Monday, September 14, 2015

A circle game for Minnesota's economy

We haven't yet had a hard frost, so this week can't be Indian Summer, but that doesn't mean we can't really enjoy it. Color is growing in our woodlands and forests as we can see from the top photo, taken yesterday.

late Summer colors
late Summer colors
Photo by J. Harrington

Soon, green will no longer predominate and we'll be enjoying lots of this,

early Autumn colors
early Autumn colors
Photo by J. Harrington

before we get to this:

late Autumn colors
late Autumn colors
Photo by J. Harrington

While I've been writing and adding the photos, the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's fantastic song, The Circle Game, have been playing in my head.
"And the seasons, they go 'round and 'round"
Then the song's title put me in mind of something I think Minnesota would benefit from actively exploring, called The Circular Economy. Done well, it offers the prospect of an answer to an increasing array of issues we're facing, many of which we've faced before: The Iron Range is once again experiencing the bust part of a boom and bust of a reliance on mining. Farmers are looking at losing money on a bumper (bummer?) harvest. Forestry is losing markets as paper mills close. The Mille Lacs walleye fishery Summeer season was closed early this year and may or may not be able to safely accommodate the governor's wishes for an ice fishing season. Time to change the game as well as the rules? Take a look at this schematic. Note how many of the pieces Minnesota already has in place. We need to do some rearranging and gap filling and adjust our perspectives a bit. That might also help us transition mining into a sustainable part of our economy while we become more restorative. Here's some basic conclusions from the paper on making hardrock mining sustainable.
"Developing a sustainable hardrock mining industry requires society to consider the relative value of the environment, social equity, and economic prosperity. Deciding where, when, and how to allow mining and mineral processing operations should no longer be based solely on the location of ores. The gospel of unlimited growth can no longer dominate important decisions about the exploitation of the earth’s mineral wealth, our natural capital. Many other considerations must guide the siting, operation, and closure of mining and mineral processing facilities. Additional considerations include the sustainability principles described in United Nations Agenda 21, which include the public trust doctrine, the principle of reciprocating procession derived from indigenous knowledge of the traditional Native American Indian cultures (fundamentally cooperative and collaborative),287 the conservation, preservation and restoration land ethic, and the principles of free and fair trade described in the world trade systems. Adapting modern principles to ancient doctrines and traditions will guide the sustainable development of hardrock mining and mineral processing in appropriate locations with adequate protections for human health and the environment, including not only preservation of natural landscapes, but significantly mitigate the horrible pollution and human health disasters at mining sites worldwide."
We have the tools if we want to use them. Do we want to make Minnesota's economy sustainable?

Late Summer

By Jennifer Grotz 
Before the moths have even appeared
to orbit around them, the streetlamps come on,
a long row of them glowing uselessly
along the ring of garden that circles the city center,
where your steps count down the dulling of daylight.
At your feet, a bee crawls in small circles like a toy unwinding.
Summer specializes in time, slows it down almost to dream.
And the noisy day goes so quiet you can hear
the bedraggled man who visits each trash receptacle
mutter in disbelief: Everything in the world is being thrown away!
Summer lingers, but it’s about ending. It’s about how things
redden and ripen and burst and come down. It’s when
city workers cut down trees, demolishing
one limb at a time, spilling the crumbs
of twigs and leaves all over the tablecloth of street.
Sunglasses! the man softly exclaims
while beside him blooms a large gray rose of pigeons
huddled around a dropped piece of bread.

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