Ithaca Environment

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Talk on Sustainable Development

On Thursday, April 28, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland will give a talk on sustainable development.

Norway's first woman prime minister. Dr. Brundtland, a physician, was Prime Minister of Norway 1981, 1986-1989, and 1990-1996. She has worked on health and environment issues internationally, and since 1998 has been the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).


David L. Call Alumni Auditorium
Kennedy Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland addresses links between human rights, global health and worldwide sustainable development

Times: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Contact Info 1: 255-7535
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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Eco-Lumber Good for Business and the Earth

From a story in the Christian Science Monitor by Danna Harman:

A new approach to saving Central American rain forests is "Eco-lumber": Certified "fair trade" lumber. It's modeled after fair-trade coffee, where growers are paid above market price for following sustainable farming practices.
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National Forest Service Auctions Off Forest Land

The National Forest Service officials hope to make $175 million over the next 10 years by selling off hundreds of recreation sites and offices throughout the midwest and west. The service is hoping to make up for lost revenue due to the decline of the timber industry.

From The Houston Chronicle (Associated Press story):

Scott Silver of the Oregon group Wild Wilderness said starving the Forest Service of cash forces it to keep only the most lucrative sites and run public lands like a business.

"It's the complete perversion of the meaning of public lands," Silver said.
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Earth Day Activities

  • Sunday, April 24: An Earth Day celebration for Ithaca and Tompkins County will take place noon to 5 p.m. at the Ithaca Farmers Market Pavilion. Activities include music, wall climbing, a demonstration of a hybrid-electric bus, and a proclamation by Mayor Carolyn Peterson. Information and exhibits about recycling, conserving energy and composting will be on display.

  • Sunday, April 24: The Annual Fall Creek clean-up day is planned to begin 11:30 am. Volunteers should meet at the Fall Creek Elementary School (King Street sid) and bring work gloves.

  • Monday, April 25: Volunteers monitoring water quality in Six Mile Creek will meet from 6-8 pm, at Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave. For more information, call Tania Schusler at 272-2292 or email her at

  • Wednesday, April 27: GreenStar Cooperative Market will host a class teaching about solar and wind power at a talk and slide show by Steve and Cindy Nicholson. The class is 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm at GreenStar, 701 W. Buffalo St. Sign up at GreenStar's Customer Service, or call 273-9392.
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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Court Rules Against Oil Companies On Contamination

From the New York Times:

A federal judge ruled yesterday that major oil companies must defend dozens of lawsuits accusing them of fouling groundwater by using a gasoline additive that has become a political liability in the proposed energy bill.
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Ithaca Scenes by Rob Joyce

These photos can be found on the website of Rob Joyce,

Cascadilla bridge with no wine

Cascadilla Falls

Robert Treman State Park

Flat Rock

Permalink 6:43 PM

NY Assembly Discusses Ithaca Pollution

From a story in the Ithaca Journal:
Members of the state Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee hosted a hearing Thursday morning on vapor intrusion from chemicals such as trichloroethene, which has been found in parts of Ithaca. I will post a followup as soon as I can find more information.
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Broadening the Environmentalist Coalition

In Grist magazine is a discussion of the problems environmentalism has in winning allies and battles. ("Don't Fear the Reapers")

Adrienne Maree Brown has an essay on getting urban African Americans involved in environmentalism. Here's an excerpt

...The people you aren't reaching are not blind, we aren't unmoved. More and more young people are realizing every day that the whole world is paying the price for the way we live, and we are waking up to that reality with shame and with a desire to change it. But we often don't connect that desire, or the work we do in our own lives, with the environmental movement...

Overall, too many young people see the struggles of humans as separate from the struggles for a healthy environment. It isn't because we have bad intentions -- it's because a generation that does not care about the impact of its lifestyle on the environment can be easily manipulated for corporate greed. We are getting played out. And unfortunately, the environmental movement has actually helped enforce that disconnect by seeming to draw divisions between the natural world and its human inhabitants -- and by seeming to worry more about the former than the latter.

That is the context for the next stage of environmentalism. You have an oppressed, depressed, furious mass waiting to be mobilized. And sure, some of us eat at McDonald's and wear leather shoes -- but we feel it is possible to demand better from our government and from ourselves for our environment. We feel it is imperative to connect the different survival struggles we are engaged in if we truly hope to sustain a viable movement for change. You will not die if you try to link hands with us in this struggle, if you try to meet us halfway.

Adrienne Maree Brown

Photo: Sophia Wallace
Permalink 8:16 PM

Introducing the Cornell Greens

The Cornell Greens is a Cornell-based environmental advocacy group.

Earth Day - April 23, 2005

The Cornell Greens hope to plan a great Earth Day celebration with the other environmental groups on campus! The Greens specifically are helping organize a 5k Run to benefit the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

Ongoing Events

Weekly tabling for the Simply Live campaign in Willard Straight Hall, Mondays from 10:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Weekly meetings on Monday afternoons at 4:30 in Rockefeller B15 (for now).
For more information on any of these events, e-mail Shannon.

From their Links page:

Other environmental groups on campus

Earth Day Footprint Quiz

This web page calculates the resources that you consume, based on your lifestyle, who you are and where you live.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Paper or Plastic?

I have always had the vague idea that paper bags were more environmentally friendly than plastic ones, but I never really had any facts to back up my intuition. Well, a great resource for such questions is the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment (ILEA), which is dedicated to finding out the lifetime environmental costs of consumer goods. The lifetime costs include
  • The energy required to produce the product.

  • The pollution created by the manufacturing process.

  • The pollution produced by use of the product.

  • The costs of disposing of the product.
The ILEA analysis of paper vs plastic:
Franklin and Associates completed a life-cycle energy analysis comparing the two common grocery bags. There were two critical measures. The first is the total energy used by a bag, which includes both the energy used to manufacture a bag, called process energy, and the energy embodied within physical materials, called feedstock energy. The second measure is the amount of pollutants produced. Using energy and pollutants from all stages of a bag's life, both measures result in favor of plastic bags.
The ILEA website has articles discussing electric vs. gasoline cars, manufacturing vs use costs for automobiles, cloth versus disposable diapers, reusable versus disposable cups.

That last item is a real eye-opener. Reusable cups made of ceramic, plastic, or glass require vastly more energy to produce than a disposable cup made of paper or styrofoam. In addition, every time you wash a reusable cup, it requires resources (energy, soap, and clean water). The ILEA calculates a "break-even" point for various types of cups, which is the number of times the cup must be reused before it is more efficient than using disposable cups. For ceramic mugs, the break-even point is 1006 uses. For glass cups, it is only 393 uses.

So roughly speaking, if you are so clumsy that a glass cup lasts less than a year before it is broken, you would be better off using disposable cups (styrofoam).
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Scenes from Iceland

Here are some scenes from the Karahnjukar area of Iceland, which is the future site of a hydroelectric power plant.

Toefrafoss or Magic Waterfall, which will be destroyed by the Karahnjukar power plant

The powerful glacial river in the Karahnjukar area

These photographs are from an interview with Arni Finnsson, an Icelandic environmentalist, in Grist magazine.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Fish Farms Threaten Wild Salmon

Fish farming is becoming a more important business as the supply of fish in the wild dwindles due to overfishing. However, fish farming is not completely environmentally benign. Canadian researchers have discovered that parasites called "sea lice" can spread from fish farms into the wild fish population, especially threatening the salmon in the waters off British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.

A Salmon Cage on the Atlantic

From Issues in Aquaculture, a website about the current state of fish farming.
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Monday, April 04, 2005

Almost Spring

Ducks on Beebe Lake

From Ithaca photographs by Selina Li.
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NRDC Environmental Blog

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an advocacy group whose focus is lobbying Congress on behalf of environmental causes and educating the public about legislation that affects the environment. Their most recent campaign is to prevent drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The NRDC has a blog you should check out.
Permalink 7:31 AM

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Environmental Groups Fear Lack Of Funding For State Projects

From WNBC:
When Gov. George Pataki announced in his State of the State speech earlier this year that he agreed to preserve 104,000 acres of forestland in the Adirondacks, environmental advocates applauded.

But now, those advocates say that deal and other state environmental projects may be in jeopardy. They fear the state's $150 million Environmental Protection Fund, dropped by the Legislature from its budget proposal, will go unfunded as the state leaders try to reach a budget deal by the April 1 deadline for the first time in 20 years.
Permalink 8:04 AM

Fight Against Drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge Continues

From Jane Marie Law
Although the senate has included projected drilling revenues from the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Budget, the fight to protect
the Refuge is not over! There are still actions we can take.

TrueMajority has a site where you can tell oil company CEO's that you
will boycott any companies that drill in ANWR.
Permalink 7:52 AM

Public Opposes Drilling in Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Thanks to Jim Rothenberg

By a slim plurality, 46% to 42%, the American public opposes allowing gas and oil drilling in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), according to a Pew Research poll conducted in March.

Some other findings in that poll:
  • In contrast, the public considers developing new energy resources to be a more important priority than protecting the environment, (by another slim plurality, 49% to 42%).

  • The public disapproves of the way that President Bush has handled the nations energy policy (54% rate his performance as poor).

Permalink 7:39 AM

Scientists warn of Earth's declining environmental health

Thanks to Jane Marie Law

From Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - We are using the Earth to improve our lives, but our children and grandchildren will be forced to live in a worsening environment that endangers their existence, more than 1,300 scientists warn.

In a report to be released Wednesday, a team of international experts concluded that the world is at risk on a variety of fronts, including a skyrocketing runoff of nutrient-rich farm waste that's killing swaths of the world's oceans, a massive wave of animal and plant extinctions and a planet that's growing warmer.

But it's not hopeless, they said.

From the Daily Kos

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is today releasing a 219-page report which says that future generations - our children, their children and their children - face broad-scale environmental crises that could jeopardize their survival. But the 1,360 scientists who put the study together remain, like me, hopeful.

The report from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment can be found here.
Permalink 7:31 AM

Western New York Neighbors Suffer CAFO Woes

Thanks to Jessie Lind

From AltPress online

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York declared yesterday that a 2003 Bush administration rule violates the Clean Water Act. The rule allowed CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) to apply manure to land without federal oversight or public input. CAFOs are point sources of water pollution that must be regulated under the Clean Water Act’s permitting program, which in New York State is administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The court agreed that CAFO polluters must be held accountable because they pose a threat to public health.

Western New York has many CAFOs that threaten air, water and public health. The town of Perry in Wyoming County is afflicted with more than thirteen CAFO operations. Wyoming County has more than 62 permitted facilities.

CAFO victims in Western NY and all over New York State are complaining that the Department of Environmental Conservation is not enforcing regulations. In Niagara County, neighbors in Wilson are trying to get enforcement action for violations by CAFO owner Flevie Danielewicz. Manure slurry from the Danielewicz farm is running into a nearby creek and from there into Lake Ontario. Slurry residue is visible in roadside culverts. The stench is indescribable. According to a neighborhood group, a representative from Region 9 DEC inspected the Danielewicz operation last August after complaints about air and water violations. It has been 6 months and there is still no report. Neighbor, John Minnick, claims that his phone calls are not returned or he is put on hold and left there.

In Eden, NY, neighbor Gregg Kaczmarzyk describes his life as a CAFO neighbor as pure hell. Gregg says his neighbor has 400 cows packed into a couple of acres. Residential housing including a soon-to-be built new development of 24 houses surrounds this CAFO. The DEC has complaints about overflowing manure lagoons and ground water contamination from the CAFO. Gregg has not received a promise of action from the DEC.

There are seventeen permitted CAFOs in Erie County and seven in Niagara County. Over the years, the Region 9 DEC has received stacks of complaints about excessive manure runoff or toxic hydrogen sulfide emissions. We now have further validation from the courts that CAFOs are point sources of pollution and they must be regulated. In New York, that job is entrusted to the DEC. We have learned that we cannot trust the DEC to do its job. The citizens who have the misfortune to live near these agri-criminals continue to suffer a great injustice.

Friends of Rural New York
Permalink 7:26 AM

EPA Factory Farm Pollution Rule Illegal

Thanks to Jessie Lind

EPA Factory Farm Pollution Rule Illegal, Says Federal Appeals Court
Rule Violated Clean Water Act, Threatens Public Health, Conservation
Groups Say

NEW YORK -- February 28 -- A 2003 Bush administration farm pollution
rule violates the Clean Water Act by allowing large-scale livestock
farms to apply manure to land without federal or state oversight or
public input, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled today. The
ruling in Waterkeeper Alliance v. EPA was the result of a lawsuit filed
by three conservations groups, which charged that the rule shielded
factory farms from liability for damage caused by animal waste

The groups, Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, and NRDC (Natural
Resources Defense Council), filed the suit in March 2003. The
Environmental Protection Agency had issued the rule in February 2003
under a 1992 consent decree between the agency and NRDC. It went into
effect in April of that year. (For a copy of the court ruling, contact
Elizabeth Heyd at

“These regulations were the product of a conspiracy between a lawless
industry and compliant public officials in cahoots to steal the public
trust,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper
Alliance and an NRDC senior attorney. “I’m grateful that the 2nd
Court of Appeals has taken the government and the barons of corporate
agriculture to the woodshed for a well earned rebuke.”

Thirty years ago, Congress identified concentrated animal feeding
operations as point sources of water pollution to be regulated under
Clean Water Act’s water pollution permitting program. The scale of
animal production at individual operations has dramatically increased
since then, and factory farms today produce 500 million tons of manure
year. In December 2000, EPA proposed a new rule with initiatives that
would have protected the environment, but the Bush administration
stripped them from the final rule after agribusinesses objected.

Under the Bush administration rule, animal factories were able to
continue to dump millions of gallons of liquefied manure into open
called lagoons, and then spray the liquid over fields. Typically the
manure runs off the fields into nearby streams or seeps into
water supplies, polluting water with viruses, bacteria, pesticides,
antibiotics, hormones and excessive nutrients.

The court found that:

· The rule illegally allowed factory farms to write the part of their
permits that limit spraying manure on fields without state or federal
review or approval—and without notifying the public.

• The EPA had failed to require factory farms to use the necessary
technological controls to reduce bacteria and other pathogens from
• The rule violated the Clean Water Act by exempting factory farms from
meeting water quality standards.

“The court agreed that polluters can’t be trusted to write their own
permits,” said Melanie Shepherdson, an attorney with NRDC’s water
program. “They have to be accountable, especially because they pose
a major threat to public health.”

“The court agreed that we can do better than the Bush administration’s
plan,” said Eric Huber, a Sierra Club attorney. “When technology and
existing law can keep animal waste out of our rivers, why should
Americans have to settle for a plan that allows meat companies to
pollute more?”

Waterkeeper Alliance is an international grassroots organization
connecting and empowering 129 local Waterkeeper programs. Each
Waterkeeper program is the voice for their waterway, serving as the
investigator, advocate, scientist, educator and lawyer for their local
waterbody. More information is available at

Inspired by their personal connection to nature, the Sierra Club’s more
than 700,000 members work together to protect the planet. The Sierra
Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots
environmental organization in America. For more information, go to

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit
organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists
dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in
1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and e-activists nationwide,
served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San
Francisco. More information on NRDC is available at its Web site,
Permalink 7:24 AM