Saturday, May 9, 2015

Our shared future

The season keeps moving through its milestones. Did you get out for the walleye opener? Are you ready for Mother's Day tomorrow? So far, though, no signs of the local arrival of hummingbirds, tanagers or orioles.

scarlet tanager on deck rail
scarlet tanager on deck rail
Photo by J. Harrington

One of the convenient things about salt water fishing back in Massachusetts was that there was no "opening day" and so no opening day madness or potential conflicts with other significant days like Mother's Day. I usually started fishing for flounder in March or April, whenever it got warm enough to fish from the beach, and by May was anxiously looking forward to the return of striped bass from their wintering grounds in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Since I've last fished for a striper, their population status has become more carefully monitored and current restrictions on harvest look surprisingly similar to those established this year for Mille Lacs' walleyes. Although I found no reference to any prohibition on night fishing for stripers, the total harvest takes into account both gill nets and hook and line fishing as major elements. Dennis Anderson has an encouraging story in today's Star Tribune about joint management of the walleye harvest in Lake Vermillion, where some use nets and others hooks, lines and jigs. I made a mistake by looking at the comments on the story and once again realized that "haters gonna' hate." We humans seem stuck with a persistent difference in world views and approaches to management of shared resources. What looks like an increasing unwillingness on the part of too many of us to find workable, successful compromises makes me concerned about our future.

wind turbine, Morris Minnesota
wind turbine, Morris Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

Naomi Klein references such issues with pleasantly surprising insights and perspectives toward the end of her book on climate change, This Changes Everything. I think she makes a persuasive case that we've gone from simply extracting resources from nature to undermining the very life forces we rely on to maintain a habitable planet. She uses the impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil blowout as a case in point. This shifts the focus on  climate change factors from just the massive destructiveness of the fossil fuel industry to one that strongly reinforces my belief that we need to change to complete reliance on renewable energy as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, our Republican-controlled House is trying to gut many of our existing energy programs. According to Conservation Minnesota,
"The Minnesota House of Representatives recently voted on a number of changes to our nation leading clean energy laws. The legislation (HF 843) passed by a vote of 73-56 and would make the following changes:
  • Repeals the state's 10% solar energy goal.
  • Repeals Minnesota’s carbon pollution reduction goals.
  • Ends our state's energy conservation programs that have saved enough energy to avoid the cost to consumers of building 9 new power plants.
  • Makes it possible for utilities to increase the rates residential customers pay for electricity so that they can offer reduced rates to large business customers."
I grew up at a time when the assessment was "Only Nixon could go to China." I understood that perspective and it makes me wonder where in hell today's Republicans think they're trying to take the rest of us. Climate change i expected to do more harm to those with lower incomes. Greater Minnesotans have incomes lower than those in "The Cities." The Republicans attained control of the House by winning seats in Greater Minnesota. Then they came up with a strategy of depriving greater Minnesota of wind farms and solar farms which would help our rural population and businesses to both save money and earn income? Do you suppose we could get the Republicans to take some lessons on sharing the good from the folks in Tower, Cook and the Bois Forte Reservation?


By Kenneth Rexroth 
I don’t mind the human race.   
I’ve got pretty used to them   
In these past twenty-five years.   
I don’t mind if they sit next   
To me on streetcars, or eat   
In the same restaurants, if   
It’s not at the same table.   
However, I don’t approve   
Of a woman I respect
Dancing with one of them. I’ve   
Tried asking them to my home   
Without success. I shouldn’t   
Care to see my own sister   
Marry one. Even if she
Loved him, think of the children.   
Their art is interesting,   
But certainly barbarous.   
I’m sure, if given a chance,   
They’d kill us all in our beds.   
And you must admit, they smell.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.