Today’s lesson, boys and girls, is on Plastics, itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, bits of plastics. Where besides oceans can you find them? Great Lakes, that’s right! And who put them there? We did, that’s right. And, are they likely to make fish and our drinking water healthier? No, boys and girls, they will not.
What is the point of being the Green Party in the Rochester, NY region if they don’t even have a position on Climate Change? The local Green Party has missed a tremendous opportunity to lead the local political discourse by ignoring the greatest crisis of our generation.
The future mayor of Rochester, like it or not, will have to view all our local transportation, telecommunications, water and waste infrastructures through the lens of Climate Change. Much has been done to increase active transportation in Rochester under Mayor Richards’ leadership, which, if it gets more folks out of their gas guzzlers and on to their bikes, will have a profound effect on lowering greenhouse gases.
But the myriad environmental, economic, and public health issues that Climate Change will cause in our area has been ignored by the media in this year’s mayoral race.
The Green Party could have been a contender.
Hey, these pro-Fracker people really do want their cake and eat it to: Frack for more fossil fuels in a time of Climate Change but no taxes on these industries that the state has to monitor and clean up after.
What’s odd about the rage against Big Government is that the very folks who continually rail against more government regulations and taxing are exactly the folks who will insure the need for Big Government. Free market fundamentalism that treats our environment as an externality (garbage dump and magical resource provider) and sucks public monies from our transportation system that allows their industries to function will force government to be larger and more intrusive to fix the damage from their rapacious practices.
Haven’t seen a single industry yet willing to take on Brownfields, which industry has left ‘we the people’ to clean up.
Finally, after scouring local news for two days I find a Rochester-area media that mentions yesterday’s release of IPCC (AR5) Climate Report: “Human influence on climate clear, IPCC report says” http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ar…
Yesterday’s news release is just the first installment of a collection of scientific climate change studies that'll come out over the next year. But it does stagger one’s mind to see at this late dale so few of Rochester’s media unwillingness to report on the greatest crisis of our age—a crisis that will have a profound effect on our region too. Climate Change is about planning ahead and though we are in the middle of a mayoral campaign nary a word from the candidates or the press about how our next mayor will lead on Climate Change. Two weeks ago I listened to a governmental expert say that NYS temperature figures are on a trajectory for a 6C rise by 2100. That’s game over.
It isn’t just about how hot it’s going to get, it’s about the speed it going to warm—far faster than any animal or plant has ever had to adapt before. This should galvanize the public to demand that their next leader provide their platform on adapting our transportation, telecommunications, and water infrastructures for more extreme and frequent rainfall. What will the mayoral candidate do to provide adequate shelter for more extreme heatwaves and in the increase of warm-climate diseases, like West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, malaria, and dengue fever—for those homeless and without health care? What will the next mayor do to prepare our region, rich in fresh water and productive soil, for the probable influx of those not blessed with such resources?
Rochester should be preparing for not only future disasters, but future prosperity because of our region’s abundance of transportation options (think canal too for heavy freight), farmland (as yet, un-Fracked, growing renewable energy, and did I say fresh, clean water?
BTW: This IPCC (AR5) study, though a world-wide study by the majority of the world’s climate scientists, had to be approved by not only other climate scientists (95%), the study also had to pass through the powers of many nations. It is a very conservative study (that many scientists say is too milquetoast) and it is not the only climate study around. There are many, many climate studies from many governmental agencies, universities, groups, and industry (like the re-insurance companies) that are all saying the same thing: You cannot ignore Climate Change and continue business as usual. Thanks to Rochester City Newspaper for the world crisis mention. For without continual coverage on Climate Change by the local press, the public will get deluded that this issue will somehow bypass us. I don’t think so.
I think the operative word on this article “More good news for sturgeon” is ‘early’. (“And the early results of that work are positive”) Sturgeons used to fill our rivers and Great Lakes, which probably made them a keystone species for these ecologies.
We applaud the efforts now being made to bring them back and recover our lakes’ and rivers’ ecology that has been decimated by years of dumping toxic waste into them. It’s good, I suppose, that the test sturgeons have survived ten years in the Genesee River.
But because sturgeons don’t reach sexual maturity until 20 years or more, we don’t know if they can reproduce healthy offspring and whether these offspring can reproduce. It’s going to take a long time to find out.
We don’t know what the other “approximately 200 other substances” will be found in the test sturgeon’s blood. We don’t know if comparing sturgeon from another ‘unpolluted’ river merits comparison to what historic sturgeons were like.
And, we really don’t know if the toxics from the Genesee River—the 32nd most toxic polluted river in the US (see Wasting Our Waterways 2012 http://www.environmentamerica.org/reports/… be encapsulated, entombed, or otherwise kept permanently out of the river’s ecology as we dredge and constantly reinvent the Genesee River for our pleasure.
Now we can add plastics to pharmaceuticals, invasive species, phosphorous, sewage, manmade toxins, and Climate Change to the challenges of the Great Lakes. But that’s probably not enough, there will be some who’ll want to add Fracking waste to wastewater treatment plants that empty into our Great Lakes. Hard to believe we could screw up the largest fresh water system in the world so quickly.
While I applaud Monroe County’s efforts at recycling, I do not believe that a landfill, any landfill, is an “environmentally sound” way to dispose of waste. The Zero Waste committee of the Rochester Sierra Club has hosted a park cleanup in the county’s yearly ‘PickUpTheParks’ program for four years. Our group and many other groups and residents cheered the long-awaited decision by Monroe County to recycle #3-#7 plastics.
Monroe County’s eco-park, a residential drop-off point for recyclables and hazardous waste, is an incredible service that all residents should use. Everyone can dispose of paints and old gasoline and other environmentally hazardous stuff. However, according to an eco-park representative, only 1% of the public is availing themselves of this critical service. That is unacceptable, and one has to wonder where the other 99% are dumping their hazardous waste.
Landfills as a waste option are becoming suspect. Yes, they’ve come a long way from the toxic garbage dumps of the past. And of course Monroe County does need to provide the public with a waste removal system. They do not have the luxury of eliminating landfilling as a waste option at present, so landfills may well be a necessary evil at this point.
But landfills are never ‘environmentally sound’ and we should be moving away from them as quickly as possible. When we try to solve our energy and waste problems by capturing and then burning the methane gases that naturally accompany landfills, the public gets the false impression that this solves either problem. What it does is perpetuate landfills as a basic component of waste management thus sweeping our waste, energy, and resource problems under the rug.
It is a better idea to get rid of the idea of landfills and instead find ways to recycle those things we toss into them. Recycling our waste—organic, furniture, plastics, aluminum, etc.—would provide a wealth of resources for businesses, instead of having to further deplete our natural resources.
“Landfills are the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions in the U.S., and the impact of landfill emissions in the short term is grossly underestimated — methane is 72 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time frame.” (Page 7, Stop Trashing the Climate)
Also, this is interesting “…according to an audit, 69 percent of county households participate in recycling, while 53 percent of Rochester residents participate.” It’s interesting because in Buffalo, where the press follows recycling rates very closely, they have a recycling rate of only 13.6 percent. The national average is 34 percent. Hard to believe we are wildly above the national average.
Anyway, I am in total agreement with Mr. Garland’s statement about updating plans on landfills, which includes “…develop public education programs about proper disposal, recycling, or reuse of different wastes.” Not only should there be widespread education about proper waste disposal, I believe our local media should step up to the plate and provide this educational component free of charge, as it is in the public interest.
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