Thursday, April 28, 2022

Introducing “Climate Matters”

climate matters

This mural was drawn by school children in the Andean Mountain community of Santiago De Okola. Photo by Cayte Bosler

Commemorating Earth Day

In 1970, famed anchor Walter Cronkite announced Earth Day for the first time on a CBS news special.

Tens of millions of people, mostly students, had taken to the streets across the country with a message for leadership — “act or die,” as Cronkite recounted to his audience. Air pollution from leaded gas emissions and inefficient vehicles reigned as the leading concern which united protesters and activists to rally for systematic change.

Thus, half a century ago, the modern environmental movement ignited. The first Earth Day gave national attention to environmental issues and brought politicians together to lay the foundation for laws such as the Clean Air Act.

The movement has since gone global. Each year, it serves as a platform to amplify efforts taking place in the defense of the natural world. Across the Adirondacks, many places have designed their own activities to celebrate and educate.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet.” As Adirondack Explorer’s newly instated climate reporter, I plan to invest in coverage that spans the currents of climate effects on the region.

Check out our Earth Day photo gallery

The stories of a changing climate are everywhere. From differences in snow fall to bird migration to insect populations to local economies struggling or adapting, my beat has already begun to explore these. It will evolve and branch into many themes and topics as I continue to report and learn. I bring my background in sustainability science and research in the ecology and management of protected areas throughout the Americas.

When there is a climate concern or story in your area, I’d love to hear from you.

For Earth Day, I’ll be spending the day with my puppy Murie, named for Mardy Murie, dubbed “the grandmother of conservation,” cruising the trails. Happy Earth Day to you all in honor of all there is worth protecting.

murie

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of “Climate Matters,” a new weekly newsletter by Adirondack Explorer’s climate reporter Cayte Bosler. We invite you to sign up here.

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Cayte Bosler is an investigative journalist covering the intersections of climate change, wildlife and community resilience in the Adirondack wilderness. Throughout her career, she has researched ecology and wildlife biology in protected areas in the Bolivian Amazon and in Cuba, trekked to an extreme altitude ecosystem in the Peruvian Andes, and boated through the mangrove-filled estuaries of Guatemala — all to chronicle solutions for conserving the natural world. She holds a master of science from Columbia University’s sustainability program and is a fellow of the Explorer’s Club.




20 Responses

  1. Bill Ott says:

    Cayte Bosler, I am sure you know we are all believers here, so maybe you can show us how to spread the word (afterthought comes first).
    I am 72 years old, and at 15 breaths per minute, I have polluted the air exactly 56,748,017 times. If I had deleted about 60 consecutive cycles of this unconscious behavior any time in my past, you would not be reading this drivel.
    I like numbers. Here is where they take me. The earliest microscopic organisms found here (EARTH) date to about 3.7 billion years ago. Dividing 3,700,000,000 by 56,748,017 breaths returns 65.2, the relative number of my breaths per year during that time. One year of my not breathing brings the world to an end.
    We live on a living breathing planet. How long can Earth last holding its breath for us to get it right. There will be a tipping point where it is too late. We may eventually and perhaps soon be an example of why we cannot find signs of intelligent life in the stars.
    I did only one thing today to save the earth. When I went to pay for my blister packed products, I said no bag. That isn’t much. I could have walked to the store, or not got the stuff at all. Thankyou Cayte Bosler for provoking thought. And some elections are looming.

  2. louis curth says:

    Happy belated Earth Day Cayte Bosler!

    If the theme is going to be “Invest in Our Planet”, maybe you should start your investigation by asking Jen Kretser over at the Wild center what she and the young attendees to the Glasgow Climate Conference think they achieved? Gretchen Thunberg said it was all just; “blah, blah, blah!”

    Here’s what Climate Envoy John Kerry said just yesterday at the Foreign Policy Magazine Climate Summit: “Let me be absolutely clear: we’re heading to well over 2 degrees right now — 2.7, or something like that.”

  3. Zephyr says:

    Welcome Cayte! One thing that I find interesting is that “climate change” does not mean everything warms up equally, and it could mean big changes in local climates that include drastic cooling. I have read various predictions and studies on what climate change means for the Adirondacks, and I would love to be able to come here and read more about the latest thinking. For example, some years ago I read something that analyzed all the weather measurements made in the Adirondack area going back to when readings were first taken in the 19th century. This information seemed to prove that the weather in the High Peaks and east were indeed warming, but that the weather in the southwest area (Old Forge, etc.) was actually cooling substantially. Personally, I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day and also how hiking in the High Peaks we had to deal with snow so deep the trail signs were below surface level. Driving Route 73 toward Lake Placid was like driving down a tunnel between towering snow banks on either side. Those days seem long gone now.

  4. louis curth says:

    Thanks Zephyr for those memories. I too remember riding the bus to Pottersville Central School in the 1950s, between towering snow banks that were up to the school bus windows.

    Later, at Paul Smith’s College, each new snowfall caused more of the steps in front of the cafeteria to disappear as hungry students packed down the new snow. The morning walk across the quad. by St. Regis Lake that winter was “bracing” – better off to not look at the thermometer and see how just cold it actually was…

    P.S. Sorry Greta for getting your name wrong earlier.

  5. Zephyr says:

    Another great topic I would like to be covered on an ongoing basis is improving infrastructure and charging stations for EVs, and also information on using them in the North Country. Winter charging, parking for long periods in the winter outside, ability on Adirondack Roads, etc.

    • Loki says:

      We are waiting on delivery of a Subaru Solterra. I’ve been test route planning with a usable ~180 mile range for the past week. There is no practical way to drive in from the west and make it back out unless staying an extended period with a level 2 (slow) destination charger, which does not fit into most trip plans. For example stoping in Tupper Lake for 3 hours to gain ~70 mile range, then continue to Low’s Lake would be possible, but you should not be spending more time charging than actually driving, even if partially distracted by lunch or similar.

      Fast chargers in Watertown, Utica, Keene and along the Northway are a good start, but not enough for the Route 3/28/30/8 corridors to get in and return back to the west. Until there are fast chargers in Old Forge and Tupper, we’ll opt to use our gas vehicle. The good news is that there continues to be more level 2 chargers being added everywhere, so in the event of really needing a charge, a slower charger is usually only the nearest town away.

      This ignores stations lacking redundancy for mechanical issues (common), everyone driving up on Friday creating charging backlogs and weather related range depletion. Putting the canoe on top surely will kill range too. I hope/expect to be taking the EV into the ADKs in 3-5 years, but until then, the gasser it is.

      Visiting family in Boston/NYC/NJ and closer trips all are very doable with redundant charging options — the western-half of the Adirondacks are a dead-zone.

      • Zephyr says:

        Just the upfront cost of a new EV is out of my price range for even the cheapest ones, but still interested in switching when I can. I think I would need a realistic range of 250-300 miles before I could consider one. Plus, in the winter you have to count on up to a 30-40% reduction in range when it is really cold. Would be scary coming out of the woods in the dark in January and not having enough charge to get anywhere.

      • Dana says:

        Used hybrids are getting fairly cheap. Better mileage than any vehicle I currently own. But I don’t need a commuter car any more. Best for the planet if I just stay home.

  6. Boreas says:

    Cayte,

    I look forward to your articles!

    What struck me recently was something most people ignore in their quest to curtail CO2 emissions. If we could throw a switch tomorrow and stop all anthropogenic CO2 emissions, it will have virtually no impact on TODAY’s planet. What people are NOT reminded of is that much, if not most of the CO2 released since the Industrial Revolution is still up there! It doesn’t just blow away. It has to removed from the atmosphere and sequestered or chemically neutered somehow. The ice caps will continue to melt, ocean temps and levels will continue to rise, and the climate will continue to warm – without ANY further human input.

    Humans need to be looking AT LEAST as strongly at removing atmospheric CO2 as reducing emissions. This is the amongst the newest, most important research being done. We all know that growing forests helps sequester CO2, but if we stopped all cutting today, it would take a couple hundred years for the forests to recover. We certainly should strive for less cutting and more planting, but it isn’t the immediate answer.

    I think it was NOVA that just aired a show on this. Some controversial methods of COOLING the Earth in perhaps less than 10 years were discussed. One approach was literally creating a “smoke screen” by pumping materials into the atmosphere that help block/reflect the sun’s rays – just like what happens in volcanic eruptions that shroud the planet in dust and can cause noticeable cooling almost immediately. Some of these materials were simply salt water vapor and others were scarier and certainly more controversial. But I believe the discussions to scrub atmospheric CO2 and to reduce solar heating is MORE important than simply reducing emissions while ignoring the CO2 already present.

    When your house is on fire, simply curtailing flammable furniture purchases will not have the desired result! Obviously, the ultimate solution is to do anything WE can – whether we have hit the tipping point or not.

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “There will be a tipping point where it is too late. We may eventually and perhaps soon be an example of why we cannot find signs of intelligent life in the stars.”

    Some are saying we’ve reached that tipping point already Bill. We never fathom in our minds that we can come to such a place…..until we’re there! And even then! No matter how loud the scientists shout out about what they envision for planet Earth (sooner than they initially thought) due to their studies, theories, data, etc., it falls upon the deaf ears of a specific camp in the political spectrum who have a good chunk of the power, and resources, to possibly make some kind of change to maybe alter this supposed collision course we are on regards global warming; who refuse to accept such because a fart is stuck to their brains and millionaires are in their pockets. With all of their empty space you’d think there’d be enough room for some hint of Intelligence but notta…..to the detriment of all life on this wee orb Earth, including theirs.

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Zephyr says: “One thing that I find interesting is that “climate change” does not mean everything warms up equally…”

    Not yet Zeph, but that day may come if it gets to the point where it gets so hot that the climate will lose its ability to cool-off and to heal itself. Surely by then it will all start breaking down, or destabilizing, due to the heat, and will spread throughout the land……..as I have mentioned in prior notes, and which surely the scientists are aware of. You would think that maybe the melting (and disappearing) glaciers alone would be a sign of “something’s up” but nope. Business as usual! What happens when there’s no glaciers left, when they all have melted? I wonder if Ted Cruz has an answer to that, or Mitch McConnell?

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Zephyr says: “I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day and also how hiking in the High Peaks we had to deal with snow so deep the trail signs were below surface level. Driving Route 73 toward Lake Placid was like driving down a tunnel between towering snow banks on either side…..”

    Louis Curth says: “I too remember riding the bus to Pottersville Central School in the 1950s, between towering snow banks that were up to the school bus windows..”

    > My grandfather talked (in his letters) of standing atop the snowbanks alongside Durant Road in Blue Mountain Lake and being able to touch the overhead wires. This was up to 1974 when he died. I think we all can remember deep snows in our winters of youth. Things are most certainly not what they used to be, and at one time the thought was maybe that things were moving along like they always have… in cycles. I’m not so sure we can say that anymore, especially considering all the data the scientists have due to our advanced technologies, which prove we are on a track unlike all of those tracks prior going back to those days when man walked around with clubs and fires were his means of cooking and keeping warm. Ere long we won’t need to start a fire to cook anymore if thing’s they don’t start a-changing!

  10. louis curth says:

    Charlie, do you think Ted or Mitch might have any answers for our young folks who are just giving up hope? Take a look at this sorry news from the New York Times Guest Essay of 5/1/22: entitled; A ‘LIFE-AFFIRMING’ REMEDY FOR CLIMATE DESPAIR by Margaret Klein Salomon.

    This thoughtful read about climate despair begins with a recent Lancet survey of 10,000 people ages 16 to 25 where 56% said humanity was doomed and 45 % said climate anxiety affected their daily lives. In spite of these disturbing numbers, she notes that we continue to avoid public conversations about how all this affects the mental health of our young people.

    She tells us; “the climate emergency hurts because we love this world…..but how do we turn that pain into action?” Then she suggests a very logical answer to her question – join a movement. Her conclusion:

    “Joining a movement allows us to live for a purpose greater than ourselves, and a collective benefit of a national climate mobilization would be improved mental health. Instead of despair and alienation, we can find a sense of purpose and community in the face of the climate crisis.”

    Thoughtful words worth considering…

    • Zephyr says:

      Growing up in the 1960s, with frequent duck-and-cover drills for the inevitable nuclear attack I had the firm belief as a young child that the world would end before I reached adulthood. Talking to my father, growing up in the 1930s, he and his brother were sure they would be headed off to fight in WWII like their father who volunteered. They had no idea if they would survive to adulthood. When I was in my teens it seemed inevitable I would be heading off to Vietnam, to potentially join the daily body count broadcast on the evening news. Many generations have faced this type of worry and eventually grow out of it. Climate change is a huge problem, just like nuclear war that still hangs over us, but after awhile as you make your way through life you learn that the most important thing to do is to hop out of bed each morning, put on your clothes, and get to work making the most of each day. Hiding under the covers and not facing the world, whatever it brings, is no solution. None of us will solve the problem by ourselves, but we each can make changes and do small things that can help. Lots of little changes do add up and these same young people will have lots of new and great ideas that will help.

    • Boreas says:

      One thing young citizens can do is VOTE as if the Earth depends on the result! But simply getting people to vote is problematic. Becoming activists is even less likely.

      If I were just out of high school, and I saw the mess that my parents and grandparents created with both US and state governments, I certainly would shy away from wading into that toxic soup. But it needs to be done – perhaps with their own party.

      But indeed, there are other ways to be activists outside of politics. It may be too late to turn back the climate freight train, but they may be able to slow it down and mitigate its effects – at least in in THEIR lifetime.

  11. louis curth says:

    Zephyr, I sense a lot of well grounded wisdom behind your words; Charlie’s too. I’m tempted to say the kids need to pull their socks up, stop wasting so much time on the social media stuff and get outdoors like young people used to do.

    Still, I think Ms. Klein Salomon makes a valid point about the value of being part of movements that are bigger than ourselves. I saw that firsthand when I helped Paul Schaefer during the Hudson River Gooley Dam battle, and again in 1970 when we celebrated Earth Day in Johnsburg. After those experiences, It seems clear to me that we all need to do whatever small things we can to help , however, we also need to take it a step further by joining forces and working together collectively. That is the basis of “community” that democracy and good governance must have to function.

    I wish more Republicans (my former party) shared that view of things.

  12. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Zephyr says: “Growing up in the 1960s, with frequent duck-and-cover drills for the inevitable nuclear attack”

    > I remember them days Zeph. I was a little urchin seated at a desk with a lift top in Daniel Street Elementary School when the alarm would sound off and all of us tykes had to form a line out into the hallways, get on our knees, and places our heads into our hands to cover ourselves up which, when thinking about it now, wouldn’t have done any of us a world of good had a nuke struck. Here it is all of these years later, and though the threat is surely more-so than it was back in them days, those drills are a thing of the past. I suppose we’ve become wholly insensitive to the threat of doom, what with all of the horror and hopelessness we experience seemingly on a daily basis these years of late.

    “as you make your way through life you learn that the most important thing to do is to hop out of bed each morning, put on your clothes, and get to work making the most of each day. ”

    > Yep! Though I would re-emphasize and say “making the most of each moment!”

  13. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Zephyr says: “None of us will solve the problem by ourselves, but we each can make changes and do small things that can help.”

    This is a huge truism! I cite one mere example in a ‘localized’ perspective, or in my neighborhood, which is a microcosm of the whole……… If all of my neighbors were like me, and picked up the trash in front of their own homes, or businesses, which they don’t, to think how much less pollution there would be. So little effort it takes yet that effort is not employed! My neighbors just don’t have it in them! While we each can make a difference it won’t matter in the long run so long as everyone else shows so little, or no, concern. If there were less people maybe things would tip to a better light, but this is not the case! I like your optimism though Zeph, and I’m not giving up just yet myself, though I don’t feel too good about the way things are going! I suppose if I was minus a conscience, or numb, I wouldn’t feel this way.

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