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.
When I was camping a couple of summers ago at Sampson Lake in West Canada Lake Wilderness, all was silent in the dark night but the unforgettable calls of a pair of a loons.
Even someone with a tin ear for bird calls knew what they were hearing. It felt as if it was just me and the loons on that lake – maybe in the entire world. Visitors and residents of the Adirondacks have experienced that feeling of connectedness since time immemorial.
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
Scientist-like persons hired by the fossil fuel industry have long maintained we should celebrate an ever-increasing level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This gas, a key building block in the photosynthetic process, can enable plants to grow faster and get larger. It’s been called the “CO 2 fertilization effect.” Many crop yields are projected to increase. And bigger woody plants, the reasoning goes, can amass more carbon, thus helping to slow the rate of CO 2 increase in a handy negative-feedback loop.
In other words, they argue that climate change is good for plants, which in turn will help curb climate change. It’s an elegant win-win situation, and environmentalists no longer have to lose sleep over skyrocketing carbon dioxide. However, as with many supposed “truths,” this argument falls apart upon close examination. It’s like in 1981 when former President Ronald Reagan said “Trees cause more air pollution than automobiles do.” He was referring to terpenols (responsible for the pleasant piney-woods aroma in the forest), which can react with auto emissions to form ozone. In the larger picture, trees reduce air pollution of all sorts – and sequester carbon as well – on a colossal scale worldwide. His statement was “true” in a minor, technical sense for a single pollutant, but it was misleading, and for all intents and purposes, false.
New Yorkers Encouraged to Review and Comment on Draft Scoping Plan Beginning Jan. 1 to Advance and Implement Nation-Leading Climate Law
New York State’s Climate Action Council Co-Chairs, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) President and CEO Doreen M. Harris, today announced the release of the Draft Scoping Plan, which describes recommended policies and actions to help New York meet its ambitious climate directives as part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). After a unanimous 19-0 vote by the Climate Action Council on Dec. 20, 2021. The Draft Scoping Plan is now available for public review and public comment beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
“The 2019 law creates a Climate Action Council charged with developing a scoping plan of recommendations to meet these targets and place New York on a path toward carbon neutrality.”
The Climate Council’s scoping plan is supposed to be released for public comment at the end of December. In an early December interview with WMHT-TV’s New York Now, Climate Action Council co-chair Doreen Harris (president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA), spoke of the careful accounting of carbon emissions that the state’s law requires.
As water across the park starts to freeze, I thought I would share an interesting paper published this fall that I came across in the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, published at Union College.
The study outlines the potential impacts of climate change on elite hockey athlete development in the North Country, focusing on the potential outcomes of shrinking access to outdoor ice during warming winters.
Here are a few excerpts from past Adirondack conferences preparing audiences for climate change, severe weather events, and consequences.
Photo: Post Hurricane Irene streambank and instream restoration efforts on the E. Branch Ausable River. Photo by Dave Gibson
September, 1989: George Woodwell, global ecologist and then director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, from an address at the Ausable Club, St. Hubert’s, Keene:
By cutting vast tracts of the world’s forests without replacement, humans are seriously adding to the atmospheric pool of CO2 and diminishing the natural background modulating effect of the earth’s lungs – our forests. A 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 since the mid-19th century, if allowed to continue at present rates, will have a severe impact on our climate. It, in addition to even more dramatic increases in methane and other greenhouse gases, will inevitably lead to global warming and climatic changes on a large scale. Ecological and societal changes, many of which may drastically affect the Adirondack Park, are sure to follow.
The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance is holding the final session of its 2021 Annual Forum on Wednesday, September 8 from 9-10a via Zoom webinar. This session is open to all, regardless of whether you attended this year’s forum. During the hour, we’ll cover the following agenda:
When I’m asked to diagnose tree problems, folks naturally want the remedy. Sometimes the only solution is tree removal; other times it’s a cable brace, pest management, corrective pruning or fertilizing. But increasingly, the diagnosis is climate change. If anyone knows how to solve that through an arboricultural practice, please let me know.
With rising temperatures, a novel weather pattern has taken hold with longer and more intense dry and wet periods. In 2012 many areas had the lowest soil moisture ever recorded. Nonstop rain in 2013 led to flooding and farm disaster relief. A drought in 2016 set more records in some places, and catastrophic flooding hit in 2017. Drought followed in 2018, and 2019 was another massive flood year. Prolonged dry spells cause root dieback, weakening trees for several years afterward. But unusually wet seasons are just as bad for trees.
(Photo at left: Mundhenk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
A survey of 241 cities, villages and other jurisdictions along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shows that coastal damage from climate change will cost at least $1.94 billion over the next five years, with shoreline communities having already spent $878 million over the past two years. These figures only represent a fraction of the true need as not all shoreline jurisdictions are reflected in this figure.
Join NYS ReLeaf’s Hudson Valley committee for a webinar on Climate and Community Forest programs. This lunchtime webinar on on May 6 from noon – 1:15 p.m. will introduce you to programs that can help your community get climate smart and prepare your community forest for the future.
Angelica Patterson (master science educator, Black Rock Forest and PhD candidate Columbia University) will talk about how plants are responding to warming climate and the factors driving climate-induced tree migrations, while Andy Hillman (arborist, urban forestry consultant, NYS Urban Forestry Council) will present a selection of trees from other regions evaluated for the northeast and the importance of considering hardy cultivars for future climates, and Dazzle Ekblad (Office of Climate Change, NYS DEC) will introduce the Climate Smart Communities program and how to get started with climate smart programs in your community.
Free, Easy-to-Use Guide Provides Resources to Build Support for Local Wind and Solar Projects to Reap Community Benefits
To help community members who want to build support for local clean energy projects, The Nature Conservancy in New York and New Yorkers for Clean Power have published a toolkit to support their efforts. Entitled Building Out a Clean Energy Future, the free, online toolkit provides background, strategies and resources for New Yorkers regardless of prior knowledge about clean energy.
Identifying common barriers and outlining actions to manage and overcome them, the toolkit shares steps that community members can take to support renewable energy projects in their city, town, or village and help bring about the many benefits of clean energy including cleaner air to breathe, a stronger economy with good-paying local jobs, and less carbon pollution, the driver of climate change.
The climate crisis, by its very nature, is tough to wrap your head around. We can feel some of its immediate effects, but most of the most severe changes happen on a scale that is beyond the ability of one person to see. Many of the actions we can take as a society to mitigate those effects have proven challenging to do. More and more of us agree that collective, systemic action is needed to combat climate change. In addition to systemic action, it is important that individuals still do our part. It can be really tough to figure out what to do!
When faced with the enormity of the climate crisis, we often find ourselves asking: what can we do to help?
I’d like to present a very simple answer to that question.
North Country Live returns this winter and spring with a variety of programs focused on outdoor recreation, environmental issues, history, and more.
The upcoming edition of North Country Live, sponsored by International Paper, will feature the following sessions, each of which takes place at 7 p.m. on Zoom. All these programs are free and open to the public:
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
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