Ithaca Environment

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Global Warming Makes Oceans Less Salty

Since 1960, the oceans have been getting less salty, due to the influx of fresh water from melting glaciers and from increased rainfall. Both of these factors are attributed to global warming.

Because water with lower salinity is less dense, adding fresh water may affect ocean flows like the "conveyor belt" – a system of Atlantic currents that exchanges cold water in the Arctic region for warm water from the tropics.

The top part of this conveyor is made of warm ocean currents, like the Gulf Stream, flowing northward along the surface. At high latitudes, this water cools and sinks – releasing its heat to the atmosphere and making for moderate winter climates in places like England.

Deep, cold currents return some of the water to the south.

Slight changes in the currents -- both seasonal and longer-term variations -- affect everything from hurricane formation to droughts and heat waves.

See the full article on YahooNews.
Permalink 2:40 PM

Monday, June 27, 2005

Bush administration altered report on grazing

(Editorial comment: I hate being so predictable that every article about the Bush administration and the environment is negative. Maybe I will look around for good news about the administration, but it's a little hard to find.)

Via Orcinus

The LA Times reports that
The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing Thursday that it would relax regulations limiting grazing on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study.... The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a "significant adverse impact" on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are "beneficial to animals."

Read the whole article in The LA Times.
Permalink 1:54 PM

Monday, June 13, 2005

Full Plate Farm Collective: Connecting Local Farmers and Consumers

The Full Plate Farm Collective is a collective of three farms working to provide a quality CSA experience to shareholders and to strengthen a community of growers and eaters. The three farm are Stick and Stone Farm (10th year in operation!), Ann and Jeff's Farm, and Remembrance Farm. The CSA aspect of operation is managed by Melissa Brill. This collective feeds 100 families in the Trumansburg, Ithaca, and Danby Communities.

Check out the Full Plate Farm Collective website, LocalHarvest.

An article about the collective is in The Ithaca Journal.

MATTHEW HINTON / Ithaca Journal Staff

Brandon Cruz removes weeds from a field of herbs while Nathaniel Thompson cultivates an onion field on a tractor, background, last Tuesday at Remembrance Farm in Danby. Cruz is an apprentice at the farm, owned and farmed by Thompson. The farm is part of the Full Plate Farm Collective. Cruz recently graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh and hopes to become a mushroom farmer.
Permalink 9:23 PM

Introducing Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Mission Statement

CCE works to build widespread citizen understanding and advocacy for policies and actions designed to manage and protect interdependent land and water resources, wildlife and public health. CCE carries out this mission through public education, research, lobbying, organizing and public outreach.

Check out the website of The Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Permalink 9:10 PM

Red Tide Endangers New England Shellfish

New England waters are being plagued by what may be the worst outbreak of red tide in the region, a Massachusetts official said Friday.

"Everything is just really on hold until this algae bloom clears up," said Barbara Austin, who farms oysters and littleneck clams in Wellfleet, Mass.
The New York Times

The toxic algae bloom has led state officials to close shellfish beds between Maine and Cape Cod so that people do not eat infected clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.

Read the full article by Jodi Hilton for The New York Times.

Permalink 9:03 PM

To Save Its Canal, Panama Fights for Its Forests

The Panama Canal depends on the water from Gatún Lake, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, created during construction of the canal. This water in turn depends on the health of the surrounding watershed forest. But in the last few decades, half of it has been lost to logging and slash-and-burn agriculture.

The Panama Canal Authority and an array of scientists are working together to study Gatún Lake's hydrology, to restore its watershed and to teach the people who live there the importance of preserving it.

Read the rest of the story, by Cornelia Dean in The New York Times.
Permalink 8:56 PM

Gov. Schwarzeneggar's Plan on Greenhouse Gases

From The New York Times, Carolyn Marshall writes:

Speaking to hundreds of international leaders gathered here for the United Nations World Environment Day, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a plan to reduce California's contribution to gases that many scientists believe cause global warming.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, outlined his ambitious goals on Wednesday in a three-tiered Environmental Action Plan intended to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions in less than five years to less than the levels in 2000.

The plan calls for the further reduction of emissions by 2020 to less than the levels produced in 1990, and for the reduction, by 2050, of emissions to 80 percent less than the levels in 1990.
Read the rest of the story.
Permalink 8:53 PM

Editor of Climate Reports Resigns

Philip A. Cooney, the chief of staff to President Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality, resigned yesterday, White House officials said.

Mr. Cooney’s resignation came two days after documents revealed that he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between building greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures.
Read the rest of the article, by ANDREW C. REVKIN in The New York Times.
Permalink 8:48 PM

Corporate Influence over National Environmental, Health Policy

In four different instances last week, the Bush administration allowed corporate influence to affect national environmental, scientific, health and land use policy:

The Carpetbagger Report
  • The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.
  • Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.
  • Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.
  • Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.
Permalink 8:30 PM

Snot Sustains Undersea Life

From Majikthise

Marine biologists have figured out one of the secrets of life in the deep sea beds of Monterey Bay. Until now, it was unclear how anything could live down there. No sunlight, no photosynthesis, no photosynthesis no plants, no plants, no food for animals.

It turns out we can thank tadpole-like creatures called "giant larvaceans" for secreting huge balls of mucus. The lavaceans live inside these mucus balls until they get too clogged up and gross. At this point, the larvaceans discard their old homes and make new ones. The old dirty mucus balls sink like bombs of carbon and provide food for deep sea animals.

Undersea Mucus Ball

Read the rest of the story in Yahoo News.
Permalink 8:21 PM

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Breakfast at Redbud Woods

From Jane Marie Law:

Come to Redbud Woods tomorrow morning (Friday, June 9) at 7 a.m. The tides are turning to preserve this green space for future generations. We need community support.

Bring your breakfast, your kids, your signs and your good will.
Permalink 3:19 PM

Dedication of Redbud Woods this Sunday

From Jae Sullivan:

Hi Friends of Dorothy,

The Redbud Group will have an informal dedication of a
portion of Redbud Woods, some portion of the woods
that remain standing, or a tree, to Dorothy
Reddington, this coming Sunday, June 12, 2005, at 6PM.
(Meet in the backyard of 660 Stewart Ave. and park
on University or in the 660 Stewart Ave. lot.)

I want to reach all friends of Dodo who would like me
to read your rememberances of Dodo in this dedication.

Please feel free to send this message to people you
know from Dodo's Denmark, France,
Germany, Keystone, Syracuse, PA, Scranton, Johnson
Museum, Plantations, BTI, from her travels, etc.

Please email me at I need
your rememberances by email, Sunday 10 AM.

This is imminent...the woods may not be there much


Jae Sullivan
Permalink 5:12 AM

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fight to Save Redbud Woods Continues

via the Ithaca Journal

Chainsaw crews felled the first handful of trees Monday morning at the Cornell University site known as Redbud Woods, but work on a proposed parking lot there was soon stalled by protesters.

Between 8 and 9 a.m., a man who identified himself only as "Psyrx"(pronounced "sigh-rex") climbed about 25 feet into the branches of one of the trees near University Avenue and remained there through the afternoon, despite a violent thunderstorm.

Other protesters took shifts camping on a platform installed in another tree behind a housing cooperative at 660 Stewart Avenue and locked themselves to reinforced concrete blocks buried in the ground nearby. Dozens of supporters milled around the woods or watched from a distance.
Permalink 10:43 AM

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ithaca Company Makes Fuel from Vegetable Oil

Meghan Murphy of LiquidSOLAR, an Ithaca-based conversion company, has learned the ins and outs of biodiesel and vegetable-oil powered engines, leading her to eschew conventional gasoline.

"I was originally concerned about the petroleum situation as a political issue. Once I learned the environmental aspects of it, I was totally taken," said Murphy, who also researches and edits for the publication "Biodiesel America."

Biodiesel is the chemically advanced cousin of vegetable oil, both of which are non-fossil-fuel-based alternatives to gasoline. The oft-cited environmental advantages of the two include fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced reliance on petroleum-based fuels, which is considered a nonrenewable resource.

Lye, methanol and vegetable oil are the three necessary components in homemade biodiesel. The procedure, in simplified terms, requires combining lye and methanol to create sodium methoxide, a dangerous product that can burn skin while killing nerves so you don't feel yourself getting burned. Methanol is also highly flammable "so you don't want to set off any fireworks while you're doing it," joked Murphy.

"It's really not that daunting once you get a handle on it," Murphy added. "It's not as scary as it sounds."

Read the full article in The Ithaca Journal
Permalink 7:21 AM