Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where have all the flowers gone?

Happy tax day! The fact that it's Spring has me thinking about flowers. I know where they've gone for the Winter and look forward to their return unless they've been mined or plowed or polluted out of that possibility. If any of you have been reading with any regularity, you may have noticed I'm a bit of an unreconstructed hippie. One of my long-time heros, Pete Seeger, used to claim that he largely tweaked or adapted existing material to come up with classics like Where have all the flowers gone? The combination of Spring flowers coming and tax dollars going put me in mind of that song. Then I remembered the line "when will they ever learn" and I knew what I wanted to share today.

Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus)
Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus)
Photo by J. Harrington

Without much effort, I've come up with the list below, that pretty well seems to confirm my opinion that extractive industries (and I'm including politics here, tax day, remember?) have a growing and almost unsurmountable credibility gap. Just looking at recent and potentially pending environmental disasters, plus the handful of headlines and story extracts (sorry) I've culled shows me, and I hope you, what looks like signs of deep denial on the part of politicians, industry, and too many of us citizens. Tell me again why we're considering permitting copper-nickle mining to have an opportunity to pollute northern Minnesota and why agriculture continues to get a "pass" on many environmental requirements, especially water quality?

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Photo by J. Harrington

Deepwater oil spill: BP steps up PR effort to insist all is well in the Gulf
[the guardian, 31 March 2015]
"A representative from BP sent a statement, attributed to senior vice-president Geoff Morrell, that read in part: “The National Wildlife Federation report is a work of political advocacy … the dire predictions made in 2010 have fortunately not come to pass.”

"But even less political groups, like the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), seem to agree that BP is underplaying the spill’s continued impact. Earlier this month, NOAA said BP “misinterprets and misapplies” data to obscure the truth.

"People on the ground seem to agree – activists and residents of the area surrounding the Gulf of Mexico say oil is still being found on beaches, on private land and in the water. They say that in addition to having to deal with economic hardships and environmental damage, BP’s insistence that everything is getting better merely acts as salt on a not-yet-healed wound."
Shell boss calls fossil fuel critics 'naive' but admits Big Oil has 'credibility issue'
[the guardian, 11 February 2015]
“You cannot talk credibly about lowering emissions globally if, for example, you are slow to acknowledge climate change; if you undermine calls for an effective carbon price; and if you always descend into the ‘jobs v environment’ argument in the public debate.”
While Kiel & Fabian circle the manure spreaders, Free Press editors cite science on water quality
[Bluestem Prairie, 14 April 2015]
"We are proud to represent districts with a strong agriculture presence, and we know farmers are great stewards of our environment. They support clean water and best-management agriculture and environmental practices, but Dayton's plan is too strict, too overreaching and leaves little recourse for landowners losing farmland. . . . ."

Study: Pollution leaves no swimmable, fishable lakes in southwest MN
[MPR news, 4 March 2015]
Mount Polley mine spill: a hazard of Canada's industry-friendly attitude?
[the guardian, 13 August 2014]
"Despite the disturbing images of the area that filled Canada’s newspapers and television stations in the days after the spill, British Columbia’s government has insisted the dam failure is not an environmental disaster. The province’s minister of energy and mines also compared the flow of effluent and sludge to an avalanche, but in a positive light."
Don’t burden Minnesota taxpayers with PolyMet cleanup costs
[MinnPost, 15 April 2015, Community Voices]
The management of PolyMet and Glencore has skillfully set up an investment vehicle that leverages their investment by transferring risk to the taxpayers of Minnesota. Their losses are limited to what they put in up front, potentially creating a significant unfunded liability for the taxpayers of Minnesota.

In many ways, the PolyMet/Glencore model is reminiscent of the many creative financial structures that Wall Street brought us — where complex instruments such as credit default swaps were created to transfer toxic liabilities to someone else.

National Poetry Month


I hope you agree that these lyrics qualify as poetry. If you don't agree, please use the comments box to tell me why.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing?
Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago?
Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Words and Music by Pete Seeger (1955)
(c) 1961 (renewed) by Sanga Music Inc.

********************************************
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.