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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

We Are Heating The Planet - And Doing Little To Stop It

Category: Environment
Posted: 08/02/17 01:07

by Dave Mindeman

It is getting very discouraging. Climate scientists are almost beyond the point of warnings - now they are trying to let us know what we should expect and try to prepare for it. New studies are out.

From environmentalist, Bill McKibben, familiar with 2 new studies:

"These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we're in even hotter water than we'd thought. We're a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response -- especially in the United States -- has been pathetically underwhelming."

Underwhelming is probably an understatement. The US, under Trump, is actively undermining the little progress we have made.

"The 2 degree mark -- that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- was set by the 2016 Paris Agreement....If we surpass that mark, it has been estimated by scientists that life on our planet will change as we know it. Rising seas, mass extinctions, super droughts, increased wildfires, intense hurricanes, decreased crops and fresh water and the melting of the Arctic are expected. The impact on human health would be profound. Rising temperatures and shifts in weather would lead to reduced air quality, food and water contamination, more infections carried by mosquitoes and ticks.

One of the studies concludes that even if we could cut off emissions in the next 15 years (assuming that we act with intensity world wide), we still will reach 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.

We keep thinking that we just have to do something...off somewhere in the future. But these studies indicate that the baseline we are establishing now is not something we can really reverse. We can only put the damage to the climate on hold...and only if we seriously act.

We are once again beyond climate "change" - we are heating up the planet.

About Paris

Category: Environment
Posted: 06/03/17 11:53

by Dave Mindeman

When Donald Trump opted out of the Paris Agreement, most people believe that he followed the lead of Steve Bannon. The former Breitbart exec is not so much a climate denier (although he espouses that sentiment) as he is an anti-globalist. He thinks of any international cooperation as a threat to our own national sovereignty. If you think that is delusional, you are right; but a large majority of Trump's base think in those terms.

If the climate "facts" that Trump sited are any indication, Bannon filled Trump's head (and remember it does not hold much) with debunked studies and selective information on other studies. It was a typical piece of Breitbart information.

That is no way to make a major decision.

There is a positive in what Trump did here. It united the world and a large portion of this country into a more united front on climate. The attention has brought out more informative facts. The alarm bells were raised with more people listening. Trump took us out of an agreement which was largely voluntary, but it gave us guidelines to follow. Those guidelines can still be done with or without Trump's help.

The world will be looking less to the US for leadership because of this. And as long as Trump is President that may be a good thing. In a way, the rest of the globe will have to examine their own contribution to climate change in a more realistic way - and not wait for the US to weigh in.

Don't get me wrong - Trump pulling out of Paris is a big deal. And the policies that may result could be very harmful. But their is a strong resistance. Trump can only control so much - it is up to us to make things work.

It always has been.

Daudt: A Meaningless Mining Company Resolution

Category: Environment
Posted: 05/01/17 23:32

by Dave Mindeman

Kurt Daudt was proud to announce that he passed a mining resolution at the GOP central committee meeting last Saturday.

He followed up with his usual press release...

"Democrats made a pretty big mistake by ignoring the economy on the Range and the importance of mining to not only the Range economy, but the entire state," he said. "We need the Iron Range to be healthy, and that helps everyone in the state. We understand that."

Well, it took me awhile but I found the wording of this resolution:

WHEREAS, there are more than 5,000 jobs directly tied to Minnesota's mining industry; and
WHEREAS, the unemployment rate along the Iron Range is almost twice as high as the unemployment rate for the State of Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, new mining projects along the Iron Range will create 360 permanent mining-related jobs and 830 temporary construction jobs; and
WHEREAS, the Minnesota Democrat-Farm-Labor (DFL) Party has failed to pass a resolution supporting new mining projects; and
WHEREAS, the Dayton Administration has used the environmental review process to unnecessarily delay the approval of economic development projects across northern Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, Minnesota Republicans believe we can responsibly protect the environment while at the same time taking advantage of our natural resources to create jobs and grow the economy along the Iron Range and across Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, the Republican Party of Minnesota Platform states, "we should follow commonsense practices in forest, wetlands and wildlife management, and promote multiple uses of natural resources in most cases. Republicans encourage free enterprise in the agricultural economy, and support technological advances in the creation, processing and use of agricultural products and natural resources;"
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Committee affirms its commitment to support mining and finds that responsible mining of our natural resources has the ability to usher in a wave of economic development across Minnesota.

OK, yes, we can safely say that Daudt and the Republican Party support mining...they support the mining industry. But you know what two words are conspicuously missing? Mining Workers.

Republicans have always supported mining companies. They are unconditional in that support.

They support mining companies that pollute.
They support mining companies that replace jobs via robotics.
They support mining companies that bankrupt their way out of obligations.
They support mining companies that bust up unions.

Yes, the Republican support for mining companies is absolute.

But their support for everything else is not part of that resolution. The reason the Democrats have hesitated on their own resolution is that they are still looking for that compatible goal of mining jobs and environmental protection. It is a slow, painstaking process and I understand the frustration of people that are unemployed in the range.

But economic development and jobs cannot just depend on the re-emergence of mining. Just like the coal industry, those jobs are not really coming back. Mining companies have replaced workers with technology and even when they do open a mine, they bring in outside workers that may work at most 20 years at a mining site.

Here is the goods for Polymet - from their own website...

Our project will employ 360 workers directly, create more than 600 indirect jobs, and generate an estimated $515 million annually for St. Louis County.

Those are estimates and although the "resolution" gets that number right, it is not the kind of jobs sea change that is going to solve any economic problems of the range. Why risk an environmental treasure like the Boundary Waters over a few hundred jobs? Why not work to create more tourism in the area. Jobs that will be permanent and enhance the environment?

And here is more from Polymet.....

Polymet itself predicts that 55 percent of the jobs would be "non-local" and filled by individuals relocating to the area, 20 percent would be commuters from "centers such as Duluth," and only the remaining 25 percent would be local hires.

The local area, which needs the jobs the most, will only get token hires. Polymet will bring in their own trained people and commuters to take up the bulk of hiring. It is a lot of false promises.

Democrats are wary of mining companies. Those corporations have not kept their promises in the past. They have left a clean up problem which the rest of us have to pay for. And more importantly, in this case, they are risking a vital and real part of the Iron Range current economy...in the environment.

Kurt Daudt's resolution doesn't promise anything. It is a bunch of pandering words which is of little use to the Iron Range. All he is looking for is some cheap votes.

Democrats are working for a longer term solution. Not something that applies a temporary patch to an economy that really does need help. Gov. Dayton and the Democrats in the legislature will take that challenge on, but not with a bunch of meaningless words in a resolution.

They want to find good paying jobs...good union middle class jobs. They support the working people of the Iron Range, not cater to the whims and short cuts desired by mining companies.
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