Energy and Equity Go Hand in Hand


Extreme income inequality, persistent racism, and increasing climate disruption are undeniable plagues of our time. We are fortunate that many people in Tompkins County are working on these issues. Some are advocates for racial and economic justice, such as creating living-wage jobs, removing barriers to reentry from the prison system, and ensuring affordable housing for all. Many others are involved in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as, stopping gas infrastructure development, switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources, and conserving energy in housing, transportation, food, water, and waste. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Rule and the Greater Good

After hours of discussion at the June 16th county legislative meeting, the vote on the fate of the Old Library ended in a stalemate of 6 in favor of a large apartment complex for seniors (TravisHyde), and 6 in favor of a smaller adaptive reuse condo project (Franklin Properties) which had hundreds of petition supporters and inspired dozens of citizens to show up and speak in favor of the Franklin proposal. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally

By Miranda Phillips

With artic ice melting at great speed, and climate disruption happening a hundred years sooner than expected, climate change is promising to be the biggest challenge of the 21st century.  Not often talked about, at least in mainstream media, are the psychological and spiritual aspects of this challenge – among them, fear, guilt, and grief that make it difficult for us to act and act fast. Read the rest of this entry »

Fracking: What Are We FOR?

 Fracking: We Know What We’re Against. What Are We FOR?
by Maura Stephens

As antifracktivists, we are often accused of being against fracking but not offering any alternatives to “natural” gas. That’s completely wrong. Our NO message is adamant and comprehensive, to be sure: Read the rest of this entry »

Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

by Derek Cabrera

What is the Crisis?

My colleagues and I surveyed the faculty of Cornell University to identify how scientists from different disciplines thought about the most pressing crises facing humanity[1]. Respondents brainstormed 116 diverse crises, sorted, and ranked them in terms of importance and solvability. We applied multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis to their answers to the simple question, “What is the crisis?” Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Thank an Antifracktivist

If you sit by and wait for others to stop the industrialization of New York State, we’ve already lost.

by Maura Stephens
17 August, 2012

A recent thread on a sustainability list-serve ended with the words: “Gratitude to those in direct actions to keep attention on fracking issues.”

I think it’s safe to speak for antifracktivists collectively when I say they don’t want to be thanked. Read the rest of this entry »

Sweltering Heat and Drought

Sustainable Tompkins Climate Change Blog

 Sweltering Heat and Drought:
Has This Year Been Exceptionally Warm and Dry?

By Benjamin Brown-Steiner

At home and across the nation this summer has felt unusually hot and dry. More than half of states are experiencing moderate to severe drought. Is this weather exceptional? Is it a sign of climate change?

The first step in answering these questions is to find credible data about Ithaca’s weather and climate that can be used to answer this question. I’ve gathered data from the Northeast Regional Climate Center [1], and [2] in order to find out what’s going on. Read the rest of this entry »

Mindfulness Practice and Sustainability

by Miranda Phillips

One goal of meditation or “mindfulness practice” is to promote wise action: that is, to help us act constructively despite certain common mind states (e.g. fear, anger, sadness). This in mind, mindfulness strikes me as a great potential support to sustainability activism, where fear in particular can hinder constructive action.

We live in an age of enormous and looming twin threats, climate change and peak oil: the first, with its accompanying rise in floods, droughts, fires, and warm weather diseases (malaria and smog-related asthma); the second, with its (at the least) social turmoil as we adjust to dramatically new habits, or worse, food shortages and economic collapse.

I find both of these threats deeply frightening. For most of the last fifteen years, I’ve responded to my fears in various ways: sometimes feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed to do anything; sometimes taking action but compulsively, washing out and reusing every plastic bag rather than considering: what would make the biggest difference in reducing my environmental impact? Read the rest of this entry »

Are We Nearing the Peak?

Are We Nearing the Peak?
Sustainable Tompkins Blog
Richard W. Franke
19 May 2012

Hi everybody, welcome to the Sustainable Tompkins May 2012 Blog. The ST Board is attempting to provide monthly opportunities for community discussion and May is my month. I would like to share some information and a few thoughts on the topic “Are we approaching the energy descent?” Could that approach be part of the cause of the current economic crisis? Nice, easy subjects, right? If you’re interested, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

Black Oak Wind Farm Rising

by Gay Nicholson

Community power.  Literally.  That’s the defining trait of the proposed Black Oak Wind Farm in the Town of Enfield.  The project will place about 20 MW of wind turbines on the windiest hills in Tompkins County along Black Oak Road.  That would be enough to power most of the county’s homes – a community’s power supply.

But that’s not the only way the community will benefit from this project.  From the beginning, when former owner John Rancich first conceived of his Enfield Energy wind farm, the focus was also on community ownership of our local renewable energy utility.  This dream is now becoming our shared reality.  Read the rest of this entry »