Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Final Thought: Copenhagen 2009

The recent negotiations in Copenhagen to strategize a global treaty to mitigate global climate change can be seen as a success or a failure, depending on one's expectations. If the outcome of Copenhagen is any indicator, the world is evidently not going to come together to create the kinds of controls that would be necessary to get to the goal fo 350 parts per thousand of atmospheric CO2 by 2050. (That is the level that climate scientists such as James Hansen have suggested is necessary to maintain the existing climate system to which humanity has become culturally adapted.) The current process of international cooperative action is simply to slow for that.

On the other hand, though talk does not equal action, leaders across the world, including the U.S. and China, agreed to a system of verifications and aid to poorer countries dealing with climate change. Few countries are willing to be the first to accept limits that would impact their economic success, and limits are meaningless unless the largest emitters of CO2 participate and unless emissions can be verified. As slow as the international process may be, these steps forward were essential before we can expect action from most nations. From this perspective, the rest of the Copenhagen negotiations was not what it may do directly for decreasing emissions, but for the role it may play in future agreements to take action -- it is a building block of the foundation of international cooperation.

--Dr. Rob Ross, Associate Director for Outreach at the Paleontological Research Instiution

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama in Copenhagen

As leaders are working late into the night to try to come up with an agreement of sorts in Copenhagen, many people are unimpressed with President Obama's speech on the matter. In some cases, the disappointment is understood: President Obama did not encourage Congress to pass climate legislation in his talk, and many would argue that an international stage would be the place to do that. In other cases, like explaining to developing nations that some plan is better than no plan and will bring people closer together on climate change, perhaps the disappointment is less acceptable. After all, won't an imperfect deal help us to lower emissions? Even if it doesn't reach goals suggested? Or should more be done?

Read the article here, and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen: Hopenhagen or Constipagen?

With negotiations in progress at the UNFCCC and world leaders arriving in Copenhagen in hopes of finding a common ground, protesters outside are being controlled by one of the largest police forces ever seen in Copenhagen. Protesters have taken to calling Copenhagen "Constipagen" instead of "Hopenhagen" because talks and lines are moving so slowly.

Some leaders are remain hopeful that a pact can be reached, but others, and certainly those outside protesting, are less optimistic. NPR and Bloomberg both have excellent reviews of the process going on.

I'm certainly going to remain hopeful that something significant can be accomplished in Copenhagen. We're in the holiday season, folks, so let's send some hopeful thoughts out to President Obama and other world leaders in "Hopenhagen."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More News from Copenhagen

Negotiations are currently underway to create some sort of international agreement about carbon emissions at the UNFCCC. It is hoped that most of the nitty gritty parts of the negotiations will be finished by the time that international leaders begin arriving later this week.

Here's an article on some of the most intense deliberations. I certainly hope they can be resolved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carbon Emission Giants

The United States is no longer the largest emitter of carbon dioxide; China is now emitting more. posted a fantastic interactive global map highlighting the world's biggest carbon emitters today, predictions for what countries will be emitting in 2030, and those areas with the biggest % increase. The most fascinating part of this tool is that you can look at emissions per region or per human, or look at the regional increase in population.

With an estimated 20,000 people gathered in Copenhagen, these sorts of posts are extremely apropos. Thanks, NPR!

Check it out, here!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Climategate' addressed in Copenhagen

If you haven't heard of 'Climategate,' then please consider these posts simply informed perspective of the science of climate change. But if you have heard of the climate skeptics who hacked scientists emails in order to "prove" that anthropogenic (human-made) climate change is a fallacy, I'd like to point you to a couple of scientific rebuttals.

First, watch Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speak out in Copenhagen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change against the media frenzy that is 'climategate.'

Then, check out an enlightening YouTube video that brings to light that scientific and statistical terminology has a different meaning (re: trick), and that proxy data from tree rings is not the same as data from the instrumented record (re: hide the decline).

Finally, another scientists' blog that discusses the findings and truth behind "climate-gate."

PRI accepts the scientific consensus of the IPCC that humans are contributing to the warming of this planet through the combustion of carbon dioxide through fossil fuel use, among many other contributors like deforestation and land use.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2000-2009 warmest decade on record

Even as an expected 9,000 (or more) people gather in Copenhagen for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, scientists are publishing more evidence on human-made climate change. The World Meteorological Organization announced yesterday that, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, we will just have ended the warmest decade in the instrumented record.

Further, the United States Geological Survey newsroom highlighted a study published in Nature GeoSciences yesterday that discusses the possibility that scientists may have undercalculated the sensitivity of our climate system to carbon dioxide. This is because models are based on long term trends and averages. In the article, scientists looked at a short interval of time with rapid change in relation to carbon dioxide, and saw that climate was more sensitive to the gas than models predicted. Read the release, with a link to the article, here.

PRI scientists will have an ear to the ground today, and all this week, watching for updates from Copenhagen. We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 7, 2009


As many of you know, today marks the first day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Because PRI supports the IPCC finding that climate change is human-caused, and because we support education efforts on the science behind global climate change, we are closely following the events happening in Copenhagen.

I'd like to highlight a couple of the exciting things that have happened today with respect to climate change.

First, this morning there was a piece on NPR about American feelings on climate change. For the last few years, fewer Americans each year accept the science behind climate change. Listen to the piece here.

Second, the Environmental Protection Agency just published their decision to declare carbon dioxide a health hazard. Read about its implications to both US regulation and President Obama's visit to Copenhagen here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NIMBYism and Wind Power

When it comes to alternative energy sources, including natural gas, wind, solar, and nuclear, everyone is supportive until the source comes to their town. This is the idea of NIMBYism, or Not In My BackYard. One of the main reasons for the contention is that homeowners are concerned that these new technologies will leave marks on their region that lower their property values. However, the Departmnt of Energy just responded that property values have not been affected in areas where windfarms have been activated. This is certainly good news for homeowners, environmentalists, and alternative energy entrepreneurs alike! Read the article here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Countertop Composter

I came across this great video about "countertop" composting...I had no idea that you could be a composter in a small space!

I live in a town home community hear in Ithaca, NY and we own our home, but we don't own the outside space. We have no private yard to start a compost pile so this video was an eye opener for me:

If you want to learn more about where you can drop off your food scraps if you choose to freeze your compost or have a countertop bucket check out this resource in Tompkins County: Recycling and Solid Waste.

Monday, November 16, 2009

“We can’t change the science... We have to change the politics.”

The new head of the environmental group Greenpeace, South African Kumi Naidoo criticized Barack Obama in a BBC interview for losing his urgency on the issue of climate change. Naidoo, the first African to head Greenpeace since its foundation in 1971, believed Obama made the fate of the earth a priority during his election campaign but has since been disappointing in his actions.

As the December Copenhagen climate summit approaches, many want a new treaty that is wider-ranging and more sophisticated than the Kyoto agreement. Ultimately, nations are looking to the Copenhagen treaty to curb the growth in greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the world within a safe limit of average temperature rise.

“Anything short of a binding treaty in Copenhagen must be read as a failure of leadership on the part of the political class,” said Naidoo, who also expressed dismay that Obama has not yet clearly announced his intention to attend the summit.

For the whole story, visit BBC News:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Unpower Yourself"

PRI has entered the "Unpower Yourself" challenge! We're doing what we can to use less energy! This site focuses on non-profit organizations, but no matter who you are or where you work, there are some interesting little tidbits to be learned at the site! Check it out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Save Money...

Lately, I've been trying to switch all the light bulbs in my house to compact fluorescent lightbulbs. It's costly, but we have really made more of an effort to be "green." That said, I just came across a great article on the Huffington Post that really explains the savings you will realize. Enjoy:

The Huffington Post: Same Money Use Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

Thursday, November 5, 2009

World Leaders Bringing Awarenes...

First it was the Maldives, now Nepal's Prime Minister along with his cabinet will be holding a cabinet meeting not underwater but at "base camp" on Everest to bring awareness to Global Warning.

Check the story out here: Nepali Cabinet to Meet on Everest

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ending Climate Change -- As Easy as Changing a Light Bulb...

Our friends at TerraPass have posted a great article where they make the point that personal conservation is great, but it's not nearly as great as political activism in regards to climate change. As the Climate Change Bill enters the Senate for debate it's our duty to let our elected representatives know how we feel. At the end of the day, they are our voices in the Senate.

Follow the link below to read more from TerraPass and to download a letter that you can fill out and send to your Senators!

TerraPass: Ending Climate Change - As Easy as Changing a Light Bulb

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New York Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Summit: Challenges and Opportunities Monday, November 30, 2009

Cornell Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with a number of local and statewide partners, will host a Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Summit at the Owego Treadway Inn, in Owego, NY, on Monday, November 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Local government officials, landowner coalition representatives, citizens seeking more information, industry representatives, environmental advocates, and researchers and educators are encouraged to attend.

“The summit’s goals and objectives are to inform and educate; prepare for challenges and opportunities; gather information for ongoing research; and promote networking among multiple stakeholders,” said Rod Howe, assistant director of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The summit coincides with the end of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s comment period for the supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (sGEIS) on November 30. That document is available at

Legislative and regulatory controls are being scrutinized as intensive gas drilling of the Marcellus Shale has the potential to transform the fabric of many—especially rural—communities in New York State in ways that are both positive and negative. Intensive natural gas development in other states has been accompanied by substantial changes in population, land use, environment, community, and economy.

The summit will address two key questions: Where do the people and the communities of New York State go from here in addressing the myriad issues associated with gas drilling? What strategies can be implemented to protect the environment and help the regional economy?

“When concerned parties are proactively engaged in education and dialogue, they are better prepared to anticipate, shape, and respond to changes,” said Howe. “And the more likely it is that negative impacts will be minimized and positive aspects realized.”

Cornell faculty and educators will join with other professionals to address such educational workshop topics as the Geology of the Shale; Municipalities and the Marcellus Shale; Environmental, Water and Regulatory Issues; Local Government Preparation; Workforce Development and Small Business Application; Landowner management; Legal Issues; Water and Wells; Community Development; Taxation, Revenues, and Property Valuation; State and National Energy Plans.

The summit is open to the public and will cost $40. Summit information, including a registration link, may be found at

The summit is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Key partners include the Association of Towns of New York State, Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, Cornell’s Community and Rural Development Institute, the Paleontological Research Institution and Museum of the Earth, and the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Organic Dry Cleaners?

Like many people, I have some clothes (mainly suits) that have to be dry cleaned. Lately, I've noticed that a local cleaner has been advertising themselves as organic and wondered what that really means. Is it better for the environment? Is it safer? This morning I came across a great Q&A post from the Mother Nature Network that talks about this very issue. Check it out below:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day of Climate Action a Success in Ithaca and the World

The International Day of Climate Action on Saturday, October 24 was the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. People in 181 countries came together at over 5,200 events around the world, calling for united efforts and bold leadership on the climate crisis before the crucial UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

Every event associated with’s Day of Action highlighted the number 350, the benchmark figure that scientists today say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Incredible creative actions across the globe included mountain climbers on our highest peaks with banners, underwater demonstrations in island nations threatened by sea level rises, star athletes organizing mass bike rides, and hundreds upon hundreds of community events to raise awareness of the need for urgent action. Staff from are in the process of displaying photos sent in of events on the big screens in Times Square and projecting them at UN headquarters, hoping to put pressure on leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track.

While groups formed the number 350 in a creative way on the melting peaks of Mt. Everest and the sinking beaches of the Maldive Islands, Ithaca locals and college students also rallied in their own climate change initiatives. Local groups met at Tompkins Cortland Community College for the event “Cool It! Doing Your Part to Stop Climate Change.” Attendees learned how to increase energy efficiency, lower consumption, and save money through discussions and family-focused activities.

PRI’s Museum of the Earth joined the Climate Action Day celebrations and was represented by speaker James Dake at the “Cool It” event. PRI also partnered with Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Cinema, and Cornell Center for Sustainable Future for a special showing of “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed by a presentation by Cornell University professor Charles Greene entitled “A Very Inconvenient Truth.”

On Friday, October 23, some 350 Ithaca College students, faculty, and staff gathered to dramatize the need for world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming. Dressed as ghosts, the “climate Caspers” paraded around campus as symbols of the potentially deadly effects of climate change. Although the International Day of Climate Action has passed, Ithaca locals and their neighbors will undoubtedly continue to fight climate change, especially as the Copenhagen conference approaches.

The number 350 represents a clear and specific goal – to bring the atmospheric concentration of CO2 down to 350 parts per million or less to help stabilize our planet. Click here to view photos submitted from Day of Action events around the world, track 350 actions in our very own area, and learn more about the climate change mission.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Green Halloween

With tons of sugary candy, decorations, and costumes that are often worn only once, Halloween is an especially consumer-driven holiday. Fortunately, there are countless opportunities to make earth-friendly choices with the getups we wear, the types of food we serve, and how we choose to celebrate. Here are some tips on how to make your Halloween festivities more green from start to finish:

If you are planning a Halloween party, avoid paper invitations as well as the cost of postage by using free online sources such as or even through email or Facebook. If you prefer to send invitations through the mail, make your own from recycled cards or use tree-free paper products like hemp.

When shopping for supplies and treats, always bring your own cloth or recycled plastic bags with you. If you generally drive to do errands, try to get your shopping done all at once to save on gas and money and reduce your pollution. If you can walk, ride your bike, carpool, or take public transportation, even better!

When purchasing food for your Halloween get-together, look for foods that are organic, whole, and local if possible. Going meatless also reduces your environmental impact on the planet. Be sure to compost your food scraps, including leftover pumpkins and any other natural decorations like cornstalks. Here are some ideas for healthy finger-foods with a seasonal feel:

toasted pumpkin seeds
air popped popcorn
cider made with 100% organic apple juice, simmered with cinnamon sticks
baked apples with dates/raisins, walnuts, and cranberries
pumpkin bread with organic chocolate chips
vegetables and hummus

Having a Green Halloween doesn’t mean your party has to be decoration-free. Gourds, pumpkins, apples, cornstalks, straw bales, and other items from nature make great accents on front porches and table tops. Decorations such as colorful recyclable streamers and dinnerware add holiday flare. If you’d like to use candles for ambiance, use those made of soy or beeswax instead of petroleum. Above all, if you are going to purchase items that will end up in the trash, try to find ones than can later be recycled or composted.

Get creative and make your own costume! If you don’t sew, keep things simple with old sheets, cardboard and paint, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and anything you have lying around the house. You can also visit secondhand stores (or your attic or basement) to find reusable material for your costume. For neighborhood families, host a costume-exchange party and dig out your old creations for the kids. Non-toxic, washable face pencils are suggested for decorating your child’s face.

This Halloween, think treasures instead of candy. Rather than individually-wrapped, sugary treats, hand out stickers, temporary tattoos, whistles, pencils, spinning tops, and other tokens or handmade keepsakes. For healthy food items, organic juice boxes, fruit leather, 100% honey sticks, granola/breakfast bars, boxes of raisins or dried fruits, dried veggie chips, and raw or roasted nuts make great, simple choices. If you enjoy giving out more traditional treats, organic dark chocolate is available in bite-sized pieces by companies such as Endangered Species Chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in anti-oxidants and Endangered Species Chocolate contributes 10% of its net profits to help support struggling species and their habitats.

If you are bringing the kids trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, let them decorate their own bags made from old pillow cases, shopping bags, purses, or hand-sewn fabric. Remember to use rechargeable batteries rather than disposables in your flashlights. Battery acid is toxic, leaching into groundwater and causing serious environmental contamination. Shakable, hand-cranked, and solar-powered flashlights are also battery-free and fun for kids to use.

As your celebrating the holiday don't forget to visit the Museum of the Earth for our spooktacular Museum in the Dark:

Museum in the Dark
Museum in the Dark
Thursday, October 29
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Presented in partnership with Cornell Astronomy and the International Year of Astronomy.
Explore the Museum after-hours Halloween-style! Make comets, go on a flashlight tour, hold some creepy crawlies, visit astronomy trick-or-treat stations, make your own cider, and more! Come dressed in your costume and we'll have a spooktacularly good time!
Members - $5 adults, $3 student/senior, $2 youth (4-17), children three and under are free
Non members - $10 adults, $7 student/senior, $5 youth (4-17), children three and under are free

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A car that gets 100+ MPG?

That's right. A group of Cornell University engineering students have advanced to the next level in the Automotive X Prize competition sponsored by Progressive Insurance. The team is working to build and design a car that will get 100+ MPG! The prize is $10-million! Good luck Big Red!

Learn More: Automotive X Prize

Photo: Cornell Chronicle

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

International Day of Climate Action


On October 24, people from around the region will gather at Tompkins County Community College (TC3) as part of the largest global day of climate action ever. The event—one of more than 2,000 rallies in more than 140 nations—is coordinated by to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming. This is the first global campaign ever organized around a scientific data point: 350 parts per million CO2 is the safe upper limit for the atmosphere according to the latest scientific data.

Climate change could be the biggest challenge facing this and future generations. Attend this event at TC3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to learn how to lower your carbon footprint to ensure a healthy family and community. Participants will learn firsthand how to increase energy efficiency, lower consumption, and save money. Local groups will discuss local, national, and international issues in celebration of's International Day of Climate Action. Learn more at PRI and its Museum of the Earth will be represented alongside the Cayuga Nature Center by James Dake at the event. Stop by and see James and learn what the CNC and PRI are doing to help the cause!

PRI has also partnered with Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Cinema, and Cornell Center for Sustainable Future for a special showing of the film "An Inconvenient Truth" at 7:30 followed by a presentation led by Cornell University professor Charles Greene entitled "A Very Inconvenient Truth" in the HEC Auditorium in Goldwyn Smith Hall on the Cornell campus.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Under the Sea Part II

You may recall a previous post about the cabinet of the government of the Maldives meeting under the sea to bring awareness to climate change. They had their meeting this past Saturday.

Here's part of the story from the Huffington Post:

GIRIFUSHI, Maldives — Members of the Maldives' Cabinet donned scuba gear and used hand signals Saturday at an underwater meeting staged to highlight the threat of global warming to the lowest-lying nation on earth.

President Mohammed Nasheed and 13 other government officials submerged and took their seats at a table on the sea floor – 20 feet (6 meters) below the surface of a lagoon off Girifushi, an island usually used for military training.

With a backdrop of coral, the meeting was a bid to draw attention to fears that rising sea levels caused by the melting of polar ice caps could swamp this Indian Ocean archipelago within a century. Its islands average 7 feet (2.1 meters) above sea level.

For photos and to read more of this article click here: Under the Sea

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Big Belly...

I was walking in the Ithaca Commons today at lunch and came across a cool new feature: a Big Belly Solar Compactor!

The company's web site states, "The BigBelly® Solar Compactor is a patented compacting trash receptacle that is completely self-powered. Instead of requiring a grid connection, BigBelly uses solar power for 100% of its energy needs. The unit takes up as much space as the "footprint" of an ordinary receptacle—but its capacity is five times greater. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. BigBelly also provides cost efficiencies from labor savings, fuel cost and maintenance savings, as well as environmental benefits from reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Safe, easy to use, and designed to keep out pests, the BigBelly has already proven its worth in urban streets, parks, colleges, arenas—and in all weather conditions."

Sounds like a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Green Jobs and Green Homes for New York State

Today, New York Governor David Patterson signed the "Green Jobs, Green Homes" bill into law while on a visit to Syracuse, NY. News 10 Now states that " middle-class homeowners will be able to receive up to $13,000 and businesses up to $26,000 to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings."

For more information on this story please check it out here: News 10 Now

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Silo House

The "Silo House" is a home that was designed by a team of students from Cornell University, and is Cornell's entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon Contest. Teams from universities around the world design and build solar-powered houses. Cornell’s entry is one of 20 teams who was asked by the United States Department of Energy to compete in this years event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

One of PRI's long-time volunteers Elizabeth Munson is one of the "Specialists" on the Cornell project. We wish her and the rest of the team well!

For more information on Cornell's Silo House click here: Solar Decathlon

Friday, October 9, 2009

US Chamber of Commerce is anti-climate legislation...with a surprising supporter

The US Chamber of Commerce is a large faction against climate change legislation. So much so, large companies like Nike have removed themselves as members of the Chamber because they feel climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

One member of the Chamber, who is still financially backing the US Chamber of Commerce, despite its negative stance on climate change, is Toyota, a 'green' car company dedicated to climate change solutions and mitigation.

This article describes the situation in more detail. Pretty interesting stuff...let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

EPA Back-up plan

The EPA has just modified one of its regulations on carbon dioxide emitters from those who contribute 250 tons of pollutants to 25,000 tons. I know it sounds backwards, but THIS IS GOOD! Now the EPA can focus on regulating those emitters of high amounts of carbon dioxide, the same who would be uncomfortable in a cap and trade or carbon tax situation imposed by legislature.

For an awesome explanation of how this lays good groundwork, check this out!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marcellus Shale in the News

There's an interesting article in today's Ithaca Journal about the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On the Oil, Gas and the Solution Mining Regulatory Program from the New York State D.E.C. (We blogged about this last Thursday: Marcellus Shale).

Read the article here:

Natural gas quest: Technical report carving deep divisions between gas companies and industry critics

Friday, October 2, 2009

Be Green...Tips for Halloween

I was perusing one of my favorite sites, The Daily Green, and found a great article about recycled Halloween costumes. Last year, I bought a costume for $60, and I really only got to wear it once. What a waste...

Here's the story: The Daily Green

Send us your recycled costume photos from this year, or this upcoming year and we'll post them on the blog!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Marcellus Shale -- an Update.

In a previous blog post we explained the role that PRI is playing in the ongoing discussion surrounding Marcellus Shale and gas drilling in the Central New York region. Yesterday the New York State DEC released their Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On the Oil, Gas and the Solution Mining Regulatory Program.

The document is available online in PDF format that is searchable. (It's over 500 pages long.) If you would like to comment or express concerns or support of this doucment you have until November 30, 2009. The corresponds with the Marcellus Shale Summit that is being held at the Treadway Inn in Owego, NY on the same day. PRI's Trisha Smercak will be in attendance.

Here is the information regardging the public comment period:

Comments - The public comment period will be open until November 30, 2009. The Department is offering three ways in which to submit comments. We have created an on line submission system which will allow you to write comments and tag them to your areas of concern. Attachments can also be included. You may submit e-mail comments; please include your name, e-mail or return mail address to ensure notice of the Final SGEIS when it is available. Finally, written comments should be sent to: Attn: dSGEIS Comments, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation, NYSDEC Division of Mineral Resources, 625 Broadway, Third Floor, Albany, NY 12233-6500.

To read the full document: dSGEIS

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Impact Week...

In an earlier post I mentioned a new documentary that is coming out called "No Impact Man." It turns out that our friends at the Huffington Post are encouraging its readers to take part of their "No Impact" Week. They're asking those that sign-up to lessen their carbon footprint for one week, they are offering a how-to guide, and lots of other useful information. Check it out here:

Heard about Huffington Post's No Impact Week starting October 18th? Interested in finding out more? What to get involved? Here's everything you need to know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Perfect Storm

So, being the dorky person that I am, even my social networking is full of newsworthy science, technology, and other exciting headlines. A colleague of mine posted this video of an amazing storm in Australia on facebook, and I thought I'd share it with you all. It is the perfect example of how spatially variable weather is, how clouds form by linking dust particles in the sky with water vapor, and just how awe-inspiring nature can be.

Note the height of the clouds, the color of the clouds, and the severity of the rain.

Check out the video!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Could You?

So, do you think you could do what this family did? How about for just a week? Let us know in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Determined to Act!

NPR just posted a nice article outlining the US position on climate change action from Obama's address at the UN Summit. A quote I really enjoyed was this:

"All of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge," he said. "But difficulty is no excuse for complacency." President Obama

Difficulty is no excuse for complacency. What can you do today, in your busy, hectic, already difficult day, to make a small change? Turn that light off while watching prime time? Indulge in a whopping salad for dinner instead of steak? Let's remember not to get complacent.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happening Now...

NPR is live streaming President Obamas address at the United Nations on the subject of Climate Change.

Watch here:

Happening Now: Obama Says Time Is Running Out On Climate Change

Let us know what you think of President Obamas address in the comments section.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy World Water Monitoring Day!!!

Today is a special day. Its the eve of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, festive in its own right But it's also WORLD WATER MONITORING DAY!!! We all know that water plays a huge role in a regions' climate, and affects global climate through the creation of winds and ocean currents. We also know that pirates couldn't sail the seven seas without water! So, water is a pretty important phenomenon on Earth.

Here's the website for World Water Monitoring Day. The website teaches you how to get involved, not just today, but every day. They have water testing kits available through the site, events to help you get involved, and amazing resources like DVDs that help educate everyone about the importance of water monitoring.

Happy World Water Monitoring Day!!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sound the Alarm!

I, along with colleagues, and thousands of others received an email message about "Sounding the Alarm" on Global Warming on Monday, September 21st at Noon from the World Wildlife Fund. This call to action is not only important, it's the right thing to do. I hope you will take part and be sure to email and call your elected officials!

Here's what we received:

SOUND THE ALARM: A Climate Wake Up Call for our Senators

At noon on Monday, September 21, WWF would like for you to Sound the Alarm on climate change and join thousands of people from all around the country in calling their state's Senators urging them to vote "yes" on the Clean Energy & Security Act they are scheduled to vote on this fall.

Sound the Alarm coincides with world leaders descending upon the United Nations the week of the 21st to discuss climate change. It is part of suite of events happening around the world that will raise awareness to the need for impactful domestic legislation and a new global treaty that lowers our collective carbon emissions.

Calling your Senators is the most important way for your voice to be heard on this issue. It's fast and easy, and most importantly it works. Please set your alarms for noon on Monday, September 21 and tell your Senators that you need them to vote "yes" on the Clean Energy & Security Act.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cornell's climate plan cuts carbon emissions to zero by 2050, saves millions of dollars

Cornell's new Climate Action Plan, released Sept. 15, will not only make the university far more energy efficient but also could save Cornell hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 40 years. Presented entirely online in a paperless format, the plan seeks to enhance the university's core mission of academics, research and outreach, while cutting net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The plan includes 19 specific actions across five key areas -- green development, energy conservation, fuel mix and renewable energy, transportation, and carbon offsetting actions.

Read More: Cornell Chronicle Online

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lazy 20-Something Compost Method...

Leftover vegetable scraps and coffee grounds create costly (and smelly) extra weight in your trash cans every week, so why not put them to work for you? Over the last year, my housemates and I have made a fairly substantial pile of compost in the backyard from vegetable scraps. There are a few different systems you can use to store the compost pile, but we have a fairly large backyard, so we just chose one of the back corners and made a pile. I call this the “lazy twenty-something’s compost method.” If space is a limiting factor for you, you can make your own compost bin out of wood scraps or buy a plastic one. There are a number of companies that sell special compost bins of varying complexity and cost.

You won’t need much to get started, just some lawn or plant clippings, some vegetable scraps from your kitchen, and a nice, moist place to make a pile. Build your compost heap over grass or soil instead of concrete. That way, earthworms will move in and make themselves right at home. Naturally occurring microbes and fungi will break down your compost even if you don’t have worms, but worms really speed up the process.

It’s also really simple to keep up. Make sure you turn the whole pile over every two weeks or so, to aerate your compost properly. We leave the shovel up against a tree right next to the pile to remind us. Regular turnover and worms are the keys to a quickly decomposing pile. After you’re set up, just keep adding to the pile. Compost piles are a great way to get rid of fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and most yard waste and paper. There are some things that shouldn’t go in compost piles. Meat, fish, poultry, fatty foods and whole eggs can attract some serious pests, and rat infestations are a steep price to pay for compost. Chemically treated wood and human and pet feces should also never be put in compost, especially if you plan to use the compost in a vegetable garden. The chemicals and biota in these can be poisonous if consumed.

The payoff for a little work is pretty substantial. Not only do you reduce your trash weight, which saves you money on trash tags, you should have a really nice pile of black, fluffy, rich finished compost. This can be used to enrich any soil, just ask the hops plants that are currently taking over our back yard.

For more information on composting, and to see where I got most of the information for this post, please see and

-Kelly Cronin, Outreach Project Support Associate

Monday, September 14, 2009

Steven Chu -- The Optimist...

Every morning my alarm sounds, not blaring horns, or beeps, or to loud music, but to NPR. This morning I awoke to an interesting interview with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Chu knows cleaner coal, new nuclear power plants, more renewable energy — will take time. In a conversation with NPR's Steve Inskeep, he lays out ambitious plans for the country's energy future: NPR Morning Edition -- Energy Secretary 'Optimistic' But Cautious

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cornell's Biggest and Oldest...Trees that is...

Photo: Cornell University Web Site
Cornell's first comprehensive tree inventory, conducted this summer, finds that the campus's 7,000-plus trees store millions of pounds of carbon and provide more than half a million dollars in benefits to the university. The oldest tree on campus? A 350-year-old white oak below the Gannett Health Services building on the southern end of Libe Slope, pictured here with graduate students Chris Gruber, left, and Fred Cowett, who conducted the inventory.

Read More: Trees

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sprawl: a problem without a solution?

I got this great article from and wanted to share it with you:

Adam Stein | September 3, 2009

New study suggest we need to look elsewhere to curb carbon emissions

Dueling headlines cropped up in my newsreader today:

More People, Less Driving: The Imperative of Curbing Sprawl (Smart Growth America)


Forget Curbing Suburban Sprawl: Building denser cities would do little to reduce CO2 emissions, a new NAS report concludes (MIT Technology Review)

Both articles refer to the same study, conducted by a blue-ribbon panel for the U.S. Department of Energy. And both are pretty much right: the study does affirm the link between sprawl and carbon emissions, but it also strongly suggests that attacking sprawl is a tough way to curb energy use.

Despite the common-sense link between density and driving, establishing cause and effect in a rigorous manner remains difficult. The sheer number of variables tend to overwhelm the analysis. Nevertheless, empirical evidence does support a link between land use and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The MIT Technology Review summarizes the study’s conclusion thusly:

Even if 75 percent of all new and replacement housing in America were built at twice the density of current new developments, and those living in the newly constructed housing drove 25 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions from personal travel would decline nationwide by only 8 to 11 percent by 2050, according to the study. If just 25 percent of housing units were developed at such densities and residents drove only 12 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions would be reduced by less than 2 percent by 2050.

In other words, an enormous shift in land development trends yields a roughly 10% cut in emissions over 40 years. A more modest shift in land development trends yields a fairly anemic drop in emissions over 40 years. Vehicle fuel efficiency provides a much bigger lever for lowering emissions from transportation. This is what I was getting at the other day when I said, “If your car runs on electricity, and your electricity comes from the sun, and your McMansion is built to the Passive House standard, then your suburban lifestyle is suddenly looking a lot more benign.”

All that being the case, the study sensibly recommends a variety of policies to promote compact, mixed-use development. There are a number of good reasons to pursue smart land use policies, even if attacking sprawl isn’t likely to save us from climate change in the near- or even medium-term.

The first is that many anti-sprawl measures are just good policy in their own right. Carbon taxes, gas taxes, transit development, better zoning laws, etc., all make sense regardless of their immediate payback in reduced gasoline consumption. And, of course, sprawl has environmental impacts beyond just VMT.

The second is that we’re stuck with our built environment for a very long time, so if we want the future to look different than the past, we had better get started making some changes. As Ryan Avent reminds us, “Between now and mid-century, the country will very nearly have to build itself all over again to accommodate population growth. In addition to the 100 million homes now in America, somewhere between 62 and 105 million more will be built.” Examples such as Portland show that it is possible to buck the dominant trend in development. But it takes a few decades for the results to really show.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Regreening the Galapagos?

There was an interesting article in the September issue of WIRED magazine about the greening of the Galapagos Islands. The government there is embarking on several projects to turn the isolated archipelago into a more self-sufficient and non-fuel aided country. They rebuilt their fuel depots in 2004 to become one of the safest in the Americas, they have embarked on bringing wind power to one of the islands, in 2004 the reinforced their electrical grid with solar panels, and they are bringing bio-diesel generators to the islands, and finally they are giving their main airport a makeover which include solar panels, a concrete runway, and a terminal that captures the breeze for cooling.

Is it enough?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference October 16th-18th

The Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference announces keynote speakers and the launch of a new website

Finger Lakes Bioneers is honored to host the first and only Beaming Bioneers site in all of New York State. Bioneers is celebrating its 20th year of providing a global environmental forum with practical solutions for people and the planet.

The mission of Finger Lakes Bioneers is to establish an ongoing conversation that transcends the barriers of geography, class, race, and generation to co-create a shared future based upon sustainability and social justice. Together we are offering the We Make Our Future conference as a regional venue for that conversation.

The conference will be held October 16-18 on the Ithaca College campus and various downtown locations. For more information please visit our recently launched website

By linking nationally renowned speakers at Bioneer headquarters via satellite with local topics and experts on the ground, the We Make Our Future conference aims to inspire a potent global-local approach to our environmental and social dilemmas. Citizens, policymakers, youth, community leaders, and business owners are coming together to do the exciting and necessary work of co-creating our shared future in the Finger Lakes Region.

Finger Lakes Bioneers is proud to announce Jonathan Todd, Omar Freilla, John Logue, and Dorothy Cotton as presenters of this inaugural year’s keynote addresses.

Todd is the COO of John Todd Ecological Designs, and is best known for his work in the planning, fabrication and operation of a wide variety of Eco-Machines™ and floating water Aqua-Restorer™ technologies.

Omar Freilla and John Logue will deliver a keynote address and in-depth workshop on worker-owned green business. Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives (GWC) to foster environmental and economic justice by developing worker-owned and environmentally-friendly businesses in the South Bronx. Logue is the director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. Both groups are organizing low-income residents into worker-owned cooperatives in the green economy and providing the necessary training and assistance to launch new businesses.

Ithaca’s own Dorothy Cotton will present Sunday’s keynote address. Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for twelve years under the direct supervision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She will speak on the lessons of the civil rights movement for the sustainability and social justice movement.

In addition to on-site conference activities, Finger Lakes Bioneers will host a series of public events throughout the weekend including a poetry slam, recognition ceremony, live music, a Bioneers Salon, sustainability marketplace, DJ dance party and more.

Tickets to attend the conference are $35 dollars per day or $90 for all three days. To learn more about all of the activities, presenters, and opportunities to get involved please visit or email

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cornell's Solar House

Ithaca Journal – A house powered by the sun, Big-Red style

It’s got a kitchen island that unfolds into a table seating eight, a rain showerhead and tankless toilet in the bath, a bed that can be lowered for non-sleeping space, and furniture made from bourbon barrels.

It evokes images of New York farm silos, has three rooms, has Energy Star-rated appliances, and is yours for $199,000. You have to provide the land, but not the power: It all comes from the sun. That’s the rule.

The house is the Cornell University entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon Contest. Multi-disciplinary teams from universities across the country design, build and deliver prototypes of solar-powered houses. Cornell’s entry was the work of a team of students representing such fields as architecture, marketing, engineering, business, landscape architecture and communications. Their work will be on display at the New York State Fair in Syracuse through Labor Day, then will be shipped to the National Mall in Washington for the contest in October along with the other 19 entries.

Continued at Source – (photo slideshow at source)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wasting food?

Sick of your tomatoes growing moldy? Sick of having to toss/compost those fruits and veggies. Stop wasting that food! Learn some tricks on how to keep your food fresher and better longer!

Read Here: Planet Green

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tracking Climate In Your Backyard at the State Fair

The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) and its Museum of the Earth will be measuring weather at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY from August 27 - September 7, 2009 at the 4-H Youth Building as part of their Tracking Climate in Your Backyard project .

Tracking Climate in Your Backyard is a collaborative project between PRI, 4-H of New York State, the citizen science project Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), and the Cornell Institute for Resource Information Systems. The project teaches youth about weather and climate through a hands-on curriculum and citizen science precipitation gathering project.

Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses an area, CoCoRaHS volunteers take measurements of precipitation.. These precipitation reports are then recorded on the CoCoRaHS web site ( The data are then displayed and organized for its end users to analyze
and apply to daily situations, ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards. These data, along with the curriculum provided by Tracking Climate in Your Backyard, provide 4-H participants with insight into local weather and climate.

CoCoRaHS is administered in New York State by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at the Cornell University Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community. All precipitation measurements that are garnered at the Fair will be entered into the national database for these purposes.

Visitors from all over the state will have the opportunity to learn more about Tracking Climate in Your Backyard at the Fair and how they can take part in this citizen science project. They will also have the chance to hunt for fossils in 380-million-year-old shale from the Ithaca area. The Central New York area is rich in fossils from the Devonian period (about 400-350 million-years-ago), and it’s quite common to find them at parks or even in your own backyard. These fossils can tell us a great deal about what life was like millions of years ago and about the geology of our landscape.

“Geology is a local subject,” stated Rob Ross, Associate Director of Outreach at the aleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth. “No two places share exactly the same sequence of geological events that led to the way the places are today. In this sense, geology is a subject to be explored in one’s own neighborhood, examining the detailed sequence of rocks for the history that has gone on under our feet, and finding clues to what life was like as the earth evolved over the last 4-billion years.”

For more information about Tracking Climate in Your Backyard please visit us on the web at and for more information about CoCoRaHS please visit

Friday, August 28, 2009

What states will be hit the hardest by climate change?

Image from The Huffington Post

Interesting article on The Huffington Post:

Climate change is, in fact, a regional issue, but not in the short-term way that the coal senators think, according to new analysis from The Nature Conservancy. The environmental group finds that rural Midwestern states will face the greatest consequences of climate change.

Read More: Small Midwestern States to Be Hit Hard by Climate Change

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Patterson Announces Plan for New Economy

Could New York lead the country in the drive to create new technology? That's what Governor Paterson is saying. Tamara Lindstrom tells us how his new plan to bring together university researchers and business leaders just might edge the state to the forefront of the energy industry.-News 10 Now

Read the whole article here: Patterson Announces Plan for New Economy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A "Scopes" Trial For Climate Change?

A colleague sent me this post from the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog. It seems as if the United States Chamber of Commerce is encouraging the EPA to put the science of Climate Change on trial, a la the famous Scopes Trial.

Here's the post: Inherit the Wind

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free Dave Matthews Music????

The Dave Matthews Band is giving away music to those that make an eco pledge. It all started in 2008 with their tour and they carried it over with their So Much To Save campaign.

Learn how you can get your free music downloads: Dave Matthews Band

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marcellus Shale

There has been a lot of discussion about energy from coal the past few days, what about the cleaner alternative natural gas? In Central New York you might have heard a great deal about Marcellus Shale in local papers, on the radio and even on the regional nightly news. What is it?

The Marcellus Shale is a natural gas rich unit of rock that lies beneath the Southern Tier of NYS, most of Pennsylvania, and West Viriginia. Due to the demand for natural gas, as well as high gas prices, the previously too expensive to produce Marcellus Shale is now being actively pursued by oil and gas companies as a natural gas source. PRI has been working as a part of the Cornell University "Marcellus Shale Team" to provide outreach and education to communities that have already been or could potentially be impacted by gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale. In the months of July and August, we have participated in 4 Marcellus Shale 'roadshows,' bringing important information to impacted communities. The Marcellus Shale team also works together to maintain a website, with pertinent sections for landowners, concerned citizens, and municipalities. You can visit the website here:

Trisha Smrecak is PRI's representative to the"Marcellus Shale Team." Here's a clip from a recent interview on the subject below:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm....

I received a link from a Facebook friend from Greenpeace. It's a letter that was written to Jack Gerrard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), asking him if an email that he wrote and sent to API members about upcoming protests against the Climate Bill is in fact from his office.

It's a pretty interesting letter and email.

Read it here: Greenpeace

Let us know in the comments section what you think!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lobbyist and Fake Letters?

I came across an interesting article about letters that were sent to the US Congress and Senate regarding the "Climate Bill" that passed the House and will eventually move its way through the Senate. It seems that 13 letters that were sent in opposition to the bill were actually sent by a lobbying firm that was hired to help in the opposition of this bill.

The article is from the Guardian a news outlet in the United Kingdom. I haven't heard much about it here in the states.

Here's the article: US Congress inquiry reveals fake letters from 'voters' opposed to climate bill!

What do you think? Have lobbyist gone to far on this issue? What do you think about the bill? Let us know in the comments section!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Edible Estates...

Photo from The Huffington Post

I just came across this interesting blog post on the book Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. It's about how people are using their front lawns for edible gardens rather than just for decorative plants. Here's the post:

Kerry Trueman: Bring On The Front Yard Farmers

Let us know in the comments section if you are doing this in your front yard!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Paperless Textbooks?

It seems that some Universities are looking at using the KindleDX from Amazon in an effort to be more "green". Six universities will be piloting this program: Pace University, Princeton University, University of Virginia, Arizona State University and Reed College.

Learn more: The New York Times

What do you think of this program? Let us know in the comments section.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Power of Two...

I just came across this great blog post from Planet Green about two teachers from New York City who really got their recycling program going.

"New York City schools have been legally required to recycle since 1989, but until recently, the only schools that actually did were ones in which faculty members took it upon themselves to implement the practice. Enter Micki Josi and Coquille Houshour!" Read more of this blog post at