280+ Elected Officials Call on Gov. Cuomo to Continue Fracking Moratorium
On Monday, June 4, more than 280 local elected officials from 34 counties across New York State called on Governor Cuomo to continue the fracking moratorium and to do additional study before a decision is made whether to allow fracking. Their request, which they delivered in the form of a letter to the Governor, crosses political lines and comes from elected officials from more than half of New York State's counties.
At a press conference in Albany, elected officials shared issues of concern to municipalities and released their letter to Governor Cuomo. They spoke about how the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) review of fracking has significant shortcomings. To address their concerns, a number of studies are needed before—not after—any decision is made about fracking and before fracking commences anywhere in the state.
One of the elected officials who started the initiative, Town of Caroline Deputy Supervisor Dominic Frongillo, said, “As local elected officials, we are on the front lines of this issue, and a number of critical studies have not been done to determine the consequences of fracking and drilling operations to the constituents we represent. The impacts of fracking don't respect municipal boundaries or political parties, which is why we've already seen such an overwhelming and bipartisan response in support of this initiative from across the state."
Among their concerns are the cumulative health impacts of fracking, so they are calling for a comprehensive and independent cumulative health impact assessment. Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman said, “The revised SGEIS on the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing presented by the DEC falls very short of resolving and even discussing many concerns involving the impacts on the health, safety, and general well being of our residents as well as the economic impacts to our communities. As an elected official, failure to oppose lifting the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York would be a disservice to those whom I'm elected to represent.”
Elected Officials to Protect New York's request to the governor also called for revised and thorough studies of all potentially negative socioeconomic impacts (not just the benefits, as the current study outlines) and of cumulative environmental impacts related to fracking and drilling operations. They pointed out that thorough study was significantly lacking in the SGEIS of impacts relating to these concerns, including increased demands on local governments, increased strain on first responders and law enforcement, effects on property values and home mortgages, impacts on existing businesses and economies, local community character, water resources, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and more.
Justin Riccobono, Council Member At Large in the City of Beacon, urged extreme caution: "As a Republican and a conservative, I feel there are too many risks involved for our watershed and air quality than there are benefits. If something goes wrong, we may never be able to correct the problem. I encourage all New Yorkers to research the issues with hydrofracking in the states of Wyoming, Pennsylvania and West Virginia."
Elected Officials to Protect New York noted that they agree with Governor Cuomo that a decision on fracking should be based on the science, but they believe the facts and science available currently leave many serious questions unanswered. Albany Common Council Member Leah Golby said, “It is imperative that a decision on fracking be based on the facts, like the Governor has said it will be, but as it stands New York State has not adequately looked at the science and facts on many issues of serious concern. We respectfully urge Governor Cuomo to maintain New York's moratorium and to hold off on making a decision until the requested independent and thorough studies have been completed and we have all of the facts."
Elected officials from the Southern Tier were quick to point out that the perception that the Southern Tier wants fracking is wrong. Town of Afton Councilmember Mary Jo Long said, “Just because we have been unable to get our town boards to pass bans or moratoria to date does not mean we want our community fracked. Senator Libous does not speak for a large portion of the Southern Tier.”
City of Elmira Mayor Susan Skidmore said, “My opinion is that all the facts are not being considered. Local environmental and infrastructure studies and current conditions of these items are not understood or taken into consideration. I am very concerned about the impact to my city. I see it as a burden to the residents to shoulder what is left when these large companies cap the wells and employment drops to a few part time maintenance positions. It will and has destroyed our property values and our ability to afford our own homes and rental properties."
Syracuse Common Councilor Kathleen Joy said, “Even though Syracuse is protected, New York is one state. If it’s not safe in one municipality’s watershed, it’s not safe anywhere. We shouldn’t be putting any of New York’s citizens at risk. The risks of fracking don’t change from one municipality to the next, neither should state policy.”
Elected Officials to Protect New York is a broad-based and nonpartisan group of elected officials seeking to open a dialogue with the Governor's office on these issues. Frongillo made the point that there needs to be an ongoing conversation between the Governor's office and local officials: “Whatever is eventually decided about fracking, we need to be consulted and involved. We're the boots on the ground, representing villages, cities, towns, and counties. The bipartisan, geographically-diverse group of elected officials that has joined together on this letter stands ready to work with the DEC and the Governor for the best possible future for all of New York State.”
Elected Officials to Protect New York will continue to collect signatures on the letter to Governor Cuomo on its website.
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The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.
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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
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By Jeff Berardelli
Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.
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