Monday, April 27, 2015

How do You like Your Water -- With or Without Plastic Microbeads?

By David Kowalski .

Microbeads are tiny plastic spheres that are widely used in cosmetics and skin care products as exfoliating agents.

When products containing the microbeads are washed down the drain, they enter the sewage system. However, the microbeads are not filtered out by sewage treatment and so they enter our waterways.

Initially found in open waters of Lake Erie, microbeads have subsequently been detected in water of Lake Ontario, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, the Erie Canal and elsewhere. Microbeads were recently found in the Adirondack Region in Lake Placid wastewater.

A study just released by the NY State Attorney General's Office found microbeads in wastewater discharged from 74% of the treatment facilities tested. The true contribution of microplastic pollution is likely greater than that detected since only the easily-identified types of microbeads (spherical and speckled - only 6% of the total types) were studied.

[Click image to enlarge]
Microbeads in the water are consumed by fish, other wildlife and ultimately by humans.

Fredonia State College professor, Sheri Mason, has researched microbead pollution in the Great Lakes. Mason says that the plasticizer chemical present in the plastic is the concern because it can move out of the plastic and into you.

Certain plasticizer chemicals may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects.

Another important concern is microbead absorption and concentration of toxic chemical pollutants present in waterways. This could harm fish and other marine life that mistake the toxic microbeads as food. Fish that bioacumulate the concentrated toxins over time may cause harm to birds, pets or people that eat them.

The New York State Legislature needs to back a bill to eliminate microbeads to protect our environment and public health. The Assembly has already passed a bill to prohibit the sale of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads.

The Senate bill (S3932-2015) has been referred to the Environmental Conservation Committee. Unfortunately, there was insufficient support to bring that bill up for a vote last year.

Public support is absolutely necessary to move the Senate bill out of the Committee and to the floor for a vote.

Take Action - Contact your NYS Senator
Urge them to Co-sponsor Bill S3932-2015, the "Microbead-free waters act," to prohibit sale of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads.

Senate Directory and Identity:
- For phone numbers and to contact by Email, visit:

- To identify your Senator, go here:

Buffalo News Editorial cartoon by Pulitzer Prize Winner Adam Zyglis
This post was updated on 4/28/2015.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

NYS Senator Stands Up for Climate Science in the Face of Ignorance

By David Kowalski .

Senator Brad Hoylman, ranking member of the NY State Conservation Committee, called out the Senate majority for ignoring the term 'climate change' in their Earth Day Resolution.

Speaking in the senate chambers, he implored the legislative body that "we be mindful as public policy makers of the solemn responsibility to be good stewards of our planet."

Holyman said “There is an oversight in the resolution, which I feel obligated to point out, that there is no mention of climate change. The two words 'climate change' do not appear in the resolution.”

“It has to be [an oversight]. This is Earth Day, not Flat Earth Day. And the science, Mr. president, is clear.”   

Holyman cited scientific facts drawn from reports from the International Panel on Climate Change and cited by the NY City panel on Climate Change: rising temperatures, increasing precipitation, heat waves, extreme weather, sea level rise, and flooding of New York City, the most densely populated city on Earth.

“We should be mindful of the economic impact of climate change. With extreme weather events predicted to increase, we have to be prepared for economic impacts including infrastructure damage, rebuilding costs. The direct costs of Superstorm Sandy alone was $71.4 Billion,” he said.

“We are dooming our children’s future unless we act now.”

“Now the Peoples Climate March … 350,000 people attended it. It was in my district less than a year ago, but what have we done to address it?"

"Where is NY State’s Climate Action Plan? Who’s in charge of Climate Change in NY State? Can you name that person? I can’t.”

Hoylman concluded, “Mr. President, I support this [Earth Day] Resolution, but urge my colleagues, as we move forward in this legislative session, to take decisive steps to reverse global warming and climate change."

Senator Hoylman's full testimony delivered in the senate chambers can be viewed in a video here.

The Earth Day Resolution passed by the Senate GOP majority omitted the phrase “climate change” because some legislators objected to the words, according to a Capital New York report.

Republican Senator John DeFrancisco said it was a "politically correct term" and cast doubt on the notion the Earth was warming because his city saw record cold this winter.

“It was global warming a few years ago, and I can attest, being from Syracuse, New York, that the globe wasn't warming around Syracuse this winter. So by putting a label to good environmental practices is a very risky thing and that's why [climate change] was not put in this resolution,”  DeFrancisco said.

Buffalo News editorial cartoon by Pulitzer-Prize Winner Adam Zyglis

Senator DeFrancisco is ignorant of the fact that global warming is not simply evaluated by determining the temperature in his home district of Syracuse NY.

Global warming is assessed by measuring temperatures at numerous locations on land around the world as well as in the oceans that make up more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Measurements are made over time and the global average temperature is determined.

So, while it was brutally cold this winter in Syracuse, across NY state and elsewhere in the Eastern U.S., most all other regions on land and in oceans around planet Earth showed above average warming according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Results of NOAA's global temperature analysis are displayed on world maps for the months of January (click here) and February (below).

Everybody's Waterfront: Conversation on the Benefit of Parks

A Conversation with Peter Harnik

Wednesday, May 6, 2015  – 6:00-7:30pm
Burchfield Penney Art Center,
1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo

Parks bring so many benefits – cultural, economic, environmental, health and social among others – and Peter Harnik knows them all. Come hear his thoughts about the Outer Harbor, and why Frederick Law Olmsted’s original vision offers as much wisdom in the 21st Century as it did in the 19th. This event is part of the series, It’s Everybody’s Waterfront.

Peter Harnik - Director, Center for City Park Excellence, The Trust for Public Land
Peter Harnik
A recognized expert on what makes park systems great, Peter Harnik is a sought-after speaker on the relationship between cities and parks. He has researched and written groundbreaking works on the issues facing urban parks. Formerly the coordinator of Environmental Action, Inc., he co-founded both the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail.
Harking is currently the director of Center for City Park Excellence | The Trust for Public Land

About This Event: Door’s open at 5:30 pm, seating is first come first served.  Parking is available in the Burchfield Penney lot and on the Buffalo State College campus. Ticketing will be suspended for this event.

About This Series: It’s Everybody’s Waterfront Buffalo’s Outer Harbor on Lake Erie has been hotly debated this last year, centered around the ECHDC’s planning effort, continuing a conversation that started at least 30 years ago with the NFTA Port closure. It is time to re-engage the public in the conversation about the Outer Harbor:
What is the future for this waterfront land?
What is the community’s vision for the Lake Erie Waterfront?

As demonstrated by Perkins+Will findings’, the public’s response remains consistent: the belief this land should be public, green, accessible and clean.  Let’s make this happen! We look forward to your participation and voice. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

EVENTS: Buffalo's Outer Harbor - Community Vision and Future


Buffalo’s Outer Harbor - Lectures, Public Forums & Events
April - May 2015

Buffalo’s Outer Harbor on Lake Erie has been discussed and hotly debated this past year, initiated by a new planning effort by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. It is time to have an ongoing conversation about this place:  What is the future for this waterfront land? What is the community’s vision for the Lake Erie Waterfront?  

A series of lectures, public forums and events will be held in April and May to further this conversation.

Please attend one or more of these events. Your participation and voice are important. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015  Presentation by Dan Telvock with panel respondents. Sponsored by the Investigative Post
7:00pm at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 641 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo for $10 tickets

Wednesday, April 22, 2015  Presentation by Jim Olson, President of FLOW, with panel respondents.
FLOW is an organization seeking protection of the Great Lakes through Public Trust.
Sponsored by the WNY Environmental Alliance;
Tifft Nature Preserve, Fuhrman Blvd, Buffalo [ MAP ]
5:30pm Green Drinks and 7:00pm Lecture

Thursday, April 30, 2015  Film by Robert Reich “Inequality for All” and discussion of environmental justice issues on the Outer Harbor.  Sponsored by Buffalo State Center for Economic and Policy Studies and Burchfield Penny Art Center 
7:00pm at Burchfield Penny Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222

Wednesday, May 6, 2015  Peter Harnik, Trust for Public Land, who will discuss the economic, health, environmental, cultural and social benefits of parks and open space. Sponsored by 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor
6:00pm at the Burchfield Penny Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222

Saturday, May 30. The annual “Skyride Buffalo,” sponsored by GOBike, is a fundraising bicycle tour of historic locations, a scenic tour over the Skyway, and  highlights the past, present and future of bicycling in Buffalo. Ride followed by a celebration at the Outer Harbor.  

Check-in begins at 7:00am at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. We ride at 9am.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Earth Day Lecture & Green Drinks at Tifft Nature Preserve

Join the WNYEA on Earth Day to Celebrate 

The Outer Harbor and the Public Trust Doctrine

Wednesday, April 22nd
Jim Olsen, President of FLOW
For Love of Water
FLOW is an organization seeking protection of
the Great Lakes through Public Trust

Lecture starts at 7:00pm at Tifft Nature Preserve [MAP]

Green Drinks networking with GreenWorks Buffalo Niagara 
and Tifft guided tours begin at 5:30pm

Register for the event at the WNYEA website: Click Here

Earth Day Talk: Our Warming Planet, Climate Change and Smart Solutions

Our Warming Planet, Climate Change and Smart Solutions
Tuesday, April 21 at 7:00pm

The presenter will talk about how he became interested in these topics, the scientific evidence for human-caused global warming, and some of the impacts of climate change. He will wrap up with smart solutions to curb warming and climate change, and what people can do to help preserve the vital environment of our planet.

David Kowalski is a retired research professor and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Niagara Group and the Conservation Committee of the local chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.

 Free and Open to the Public

REGISTER by Phone: 716-689-4922
LOCATION: Audubon Library, 350 John James Audubon Parkway, Amherst, NY [MAP]

SEMINAR: Climate Change and Food Security

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Presentation: Geothermal Heating and Cooling - April 14

Geothermal Heating and Cooling: the Third Leg of the Renewable Stool
Tuesday, April 14 at 7:00pm

This lecture will cover how Geothermal Heat Pumps fit with wind and solar energy and the policy changes needed to make "net-zero" and "100% renewable" a reality in New York State.

Bill Nowak is the Executive Director of NY-GEO, the trade organization for geothermal heating and cooling installers, distributors and industry participants in NY State. He is also active with the Sierra Club Niagara Group Energy Committee and is the lead organizer of the Club's Climate and Clean Energy Writer's Group.
Free and Open to the Public

REGISTER by Phone: 716-689-4922
LOCATION: Audubon Library, 350 John James Audubon Parkway, Amherst, NY [MAP]

Monday, April 13, 2015

Climate Change NEWS

‘An Era Of Extreme Weather': Report Shows Big Weather Events Cost U.S. $19 Billion In 2014
Those events — which included historic drought, flooding, and storms — affected 35 states in total. In the last four years, the report found, extreme weather events across the United States caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses across 44 states.
Read the article at Think Progress

California’s Next Megadrought Has Already Begun
As California limps through another nearly rain-free rainy season, the state is taking increasingly bold action to save water.
Article by Eric Holthaus in Slate

  Editorial cartoon by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News

The Number of Sea Lions Washing Up on Californian Shores Is Higher Than Ever
Rising sea temperatures mean less food for the mammals.
Report in TIME

Church Should Lead, Not Follow on Climate Justice
As people of faith, we are called to be the rock of the climate justice movement, the solid rock of hope that remains strong on the darkest days. 
Article by Tim DeChristopher in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin

Energy Bombshell: CO2 Emissions Stabilized in 2014
Solar, wind and other renewables are making such a big difference in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide that global emissions from the energy sector flatlined during a time of economic growth for the first time in 40 years.
Read the article at Climate Central

This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back
Facing a loss of high-profile corporate sponsors, a conservative state-level policy group — the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — threatened action in recent weeks against activist groups that accuse it of denying climate change.
Report in the Washington Post

What will happen after people stop ignoring the evidence on climate change
It’s possible that we’re living through a moment that will later be remembered as a key marker in the decline of climate change doubt as a whole.
Article in the Washington Post

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Volunteer for RIVERKEEPER Spring 'Shoreline Sweep'

WHEN: Saturday, April 25 from 10AM to 12PM

Riverkeeper organizes the largest shoreline cleanup in Buffalo Niagara with over 1,500 volunteers at 40 waterfront sites throughout Western New York. This event re-connects people to their greatest natural asset, fresh water.

This is your opportunity to join the effort to protect and revitalize our waterways by cleaning up shoreline trash that can harm fish and wildlife!

Volunteer Registration: CLICK HERE to register online for one of 40 Sites for the Spring Shoreline Sweep. On the morning of the cleanup, volunteers will meet the Site Captain at the designated meeting place at their site.

A Volunteer Appreciation Party will be held at the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park after the cleanup from 12pm to 2:30pm. Sign up for a ticket when you Register for the cleanup.

Questions? Contact Jarrett Steffen by email at or by phone at 716-852-7483 ext. 19.

Sierra Club Awards to be Presented at Annual Dinner


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Learn about the imperative of “Just Transitions” from Erin Heaney, Executive Director of the Clean Air Coalition. We know we must move off fossil fuels to address climate change, but this transition can impact workers and communities unfairly. Whose responsibility is it to address the injustice?


The Blake Reeves Award to the Buffalo Public Schools
 In recognition of the Solar Power Purchase Agreement
Solar panels will be installed at 20 Buffalo Public Schools to provide clean electrical power. We particularly recognize Paul McDonnell, Director of Facilities Planning Design and Construction, Jason McCarthy of the School Board, and Richard Steinberg, a Sierra Club Member.

Bruce Kershner Award to Charley Bowman
For leadership in working with many climate change issues and his concerns for justice and peace being central to the mission of climate justice.


LOCATION: My Tomato Pie Restaurant, 3085 Sheridan Dr., Amherst (Northtown Plaza between Alberta Dr. and Niagara Falls Blvd. - Map)

TIME: Begins at 5:45pm -- Dinner buffet starts at 6:30pm and includes vegetarian options.

COST: $25 per person including tax and gratuity.
Please RSVP by April 27th. You can either e-mail  or call Larry at 716-634-8715.   Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Live Cameras on Great Blue Herons and Pond at Cornell

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

The Great Blue Herons Have Returned!
Camera #1: To see live stream video of the Great Blue Herons and waterfowl at Cornell's Sapsucker Pond, Click Here.

Camera #2: To see the view from a different angle as well as the activities of feathered friends around the pond, Click Here.

HINTS: Keep BOTH cameras displayed on your screen at the same time. A human will sometimes pan the second camera over the pond to see herons fishing, collecting nest material or just hanging out nearby.
  Also, turn up the Sound Volume on your computer. There's a party going on in the background! 

Status Updates:
April 1: A heron was spotted at Sapsucker Pond.

April 7: Herons have arrived... 3 of them!
About Great Blue Herons: They usually lay 2-6 eggs and share incubation duties for 25-30 days. Incubation begins with the first egg, and the young hatch asynchronously (not at the same time) over 2-5 days. After hatching, it'll take 7-8 weeks before they fly from the nest for the first time.

Originally posted here on April 7, 2015 and will be updated later with other activities.

To choose a different bird camera, Click Here.

Annual Awards Dinner: Sierra Club Niagara Group

The Sierra Club Niagara Group

Annual Awards Dinner

Thursday, April 30th 

This year’s dinner will be at “My Tomato Pie Restaurant” located at 3085 Sheridan Drive. We'll gather at 5:45pm and the buffet dinner that includes vegetarian options will be served at 6:30pm. 

The cost is $25/person that includes tax and gratuity.

Please RSVP by April 27 by email to or call Larry at 
716-634-8715. We look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

WNY VegFest Fundraiser - Plant-based Food, Beer and Live Music

WHAT:     Fundraiser for WNY VegFest : Beer! ($5 in locally brewed beer included with your ticket!) Pizza by Allentown Pizza, Wings - no chickens involved, Cupcakes by Sweetly Simple Treats, munchies and appetizers, Live music by Sleepy Hahas.

WHERE:  Resurgence Brewery 1250 Niagara St, Buffalo (716-381-9868)
WHEN:    Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 7pm-10pm

WHY:       Help keep WNY Vegfest free for al! Join us at Buffalo's hottest new brewery, Resurgence! All proceeds go to WNY Vegfest.

The WNY VegFest is growing rapidly each year and quickly becoming THE preeminent healthy lifestyle festival throughout the entire region. The community came out to enthusiastically support the inaugural WNY VegFest in 2014 with over 5,000 people attending and enjoying all the varied the plant powered fun!

Buffalo and Western New York have seen an explosion of interest in health, compassion and plant-based eating over the last few years, and together with the help of local veg advocacy groups and sanctuaries the WNY VegFest is helping to spread the life affirming message of a plant based diet.
Contact: Albert Brown: 716-465-3927