Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The urgency of now

photo of snow on pine needles
© harrington
Welcome. Come in. Get warm. This was a day to be grateful for a functioning furnace and working snowblower. By Thursday, we'll be back to daily snow melt and mud making. Have you noticed that there are cycles within cycles within cycles with years and seasons and months measuring ... what? If we can't step into the same river twice (Heraclitus) doesn't that mean we should be more attentive to now? We change, rivers flow, times are  a-changing according to at least one well-known Minnesotan. Back when I was in college, one of my sociology professors made a point of emphasizing that technological change usually occurred faster than society could adapt to it. I wouldn't be surprised to find that climate change may happen faster than we can successfully adapt to it. Much of the emphasis thus far (350.org, the opposition to the XL pipeline) has been on reducing the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While I agree that's necessary, aren't we beyond the stage where it's sufficient? What can we accomplish in our Minnesota that helps us to both mitigate AND adapt? First, we can forget the argument that economic growth is stifled by environmental regulations. An MIT economist, among others, has found that "The odds that environmentalism could be negatively associated with job losses at the state level are extremely poor: slightly more than one to thirty one. We can safely reject the notion that state environmentalism resulted in economically meaningful job losses. [ The Economic Impact of Environmental Regulation - MIT] Then we can look for options that both mitigate or minimize impacts (greenhouse gas creation) and help adapt at the same time. For example, how about a program to finance the moderate rehabilitation of our houses paid for through the energy savings created by the rehab? Most existing houses are in cities and towns. Creating better cities and towns helps protect the environment of My Minnesota in a number of ways. I've seen proposals that urge green rehabilitation of existing buildings as a way to increase energy conservation, save money, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I don't recall seeing the additional benefit of (re)building better communities listed as a way to rebuild Main Street. Maybe because we haven't been mindful enough of taking care of and building on what we have in our Minnesota? Newer and bigger isn't always better in My Minnesota. Rants and raves served daily. Stop back soon.