RENewsletter | February 14, 2016

 

The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com

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

 

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

 

[2/07/2016 – 2/14/2016]

 

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: “Worrying about sustainability via Climate Change

 

For most of humanity’s existence we have not thought or worried ourselves much about sustainability.  Homo sapiens, like all of the other life forms on this planet, concerned themselves (consciously or not, mostly not) with survival. We ate, drank, procreated, hunted, gathered, and eventually died. We climbed trees, moved under their branches hand over hand, straddling one tree while we shifted our weight on our new evolved pelvic bones to another tree. At some point we came down from the trees, freed up our hands for gathering stuff and evolved our two other appendages for walking and running—and started worrying.

 

Once out of the trees and on the ground we began to worry where our food and predators were. Up in the trees our food was relatively easy to get at. However, because of climate change there were fewer trees so we had to get creative at acquiring food. On the ground there were more predators too. They were often larger than us, faster, stronger, so we got running. Opportunities for worrying grew exponentially once out of the safety of the trees. Our brains grew in proportion to our worries and became very large indeed.

 

Because we shared our worries with each other, our social skills increased and we were able to hunt together for those creatures who worried us so. (I suspect, since most animals are wary of humans on their first encounter, our predators began worrying about us in return.)   

 

Besides worrying, our large brains made it possible to think about ways to keep ourselves warm as the climate changed. We learned how control fire. We learned how gather up all kinds of eatables and hunt for all kinds of animals. We learned to cook many of our foods, a sort of pre-digestion tactic, which dramatically increased our food choices. We still worried about dying and finding enough food. But we also addressed our worries by increasing our ability to plan ahead for better hunting and gathering and even storing and planting for more food for the future.

 

We began to worry about how much food we could accumulate to keep our families and whatever ruling groups (chiefs, kings, high priests) we institutionalized. We worried about storms. We worried about the seasons and what time of year to start moving to better hunting grounds. We worried about when to sow and when to reap.

 

These sustainability worries were not simply aimless, fruitless concerns. We acted on our worries. We made stronger houses, developed better weapons, developed better hunting stills, communicated more effectively for more efficient gathering parties, and found ways to predict some disasters like floods and dangerous seas.

 

Who knows when this capacity of ours to worry about our future, to have concerns about our ability to endure, to live sustainability, began. It might be hardwired into all creatures intent on survival. But as a conscious worry sustainability only occurs in modern humans. Other creatures just do it or die.

 

When we created large communities and began farming on a scale sufficient to sustain those groups, then we started to really worry. We worried that some other group might take our stuff and jeopardize our ability to endure and so we went to war with those groups. We started gathering as much land and water as we could, thinking perhaps, if we acquired enough land and water we and our descendants would never perish.  

 

At some point, some of us began to worry about our effect on our environment, on our life support system. Native Americans, who probably suffered the effects of over-hunting, starting thinking more deeply about their actions and their long-term survival. Seven generations sustainability is a conscious effort to be mindful one’s environmental footprints at least seven generations after you die. This kind of thinking creates the communal habit of thinking about where your peoples’ next meal will come from.

 

In 1864, George Perkins Marsh wrote a very influential book—“Man and Nature”--about how many European societies failed because of their lousy treatment of their environment. In this book, Marsh warned Americans and future generations to take it easy on nature if you wanted it for a tomorrow. He wasn’t against development and humanity getting ahead. He just thought we should live more sustainably so our wants would last and last. Marsh’s warnings and the counsel of many other early naturalists after him help slow down our some of our more wasteful and damaging effects on our air, land, and water. But not much. The Industrial Revolutions unleashed a lot of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Around the same time we developed an indifferent and amoral attitude towards our environment called ‘economics,’ which created a great estrangement between us and our life support system. Heedlessly we struck hard at the core of our environmental vitals while we tried to better ourselves. 

 

From the mid-1800’s our development and our negative effects on our environment took off like there was no tomorrow. We chopped down forests of forests, dammed every river and stream we could, and dumped old and new toxins into our air, water, and land in the thousands of gallons.

 

It got really bad. Some of our rivers caught on fire they were so polluted and so the public rose up in the millions to protect our home planet on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Sustainability was becoming a worldwide worry. With the advent of nuclear weapons and incredible jumps in human population, the nations of the world started to come together to address what sustainability actually meant and how we would achieve it. 

 

We decided sustainability was about us, humans and our desire for more stuff.  The rest of creatures and plants were on their own.

 

 “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report)

 

Then, in the mid-1990’s the climate talks began one after another until the 21st talk in Paris resulting in the Paris Agreement. The world has come to understand that all our problems with sustainability are intertwined with wildlife and plants and soil and poverty and justice and all those are dependent on addressing Climate Change.

 

This Earth Day the world comes together to celebrate our environment and watch our leaders sign the Paris Agreement that will make the agreement official.

 

Our worries about sustainability are far from over. In a way, they’ve just begun. In the sense that we are just beginning to truly understand how humanity must curb its own selfish tendencies to attain sustainability, the road ahead is clear.

 

However, the forces within us to protect what we already have at the expense of everything else is very strong:

 

Supreme Court Halts Clean Power Plan, with Implications Far Beyond the U.S. The surprise decision threatens the credibility of the Paris climate change treaty that was reached by the world's nations in December. The Supreme Court put on hold the linchpin of President Obama's climate policy, barring the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday from carrying out the administration's new Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants. It was a surprising decision of staggering proportions, with repercussions that go far beyond the U.S. electrical grid, threatening the credibility of the Paris Agreement on climate change reached by the world’s nations in December. The Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce by nearly a third emissions from fossil fuel-burning electricity plants, is the central element of the pledge by the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. (February 10, 2016) Inside Climate News

 

Be worried. Be very worried. 

 

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

 

__________________________________________

 

 

* 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

__________________________________________

 

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

 

 

________________________________________

 

Updates Daily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments. Text in BOLD are my comments.]

 

 

___________________________________________________

 

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.

 

February

 

 

March

 

 

April

 

 

_________________________________________________

 

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. 

 

 

__________________________________________________