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Environment

New Junk Yard Democrats Video

by JeffStrate on March 27, 2014 · 1 comment

The Junk Yard Democrats, their fans and some bar flies in a suburban rock dive, weigh in on climate change, right wingers, the NRA, and Egyptian democracy in their new video “Break on Through.”  The bit is featured in the new edition of Democratic Visions which is cable cast in Minneapolis and six well known suburbs.  See the schedule below.

Tommy Johnson, Norb Gernes and Jeff Strate at the Senate District 48 DFL Convention, March 8, 2014.

Tommy Johnson, Norb Gernes and Jeff Strate at the Senate District 48 DFL Convention, March 8, 2014.

The faux rock group performed at the March 8 Senate District 48 DFL Convention.   Jeff Strate, the group’s musical director, posing as an emissary from the GOP SD 48 convention to the DFL  gathering (with a metaphorical olive branch and a fist full of apologies for bad GOP behavior), attempted to lead the trio in singing “We’re in the Money,” the hit song from the Warner Brothers movie  The Gold Diggers of 1933  as a means of finding  common ground through music.  Several attempts were made to begin the song, but the boys instead launched into Woodie Guthrie’s version of “This Land Is You land.”  Their effort sparked an enthusiastic convention-wide sing-a-long. Most younger DFLers were confused searched with their smart phone apps for clues. Their elders, however, enjoyed the scam.

YouTube’s Democratic Visions Channel sports nearly 180 videos.   The monthly program is handcrafted by Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Edina volunteers (mostly Democrats)  in a Bloomington community access studio and on location throughout the metro area.

The program is also cable cast in Minneapolis and six famous suburbs -

Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.

Segments of the program are posted on the web at www.dfl48.org/.

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World Meteorological Day distinguishes between climate and weather, and it also addresses the issue of global warming and what we can do about it, today, tomorrow and every day.

from the WMO, an agency of the U.N.:

World Meteorological Day 2014

Weather and climate: engaging youth

World Meteorological Day is celebrated every year on 23 March to commemorate the entry into force in 1950 of the convention that created the World Meteorological Organization. The day also highlights the huge contribution that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services make to the safety and well-being of society.

This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is “Weather and climate: engaging youth.” Today’s youth will benefit from the dramatic advances being made in our ability to understand and forecast the Earth’s weather and climate. At the same time, most of them will live into the second half of this century and experience the increasing impacts of global warming. WMO encourages young people to learn more about our weather and climate system and to contribute to action on climate change.

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minerunoffIt is of course not within the EPA’s purview to assess the kinds of financial guarantees that should be required to protect Minnesotans, and their kids and grandkids and on and on, from bearing the cost of the long-term environmental protections that even PolyMet, or rather the mining mega-multinationals that it is fronting for, admit will be necessary.
 

In a long-awaited assessment submitted Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given PolyMet Mining Company’s controversial plan for a copper mine in northeastern Minnesota the equivalent of a “B” grade.
 
That means the federal agency has concerns about the potential environmental impact of the proposed $650 million project, and that it wants to see more analysis and a clearer explanation of how pollution problems will be resolved. But it is far better than the failing grade the EPA gave PolyMet’s first environmental study four years ago, and on a par with grades received by other recent big projects in Minnesota, including the Central Light Rail Corridor and the St. Croix River Bridge…
 
While Polymet’s website for the proposed mine says the company plans to start development of the site in the second half of this year, the state’s environmental review is expected to continue through much of this year, with final permitting decisions possible in 2015.
(Star Tribune)

Update: Mining Truth has released a compelling statement.
 

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Science and the 114th Congress

by gregladen on March 13, 2014 · 5 comments

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 12.00.48 PMScience, and in particular, climate change science, has been as Daphne Wysham of the Institute for Policy Studies likes to put it, the broccoli on the plate in American politics, and little more. Last election, climate science was a factor, though probably not a deciding factor, in a handful of elections. Over the last year, the issue has increased in importance. President Barack Obama actually saw fit to note that the Earth is not flat, but rather, a big round thing, and that science is a central organizing body of information on which we need to base better policy, especially with respect to energy and climate change. Three nights ago, over 30 US Senators, all Democrats of course, camped out for a night on the Senate floor talking about climate change, and among them were our own Senators from Minnesota. Word on the street is that there is a handful of Republican Senators and Representatives who hold the party line — the anti-science party line — against admitting that science is a thing and climate change is real, but who wish they were not doing that. What I’ve heard is this: The day after the first Republican goes down in flames against an explicitly pro-Science Democrat, the GOP survivors will bolt.
 
The 2014 election is the election in which politics in this country will turn around, because that is going to happen. If it goes far enough, the 114th Congress will have a Democratic majority and the last two years of President Obama’s term can be spent actually doing something about climate change.
 
How do I know this? Well, I admit this is partly wishful thinking, but there are indicators, as already mentioned. Plus, there is this. Billionaire hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and environmentalist Tom Steyer has indicated that he is willing to put as much as 100 million dollars into congressional campaigns that highlight climate change as a top tier issue.
 
In other words, it is time to make Climate Change the meat and potatoes, and not just the Broccoli, in this November’s mid term election. We are 17 reps away from a majority in the House. 100 million divided by 17 is a large number. Just sayin’

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Protect Our Water, Stop Polymet

by Grace Kelly on March 12, 2014 · 6 comments


Minnesota is being sold a false choice between picking between jobs and environment. We can do both. The Solutions Project maps out an transition project of going to wind, water and solar that would create 63,500 construction jobs and 39,300 operation jobs. Contrast that with the 360 jobs that Polymet is promising.

 

Polymet is proposing a different type of mining than we have had before. It is a mining that is heavily polluted with heavy metals and sulfates. Storage is simply done in open pits, open to the weather, open to seepage. Even the company’s own models show pollution with expensive treatment for 500 years or more. Let’s be real. Once pollution gets into the underground aquifer, there is no undoing it. Our rivers will carry the pollution all over. At that point, we will have to treat all our drinking water or suffer the health effects. We have an incredible growing brewing industry that will be put at risk because good water is essential to brewing.

 

Let’s face it, we are being held hostage for 360 jobs. Polymet can go elsewhere and will go elsewhere if it has to pay for safe mining. There are still third world countries who will allow any type of toxic mining. Minnesota wants to lose those 360 jobs, because the cost of losing safe drinking water is way too high. Do any green energy project from the Solutions Project. Please consider raising my income taxes now for green projects instead of having me pay more for clean water forever. It will cost me much less.

 

That is the letter that I am sending to the DNR by 4:30pm this Thursday, March 13th. Feel feel to use this letter or other options or simply post “bad idea” at  http://dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/comments.html . We really need every voice. We need your voice. Make it easy and just do it now.

 

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Stop fighting about global warming

by Eric Ferguson on March 12, 2014 · 8 comments

typhoon-philippines-haiyanLet me be clear as possible about that headline. No, don’t stop fighting global warming. Don’t stop trying to do something about it. Yes, stop fighting about it. Stop wasting time with science deniers. That means stop arguing with the crazy uncle at family gatherings and the dittohead at the watercooler. Don’t let the trolls hijack the comment threads and cause you to frustrate yourself trying to convince the unconvincible.

 
Why stop? Did the urgency of global warming suddenly go away like a melting glacier in a time lapse film? No. Not a bit. The urgency is actually an argument to stop trying to persuade those who have required us to learn terms like epistemic closure, motivated reasoning, and debunking blowback effect. We don’t have time to waste on the minority that will never be convinced even if the prairies become home to cacti and the lizards who served as monsters in early 50′s schlocky sci-fi. The keyword there is “minority”. That’s right, in terms of getting the public to accept that global warming is real, we’ve already won. True, it’s a minority with loads of fossil fuel industry money and a major political party under its thumb, but we already have the sort of majority that usually means you’re going to win politically. Clearly that majority hasn’t been enough, which means we have to change something we’ve been doing, like, say, spinning our wheels in pointless arguments with deniers.
 
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Public opinion about PolyMet sulfide mining

by Dan Burns on March 10, 2014 · 0 comments

minerunoffI was somewhat surprised, and of course quite unhappy, at recent polling results published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, regarding proposed copper/nickel sulfide mining. I had previously been heartened by this, published in March 2013.
 

A new poll conducted for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership suggests that more Minnesotans oppose sulfide mining than support it.
 
In a statewide telephone survey by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, 48% of Minnesotans opposed the proposed sulfide mines while 39% favored the mines.
(Northland News Center)

Whereas the Strib polling had this:
 

It found that 46 percent of Minnesotans who were polled want PolyMet Mining Corp.’s proposal to be approved; 21 percent say it should be rejected.
 
But a whopping one-third say they’re not sure — an indication that many Minnesotans are either uncertain about the trade-offs between economic development and environmental risks to one of the most beautiful parts of the state — or are simply not paying attention to the debate, said J. Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll.
(Star Tribune)

It becomes far more clear when you look at the question in the first poll:
 

“As you may know, new mines are being proposed near the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior. These are different from the traditional Minnesota iron ore mines. These new sulfide mining operations would be used to extract copper, nickel, and other precious metals from underground rock formations containing sulfur. Based on this description, would you favor or oppose these new mines?”

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Minnesota Congresspeople on the environment

by Dan Burns on March 4, 2014 · 2 comments

Grasslands-mengguThe League of Conservation Voters released its annual scorecard some weeks ago.
 

Despite this reality, the U.S. House of Representatives continued its unprecedented assault on the environment and public health that began during the 112th Congress. Although Congress started 2013 with votes to provide disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it’s painfully clear that far too many members failed to heed the lessons offered by that tragic storm. Indeed, this Scorecard is a disturbing reflection of the extent to which the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives continues to be controlled by Tea Party climate change deniers with an insatiable appetite for attacks on the environment and public health.
 
For the third year in a row, there is an unusually high number of House votes included in the Scorecard, due to the breadth and depth of anti-environmental legislation brought to the House floor in 2013. The 2013 Scorecard includes 28 House votes, which is second only to the record 35 votes included in both 2011 and 2012, the most anti-environmental U.S. House of Representatives in history. Many other votes warranted inclusion and would have been included in a typical year.

 
Sen. Al Franken (D) 100%
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) 100%
Rep. Keith Ellison (D) 96%
Rep. Betty McCollum (D) 93%
Rep. Tim Walz (D) 86%
Rep. Rick Nolan (D) 86%
 
Good stuff. I don’t freak out when someone doesn’t have a perfect score, because this is reality, not terminally embittered purity-martyr fantasyland.
 
Rep. Collin Peterson (“D”) 14%
 
That’s our Collin. His lifetime score is 38%. Just going with the flow, I guess. By the way, it very much looks like he is running again.
 

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) 11%
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) 7%
Rep. John Kline (R) 0%
 
Complete, groveling surrender to far-right orthodoxy? Really that messed up in their heads? Both? Does it matter?
 

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minnesota climate changeMinnesota is the most livable state during climate change. Now of course, all of this depends on what you value. Here are my criteria:

 

1) Food -The ability to grow food is important. While Minnesota will be impacted by storms, hail, drought and higher temperatures, it starts with so much more growing capacity that I think Minnesota will always be able to feed its own state. Food is so important that I gave it double weight in the ranking.

 
2) Water -Having enough water is essential for drinking, growing food and business. Minnesota is ranked 38th among the states. If Minnesota is careful with its water, it should have enough.

 

3) Avoid Permanent Flooding – The middle expectation for sea level rise is 3.3 feet. I ruled out any coastal state impacted by sea level rise. Even if only a portion of the state is affected, I expected the economic costs and social turmoil will impact the whole state. Hurricanes are also a risk for these same states.

 

4) Avoid Toxicity -Toxic Environmental conditions are difficult to evaluate. I did my ranking based on total environmental releases. However, Montana is affected by shale activities just north in Canada so this ranking may have put Montana too high in the scoring.

 

5) Avoid Tornadoes – Tornadoes have gotten so harsh in Tornado Alley, that I think it would be too dangerous to live in these areas.

 

6) Community – Some communities work together, plan ahead, and protect civil rights. I would never want to be a black person in Florida for example. I used the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index with a double weight.

 

Based on the above criteria, here are the top states, with Minnesota ranked number one.

 
top ten states climate change
 

After the fold, the discussion gets more interesting.

 
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Climate Change Kills Kittens

by Grace Kelly on February 28, 2014 · 1 comment

kittenClimate change does kill kittens as well as threaten most living things. But why is it important that climate change kills kittens? It is about the human ability to respond to a threat.

 

Humans respond well to immediate danger but we do not respond well to distant dangers. This us true even when the distant danger is far more likely. Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert says that  “we take alarm at terrorism, but much less to global warming, even though the odds of a disgruntled shoe bomber attacking our plane are, he claims, far longer than the chances of the ocean swallowing parts of Manhattan.”

 
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