Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Minnesota: a climate change bellwether?

I've read, time and again, that California is a bellwether state. That may be true on a number of topics, but when it comes to responding to climate change, Minnesota may edge out California. There's a buzz going about in the news and on social media about the fact that "State lawmakers set a goal in 2007 of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050." Coverage is conveniently failing to mention the probability the Minnesota isn't going to come close to meeting the 2025 goal, according to this 2015 report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Here's the key statement:
The forecasted emissions, without additional reduction efforts, fall short of the 2030 reduction goal. The CSEO project is evaluating various policies for their ability to reduce Minnesota’s GHG emissions with consideration given to the cost of the reduction in emissions and opportunities for economic development and job creation in the state.
report on Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions

The forecasted emissions may well simply reflect the trend shown in the current emission reductions. The time period in question, from 2005 to 2030, is twenty-five years. The time period reported on is the seven years from 2005 to 2012. Emission reductions during that period average 1% per year. Trends extended would result in a twenty-five year reduction of 25%, not the 30% goal.

One of the most important messages to come out of the recent meetings leading to the Paris agreement on climate change is that the existing commitments are insufficient to limit warming to 2 degrees, let alone the 1.5 degree aspirational goal.
Minnesota's being called a leader showing the world how to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets (or perhaps its just in setting the targets). I'm not disparaging what's been accomplished in Minnesota to adapt to and minimize climate change, but I want to be sure we all realize it's nowhere near enough.
Forget the damn goals, PERFORM! Thank you on behalf of existing and future generations. For now, Minnesota's "leadership" shows what we can expect as results unless we drastically improve, not only our goals, but, more critically, our actions and outcomes. That's bellwether behavior, I think.


By Billy Collins 
Remember the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.

The 1790s will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess. 

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