Sunday, April 10, 2022

Discussion time: Climate coverage

youth climate rally

One of our most talked about contributions in recent weeks is this piece by Paul Hetzler. In it, he writes about climate change and debunking the “CO2 fertilization effect,” which is the idea that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be good for plants.

The post inspired some passions from readers and I’m curious to hear more from you about climate coverage in general. Especially as the Adirondack Explorer (which runs the Adirondack Almanack) has recently hired a climate reporter, Cayte Bosler.

Help us shape our coverage: Tell us the kinds of climate stories you’d like to see next in these pages and in Adirondack Explorer’s magazine.

Some examples to get the ball rolling:

  • How warmer temperatures are affecting lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks.
  • Ways communities are adapting/need to adapt to climate change
  • Changes in species living in the region and how wildlife is impacted.

Photo: Adirondack Youth Climate Summit students hold an ”I Am Pro Snow” rally at Mount Van Hoevenberg in this Adirondack Explorer file photo by Mike Lynch

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.




35 Responses

  1. Bob Kibbey says:

    I would like to read stories relating to affects or not of acid rain on
    Ponds and lakes in the Adirondacks.

  2. Estaban Antonio says:

    Its ironic that the people most passionate about climate change are often the ones making the least meaningful changes in their personal life to combat it.

    I wonder how many of these activists would forgo a flight to Bali or cancel their Amazon subscription.

    • Peter C. says:

      Estaban, I’m not sure how you concluded that the people passionate about climate change are not making changes in their lives. I don’t know anyone who’s been to Bali, but I do know many people passionate (and/or fearful) about climate change. All of them are making gradual changes in their lives, from buying electric yard equipment to buying electric or hybrid vehicles to installing solar panels or joining community solar.

      My wife now has a plug-in hybrid car, which has gone over 2000 miles on a tank of gas, and when our gas snowblower died last year I bought a battery snowblower, which I find much more convenient (no mixing & storing gas and oil, and no trouble starting it). We installed solar panels and now have minimal electricity bills.

      Converting from gas to electric for most uses isn’t a sacrifice, it’s actually a better quality of life, while also reducing our climate change impact, especially as the grid also gradually switches to renewable sources (and nuclear, at least for now).

  3. JB says:

    Seeing as climate change is a global problem, it would be interesting to see coverage about Adirondack climate issues and controversies apropos of the larger global situation. For example, the renewable energy controversy in the Adirondacks is worthy of debate. But renewable energy and its impacts (positive and negative) are also sources of controversy globally. Here are a few news articles that I have seen just in the past couple of days:
    https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-solar-expansion-stalled-by-rural-land-use-protests-2022-04-07/
    https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/green-energys-hidden-costs-spark-opposition
    https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1752531/norway-resume-new-onshore-wind-farm-licensing-three-year-break

    There are also quite a few projects stirring up controversy this year only a stone’s throw away from the Blue Line.

  4. louis curth says:

    If you want your climate coverage to be meaningful, I suggest you begin by adopting greater stridency in defense of accepted facts, compelling evidence and opinions which are grounded in experience, common sense and the compelling needs of future generations.

    Live up to these words found in your mission statement: “The Adirondack Explorer is dedicated to PROMOTING the wise use, public enjoyment and lasting protection of the Adirondack Park”…..

    • Balian the Cat says:

      Hear hear. This is the one issue where I would believe it appropriate if not compelling to simply state “we’re not debating that which is.” Allowing this particular conversation to devolve into partisan morass is a disservice.

  5. Peter C. says:

    I’d like to see more reporting about people or organizations in the Adirondacks that have successfully converted from fossil-fueled energy to renewable energy and/or to all-electric. That’s the conversion we’ll all need to make if we want to reduce climate change, and sooner rather than later, but it would help to see examples of how this can be done and the costs/benefits.

  6. Todd Eastman says:

    As the Park is a huge carbon storage reservoir, I’d like to see articles that describe the status of that storage updated as the climate warms. Changes in the forest brought on by invasive plants, non-native insects, and diseases that kill or alter the functions of native plant communities, could be explained better.

    Good science writing gives readers the opportunity to see with their own eyes, the changes that are occurring in the places where they spend so much time.

    Bringing science to the public with clear accessible language is essential.

  7. Grant Smith says:

    Isn’t it fun creating a fear-based general public over a naturally occurring Earth-based changing environment that responds to the subtle changes in the Earth’s atmosphere? Nothing we’re doing is going to affect how the Earth responds to its own Environmental varients. Yet here you all are whining about something which is totally a response to an otherwise boring life. Countries like China make the greatest contribution to pollution yet you all blame the USA and create fear needlessly, this is the same crap you did with Covid! Now, so-called healthy people are dieing from the experimental shots. To an old man who has seen the comings and goings of climate ups and downs over many years, this is the most useless destructive activity Climate Changers can engage in.

    • Mike says:

      Great post!

    • Peter C. says:

      Grant, I assume that you have been studying the climate full-time for many years and thus somehow know more than the 97% of climate scientists who agree our current climate change is real, problematic, and man-made. You are correct that China currently puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the U.S., but because they emitted less in the past, more of the total carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere came from the USA. China is rapidly switching some uses from gas/oil to electric (though not as fast as Europe). And as a vaccine (and booster shot) ‘survivor’, I’m very glad that American scientists are among the best in the world in studying both viruses and climate change,.

      • Boreas says:

        I just got my second booster – 4 shots total. Got a sore arm.

        I would bet the million people in the US alone that didn’t have that opportunity and died would take umbrage to the anti-vaxers out there. At my age, with my co-morbidities, and being a healthcare worker, I would likely be dead by now without the vax. But you are free to believe what you want as long as you live.

        • JohnL says:

          I too am old and have some co-morbidities so when COVID started, my doctor talked me into the original 2 shot vaccination, but when they told me 6 months later that I needed another, I opted out, as I decided not to get locked into an every 6 months booster regime. By that time, my doctor agreed with that decision too. BTW, Boreas, thanks for letting me believe what I want.

          • Boreas says:

            I probably wouldn’t be doing the boosters either if I wasn’t still seeing patients in close contact. But a positive COVID test takes me out of work – at least until I retire. Can’t afford that right now.

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Grant, could you offer some actual criticism of the science that you don’t believe is based in facts?

      I await your response…😎

  8. William says:

    What caused the ice age to end? I am guessing that somehow the earth got warmer?

  9. Mike says:

    I would like to see covered what impact shipping tens of thousands of immigrants into Westchester County will have on the environment in NY.

    • Balian the Cat says:

      You want to start with the Dutch, Mike? I know the English cut down all the trees. Maybe it was the Irish and their wholesale removal of native vegetation to plant crops for their starving families that has you in a twist?

    • Boreas says:

      We could ask the Siwanoy – if they were still around.

  10. Zephyr says:

    I’m very interested in climate coverage–particularly stories pertinent to the Adirondack region. I like hard, factual information on things like actual climate data for the region. One thing I am curious about is what it would take to power the entire region with renewables. What is the power required, and what are realistic ways it could be achieved at grid scale without burning fossil fuels? What efforts are being made in this direction? I keep reading about how individuals can do this and that, often at great personal expense, but those efforts just aren’t going to get us to where we need to be.

    • Steve B. says:

      I see renewables as 1) Hydro, 2) Wind, 3) Solar. Am I missing something ?.

      Hydro is obviously out as it means damning rivers, unless we choose to keep existing infrastructure and upgrade generators to provide more efficiency. Not sure how viable that is.

      Wind is possible, but requires significant building of wind generators on hilltops, with access roads and power transmission. Thats not possible in the forest preserve without major changes to the state constitution, maybe doable on private lands, if property owners maybe see significant tax breaks as incentive.

      Solar is entirely doable, especially at the individual property level, but unfortunately the weather in the region doesn’t see great numbers in sunlight, when compared to areas in the SW U.S. as example. Possibly a significant investment without great payoff, but probably the best renewable solution, of the state and fed governments would offer significant tax advantages to subsidize costs.

      • Boreas says:

        Steve B..

        I am no engineer, but I have been re-thinking hydro myself. I don’t like the way most dams were engineered over the last century, but it doesn’t seem like an impossible task to engineer a dam that allows fish to pass and can be flushed regularly in order to flush sediment downstream like spring floods, providing more natural conditions for aquatic organisms than standard dams. Many old dams/stations already have transmission lines and some necessary infrastructure that perhaps can be re-used without cutting many trees. And perhaps dams could be designed that don’t generate 100% of the time – just when needed most. If the Park is forced to provide power for itself, I think that would be preferred over NEW infrastructure in areas with no existing transmission lines.

        • JB says:

          …Much of the Adirondacks is already powered significantly by hydroelectric. Or I saw a map last year to that effect. My area was over 50% hydro. I think it was from a government run website; I wish I had bookmarked it.

          • Zephyr says:

            I suspect you are correct, but I too have had a hard time figuring that out. So, another way of supporting the move to electrifying everything is to figure out how things like transmission lines can be routed through the region without damaging the environment. I always wonder why existing corridors following the interstates can’t be utilized. I personally wouldn’t mind if the median of the Northway was used for transmission lines, possibly burying lines in the most sensitive places. Maybe you can’t bury those high-voltage lines?

            • Boreas says:

              They apparently can do this:

              https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/lake-champlain-transmission-line

              What could go wrong? Where will Osprey nest?

              • JB says:

                Cost, for one, guys. High-voltage lines are usually uninsulated, hence the need for large areas with no trees, etc. In theory, I’d like to see everything buried along roadsides. But the expense of that much underground-rated cable would be staggering.

                As a side-note: The CHPE is bad news for the Innu and Neskapi. Many more hydroelectric impoundments are being constructed in Northern Quebec, and this will perpetuate that. In the Adirondacks, on the other hand, we could probably power the whole Park just by restarting defunct hydroelectric generation stations and capitalizing on existing reservoirs (which, frankly, should never have been impounded in the first place). …But we couldn’t supply 20% of NYC’s electricity in any version of things.

              • Zephyr says:

                That article talks about the portion running underwater in Lake Champlain–won’t have any impact on ospreys that I know of.

            • Boreas says:

              The Osprey comment was tongue-in-cheek.

              A previous post I sent yesterday got lost in the ether. To me, within the Park, it makes more sense to keep locally generated hydro power local and not send it to the grid. Many portions of the state import more power than they produce. They may have land/waters that they prefer to use for other uses – as long as they can buy power generated elsewhere.

              To me, WRT this issue, the most important question is Is the Park a net importer or exporter of power? I have not been able to find anything definitive online. Should we be building more infrastructure in a protected region only to export that power? If we are already a net exporter, then I would say no. But if we indeed are a net importer, then I can see focusing on hydro upgrades and perhaps local, private, low-impact, alternative generation stations to approach energy neutrality in the Park.

              Is local geothermal power generation a possibility? It is rarely discussed. Why or why not? Shouldn’t initial cost be balanced with lack of need to generate/transmit electricity here? We do have a great deal of groundwater here. Should there be more incentives for homeowners and villages to utilize geothermal resources for heat/cooling? Perhaps simply upgrading our current heating methods with incentives to employ this resource would minimize our dependence on the electric grid. Wouldn’t this be preferential within the Park to wind and solar farms?

  11. louis curth says:

    Twenty five comments later and where are we? if nothing else, our esteemed editor can rest assured that we readers have lots of ideas and opinions.

    But while I enjoy the many esoteric comments offered, and even the occasional uncharitable remarks that are so human in all of us, I keep coming back around to how fortunate I am to live in a place like the Adirondacks and I ask myself; will our children and grandchildren be so fortunate in their coming years?

    The people who came before me did a lot of hard work in order to to turn a grand vision for this place into a reality (a process, by the way, that still continues – thanks the work of many fine and caring organizations and individuals).

    So, in answer to your question Melissa, it all makes me wish that this forum and others like it, might help us overcome our differences and bring us closer together in a shared vision on climate issues, but also on how we can overcome the rampant political malfeasance that gets its start in our own local communities and ultimately, like a spreading cancer, threatens to destroy democracy itself.

    Like those who came before us, we can choose to work together and pass on the gift of a better future to our young people. Will we do it?

    • Peter C. says:

      That’s a slick, professional-looking website, Mike, and certainly wasn’t cheap to create. I wonder who is paying for it. Unlike most websites, there’s no “About Us” explanation. Could the fossil fuel industry possibly be funding this site that tells why we need to keep using fossil fuels? Just my hunch.

      • Zephyr says:

        Yep, I bet that’s an astroturf website paid for by the fossil fuel industry. Critical Internet users know never to trust a site that doesn’t clearly explain who they are and what they represent, and Google isn’t much help either. They have done a good job of obscuring who they really are.

  12. JohnL says:

    Great article Mike, makes a lot of sense, but will probably fall on deaf ears in the climate change/global warming/solar/wind community. They have their focus on one thing and not much can be done to change that focus, certainly not facts. That’s unfortunate, but true.

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