Environmental News & Action Items
"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources,
but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
— Theodore Roosevelt
"The Iroquois Confederation made their decisions based on the welfare of their children
and childrens' children for seven generations. Will our leaders do the same?"
— Joe Hoff, Chairman, Keuka Citizens Against Hydrofracking
In 2000, the following resolution was submitted and passed at the AAUW-NYS Convention:
Environment and Health
- Branches work in coalition with other community groups to become informed on environmental and health issues;
- Branches advocate legislation at the state and local levels to ensure a clean and healthful environment;
- A workshop on environmental and health issues be included periodically at the New York State Convention.
- Submitted by (the late) Judith Wagner and Ann Heidenreich, St. Lawrence County Branch.
North Country Matters: Becoming a NYS Climate Smart Community - Alex French, the Sustainability Coordinator at the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at Clarkson University, talks with NCM host Donna Seymour about the process local towns are using to become New York State Climate Smart Communities. Taking the pledge is the start of a 10-step process that over 100 state communities have begun, including five here in St. Lawrence County. (Recorded Jan. 31, 2018)
The NC 350 Alliance represents the convergence of a number of groups with a long and rich tradition of activism on behalf of sustainability and social justice. Members and constituent groups have been engaged in campaigns against incineration, fracking, and industrial agriculture, and in the promotion of farmers markets, EBT/SNAP access to local foods, sustainable living and alternative energy fairs, school programs on nutrition, and university programs on sustainability, as well as conferences and demonstrations on climate change. We have brought numerous distinguished speakers to our campuses-- among them Bill McKibben, Michael E. Mann, William Blakemore (of ABC), and the anti-fracking activist Deborah Rogers.
The North Country 350 Alliance meets at 6:30 pm on every third Wenesday of each month at the Potsdam Community Room in the Public Safety Building.
How to Shop for Solar Power: Solar Panels, Inverters, and More
What kind of Site Index:
- American drinking water could soon get a lot dirtier - 16 million Americans get sick from drinking tap water every year. Tap water is held to much stricter standards than bottled water, and most big cities are constantly monitoring their water supplies and sticking to standards that keep residents in good health. But there's a chance that less federal regulation and oversight could lead to more contamination, especially if the EPA (the agency tasked with regulating clean drinking water) is no longer involved in deciding who gets approval to dump, build, or dredge in federal waters that feed municipal taps.
- 2018 could be a big year for state-level toxics legislation: Analysis - On the heels of a Trump Administration budget that proposes further cuts to environmental protection, a new analysis finds that states are taking up the slack in protecting people from toxic chemicals. A report from Safer States, a network of U.S. environmental health coalitions and organizations, finds in 2018 at least 23 states will consider 112 policies to limit people's exposure to a variety of harmful compounds.
- Climate change is hurting children the most - According to the United Nations Children’s Fund in 2017, around 175,000 children were not attending primary and preprimary school as a result of the food shortage in 10 counties and a further 1.2 million children in Kenya were in need of education assistance. The report further states that more than 100,000 children aged less than 5 years need treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
- New Map Reveals Which Countries Are Most Likely to Survive Climate Change - So which country is the most likely to survive climate change? The answer is Norway, thanks to its low vulnerability score and high readiness score. The nation's Nordic neighbors also fared well, with Finland (third), Sweden (fourth), Denmark (sixth) and Iceland (eighth) landing five out of the 10 top spots for survivability. So we should all flee to the countries of northern Europe and the North Atlantic to live out our final days should our planet become uninhabitable.
- Floods Are Getting Worse, and 2,500 Chemical Sites Lie in the Water’s Path - Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About 1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding. Of those sites, more than 1,400 were in locations the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers to have a high risk of flooding. An additional 1,100 sites were in areas of moderate risk. Other industrial complexes lie just outside these defined flood-risk zones, obscuring their vulnerability as flood patterns shift and expand.
- St. Lawrence County solar power installations up more than 500% since 2011 - Solar power installations in the North Country, including St. Lawrence County, have increased by 525 percent since 2011 under the NY-Sun program, according to figures released recently by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. As of 2017, 7.3 megawatts of solar installations under the program have been installed in St. Lawrence County alone. This compares with 5.33 megawatts in Jefferson County, .47 megawatts in Lewis County, 1.03 megawatts in Franklin County, and 3.11 megawatts in Herkimer County. The North Country in 2011 saw 200 solar installations, compared to 1,250 as of 2017, according to NYSERDA's numbers. The agency calculates a megawatt increase of 1,092 percent since 2011 in the North Country overall.
- New Federal Report Warns of Climate Change Impacts On Our Forests - Climate change is posing “increasing threats” to the forests of Connecticut, other New England states and those in upstate New York, according to a new study led by the U.S. Forest Service. Woodlands cover nearly 40 million acres of the total land area of more than 53 million acres of land in New England and northern New York, the report noted. Private individuals and organizations own about 80 percent of that forest land.
- Climate change is impacting some women’s decisions to have children - Climate change is creating yet another debate -- this time largely among women who are wondering what it means for their reproductive future. They are not saying they fear their ovaries are affected by climate change; instead, they are saying they are so worried about climate change, it has made them wonder if bringing a child into the world right now is a bad idea.
- Billion-Dollar Storms: Is This the New Normal? - As global temperatures continue to rise, things will get worse and more costly in terms of the undeniable results of climate change.
- Climate Change and Weather Extremes: Both Heat and Cold Can Kill - Analyzing daily patterns at the ZIP code level, we estimated how daily temperature changes affect elderly mortality as a way to predict how people may adapt to climate change. Our key finding is that both heat waves and cold snaps increase mortality rates. For example, the mortality rate from a day with average temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit is higher by about one death per 100,000 individuals than a day with an average temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. Deaths also increase, by about one-half per 100,000 individuals, on days when the average temperature is less than 20 degrees. Several prior studies have found similar results. This means that communities need to plan for the higher risk of deaths from both hot and cold weather extremes.
- Insurance Industry Making ‘Significant Contributions’ in Climate Change Battle, Report Shows - The report out this week from the Geneva Association, an international insurance industry think tank, also notes that several challenges are hindering the industry’s efforts to scale up its contributions.
- Cold weather and the NYS power grid - It has been a very cold winter so far and, unfortunately, spring is still a long way off. So many people have been staying inside and cranking up the heat. That increased demand creates a challenge for the energy grid, which needs to keep the power on for not only comfort but also safety. Brad Jones of the New York Independent System Operator talks about handling the situation.
- Video: Climate change is everyone’s fight: C40 Mayors - It has been said that the fight against climate change will be won in cities. In this video by C40, mayors of the world’s mega cities share what they are doing to address the most pressing climate threats.
- 2017 Among 3 Warmest Years on Record - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual State of the Climate: Global Climate Report has been documenting the warming of the planet and the effects of those rising temperatures. With the UK's Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization, it declared 2017 the third-warmest year, after 2016 and 2015. In a separate analysis, NASA said that 2017 was the second warmest on record, based on a different method of analyzing global temperatures. The six warmest years in 138 years of record keeping have now all occurred since 2010, NOAA noted.
- Cuomo, Schneiderman Push EPA Over Smog - New York has filed a complaint pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act to curb ground-level smog pollution that blows into New York. The complaint was announced as part of a joint push by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
- Risk of nuclear weapons, extreme weather top threats for 2018: report - Nuclear war, cyberattacks and environmental disasters top the list of man-made threats to global stability in 2018, according to a survey of 1,000 international leaders from the worlds of business, government, academia and civil society. Mother Nature topped the most significant risks likely facing the world for a second year in a row, the survey found. They include natural disasters and extreme weather events that human-caused climate change may be abetting.
- All Renewables Will Be Cost Competitive With Fossil Fuels by 2020 - According to a cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the best onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects could deliver electricity for $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2019, much lower than the current cost of power from fossil fuels, which ranges from $0.05 to $0.17 per kWh.
- State task force unveils plastic bag solutions - A comprehensive state Department of Conservation report detailing potential solutions to address single-use plastic shopping bags has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature for further study and potential action. The 88-page report, "An Analysis of the Impact of Single-Use Plastic Bags," includes information on plastic bag solutions implemented around the world as well as potential approaches to combating the problem in New York state. "We've scoured the planet for some of the best ideas, and how certain areas have implemented solutions," Seggos said.
- 100+ Candidates for Congress Want to Win in 2018 on a Platform of Decisive Climate Action - Is 2018 the year that climate change becomes a hot-button election issue? We think so, and the year is starting off on the right foot, with more than 100 U.S. House and Senate candidates around the country pledging to support the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act if they are elected. Food & Water Action is organizing across the country to support the bill, which is the strongest climate legislation to date—because we know that we'll only see the needed progress on climate change if we build power in states across the country to elect candidates that are unafraid to say what needs to be done and then fight for it.
- Environmental priorities in 2018 - Environmental groups are supporting the climate change initiatives included in Governor Cuomo's State of the State, like divesting the pension fund from fossil fuel companies and reducing emissions from power plants. But there are several other areas where they would like to see action this year, including lowering transportation emissions, improving water quality, and even revisiting the plastic bag issue. Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, joins us to talk more about this.
- US sets new cost record for major disasters - The United States set a new record last year for the total cost of weather and climate change-related disasters that exceeded $1 billion, driven largely by wildfires and hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Center for Environmental Information said in a Monday report that the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion added up to $306 billion. The total number of disasters tied with 2011 for a record, while the total cost was a new high.
- 10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018 - Protecting the natural environment may seem overwhelming with increased natural disasters, melting sea ice, and threatened wildlife. But your choices can truly go a long way for your community and your health. Here are ten ways to be a better steward in 2018 and help others do the same!
- Nine Reasons to Be Optimistic About Climate Change in 2018 - Amid all the awful news are some points of light. Buried in the avalanche of depressing news this year were legitimate reasons for hope. The nine trends and events listed below are not just excuses for wishful thinking: Any of these on their own is a major step forward for fixing climate change. And taken together, they show we might not be as screwed as the year’s headlines suggest.
- Vive la résistance: 10 ways people stood up for the planet in 2017 - One year ago, we wondered what would happen after a man who called climate change a Chinese hoax was elected president of the United States. Certainly, 2017 will be remembered for a series of cringe-worthy political appointments, disappointing regulatory repeals, and controversial executive actions — not to mention Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement. But it was also a year that birthed a new band of scrappy resisters who fought the climate-change denying, regulation-repealing powers that be.
As a result, 2017 was actually a pretty impressive year for resistance. Check out the list in this article.
- Appeals Court Orders E.P.A. to Update Lead Paint Rules, Quickly - A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to revise its nearly 17-year-old standard for dangerous levels of lead in paint and dust within one year, a rare legal move that amounts to a sharp rebuff of President Trump and Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator.
- Koch-Funded Anti-Climate Group Tells Women to Ignore Concerns About Toxic Chemicals - A chemical industry front group defends the freedom of corporations to pollute. In Trump’s Washington, there is no daylight at all between the corporations selling harmful products and the agencies that are supposed to regulate them. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is pushing scientists off advisory boards and stacking the EPA with political appointees connected to the oil, coal and chemical industries, many of whom are connected to climate science deniers.
- Shutdown of coal-fired power plant results in significant fetal health improvement in downwind areas - "Our study is the first to show fetal health improvement as a result of shutting down a large air polluter leading to a drastic reduction of [sulfur dioxide] emissions," write the authors in a paper published online today in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, which will appear in an upcoming print edition.
- 'Safe' levels? Small amounts of air pollution linked to more death for senior citizens: Study - Elderly people have a higher risk of dying after short-term exposure to particulate air pollution and ozone, according to a new study from Harvard.
- Climate Change Is Driving People From Home. So Why Don’t They Count as Refugees? - The treaty that defines the status of refugees was written at the end of World War II. A research paper, published Thursday in Science magazine, suggests that weather shocks are spurring people to seek asylum in the European Union. The researchers found that over a 15-year period, asylum applications in Europe increased along with “hotter-than-normal temperatures” in the countries where the asylum seekers had come from. Why isn’t anyone proposing a new law? For starters, refugee advocates fear that if the 1951 refugee treaty were opened for renegotiation, politicians in various countries would try to weaken the protections that exist now. That includes the Trump administration, which has barred people from eight countries — including refugees from war-torn Syria and Yemen — from coming into the country altogether.
- 2017 was record-setting weather year for north country - Meteorologist Aaron Reynolds said that the average yearly rainfall total for the area is just under 35 inches, and 2017 has seen 48 inches of rain so far. More than a foot of additional rain had fallen this year, making it the wettest since record keeping began in 1949. According to data gathered in Massena by the National Weather Service, January and February were warmer than usual — almost 10 degrees warmer, on average. But the milder winter gave way to a cold, wet spring and summer.
- Fracking Study Finds Low Birth Weights Near Natural Gas Drilling Sites - The researchers looked at over 1 million infants’ birth records in Pennsylvania and found a link to fracking operations. Pinpointing which aspect is harder. Babies born near hydraulic fracturing sites are 25 percent more likely to have a low birth weight than those born only a few kilometers away, a new study of more than 1 million births in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region concludes.
- Arctic Report Card 2017: Ice Cover Is Shrinking Faster Compared With Prior 1,500 Years - The 2017 Arctic Report Card reflects contributions from 85 scientists representing 12 countries. The pace of sea ice area (hereafter extent) decrease is unprecedented over the past 1,500 years, according to Emily Osborne's et al. 2017 contribution to the Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.
- U.S. Military Agency Invests $100m in 'Genetic Extinction' Technologies - Technology could be used to wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitos or other pests but UN experts say fears over possible military uses and unintended consequences strengthen the case for a ban. The documents suggest that the US’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has become the world’s largest funder of “gene drive” research and will raise tensions ahead of a UN expert committee meeting in Montreal beginning on Tuesday.
- Climate change inaction could leave future generations facing over $500trn of debt - By continuing to delay significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we risk handing young people alive today a bill of up to $535trn. This would be the cost of the “negative emissions” technologies required to remove CO2 from the air in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
- 5,500 U.S. Schools Use Solar Power, and That's Growing as Costs Fall, Study Shows - Mirroring the overall solar landscape, California has the most school installations, with nearly 2,000 schools that use solar power. Nevada has the highest adoption rate: 23 percent of schools are now using solar energy. New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and New York, other states with solar-friendly policies and a rapidly growing solar base, also have high adoption rates, according to the study.
- Global Warming Might Be Especially Dangerous for Pregnant Women - Scientists are concerned that heat waves could be linked to more premature births and stillbirths. Pregnant women “have traditionally fallen outside of our conception of who is vulnerable to heat,” said Sabrina McCormick, a sociologist at George Washington University, whose research includes how people respond to climate change—heat in particular. “We need to really change that conception.”
- To combat climate change, increase women's participation - How can you beat climate change with only half the world's population? Gender was among the main side-topics at the UN climate summit in Bonn. DW spoke to women who intend to be part of the solution to climate change. "The issue of gender equality, women's rights and empowerment has really seen an increasing recognition — and that's very positive," Verona Collantes, intergovernmental specialist at UN Women, told DW.
- 20 states, 50 cities sign pledge - A coalition of U.S. cities, states, companies and universities said on Saturday that they still plan on meeting the commitments of the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump's announcement earlier this year that the U.S. would withdraw from the deal.
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch