Signs of Sustainability

We have a long way to go, but we're making progress. Here are some signs that we are moving towards sustainability.

December 10, 2018

Heat Locally to Benefit Yourself, Your Community, and the Planet

Tompkins Weekly           12-10-18

By Guillermo Metz

Do you know where your home’s heat comes from? Most of us burn something — usually, gas, oil, or propane — but most of us are blissfully unaware of where that fuel comes from. Many people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from — from the lettuce we grow in our yards to the local beef we buy. The benefits of “eating local” are well-known, but few of us are aware of all the benefits of “heating local” with wood.*

Many of the benefits are the same: supporting local businesspeople and the environment, reducing transportation miles, and creating a connection between consumers and “farmers” (in this case, forest owners and loggers). While responsible farming practices minimize environmental damage, responsible forestry goes a step further by providing many other environmental benefits, including actually improving forest health. Not only do foresters manage stands by clearing out low-quality trees that are shading healthier and more valuable trees, but by doing so, along with other good forestry practices, responsible forestry can lead to improved biodiversity, help control invasive and non-native species, and result in greater carbon capture by allowing younger trees to develop.

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November 12, 2018

Lack of Regulation Leads to Courthouse Showdown

Tompkins Weekly    11-12-18

By Cayuga Lake Environmental Action Now

Cayuga Lake is at risk. Our beloved lake provides drinking water for over 40,000 people residing in at least six municipalities, not to mention the numerous private wells along the entire shoreline. However, the quality of Cayuga’s waters is threatened by nutrient-loading manure from large farms, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), contaminants leaching from several coal-ash landfills, salt from our heavily salted roads, and brine from an extensive under-lake salt mine with its associated permitted and unpermitted discharges to the lake.

What can we do to protect this invaluable resource?

One major step is to ensure that environmental protocols are being followed and when they are not, we must STAND UP FOR CAYUGA LAKE. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is supposed to be the watchdog that ensures that our resources are being protected, but the DEC is severely understaffed, under-budgeted, and lacks expertise in some areas. Most importantly, the DEC has never required the level of environmental review for the Cargill mine that would be required for equivalent or much smaller projects.

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October 22, 2018

Uh Oh, Here Comes Winter

Tompkins Weekly 10-22-18

By Anne Rhodes

Winter – the season that challenges us to heat our homes without heating our planet. Everyone wants to stay warm and comfortable in their home, and luckily there are lots of strategies and solutions to help us do just that – including some that won’t add to our climate woes.

What’s preventing us from being warm in our homes? Conduction and convection. If a house is cold and drafty it is because heat is escaping through uninsulated walls and attics (conduction), and through holes and gaps that let air in (convection). The process of warm air escaping from the interior of your house to the outside is called the “stack effect.” It’s what happens when you heat the interior of your home but that heated air escapes upwards (because hot air rises!) causing a vacuum drawing cold air in from cracks and gaps in your basement. Then you heat up that new, cold air, and when it’s hot, it rises and escapes!

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