Sunday, February 3, 2013

Flooded with ideas

photo of storm clouds over new development
© harrington
Yesterday I skimmed through an interesting post in Planetizen that led me to the full Scientific American post on geodesign (not geoengineering). If, in Minnesota, we're going to try to minimize  problems that arise from spring flooding in the Mississippi and Minnesota basins, or to help Duluth be successful at replacing their washed out infrastructure, I thought maybe we should learn more about better ways to respond to our tendency "in recent years to overdevelop land at the expense of natural habitats, as well as population growth and climate change, which have left communities increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters..." I was heartened to see that Tom Fisher, Dean of the College of Design at the U played a prominent role in a recent conference on geodesign, not in Minnesota but in California. Then I noticed that My Minnesota was not mentioned among the places actually applying geodesign. I was dismayed. But then I remembered that here in Minnesota, we decided several years ago that having a state planning agency was an unnecessary expense. Since our economy is recovering faster than those of our neighboring midwestern states, that must have been one of the reasons. In Latin that approach is called "post hoc, ergo propter hoc." You run into a lot of that kind of reasoning in political circles, especially those that deny climate change is either occurring, or largely attributable to human activities, or both, as in "So if climate change isn't occurring than it can't be responsible for the increasing frequency and intensity of storms that have been occurring recently and we don't have to do anything about it because the insurance companies (profit making job creating private sector) will pay off claims so folks can rebuild right where they were and we can all go merrily on our way and geodesign is totally unnecessary and will no doubt lead to more job killing regulation." I'm glad we settled that. Let's see how much deeper into the sand we can push our heads, or maybe we should ask Dean Fisher to share with us his insights on how geodesign might benefit Minnesota. I'd go to a local conference like that, even if it didn't fill the River Center. How about you?