Monday, May 12, 2014

Minnesota warms up to climate change

Last year the rose breasted grosbeaks and the scarlet tanagers showed up about the same time of year as their arrival this year. The trees this year seem to be leafing out a little later, but I looked a a photo from mid-May last year and the difference is leaf development doesn't seem to vary radically.

May 14, 2103 leaf development
May 14, 2103 leaf development           © harrington

Recently, I've been doing more reading on the effects of climate change in Minnesota, particularly the expectation that there will be a difference in forest composition. Last Autumn, when we traveled to the North Shore, we noticed a number of dead birch trees. The dieback was noticeable in 2008. There's a variety of ideas about causes and contributing factors, including increased soil temperatures due to climate change. The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has a number of resources on climate change, impacts, and adaptation. There are more linked reports on their website, more than any sane person, or even a geek like me, will take the time to read. The recent editorial in the Star Tribune isn't a bad place to start, although we don't think Rolf Nordstrom's assessment that Minnesota is ahead of other states in the midwest is the metric we need if we're going to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. I'm pleased that Minnesota's Clean Energy Resource Teams and Envision Minnesota found a home with the Great Plains Institute that Nordstrom heads. I'm disappointed that not enough Minnesotans were willing to contribute to the valuable work being done by each of those formerly separate organizations to keep them independent.

Nor are we well served by an energy utility that opposes subsidies for solar. Perhaps instead of more mining jobs, the Iron Range should do more with biomass energy? My Minnesota continues to assert that the choice between jobs and the environment is a false choice. Clean energy and retrofitting our existing building stock can create jobs and improve our environment more than a Sandpiper pipeline ever could. It's time we saw more grassroots support and political leadership on each of the fronts we will need to pursue through our transition to a clean energy, steady state economy.

Instead of posting a poem today, we invite you to see what the latest Climate Change report looks like as 19 illustrated haiku (scroll down the linked page).