Thursday, February 9, 2017

Try a political climate stress test on your life's #phenology

From today until tomorrow, much (all?) of Minnesota will undergo a 40℉ or 50℉ temperature swing. It now looks as though March will arrive before Valentines Day. The East Coast is getting pounded with a major snow storm a day or so after enjoying peak warm temperatures (>60℉ in NYC).

I know that in many instances, an early, warm Spring, interrupted by a late killing frost, can devastate a fruit crop like apples or cherries. I'm guessing that, if the trees aren't killed, they'll try to produce again the next year. What happens if there's a failure several years in a row or say, like 3 out of 5 years? Will we have to wait to see whether our current food system can survive such a stress test?

can rural America thrive with polluted air, water or government?
can rural America thrive with polluted air, water or government?
Photo by J. Harrington

I find that question distressingly similar to the rate and kind of change going on in the national capital and a number of state capitals these days. Is the American public ready to see the Environmental Protection Agency dismembered or eliminated? Do we really want to go back to air quality like that in China's cities and the Cuyahoga River catching fire? Is that what folks voted for last November?

From what I can see thus far, the way being pursued to "Make America Great Again" is to win a race to the bottom by disparaging or disposing of science, facts, laws, rules and existing policies and procedures. Stress testing government in real time seems to me to be a highly risky strategy, especially since Republicans seem to want to hear only their own voices. We all know that monocultures are rarely resilient.

I'd like to suggest that folks consider using a toolkit developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but apply it to your life and the changes being made or proposed by our elected officials instead of climate change stresses. Think of it as a political climate stress test. If you find that the political climate changes in your state or national capital are excessively stressing assets you value (health care, public lands, drinking water, Medicare, Social Security, local schools, etc.), remember that you can change the hot air causing these problems in November 2018, or even sooner in some instances. Locally, we get to choose next week, on Valentines Day. I hope we choose wisely each opportunity we have. As Lao Tzu tells us, "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."


By Walt Whitman

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

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