The loss of any species whether plant, animal or insect is a loss for every other living creature on the planet.
On a trip to Namibia as a volunteer with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, artist Paolo Bari learned that these magnificent animals were among those species threatened with extinction. “It is not just the cats,” Bari says. “Conservation is a big issue with many elements besides the land and the animals. Politics, culture, and economy are also part of the problem.” One solution is education.
When Bari returned to Dutchess County she looked for a way to convince people that to maintain the health of our planet we must protect endangered species as well as their natural habitat. To promote the idea she decided to ask local artists to decorate what she calls “KeepSafe Boxes,” which she could sell on line in a silent auction.
In a well-attended lecture at the Cary Institute on February 14, Dr. Beverley Wemple, a professor of Geography at the University of Vermont, presented her research on the dynamics of hydrological and geomorphic processes on water degradation in Lake Champlain in Vermont. Dr. Wemple is doing a three-month research residency at the Cary Institute.
The 20,000-square kilometer Lake Champlain watershed is on the state’s impaired waters list under the Clean Water Act. Dr. Wemple’s research sheds light on how unpaved roads and unstable rivers contribute to water-quality degradation. The state of Vermont had to report how much phosphorus and nitrogen is discharged into the lake..
By examining run-off, sediment and phosphorus production during storms in the Winooski River watershed, Dr. Wemple was able to make estimates on how the road network adds sediments to the streams that end up in the lake. Agricultural fields, urban and suburban lands all affect the lake’s water quality. Eroded stream banks and gravel roads flush sediments into the river. Dr. Wemple found that pollutants can be identified by surveying unpaved road sediments.
Among fracking’s collateral damage will be habitat, from the Latin habitare, to live or dwell.
Whose habitat? you are forgiven for asking.
The answer, for now, is flora and fauna within reach—what oil patch cowboys think of as stuff that gets in the way of bulldozers—but ultimately our habitat. The environment rules all creatures great and small, until we are able to be insulated from it like a colony on Mars.
With the evidence of fracking out West to consider, and the mess being made of Pennsylvania by the fracking industry, New York wildife is on full alert. At the recent conference of Mortified American Plants and Animals, Eastern Synod held at a secret location in the Slide Mountain Wilderness, speaker after speaker—some traveling farther than any member of its species had ever ventured—rose to voice alarm.
Plants and animals can’t actually speak, of course, but they can be clear about their preferences, even shockingly blunt. They’ve been known to state an opinion by abruptly dying.
Alex Prud’homme, author of The Ripple Effect was on hand at the Moviehouse in Millerton on January 27 for a screening of Last Call at the Oasis. After the showing, Prud’homme whose book was the basis for the film, answered questions from the audience.
Whereas oil was the defining resource of the twentieth century, he said, water will be the defining resource of the twenty first. However, although we can survive without oil, no life can exist without water.
The United States has the biggest water footprint in the world. Meanwhile climate change and population growth are putting new pressures on our water supply as is becoming increasingly evident especially in the West. 36 states will face shortages in the next three years, and California is already in serious trouble.
Lake Mead is now only 40 percent full. By 2025 it could actually have dried up.
TO see what the future holds for nature in the circulation region of The Millbrook Independent, we need look no farther than (brace yourself) greater New York just to the south—particularly the dense urban core of New York City. There, the temperature averages ten degrees warmer because of the heat-island effect. Carbon dioxide levels are higher. The growing season extends weeks longer.
New York City also suggests, in dramatic fashion, what is already happening here more subtly: the replacement of native species by invaders. It is as if Topekans moved in and usurped the publishing industry. But first we must pause a moment to examine our terms, and in the process glimpse the revolution that’s underway in enlightened land management.
In case you missed the terrific fracking-ban concert at the Egg, also known as the New York Center for Performing Arts, in Albany last May 15, a new film gives you a front-row seat, a box seat, and a backstage pass besides.
In some of the best concert footage you’re likely to see, “Dear Governor Cuomo” shows Natalie Merchant (Ten Thousand Maniacs), blues and funk diva Joan Osborne, singer-songwriter Citizen Cope (Clarence Greenwood), folk/blues virtuoso Toshi Reagon, jazz-groove group Medeski Martin & Wood, John “Lovin’ Spoonful” Sebastian, Smithsonian Folkways artist Elizabeth Mitchell, The Horse Flies, funk and soul singer Meshell Ndegeocello, family-music impresario Dan Zanes, roots-rockers the Felice Brothers, and others perform songs—some lyricized for the occasion—with the fervent intensity they’ve invested in a movement the film claims now contains more than 100 grassroots organizations statewide. The ban-fracking movement is, it says, the largest grassroots uprising in New York State history.
One can’t say the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation isn’t taking high-volume hydraulic fracturing seriously.
Since it closed public comments on its massive, four-year-old Environmental Impact Statement for the second time last January 11, the DEC has waded through some 66,000 comments from lawyers, engineers, public officials, environmental groups, news organizations (including The Millbrook Independent), the natural-gas industry in various forms, federal agencies including the EPA, and members of the public. And it’s been, from all appearances, diligent and conscientious.
The result is now posted on some tributary of DEC’s website that’s tricky to find. You’ll save a lot of trouble if you use this link: bit.ly/VmJPaC (or enter “fracking” in the site’s search).
The Dec is waiting for the Department of Health to weigh in with its comments. Meanwhile it is moving ahead with the draft regulations.