Some visionaries look at 2008
At the beginning of the year, we asked some local residents who have taken an active role in shaping the future of our area what they foresee as the challenges and prospects for the coming year. Here are some of their comments.
Troy Bystrom, founding member, Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition
“Through the use of vast social networks and internet technology, public awareness and response to issues is instantaneous and political interests that do not reflect the direction of the public they serve will not be tolerated. We are optimistic that 2008 will bring a new direction for our nation, a direction that places value on historic, cultural, recreational resources, conservation, alternative energy, individuals and small business instead of on corporate greed and influence.”
Kathy Dodge, Energy and Education Chair, Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society (NEPAS)
“With regard to climate change, there are things we are already seeing in our region: shifting frost and planting dates, more ticks and lyme disease, mosquitoes and bird flu. Incidents of asthma are skyrocketing. We will be faced with major shifts in forest ecology (hardwood logging is an important Northeastern Pennsylvania industry), and the decline in the maple industry. We are especially at risk here in Northeastern Pennsylvania because we are at the southern edge of the maple industry area, so we will lose our trees sooner than those north of us. Environmental refugees will find our area an attractive place to come to, adding to our run-away growth.
“Drilling and harvesting of natural gas also looms on our horizon. If we don’t insist upon strong environmental protections, we will face more forest fragmentation, herbicide use to keep gas line corridors open, erosion, human intrusion into fragile habitat, etc.
“PPL has put in for a license to open a third nuclear plant at Berwick, part of a renewed nationwide surge of the nuclear industry thanks to tax breaks and incentives offered by the current administration in Washington. It falsely claims that this is a solution to climate change. In fact, nuclear power has significant greenhouse gas emissions involved in its cradle-to-grave process. It is very expensive and adds huge amounts of high-level nuclear waste to the waste that sits unsafely at each power plant in our country. Nuclear power does not make sense in an unstable world.
“Alternatives are available in emerging energy technologies. People are beginning to install sustainable technologies in their homes in our region, especially geothermal heating and cooling, because it makes economic sense as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This is very encouraging. There is huge interest in windmills, solar, conservation and other sustainable ideas. Our annual Audubon alternative energy trip is a very popular event.”
Barbara Leo, Field Trip Chair, NEPAS
“Much is happening within like-minded groups that are joining forces to spread the word about threats to our environment in all manner of assault. NEPAS has teamed up with the Conservation Alliance, a consortium of organizations including Lackawanna College, Keystone College, University of Scranton, Marywood University and the conservation districts in Lackawanna and Susquehanna and many more, to address common concerns affecting the Northeast region. My participation in these meetings has shown that there are many well informed, dedicated, energetic and committed individuals all trying to get the message out. Yes this an educational process but I think the group, although only one year old, will meet the challenge.
“On the brighter side, I must believe that the work of the second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas will be a valuable resource for planning growth in Wayne County. All we need to do is get the elected officials on board and aware of the value of the pristine environment and the attraction it has for eco-tourists, and therefore the economy. The Important Bird Area of the Upper Delaware can be a starting point for major awareness.”