Monday, February 23, 2015

Does Minnesota's legislature have a climate change adaptation strategy?

Do you know that the mining industry has a 2013 report on how to adapt their operations to climate change? Even prior to that, the David Suzuki Foundation underwrote a 2009 study CLIMATE CHANGE AND CANADIAN MINING: OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADAPTATION. Now I for one have never considered the mining industry to be particularly progressive. On the other hand, the David Suzuki Foundation is a leader in sustainable development and quality of life. As for My Minnesota, the National Resources Defense Council recommends that Minnesota pick up the pace, so to speak, on our climate change adaptation efforts. Their major recommendations are that:

Minnesota's Wild and Scenic St. Croix River
Minnesota's Wild and Scenic St. Croix River
Photo by J. Harrington

  • Minnesota should prioritize and focus on consolidating the existing fragmented adaptation approach into a single state - level planning effort that connects all relevant parties and agencies. This statewide initiative should develop specific, goal - driven actions for state agencies and local governments to implement.

  • To reduce pollution and the state’s contribution to climate change, Minnesota should implement concrete and mandatory measures to reduce statewide greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Minnesota should move strongly toward the implementation of these “no regrets ” strategies, which address existing water quantity and quality issues as well as build resilience to future temperature and precipitation changes associated with climate change.

Minnesota's scenic Lake Superior
Minnesota's scenic Lake Superior
Photo by J. Harrington

Rather than belabor the point here, of whether Minnesota has yet  acted on those recommendations or any like them, you might want to think about asking your legislator, particularly if you're from the Iron Range, what they've done, or are doing, to help Minnesota work with its basic economic sectors, including mining, to adapt to one of the biggest threats our economy is facing. A very, very quick scan of the ICMM report leads me to believe that Minnesota is likely to face problems and / or miss opportunities if we don't promptly follow up on the NRDC's recommendations. Based on our own 2013 report, I think we may be faced with a "locking the barn door after the horse is gone" situation. Not to single out the Department of Natural Resources, but in the 2013 Adaptation Report, they state:
Adaptation Strategy Project
DNR’s Climate Change Adaptation Team is completing the identification and evaluation of adaptation strategies for forests, wetlands, open systems, and aq uatic systems this summer. Adaptation strategies for water resources will be identified in early 2014. [emphasis added]
If the strategies were indeed identified in early 2014, I would hope to be able to find reference to those strategies somewhere on the DNR web site. I can't. If anyone can point me to them, please do so in the comments section for this page.

I'm more and more seeing climate change adaptation as akin to cancer. We know that early detection and treatment increase the patient's prognosis, but all to often we don't want to face the prospect of bad news. Then we take more of a "we'll get to it when we can approach" that I don't think will serve us well over time. We seem to have a penchant for confusing the urgent with the important.

[UPDATE: Here's an additional insight into increasing volatility.]

from constant change figures

By Lyn Hejinian 

constant change figures
the time we sense
passing on its effect
surpassing things we've known before
since memory
of many things is called
experience
but what of what
we call nature's picture
surpassing things we call
since memory
we call nature's picture
surpassing things we've known before
constant change figures
experience
passing on its effect
but what of what
constant change figures
since memory
of many things is called
the time we sense
called nature's picture
but what of what
in the time we sense
surpassing things we've known before
passing on its effect
is experience


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