Friday, November 22, 2013

Will climate change us?

This morning a delightful, and useful, discovery was brought to me via The site has a piece on "What's Design Got to Do with Environmental Solutions?" Since I'm interested in the arts, design and environmental issues, it caught my eye. The mnartists' article was largely about the redesign of a website (ensia) from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. ensia deserves kudos for both its design and its content. The features are well written, topical, informative and thought provoking. The notables are brief and insightful. I've been only to ready to rant about things in My Minnesota which don't, in my opinion, warrant our approval. I'm really happy to be able to note in this case, well done U of M IoE. I'll return regularly to see what's new and notable on ensia. (For reference, I regularly read a number of blogs and web sites on the environment and sustainability. The increase in depth and thoughtfulness of the content at ensia, compared to the sites I've been reading, is remarkable.) Now, if we can get Minnesota's leadership (political, intellectual and business) to convince us that there are distinct advantages to making Minnesota the most sustainable state in the union, we'll really have something going for us.

snow fringed pond covered with ice
 backwoods beauty            © harrington

We live where the diversity of the natural beauty is magnificent. We know that wasting resources (natural, human or capital) isn't a best business practice. Yet we persist in engaging in the fallacy that we are faced with a choice between jobs and the environment. Not so. Germany has one of the strongest economies in Europe and is leading the world in the transition to renewable energy. I'd like to see Minnesota in a similar position in the US. Renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs are likely to pay better and last longer than jobs created through sulfide mining. Cook County is reported to be making progress with their broadband internet initiative. Such efforts will help create additional employment opportunities. Minnesota is competing in a global economy. It seems to me we should be looking to win a race to the top and concede the race to the bottom to China. If any of you are old enough to have seen the movie The Graduate, you may remember the great line about one word "plastics." Today, I'd say the one word is "energy." To which we could add renewable or efficiency, either has a lot to do with design and the environment. Maybe we'll reach a point where most of us learn to work with nature instead of trying to dominate her. Maybe not. I've read that 400 ppm carbon dioxide is the maximum we can reach and not trigger more than a 2 degree temperature increase. We've still got 2 or 3 ppm to go. We have time to adjust and keep snowy winters in Minnesota. Don't we? Or we may end up:

Minnesota winter wonderland
Minnesota Winter 2013      © harrington


By Pura López-Colomé 

Enormous solids were falling
from who knows what heights,
who knows what places.
I trembled,
and in my mouth
an inky taste. Precise.

Hail, maybe,
enormous kernels of ice;
coming down,
with a scandalous impact,
didn't bury me, terrorized,
under the covers.
It didn't happen, it wasn't that.

A below zero temperature   
circulated through the soft center of my bones.
A truly searing cold.   

Nothing having to do with monsters came to pass.
Nothing to do with interminable distances.
No brutal incidents.
Only the agony of acorns.
Only a cycle that completes itself
every few years
and transforms into a tropical forest
a choiring oak grove.   

Which is the fear.