Saturday, May 25, 2019

"Failure is not an option," better legislating is required.

The 2019 Minnesota legislative session, and the special session needed because the #mnleg couldn't finish its work within the constitutional deadline, is now history. Unfortunately, at a time when the effects of climate breakdown are becoming more and more apparent, the session(s) response to a climate emergency ended as, according to MinnPost,
‘An absolute failure’: Why the Legislature’s energy and climate budget does a whole lot of nothing
 If you're old enough, or enough of a movie buff, you may remember the wonderful quote from the 1995 movie, Apollo 13, "Failure is not an option." The same is true of our need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and incorporate energy efficiency as expediently and safely as possible. Minnesotans should be ashamed of this recent legislative failure. Too many opportunities will get missed with essentially no time to make up for those misses. We're facing a deadline of 2030, 11 years away.

solar panels, organic farm, Northern Minnesota
solar panels, organic farm, Northern Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

If you were ever a child, if you have a child or children, if you hope to have a child or children, if you care about any child or children, DO NOT LET THOSE WHO CLAIM TO REPRESENT US FAIL US THIS WAY! If we want to be able to honestly claim "we're better than this," we need to demonstrate it.

We, as citizens, residents, inhabitants, occupants, and/or voters in Minnesota have a chance to further convince our elected "leaders" of the absolute necessity to fix their failure as soon as possible. A call for a global strike on September 20, 2019, has been issued. We've received reports that a group called Minnesotans for a Livable Planet are organizing Community Summits on September 22, 2019 to coincide with a United Nations Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019.

solar powered business, Ely, Minnesota
solar powered business, Ely, Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

We plan to be involved with other Minnesotans in the strike and the summits. The county in which we live has had solar farms erupting like mushrooms after a wet Spring. Many of them could be improved and economically enhanced by incorporating pollinator-friendly plantings under the solar panels, providing an economic boost to farmers and rural Minnesota. We are rapidly entering an age in which we need to design and develop not one-fers, but two-fers, three-fers, and more-fers. There's more than enough work to be done. Please consider joining us.

My Century


Alan Feldman


The year I was born the atomic bomb went off.
Here I’d just begun, and someone
found the switch to turn off the world.

In the furnace-light, in the central solar fire
of that heat lamp, the future got very finite,
and it was possible to imagine time-travelers

failing to arrive, because there was no time
to arrive in. Inside the clock in the hall
heavy brass cylinders descended.

Tick-tock, the chimes changed their tune
one phrase at a time. The bomb became
a film star, its glamorous globe of smoke

searing the faces of men in beach chairs.
Someone threw up every day at school.
No time to worry about collective death,

when life itself was permeated by ordeals.
And so we grew up accepting things.
In bio we learned there were particles

cruising through us like whales through archipelagoes,
and in civics that if Hitler had gotten the bomb
he’d have used it on the inferior races,

and all this time love was etching its scars
on our skins like maps. The heavens
remained pure, except for little white slits

on the perfect blue skin that planes cut
in the icy upper air, like needles sewing.
From one, a tiny seed might fall

that would make a sun on earth.
And so the century passed, with me still in it,
books waiting on the shelves to become cinders,

what we felt locked up inside, waiting to be read,
down the long corridor of time. I was born
the year the bomb exploded. Twice

whole cities were charred like cities in the Bible,
but we didn’t look back. We went on thinking
we could go on, our shapes the same,

darkened now against a background lit by fire.
Forgive me for doubting you’re there,
Citizens, on your holodecks with earth wallpaper—

a shadow-toned ancestor with poorly pressed pants,
protected like a child from knowing the future.


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Friday, May 24, 2019

Shady invaders #phenology

Our local temperature is in the mid-50s. Skies are cloudy all day. This is far from ideal weather at the start of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of Summer. Still, it's a marked improvement over the conditions only four months ago when the outside temperature was about 80℉ less than it is today. The "outside" reading in the picture below is the temperature, not the wind chill, of -31℉ at about 7:15 am on January 31.

Minnesota Winter temperatures
Minnesota Winter temperatures
Photo by J. Harrington

It's entirely possible, maybe even probable, that in 6 or 8 weeks or so, we'll be complaining about heat and humidity, or, the continuation of cool, cloudy weather. We repeat here what we've said and written a number of times already: Minnesota would be a much more pleasant place to live if our average temperatures and precipitation amounts weren't comprised of such extremes.

Because we have a habit of reading more than is good for us, and character flaws that tend toward lots of worry and fretting, this week we've started to wonder about the relationship between a broken climate and invasive species. Our position is that we've earned our right to fret because we've been pulling buckthorn for the past three years while we've not seen Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) do aught but encourage others to "manage" buckthorn on their own property. We'd be less Eeyore-ish if MNDNR would walk their talk.

most of this buckthorn understory is gone now
most of this buckthorn understory is gone now
Photo by J. Harrington

It appears that buckthorn isn't the only invasive plant that tends to outcompete native plants. Nature's Notebook, brought to us by the USA National Phenology Network, has some interesting and informative information on invasive shrubs, those Shady Invaders. They didn't include buckthorn as one of the invasive species studied, but buckthorn shares a trait known as "Extended Leaf Phenology (ELP), and allows these early-leafing invaders to take advantage of the greater amount of light reaching the forest floor in early spring." Since Minnesota's Winters are reported to be warming more than our Summers, those concerned with invasive species should note that "Given predictions of warmer spring temperatures across the East due to climate change, we could see an increased advantage of invasive species across latitudes in the future."

All of the preceding has us contemplating if we humans have yet developed a sufficiently holistic perspective to exercise healthy stewardship of the environment on which we depend, or if we will spend much of a prematurely shortened existence swatting at symptoms of fractured biodiversity as if they were mosquitos. Remember John Muir's observation: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."

Extinction


by Jackie Kay


We closed the borders, folks, we nailed it.
No trees, no plants, no immigrants.
No foreign nurses, no Doctors; we smashed it.
We took control of our affairs. No fresh air.
No birds, no bees, no HIV, no Poles, no pollen.
No pandas, no polar bears, no ice, no dice.
No rainforests, no foraging, no France.
No frogs, no golden toads, no Harlequins.
No Greens, no Brussels, no vegetarians, no lesbians.
No carbon curbed emissions, no Co2 questions.
No lions, no tigers, no bears. No BBC picked audience.
No loony lefties, please. No politically correct classes.
No classes. No Guardian readers. No readers.
No emus, no EUs, no Eco warriors, no Euros,
No rhinos, no zebras, no burnt bras, no elephants.
We shut it down! No immigrants, no immigrants.
No sniveling-recycling-global-warming nutters.
Little man, little woman, the world is a dangerous place.
Now, pour me a pint, dear. Get out of my fracking face.


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