimes at a stage in their development that makes it difficult if not impossible to address them.

 

During RochesterEnvironment.com’s existence, I’ve witnessed many positive developments that demonstrate a growing awareness of environmental concerns in our region:

  • The City of Rochester has developed and is ready to release its Climate Action Plan. This plan was a long-time coming and not only describes the threats coming to our region but governmental efforts to solve them. (When you think of the direction our nations is going, Rochester’s and other community’s efforts at this time are critical.)
  • The march last year on Nov 29th to support the UN’s Climate Change Conference, which produced the Paris Agreement, brought over 400 people into our streets. (Hundreds March To Support United Nation’s 2015 Climate Change ConferenceROCHESTER, N.Y. (November 29, 2015) Time Warner Cable News
  • Dr. Hansen’s talk in Rochester, NY on April 21st at Monroe County Community College. This event, sponsored in part by the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club, brought together over 800 people. If you missed Dr. Hansen’s talk, check out this video.
  • For several years, Greentopia sponsored week-long festivals that brought in thousands of local people with activities focused on living sustainably. Greentopia still works towards making our community more environmentally friendly.
  • The Center of Environmental Initiatives, now Genesee RiverWatch, has honed in on researching and cleaning up our Genesee River.
  • Back in 2008-2009 some inspired folks created ‘Climate Change Central’, a brick-and-mortar outlet for discussing and distributing information on Climate Change in the Park Avenue area. (I still think this concept is so great that efforts should be made to resurrect it.)
  • Monroe County passed the Neighborhood Notification Law, which protects children and pets from pesticide drift during pesticide applications. Our county also added 3-7 plastics in recycling, moved to single-stream recycling, and helps keep our parks clean with its yearly Pick-Up-The-Parks program.
  • Rochester’s Clean Sweep brings hundreds of volunteers to spruce up our gardens, streets, and remove litter.
  • The inclusion of bicycle boulevards in the City Bicycle Master Plan and the pursuit of the Bicycle Friendly Awards keeps our city focused on active transportation (walking and bicycling), which will reduce greenhouse gas emission and make folks healthier.
  • In 2016 Rochester piled hundreds of folks onto buses, trains, and car pools heading to the People’s Climate March, helping to join with hundreds of thousands (about 400,000) to get a real climate deal. In the process of promoting Rochester’s commitment, the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition was formed and thrives today with over 100 member groups.
  • Started a couple of years ago, the Fast Forward Film festival encourages efforts by young folks to tell their story about our environment.

Much has happened in a positive direction, but not nearly enough.

 

The rise in social media and Smartphones over the years has been both a boon and bust. While they have been effective at getting feedback and reaching more people, what has also happened is that the silos of interest have become more narrow and entrenched. I use both Facebook and Twitter and they provide immediate feedback but they are also ephemeral. With social media it is possible to keep more of our base engaged while keeping that information completely invisible to anyone who does not understand or care to understand the role of our environment in our existence.

 

By the close of 2016, the lack of environmental news and information is not as prevalent as the misunderstandings of it caused by bad players intent on sowing doubt where there really isn’t any. How environmental issues are framed, even by environmental groups, is now paramount in environmental communication. I don’t mean pandering to the public’s desire to see environmental issues tamped down to fit within our comfort zone. I mean properly framing environmental issues, especially Climate Change, as the existential threat that they are. Our past environmental abuses—pollution, loss of biodiversity, overconsumption—are going to make addressing Climate Change incredibly difficult.

 

We are challenging our life support system beyond our ability to make it sustainable.

With the election of Trump the threat of less information coming from governmental sources seems more likely. (I hope our media is monitoring not only our environment but also whether our environmental agencies will be stripped of critical information.)

 

What has struck me in the last twenty years is that there is more breaking news on the state of our environment than I ever could have imagined: More oil pipeline ruptures, more Bomb Trains, more extreme weather events, more people in the streets sick and tired of allowing our environment to be trashed. This is not good because, as I have mentioned earlier, by the time environmental stories get to our headlines, they’ve probably become intractable.

 

The first UN Climate Change Conference was held in 1995 in Berlin, about the same time as RochesterEnvironment.com began. Since that time, the Paris Agreement, a result of the 21st climate talks, became official. The world understands the threat of Climate Change as well as conscious beings, who caused this climate change, can understand. Humanity no longer has any excuse not to address Climate Change.

 

Humanity has an obligation to protect its life support system.

 

Time passes.

 

FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com  (Click on my email for feedback)

 

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* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts – Rochester, NY or Tweet me @ http://twitter.com/#!/FrankRrrr   On Twitter and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RochesterEnvironment  and Examiner/RochesterEnvironment, Also: If you wish me to include your event or news in this newsletter, which gets sent out on Sunday morning, please send the blurb to me by Friday evening: FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com

 

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. One way to do that is to join this Google+ Group. “Become The MediaBTW: 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

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NewsLinks – Environmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]

 

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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.]

 

  • 12/31/2016 – Actions like ROCHESTER’S ENVIRONMENTAL JOB (REJOB) TRAINING PROGRAM are the kind of governmental programs that give me hope on addressing environmental issues. Although the industries that created our local Brownfields should have cleaned up their own freaking mess when they trashed our environment, our governments taking leadership and using these environmental issues to train local folks to clean up these environmental hazards is the responsible way to address our environmental problems and get a work force ready to take care of our environmental issues. At the end of the day, it is our government that must take responsibility to keep our environment healthy. Like it or not, when industry’s walk away from contaminating our life support system, our governments have to step in and take charge. Rochester starts training program for jobs in the environmental construction industry Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says  that the city is launching a program to help the unemployed and under-employed get jobs in the environmental construction industry. The Rochester Environmental Job Training Program will help train city residents for full-time jobs with environmental construction and cleanup companies. Warren says the program will give people the skills they need to earn a living in a growing industry and also help clean up contaminated properties around the city. (December 30, 2016) WXXI News [more on Brownfields in our area]
  • 12/31/2016 – When communicating the urgency of addressing Climate Change, it is important to spell out the consequences of not acting on this crisis—including characterizing the kinds of economic hardships this crisis will incur on all of us. But in the attempt to bring the issues in Climate Change to the public’s pocketbook, there is the danger that focusing on the economic hazards will create the illusion that Climate Change is only a money problem. Climate Change is a fundamental crisis affecting our life support system with innumerable consequences if we don’t plan and act that goes far beyond putting this crisis in the context of our economy. Humanity’s economies, which have ignored the environmental consequences, over the last centuries have played a major role in creating this climate crisis in the first place. A collective myopia towards our economics and a turning away from the biological imperatives of our environment has lead humanity to an existential crisis. Climate Change is going to do a lot more damage than hitting our pocketbooks. It’s going to affect all life on Earth, disrupt our ecosystems, and threaten our future. Climate communicators are going to be bending over backwards trying to tell the public why they should care about Climate Change. Some methods, like explaining how expensive not addressing Climate Change will be, may or may not work for some people. What Climate Change communication should do is get humanity (all 7 billion of us) to face up to the entire threat this crisis presents and not try and dumb it down to actions and concerns that won’t be too inconvenient. Because we have waited so long to deal with this crisis, it’s going to be inconvenient indeed. Four Unexpected Ways Climate Change Hits Our Pocketbooks An unseasonably hot day that scientists attribute to climate change can be either a drag or a benefit depending upon where you live and the time of year. The same goes for an extraordinary dump of snow that creates snow days out of work schedules and keeps kids at home when you’re not prepared. But climate change has delivered other headaches over the past year that ultimately translate to extra costs for households and will likely impact our wallets in future years, as well. (December 29, 2016) Triple Pundit [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/30/2016 – However sexy autonomous  vehicle may seem, it would be nice if our governmental officials, businesses, and researchers focused their attention on maintaining our existing transportation infrastructure so that is safe, fair to all, and resilient as Climate Change challenges those systems with more extreme weather. With $1.2 million NSF grant, UB to become testing ground for self-driving cars (December 22, 2016)Innovation Trail [more on Transportation in our area]
  • 12/30/2016 – Dear World, just because Trump will become US President soon doesn’t mean We the People will roll over on addressing Climate Change. States face off over future of Obama global warming plan Two weeks after officials in two dozen states asked Donald Trump to kill one of President Barack Obama’s plans to curb global warming, another group of state officials is urging the president-elect to save it. Democratic attorneys general in 15 states, plus four cities and counties, sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday asking him to preserve Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The letter was a rebuttal to one sent this month by mostly-Republican officials in 24 states. (December 30, 2016) WXXI News [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/30/2016 – With deadly Oak Wilt Disease found in Canandaigua and Ontario County, we in Monroe County should be concerned. “Oak wilt is a serious tree disease in the eastern United States, killing thousands of oaks each year in forests, woodlots, and home landscapes. It is caused by a fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum. The fungus grows in the water conducting vessels of host trees plugging up these vessels and preventing water transport. As water movement within the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off, and the tree dies rapidly.” More on How to Identify, Prevent, and Control Oak Wilt, from the US Dept. of Agriculture Deadly Oak Wilt Disease Found in Brooklyn and Several Towns in Suffolk County New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) announced today that the oak tree disease, oak wilt, has been detected in the borough of Brooklyn, Kings County and in the towns of Babylon, Islip, Riverhead, and Southold in Suffolk County. The disease was identified by the Cornell Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic after samples from symptomatic oak trees were collected by DEC Forest Health Technicians. Oak wilt had previously been found in Scotia, Schenectady County, until it was identified in Canandaigua, Ontario County, and Central Islip, Long Island earlier this year. Since then, reports of symptomatic oak trees from concerned tree care professionals, as well as the public, have led to the additional detections. The confirmation of the disease in Brooklyn marks the fourth county where oak wilt has been confirmed in New York. There is no known treatment to contain and kill the oak wilt fungus other than to remove the infected trees, as well as any surrounding host oak trees. At this time, DEC will remove and destroy oaks that have tested positive for the fungus. Testing for oak wilt must be done during the growing season when the fungus is active, so intensive sampling will take place across Kings, Nassau, and Suffolk counties starting next spring to determine the extent of the disease. Aerial surveys will be conducted beginning in July when signs of oak wilt will be most apparent. (December 29, 2016) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [more on Plants in our area]
  • 12/30/2016 – Humanity is going to need more tools in their toolbox to monitor their behavior towards Climate Change. We know humanity is causing Climate Change; now we need to monitor our effect on Climate Change so we can adjust our behavior so we can live sustainably. This particular feedback mechanism is for farmers, but humanity needs many, many more ways to monitor our impact on our life support system. Online calculator cuts farms’ emissions An internet tool is now available that helps to quantify and control farms’ greenhouse emissions released during the crop production cycle. It’s called the Cool Farm Tool (CFT)  – an easy-to-use online calculator that helps farmers monitor their emissions of greenhouse gases. Agriculture accounts for about 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, though when fertiliser manufacture and use and the overall food processing sector are included in calculations, that figure is considerably higher.  The land can also act as a vital carbon sink, soaking up or sequestering vast amounts of carbon: when soils are disturbed the carbon is released, adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The CFT was initially developed by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the UK in partnership with Unilever and the Sustainable Food Lab.  (December 26, 2016) Climate News Network [more on Climate Change and Plants in  our area]
  • 12/20/2016 – Some important observations on Climate Change from our long-time friend and environmentalist in the Rochester region, Audrey Newcomb: The December issue of Sifting & Winnowing: Sifting&WinnowingDec2016 “The sea study in Monet’s 1881 painting has the same mighty grandeur as oceans do now, except today’s oceans are being modified by human-induced climate change. The ice that covers Antarctica’s methane gas is thinning. When it bursts, more frequent and more severe storms, floods, and droughts will be upon us. Melting Arctic permafrost (stored frozen soil) acidifies oceans, harming phytoplankton, and on up the marine food chain. Greenland’s 4-times-bigger-than-California ice sheet melt will send sea levels up 20 feet.”
  • 12/30/2016 – This new stage in Climate Change is likely to be anything but undramatic. We are now in a time when much of humanity is ready to address this crisis and many are deadest against actions that will result in a sustainable life support system. Meanwhile, physics and biology rule. Time passes. Don’t kill US climate plans, 15 states warn Trump Attorneys general from Democrat states and four sub-state jurisdictions say they will see the new president in court if he rips up low carbon policies Donald Trump’s threat to scrap a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector in office will trigger legal action, 15 attorneys general said in a letter sent on Thursday. Top legal advisors for New York, California, Virginia, Vermont and New Mexico are among those warning they will go to court if Trump uses his presidential powers to cancel the plan. (December 29, 2016)Climate Home [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/30/2016 – Like it or not what President Trump does or doesn’t do on Climate Change is now environmental news. We are soon entering a new era, a time when the window of opportunity for addressing Climate Change on a scale and time frame will matter is soon closing, a time when humanity should be prioritizing addressing this issue, and a time when our fate may be decided. Time passes. Four Critical Energy Issues to Watch in 2017The U.S. may be on the cusp of a stark turning point in energy and climate policy with the election of Donald Trump, who has stocked his cabinet with a majority of people who doubt or reject established climate science. Top priorities of the Trump transition team and cabinet nominees — many who disregard the connection between global warming and fossil fuel energy use — include rolling back eight years of Obama administration climate regulations and restrictions on coal, oil and gas development. (December 29, 2016) Climate Central [more on Climate Change and Energy in our area]
  • 12/29/2016 – Addressing Climate Change as our top priority is complex because it includes many other critical environmental threats, such as the loss of biodiversity. Allowing species to go extinct on the scale of the other five great extinction events on Earth will not only make our species more lonely, their loss will probably mean our demise. Wildlife are but one of the vital components of our ecosystems—forests, lakes, oceans, wetland, etc.—that constitutes our environment, our life support system. We have to solve a lot of environmental issues as we address Climate Change, which explains much of the urgency behind this crisis. Radical overhaul needed to halt Earth’s sixth great extinction event Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction — one driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.7 billion years. During that time we know of five mass extinction events — dramatic episodes when many, if not most, life forms vanished in a geological heartbeat. The most recent of these was the global calamity that claimed the dinosaurs and myriad other species around 66 million years ago. Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction — one driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Danish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed fearmongering. We argue emphatically that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived. (December 28, 2016) Cosmos [more on Wildlife in our area]
  • 12/29/2016 – Climate Nexus is a fantastic climate news resources. While on holiday now, they gear up on January 3rd for their daily listing of Climate Change news. It’s more important than ever to stay abreast of Climate Change news, and because of the recent elections probably less likely that this will be easier. Sign up for their emails and get this excellent resource: Climate Nexus Hot News.
  • 12/29/2016 – We should savor this moment as our EPA sticks to new energy standards.  It may be some time until this federal agency can act on our behalf anymore. The Trump administration may roll back these new standards, but at least at this moment we can remember what it’s like to have our priorities straight. Humanity, especially people in developed nations, often rail against environmental regulations believing them to be part of a conspiracy to keep businesses down. However, environmental regulations are an attempt to keep our sustainability up. It may oftentimes appear is if environmental regulations are haphazard, onerous to some industries, and downright impossible to understand. This is probably because these regulations are often fought tooth and nail at every legal stage, so what results is often messy. If we had a level playing field, a public and business attitude that a healthy life support system is our top priority, I suspect our environmental regulations would not seems as though they were counterproductive. Humanity needs to change its priorities where a healthy environment is first. “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 EPA will not extend review of fuel efficiency standards Federal regulators will not extend their deadline for comments on strict fuel efficiency standards, effectively allowing them to finalize the standards before President Obama leaves office next year.  In a letter to manufacturers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected an industry request to continue reviewing a November determination from the EPA that reaffirmed the fuel standards.  The November decision keeps in place the 54.5 mile-per-gallon fuel economy target for vehicles in the 2025 model year. (December 22, 2016) The Hill [more on Energy in our area]
  • 12/29/2016 – Gotta wonder, what will happen to this story about Exxon, Climate Change, and Exxon’s chairman to lead the State Department? Will this story get more attention or less? Time passes. Renewable Energy: An Exxon Investigation Given Second Life as Trump Taps Exec for Cabinet In 2015, Neela Banerjee, John H. Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song of Inside Climate News spent close to a year producing “Exxon: The Road Not Taken” — a comprehensive portrait of four decades of the oil giant’s relationship with climate science. The reporting showed, among other things, how Exxon lobbied against action on greenhouse gases. The work won an array of awards and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service, and the hard-won reporting has renewed relevance now that Exxon’s chairman and chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, has been picked by President-elect Donald J. Trump to lead the State Department. (December 23, 2016) ProPublica [more on Energy and Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/29/2016 – At this point in time, individual actions to address Climate Change are effective if they are scalable to a planetary level. Back in the day, we could have fooled ourselves that only our individual actions, like changing our light bulbs, would help address Climate Change by not wasting energy. And while this is important, we now know this isn’t enough. We must now take actions that will get everyone to change their light bulbs to very efficient light bulbs—and a whole lot more. Our actions to address Climate Change must be part of a concerted planetary effort if we mean to make the changes necessary. Here are some good ideas in that direction: 5 Things To Do About Climate Change, Just In Time For The New Year After I wrote What a Trump Presidency Means for Fighting Climate Change, a colleague suggested that I write an article with “5 concrete examples of on-the-ground things people can do.” I’ve been mulling that over. You can readily find lists online of 5 things, 10 things, 50 and more things to do about climate change. Many excellent suggestions. Nearly all of them call for individual actions. Things that you can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Individual actions are important. We learn through personal experience what works and what doesn’t, what’s easy and what’s hard. We prove change is feasible. We demonstrate our seriousness by walking the talk. We help motivate others to act. We move the needle, even if just a bit, in the direction that we need to move as a society. (December 28, 2016) Huffington Post [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/28/2016 – Check out The Banner, this week. It’s a very informative newsletter from We Are Seneca Lake about assaults on our environment and Climate Change. I’m thinking that for a while, it’s going to be more difficult to find out what’s going on locally about our environment and Climate Change in our region—and around the country. We need to focus on our life support system and the worldwide crisis of Climate Change more than ever. Not forget about it because of a bad election. Our window of opportunity to address Climate Change on a scale and time frame that will matter is quickly closing.
  • 12/28/2016 – You have to ask yourself, why would some countries feel the urgency to address Climate Change and some don’t? Why would some countries attempt strong measures to curb greenhouse gasses and some try to turn back progress on reducing GHGs and ramp up fossil fuels? Climate Change is science, not politics. What if one country decided that it was sick and tired of gravity and would just start back-tracking on that? It might, for example, refuse to take efforts to maintain our existing transportation infrastructure because they might believe that cars should just be able to float above the ground. Highways are expensive, so instead of putting a lot of money into keeping them in proper repair, why not just change your mind about gravity altogether so that you have a world where roads and bridges aren’t necessary? What if we just picked and chose our science and lived accordingly. Oh yeah, right, the US is going to try that. Time passes.  Ontario set to tackle climate change with cap-and-trade launch on Jan. 1 On the first day of the new year, Ontario will launch its cap-and-trade system on carbon in a bid to vault the province to the front lines of the battle against climate change. It is the centrepiece of the Wynne government’s Climate Change Action Plan, meant not only to meet tough targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions but to spark a sweeping transition to a low-carbon society by changing the way Ontarians get around, heat their homes and run their businesses. (December 27, 2016) Globe and Mail [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/28/2016 – This evidence seems shaky and we need more of it but this seems likely: “ongoing climate change brings shifts in species distributions”. Given half a chance, many Wildlife could adapt to Climate Change as they have other climate changes. But this warming event is happening very quickly and oftentimes Wildlife are blocked by human development and highways. There should be local news about how our Wildlife will adapt (or whether they can) to Climate Change here in the Rochester, NY area. Our media should be pressing our environmental agencies about this and informing the public. Jackal adopts warmer Bohemian lifestyle Czech camera traps capture first evidence of new golden jackal settlement as ongoing climate change brings shifts in species distributions. Scientists in the Czech Republic have identified a potential beneficiary of climate change: a golden jackal, mostly identified with India and northern Africa, has been observed living in a new home just 40 kilometres from the capital city, Prague. When Klára Pyšková began her master’s degree at the department of ecology at Charles University in Prague, she was just making a study of carnivore species in habitats typical for a central European landscape. She certainly wasn’t looking for Canis aureus, also known as the Asiatic or common jackal, a wild, scavenging omnivore adapted to tropical and subtropical zones. (December 28, 2016) Climate News Network [more on Wildlife and Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/27/2016 – One of the most baffling aspects of climate denial is the possibility that these folks who don’t believe climate scientists might be wrong. I mean, even if there is a scintilla of chance that humanity might have triggered some climatic changes that would put our existence (and all other beings, for that matter) on an unsustainable path, wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to find out from the experts whether there’s even a possibility that the experts might be right? Wouldn’t you want to seriously check it out? Climate denial is like a space traveler cruising around the galaxy in a spaceship and thinking that the loud noise she heard striking the hull probably didn’t poke a hole in the ship. It’s possible that the thing that hit her spaceship didn’t put a big hole in the ship and start letting a lot of her air supply, but wouldn’t she at least check her control panel and get up out of the space seat and check it out? Climate denial is so weird. Especially now that we are already experiencing a lot of the consequences experts said we would back in the day. This Year’s Extreme Weather Was One For The Books A look back at the country’s most disastrous weather of 2016. The past year was scorching hot, freezing cold, soaking wet and consumed in flames ― and it’s just a sneak peek of what’s to come if we don’t change our course on energy, scientists say. Some of climate change’s more dire potential effects ― cities submerged by rising sea levels, accelerated mass extinctions, a ruined global economy ― haven’t happened yet, at least not in a way that feels immediate to our daily lives. But more intense and more frequent extreme weather is a consequence we’re experiencing right now.  Here are some of the biggest climate events the U.S. experienced in 2016: (December 22, 2016) The Huffington Post [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/27/2016 – Instead of fossil fuel whack-a-mole, when one dirty energy project gets stopped and so the fossil fuel industry shifts to another (perhaps worse form), we should be moving to renewable energy. Of course, fossil fuel proponents like blame the increases in Bomb Trains (dangerous crude oil trains that carry volatile Bakken crude oil through our neighborhoods) on environmental activist, saying that when activists stop big pipeline infrastructures the fossil fuel industry then has to ship more fossil fuels by even more dangerous and environmentally unfriendly methods. Well, no they don’t. We can shift to cleaner, far less dangerous methods of energy, instead of shifting to just another fossil fuel project. And we can do it quickly, And we can do it inexpensively. And we can do so with retraining workers and providing new jobs. When we truly appreciate the priority and urgency of shifting to renewables, we will do it. But by the time it gets to the point where our addiction to fossil fuels has drilled us too far in the ground to get ourselves out, it will be too late.  Time passes. With Dakota Access in limbo, more Bakken crude to move on trains As oil prices recover and U.S. shale production picks up, energy companies that had planned to ship crude on the Dakota Access Pipeline will turn to rail, a transport method that poses its own risks to the environment and local communities. Sunday’s decision by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny Energy Transfer Partners an easement to complete the line means shippers who expected to see another 570,000 barrels of daily Bakken pipeline capacity in 2017 will have to find new ways to move supply. Rail comprises nearly 65 percent of total crude export capacity in the Bakken, but is currently underutilized because it is more costly and less efficient. In September, only 29 percent of total Bakken oil production moved by rail, according to the latest figures from the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. (December 22, 2016) Reuters [more on Energy and Dangerous Crude Oil Trains in our area]
  • 12/26/2016 – My guess for the biggest environmental event for 2017 is an event that will go sight unseen as Climate Change reveals unknown unknowns. Though, it may be years before this event catapults to the headline of our media because our media, and even our scientists, are playing catch-up, as they try to figure how out how Climate Change is affecting our life support system. By creating Climate Change and not addressing past environmental abuses—overpopulation, over-consumerism, pollution, loss of biodiversity, the spread of invasive species, and creating the Sixth Great Extinction—and purposely blinding ourselves to how our planet’s ecosystems actually work, we have set up a phenomenon where we cannot anticipate many crucial environmental events. Humanity’s inability to prioritize Climate Change, an existential threat, where many of the important benchmarks go by without our noticing may be our undoing. What will be the big environment events in 2017? From air pollution to Trump and wildlife extinction, we look at the major environmental issues for the year ahead After five years of false starts and delays, 2017 will see exploratory fracking for shale gas begin in earnest in England. The first wells will likely be drilled in Lancashire and Yorkshire by the summer, and Cuadrilla, Third Energy and other companies will hope to confirm commercially viable quantities of the gas by the end of the year. With only 17% of people in Britain in favour of fracking, local and national protests are certain. Brexit negotiations will affect farming subsidies and possibly all European nature protection laws, including those for birds and habitats, air and water pollution, GM foods and animal welfare. If ministers attempt to roll back or trade off decades of environmental regulation, as some have threatened, they are likely to meet the most intense opposition. (December 25, 2016) The Guardian [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/26/2016 –  11 GIFs That Show the Effects of Climate Change Climate Change can be hard to see unless climate experts help you visualize what’s happening. Humanity might want to match what they see here with our actions in the coming years, the years where the window of opportunity to address this crisis is quickly closing. Sometimes nothing’s as good as just showing people the GIFs. Some of the effects of climate change are tough to spot. Higher sea levels, when viewed from the shore, are pretty tough to prove. And while scientific evidence showing this year is the hottest ever should be irrefutable, all it takes is a cold snap in the Buffalo for politicians — who, let’s be real, are the recipients of fossil fuel campaign contributions — to cast doubt or start saying “there’s room for debate.” (Can you imagine if they said there was “room for debate” in a statistics class?) Sometimes nothing’s as good as just showing people the visual evidence, as the animated GIFs — the internet’s preferred image type — below do with such damning efficacy. “The glaciers are melting!” sounds like a cliche, until you see the GIFs. (December 21, 2016) inverse [more on Climate Change in our area]
  • 12/26/2016 – Excellent podcast on Warm Regards ‏@ourwarmregards about how to communicate Climate Change, including scaling your individual efforts. The time has come when our individual efforts to address Climate Change must scale-up so they will actually matter. Warm Regards Podcast On humanizing science | This week, we’re talking with Dr. Jonathan Foley, executive director at the California Academy of Sciences. The California Academy bills itself as the greenest museum on the planet and one of the most future-focused scientific institutions in the world. He’s the author of over 130 scientific articles and has had numerous accolades from the nation’s most respected scientific institutions, not only for his global change research, but also his commitment to public outreach, including popular articles in National Geographic, The New York Times, and Scientific American. (December 5, 2016) Warm Regards [more on Climate Change in our area]

 

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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.

 

January 2017

 

  • Thursdays January 12th and 26th at 7:00 PM at First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Rd S
    • COME TO OUR ENVIRONMENTAL CLIMATE TASK FORCE BOOK DISCUSSION SERIES   On Thursdays January 12th and 26th at 7:00 PM at First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Rd S   We will be discussing points raised in   Richard Heinberg’s   AFTERBURN- Society Beyond Fossil Fuels   Afterburn gives us a sense of a survivable future – hope fed by Heinberg’s realistic deeper analysis, a sense of the trends ahead, and a bold (largely local) plan.  Few are as good at synthesizing this powerful package (as) Richard Heinberg.  This book will help fuel the future. – Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network founder & Director of Foundation Earth. We will have several tables discussing several issues he raises, and rotate so all can participate.
  • Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | Sign up online
    • Climate-Adaptive Design: Creating Resilient Waterfronts Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM How can municipalities create waterfronts that are both welcoming and resilient to climate change? This Climate Smart Communities webinar will describe how several communities along the Hudson River are working with Cornell students to develop waterfront designs that are beautiful and resilient to climate risks like flooding. The Climate-Adaptive Design (CAD) studio is a partnership between Cornell Landscape Architecture, Cornell Water Resources Institute, and the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. Speakers will describe how the CAD studio uses the design process to inspire new thinking and provide technical assistance at little or no cost to participating municipalities. Please provide us with your name and community affiliation, either via email or telephone to the Office of Climate Change at climatechange@dec.ny.gov or 518-402-8448. In the event that we cancel or postpone this webinar, respondents will be notified. (December 9, 2016) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • January 20, 2017  7-9 p.m. (please arrive at 6:30 so we can start promptly, dancing and music will follow for those who wish to stay) Where: First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 Winton Rd. South Rochester, NY 14610
    • Inaugurating Hope What:  Join with others to shift from powerlessness and anxiety into hope-filled action on a night of profound change in our world. When:  January 20, 2017  7-9 p.m. (please arrive at 6:30 so we can start promptly, dancing and music will follow for those who wish to stay) Where: First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 Winton Rd. South Rochester, NY 14610 Cost:  The event is free, but please register   to assure that there is seating for everyone.  Donations will be gratefully accepted to help defray costs Facebook event page here.

 

February 2017

 

  • Thursday, February 9th, 7:00 PM @ First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Rd S
    • DO YOU FIND GLOBAL WARMING TOO DEPRESSING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT?   Come to our book discussion on   Thursday, February 9th, 7:00 PM to participate in a discussion of   Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone’s   ACTIVE HOPE: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy   Ecophilosopher Joana Macy, PhD, is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology.  A respected voice in movements for peace, justice and the environment, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activisim.  Physician and coach Dr. Chris Johnstone is a specialist in the psychology of resilience, happiness, and positive change.   Copies of the above books are available at discount at the First Unitarian bookstore open most Sundays after services, or by using the link to Amazon that benefits the church here.   Free, and the public is invited to participate.  RSVP to jkeev@frontiernet.net is encouraged but not required.

 

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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 24, 2017
    • Got three days of your time? Been thinking that now, really now, our Rochester region needs someone from Climate Reality Leadership Corps training and work with former US Vice President Al Gore and renowned climate scientists and communicators to learn about what’s happening to our planet? And that someone could be you? Then, sign up here. The dates for this training are March 2-4, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. APPLICATION DEADLINE IS JANUARY 24, 2017. More: “You know our climate is changing. You want to make a difference. We’ll show you how. Join us for a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training and work with former US Vice President Al Gore and renowned climate scientists and communicators to learn about what’s happening to our planet and how you can use social media, powerful storytelling, and personal outreach to inspire audiences to take action. Give us three days. We’ll give you the tools to change the world.”
  • ACTION: Due Date: Short film submissions due by February 27th, 2017
    • From our friends over @FastForwardRoc “The Fast Forward Film Festival Call for Entries is now OPEN! “Accepting submissions from novice and veteran filmmakers who live in the Greater Rochester region NOW through February 27th, 2017! If you already have your film ready, please submit. If you haven’t yet started filming, get your gear ready, and don’t miss out on making the most of Rochester’s beautiful summer weather!” Find out more here.
  • ACTION: Due Date Now!
    •  stop the Cuomo tax.Governor Cuomo wants to increase our electric bills to bail out old, unprofitable nuclear power plants It will cost hard working New Yorkers nearly $8 billion dollars. Your money will go to plant owner Exelon, a Chicago-based Fortune 100 company with annual revenues over $34 billion. The Governor says it’s about preserving jobs and fighting climate change, but we know better. Energy efficiency and wind and solar cost less, lower your energy bills, create more jobs and give us cleaner air and healthier communities. ⇢ New Yorkers deserve better. Join us, and stop the Cuomo tax.
  • ACTION: Due Date Now!
    • Act on giving bicyclists a 3-ft break from vehicles, making biking safer, and reducing greenhouse gases. 3 FT PASSING LAW Thanks to the strong leadership of Board President Jim Reed and Board Member Emeritus Ivan Vamos, who himself was hit by a car, and support from Transportation Alternatives, the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) has launched an all-out campaign this legislative session in Albany to amend the vague and impossible to enforce 2010 Safe Passing law. At the very least, we think there should be a 3 feet passing standard, which is now the law in 26 other states across the country. Email your legislators now by sending an email through this very easy-to-use form.
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now!
  • ACTION: Due Date: Now!
    • Stop Explosive Oil Trains! Find out if you are in the blast zone and sign the petition. There is a fiftyfold increase in local transport of volatile crude oil trains (which are not and cannot be properly designed to carry this dangerous oil) through our region. Check to see if you are in the blast zone, and Take action and put a stop to this! From our friends over at Mothers Out Front! Really take a moment to find out about this clean and present danger in our community and take action here.
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • “Call on Governor Cuomo and The Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to take immediate action to protect the public and the environment from the dangers of crude-by-rail.” Stop the Bomb Trains “As much as 7 billion gallons of crude oil could move by train through New York State annually under current and proposed permits as the nation’s “virtual pipeline” for crude oil expands. The Department of Transportation can take immediate action to reduce the risks of derailments, which have caused catastrophic spills of crude oil elsewhere in the United States and Canada, including the tragic loss last year of 47 lives and the destruction of a business district in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The volatility of Bakken crude oil combined with the inadequacy of the DOT-111 railcars used to transport much of this cargo has led rail workers to dub them “bomb trains.” Spills of heavy crudes, such as those from Alberta, Canada, tar sands, would have particularly damaging impacts to water and the ecosystems they support – because heavy crude oils can sink, clean-up is next to impossible. “Riverkeeper
  • ACTION:  Due Date: Now!
    • New York needs to transition to renewable energy (like Wind Power) now:  “New York has been slow out of the gate when it comes to opportunities like offshore wind. We can change that. Few states have the potential to be a national and global clean energy and climate leader like New York.  And right now, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) is accepting public comments on how to structure a new Large Scale Renewable Energy Program – and Environmental Advocates is urging the PSC to act on three critical fronts: Establish enforcement mechanisms to hold the state and utilities accountable for supplying 50 percent of our energy from clean renewables by 2030. Make the state’s Large Scale Renewables Program statewide (currently Long Island is excluded from the Renewable Portfolio Standard). Add offshore wind power to New York’s energy mix.  You can urge them to prioritize these initiatives, too!     Despite our state being home to some of the most attractive and productive wind farm locations in the nation, this plentiful source of renewable energy remains completely untapped. With Rhode Island constructing the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and Europe utilizing this same renewable energy source on a large scale, New York can step up and become a global clean energy leader.     Governor Cuomo has made a commitment to ensure 50 percent of our energy comes from clean, renewable sources by 2030. That means dramatically reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and building a clean, green energy economy with offshore wind and other sources of renewable energy.    Take Action Today! ” (from Environmental Advocates of New York)
  • ACTION: Due Date, NOW!
    • Fracking ain’t over in New York until it’s over: Take action: Call on the NYS Senate and Assembly to ACT NOW to pass the Hazardous Waste Loophole Bill! Read more:Time to Close New York’s Fracking Waste Loophole Despite the recent historic ban on high-volume fracking, New York still has a fracking waste problem. More than 510,000 tons and 23,000 barrels – and counting – of waste from oil and gas extraction operations in neighboring Pennsylvania have been shipped to New York landfills for disposal. Leachate from those landfills is then sent to nearby wastewater treatment facilities. And New York State continues to allow the use of certain kinds of waste from low-volume oil and gas extraction on our roads for de-icing and dust control. Fracking waste can contain a number of pollutants, such as chemicals, metals, excess salts, and carcinogens like benzene and naturally-occurring radioactive materials. Due to a loophole in state law, oil and gas industry waste is exempt from hazardous waste requirements, meaning that – no matter what it contains – fracking waste is not classified as hazardous. This “hazardous waste loophole” also means that fracking waste can be disposed of at facilities unequipped to handle it, and in ways that can put our health and environment at risk. (June 3, 2015) Riverkeeper [more on Fracking in our area]
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Submit letters to the Democrat and Chronicle Editors about oil trains passing thru Rochester and gas storage in the Seneca Lake salt mines concerns: Editorial submissions
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
  • ACTION: Due Date Now!
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Pound for pound, getting community leaders to pledge to the state’s ‘Climate Smart Communities’ program is one of the most effective things people can do to address Climate Change. Take action! It’s all spelled out for you here: Take Action on ‘Climate Smart Communities’: New York State’s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program supports municipalities as they identify, plan and carry out projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, and prepare for the challenges climate change will bring. This program provides resources that enable localities to act on climate, without mandating which programs or policies they should adopt.
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Interested in the water quality of our rivers and streams and want to get trained to help monitor them?  “Reminder — Volunteers for Stream and River Monitoring Wanted: DEC is looking for citizen scientist volunteers for stream and river monitoring as part of the Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) project. Volunteers visit stream sites once between July and September to collect macroinvertebrates — insects and other small organisms — from the rocks and rubble on the stream bottom.  In 2014, volunteers can participate by joining a local WAVE group led by a trained local coordinator, or by sampling independently. Volunteers working under a trained local coordinator do not need to attend a training session; however, volunteers who want to work independently must attend a training session.  WAVE training sessions rotate around the state on a five-year schedule, targeting those basins that will be sampled by DEC’s Stream Biomonitoring Unit the following year.  Three training sessions remain for 2014: June 14 in Esperance, June 21 in Wyoming and June 29 in New Hartford. ” (June 13, 2014) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Chance to volunteer and help largest wetland in Northeast. “Montezuma Audubon Center Seeks Volunteers   Savannah, NY – September 20 – The Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC), located at 2295 State Route 89 in Savannah, is seeking volunteers to strengthen the current staff’s ability to fulfill Audubon’s mission in conservation.  The MAC is dedicated toward providing opportunities for youth, families, and communities to connect to conservation and enhance the Montezuma Wetlands Complex as an Important Bird Area. We are looking for volunteers interested in routinely supporting day to day needs as an information desk receptionist, animal caretaker for our live reptiles and amphibians, and office supporter to help with clerical tasks. Please call Chris Lajewski at 315-365-3588 or e-mail montezuma@audubon.org for more information or to sign up today! “
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Thinking it’s about time to do something on a big scale to combat Climate Change?  Think about joining Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  Here’s what Dr. James Hansen, head of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA say’s “Most impressive is the work of Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fastgrowing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 60 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.” The contact information for the local Rochester group:nyrochester@citizensclimatelobby.org We meet monthly, and people can contact us for more info on getting involved!
  • ACTION: Due Date: NOW!
    • Can you imagine what our world would look like if everyone used their smartphones to report environmental crimes? Healthier! Become an environmental crime stopper Polluting a stream and getting away with it? Violating the Clean Air Act without detection? Now, anyone with a smartphone can help bust abusers of the environment. New York State Crime Stoppers announced a new phone app that makes it very easy for people to instantly report environmental crimes to the appropriate agency. Cellfare created the app in collaboration with Crime Stoppers, Waterkeeper Alliance, state police and local law enforcement agencies across the state. (November 21, 2012)Investigative Post

 

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Frank J. Regan – Please visit: http://RochesterEnvironment.com: Where you can get all the environmental news, events, documents, and services on the Internet for Rochester, New York. Also: http://www.facebook.com/RochesterEnvironment

RochesterEnvironment.com is the most complete, non-profit environmental site for any one city in the world. You can also subscribe to RochesterEnvironment.Com. Once a month, get RochesterEnvironment.com’s “RENewsletter in your mail” – http://rochesterenvironment.com/subscribe.htm. Or, join in discussion on Rochester environmental matters at Environmental Thoughts – Rochester, NY – http://rochesterenvironmentny.blogspot.com/

Adapting to and mitigating Climate Change in a way that sustains all life while striving to do so equitably is the defining issue of our time.  How we comport ourselves during this historic trial by fire will reveal our true nature.

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