Friday, January 30, 2015

A job creation strategy for Minnesota?

It's going to be interesting to see how the 2016 elections play out. Greater Minnesotans, to use that term geographically, put the Republicans in charge of the House. That, combined with the fact that the Senate wasn't up for election, results in a Star Tribune report that reads (in part):
"Environmental laws are facing fresh scrutiny at the Capitol as a new Republican majority in the House and the sway of Iron Range DFLers in the Senate make their power felt."
It seems the reporter, or the legislature, or all of the above, may have missed the realization that jobs and the environment are mutually supportive, not contradictory. China's economy has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. Historically, China has not been known for strict environmental regulations. Beijing's mayor and the city's population could provide some guidance to those with insufficient environmental protections.
"The 21 million inhabitants of China’s capital appear to be engaged in a city-wide rehearsal for life on an inhospitable planet. Only it’s not a rehearsal: the poisonous atmosphere is already here."
source: Twitter

Without a lot of additional effort, we could create similar conditions for Minnesota. Is that the kind of future we want? Uninhabitable cities aren't great markets, except for oxygen masks. 
In Minnesota, we're already looking at 40% of our waters that don't meet water quality standards. The Reserve Mining case was settled before I moved here. Apparently, some folks aren't aware of it or have come to believe that it could never happen again. I wonder if those same folks noticed a very recent report identifying that 10% of Minnesota's North Shore infants have unhealthy levels of mercury in their bloodstreams. Instead of putting more Minnesotans (and tourists) at risk by weakening environmental protections, might it be possible for Minnesota's leaders (of both parties) to focus on the jobs created by protecting Minnesota's basic resources, her (our) lands, waters and, especially, people? Might that be a way to political success in 2016? Or, will both major political parties engage in a race to the bottom, to the detriment of Minnesota and Minnesotans, and then learn that Minnesotans still value their environment as well as their economy? Let's keep in mind that Minnesota isn't alone in facing these choices. If we work hard enough, quickly enough, we might have a soft landing and a decent platform to run on next year.

source: Guardian
[UPDATE: for an alternative perspective on the boundaries, see the sidebar's A Scientist’s View of ‘Planetary Boundaries’ from the Ground Up – in Rural India]

Butterfly with Parachute

By Stephen Burt 

A real one wouldn't need one,
but the one Nathan draws surely does:
four oblongs the size and color of popsicles,
green apple, toasted coconut and grape,
flanked, two per side, by billowing valentine hearts,
in a frame of Scotch tape.
Alive, it could stay off the floor,
for a few unaerodynamic minutes;
thrown as a paper airplane, for one or two more.

Very sensibly, therefore,
our son gave it something, not to keep it apart
from the ground forever, but rather to make safe its descent.
When we ask that imagination discover the limits
of the real
world only slowly,
maybe this is what we meant.


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