Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Putting global warming and water waste on ice

My Minnesota has been writing quite a bit recently about water resources and consumption and conservation and, a little bit, about non-consumptive wildlife use. (The local tree frog seems to appreciate our use of gator bags.)

tree frog hiding in a gator bag
Photo by J. Harrington

Minnesota, I believe, has an opportunity to take a national, perhaps international, leadership role in sustainable and restorative development. We have most of the basic framework in place. I've lived in this state and metro region long enough to know that nature, even, especially, in our urban areas, is a big part of our quality of life. In Minneapolis, I've seen bald eagles flying, huge murders of crows leaving and heading toward their urban roosts and flocks of geese coming and going in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. I'm concerned that we think we'll always have nature as part of our lives even if we don't do much to provide for it (her?).

As an example, more than a few gallons of Minnesota's water goes to keeping our Kentucky Bluegrass green. According to the USDA, many Great Plains states and Wisconsin have it listed as an invasive species. Minnesota DNR has it listed as a harmful exotic. I believe a number of local governments, as part of their efforts to protect property values, have mowing requirements. We know that native plant species require less maintenance, including mowing and watering. I'm wondering how property values will hold up in the future if home buyers have a choice between brown bluegrass and native plantings. Take a close look at your neighborhood rain garden the next time you pass by one. Most I've seen are full of native flowers. The last I heard or read, bluegrass, unlike flowers, doesn't provide much for honeybees. I'm obviously in favor of bird's and bees and flowers and think that grass should be primarily for medicinal use. We've got some volunteer sunflowers coming up in front of the house where the bird feeder was before the neighborhood bear needed a snack. The local bees seem to like them.

volunteer sun flower with bee
Photo by J. Harrington

Responding to global warming climate change is catching people's attention. Another example: I can think of few things that are more Minnesotan than a love of hockey. I was really pleased to learn this morning that the National Hockey League is working toward becoming more sustainable because of their (and our) concerns about global warming climate change. (They've been at this for 3 and a half years now. Somehow, I missed it.) The article notes "So what if, due to climate change and freshwater scarcity, there were no more frozen ponds on which to skate?" Now, I was much more a hockey fan when I lived in Boston and followed the Bruins and Bobby Orr, who's quoted in the story. On the other hand, I don't think we should be less concerned about global warming and water scarcity than the NHL. Do you?


By Gail Mazur
In the warming house, children lace their skates,   
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,

clumping across the frozen beach to the river.   
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,

the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men

with wooden barriers to put up the boys’   
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,

of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,

then—twilight, the warming house steamy   
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs

aching. Outside, the hockey players keep   
playing, slamming the round black puck

until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.

Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,

braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,

find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?

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