Monday, July 13, 2015

Do we know what's vulnerable to climate disruption?

There were some very noticeable storms that moved through much of Minnesota last night. Downed trees and power lines, property damage, including twisted audience stands at Brainerd Raceway, coincided with the news I saw this morning that Minneapolis has been rated #2 and St. Paul #8 in cities susceptibile to the effects of climate change (or, as we prefer, Anthropogenic Climate Disruption [ADC]). These comments regarding that list and how it was developed and thinking about what that may mean to inhabitants of an area on the list bring us right into the bioregional lap of where we, and the communities we live in, get our resources and what that means. We took one kind of look at some such questions a couple of years ago when we worked our way through the twenty question bioregional quiz Where you at? I have the sense that it might be interesting to see where the effects of climate change might intersect with the bioregional questions we previously explored. For example, the first question in that quiz is "1. Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap."

Mississippi River in Minneapolis
Mississippi River in Minneapolis
Photo by J. Harrington

Last night's storms, plus the terrible drought affecting the western states, brings to mind the question of whether increases in extreme weather events might change our overall precipitation pattern. Much of California's water supply is dependent on a disappearing Winter snowpack. Do Minneapolis and St. Paul's systems have similar points of possible failure as Anthropogenic Climate Change continues? The Mississippi River is the sole source of water for Minneapolis' system. The 2012 Sustainability Report for the city has no indicators for water supply. St. Paul also depends on the river, doesn't seem to have a sustainability plan with a water supply section, but does provide a linkage to an effort known as the Upper Mississippi River Source Protection Project which is a joint effort with Minneapolis, St. Cloud and others. A cursory review of the summary document shows a focus on protecting a water supply source from contaminants. I couldn't find a reference to any sort of risk analysis covering the long term viability of the source or risk ratings of potential contaminant sources and effects. As the Bakken Oil field rolling pipelines and the efforts to increase Alberta tar sands pipelines demonstrate, risk levels and sources can change moderately rapidly in today's world. Perhaps, given the susceptibility analyses for the Twin Cities, a risk review and response framework might be worth considering, or, if it already exists, consideration of making it more readily available might be reassuring.

where water comes together with other water

by Raymond Carver


I love creeks and the music they make.
And rills, in glades and meadows, before
they have a chance to become creeks.
I may even love them best of all
for their secrecy. I almost forgot
to say something about the source!
Can anything be more wonderful than a spring?
But the big streams have my heart too.
And the places streams flow into rivers.
The open mouths of rivers where they join the sea.
The places where water comes together
with other water. Those places stand out
in my mind like holy places.
But these coastal rivers!
I love them the way some men love horses
or glamorous women. I have a thing
for this cold swift water.
Just looking at it makes my blood run
and my skin tingle. I could sit
and watch these rivers for hours.
Not one of them like any other.
I'm 45 years old today.
Would anyone believe it if I said
I was once 35?
My heart empty and sere at 35!
Five more years had to pass
before it began to flow again.
I'll take all the time I please this afternoon
before leaving my place alongside this river.
It pleases me, loving rivers.
Loving them all the way back
to their source.
Loving everything that increases me. 


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