Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tornados, Floods, Droughts...Oh My

A volunteer looks for survivors in the rubble of a home in Joplin, MO.
Source: The Independent

As an avid moviegoer, I’ve seen my fair share of disaster movies: good, bad and everywhere inbetween. What I’ve been lucky not too see are these scenarios enacted in real life. Before this year, I thought that if I stayed in the Northeast, the worst weather I’d experience is the yearly blizzard. Lately I’m thinking about stocking up on water and supplies before a regional weather disaster hits.

In the last six months, the United States has experienced town-leveling tornadoes in the mid-west and south; hurricanes in the east coast and gulf states; out-of-control wildfires in the southwest; intense drought throughout the mid and western part of the country; hail the size of baseballs in the Sunshine state; devastating flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and what some have called “snowpocalypse” which blanked states coast-to-coast.

Off the Future Weather clock, I never gave much thought to the issue of climate change. That was before all of this disastrous weather. Lately I’ve had one question on my mind: is global warming responsible?

Climate has been the key word for years now, but climate is merely the long-term weather pattern. At what point will the climate of the future be the weather of today? Are these extreme storm patterns going to be the new norm? More importantly, is there anything we can do about it?

After some research, I found that I am not the only one with these questions; articles have been cropping up in outlets from the Huffington Post to The New Yorker. I had expected the scientific community to be full of data pointing to global warming as a cause. Instead, I discovered that research is still in its infancy and that scientists are working to detect the “fingerprint” of global warming in specific extreme weather events. Despite a lack of irrefutable evidence, research has shown that there is a connection. Even though many of these disasters are naturally occurring phenomena, their frequency and intensity has been increasing as a result of higher levels of greenhouse gases (global warming).

The National Research Council advises that we take action now to reduce the level of these greenhouse gases in order to manage the risk and uncertainties. They urge governments to enforce stricter regulations on corporations, companies to increase their commitment to environmental responsibility, and average citizens to raise their level of awareness. By managing the potential for crisis, we will be better prepared to adapt to climate change. Continuing on our current path will leave us more vulnerable to devastation in the future. It is better to face this problem now. After all, Noah built the ark before it started to rain.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Report from the DRBC Hearing

Even though we were unable to go to the DRBC hearings last week, our friend photographer Roger Smith has shared his experience and pictures of the event with us. Here is his report from Honesdale, PA on February 22, 2011:

Each person commenting was given two minutes to speak. There were about 100 speakers. PhDs, local government, farmers, business owners, and many concerned individuals. Newspaper and TV coverage was present. Also security personnel was there, however there appeared to be no need for them at this hearing. Although each person said their name and some additional personal information, I did not know any of them until Josh Fox of Gasland spoke.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take Action Now on Gas Drilling in the Delaware River Watershed!

DRBC Draft Natural Gas Regulations
Open for Comment through March 16, 2011

Please be there and bring your neighbors!

Feb. 22 Honesdale H.S., 459 Terrace St., Honesdale, Pa.
Feb. 22 Liberty High School Aud., 125 Buckley St., Liberty, N.Y.
Feb. 24 Patriots Theater, 1 Memorial Dr., Trenton, N.J.

  • All are 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Two minutes allowed per person
  • Arrive 1 1/2 hours ahead to sign up to speak and get a seat
  • Bring signs to show our unity (no sticks)—visit DRN’s table for stickers

We need to come out and speak up at these Hearings to let the Commissioners know that the public interest in this issue and the proposed regulations is HUGE. It is very effective to show up in numbers and to speak on the record; when hundreds of people packed DRBC Hearings on gas issues in the past, it mattered. We wouldn’t have a gas drilling moratorium in place now if people hadn’t spoken up. PLEASE do what you can to come to one of the sessions.

Want to carpool to a hearing? Use this link http://drn.erideshare.com and password: water to access DRN’s private carpool site at eRideShare.com. You will need to become an eRideShare member (it’s free and easy) before adding or posting a ride.

For Talking Points for the Hearing and to submit a comment to DRBC on the Draft Rules NOW go to: http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/act-now/urgent-details.aspx?Id=66

Where the DRBC is with fracking right now.

A resident of Dimock, PA demonstrates what has happened to well water in the area. Credit: Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo

Natural gas companies are drilling throughout the Delaware River Watershed; the drilling process called "fracking" is contaminating our waterways, drinking water, ecosystems, and the communities near drilling sites with literally tons of highly toxic chemicals.

The Delaware River provides water to 5% of the United States--that’s 15 million people in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware--and there is currently no regulation of these gas companies' practices.

An in-depth study of the cumulative impacts of fracking needs to be conducted. However, in a set of draft rules the Delaware River Basin Commission has given these companies the greenlight to move ahead with drilling without regulation. Their rules do not address the impacts of fracking, set limits on gas development, or institute high enough standards to protect streams and communities. They rely heavily on flawed state regulations that are filled with exemptions and loopholes.

The mandate of the DRBC is to prevent degradation of the exceptional water quality of the Delaware River. The public has until March 16th to comment on the DRBC’s draft rules. However, there are only three events left for public hearings. We really need to show up in numbers to make it clear to the DRBC that we will not stand for environmental policies that do not protect us. See below for dates, times and locations.

You can also submit comments electronically.