WordPress database error: [INSERT,UPDATE command denied to user 'mnp1233108443444'@'184.108.40.206' for table 'h5bbf2eggs_options']
INSERT INTO `h5bbf2eggs_options` (`option_name`, `option_value`, `autoload`) VALUES ('_transient_doing_cron', '1501036633.9417629241943359375000', 'yes') ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE `option_name` = VALUES(`option_name`), `option_value` = VALUES(`option_value`), `autoload` = VALUES(`autoload`)
WordPress database error: [INSERT,UPDATE command denied to user 'mnp1233108443444'@'220.127.116.11' for table 'h5bbf2eggs_wfLeechers']
insert into h5bbf2eggs_wfLeechers (eMin, IP, hits) values (floor(unix_timestamp() / 60), '920677565', 1) ON DUPLICATE KEY update hits = IF(@wfcurrenthits := hits + 1, hits + 1, hits + 1)
WordPress database error: [INSERT command denied to user 'mnp1233108443444'@'18.104.22.168' for table 'h5bbf2eggs_wfHits']
insert into h5bbf2eggs_wfHits (ctime, is404, isGoogle, IP, userID, newVisit, URL, referer, UA) values (1501036634.075730, 0, 0, '920677565', '0', 1, 'http://mnprogressiveproject.com/tag/Environment/feed/', '', 'CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/)')
The first of nine public and evidentiary hearings this month on the proposed Minnesota reach of the Sandpiper Pipeline convened on January 5th at St. Paul’s River Center.
Ballrooms A and B, combined, are as large as Iowa and more than 200 citizens showed up to listen and/or speak. I was there for about an hour with my video camera; the session went on into the night. The hearings are being conducted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and provide ample time for pro and con opinion and, under oath, experts, scientists, State DNR and MPCA regulators and Enbridge Oil, Inc. officials to clarify information.
The approximately 600-mile long pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. About 300 miles or more of it would pass through Minnesota. 75% of Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper alignment in Minnesota would be constructed within existing pipeline corridors. There are alternate pipeline alignments in the discussion at least one of which would run entirely within existing pipeline corridors. Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) attorney Kathryn Hoffman and others say that 25% of the Enbridge favored alignment goes through sensitive peat and bog lands, forests and lake and stream watersheds. MCEA and citizen groups including Honor the Earth and Friends of the Headwaters oppose the Enbridge plan.
It gets complicated being that the review and approval/denial process involves studies, reports and claims being generated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the MN DNR, MPCA, Enbridge, organized labor and others. MCEA and Friends of the Headwaters have jointly filed a suit in Ramsey County requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the thing. Add in just a few of the operating acronyms – EIS, PUC, EPA, FOH – and It gets very complicated for the un-baptized. But on the current edition of Democratic Visions, Kathryn Hoffman, Tim O’Brien and the Dem Vis graphics/editor guy admirably service we non-wonks.
The O’Brien and Hoffman discussion is followed by a satirical, animated short crafted by Vancouver-based editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy. Murphy’s targets are Canada’s oil executives, pipeline politicians and its image, now dripping with tar sand oil.
As grandson and grandmother characters, Brandon Boat and Maggie Sotos from The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) weigh in on the generation gap among Minnesota Democrats in an improvised sketch and humorist/provocateur Mike Gelfand speaks of the distracted drivers in his neighborhood.
Democratic Visions is an independently produced public access television monthly that can be viewed on flat screens in the following cities –
SW ‘burbs — Channel 15 in Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.
Bloomington – BCAT 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. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.]]>
Mother Jones does a great article linking lead and violent crime. Many causes have been put forth as a cause to reduced crime, however exceptions can be found to all those cases. Just correlation is not enough to establish the link. The link of leaded gasoline with violence has no contrary evidence.
We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.
So the real question is this. Why do always we have to learn the hard way? Why can’t we look at the copper sulfide mining being proposed in this state and see the increase release of toxic elements would be bad for us? What if those effects from the new toxic elements does not dissipate as quickly as lead. Afterall, it is only our health and lives at stake.
Funny how we can spend tons of money checking for bombs in shoes for a one time threat that was successfully prevented. Yet we cannot forgo 360 low-paying jobs to stop a proven threat to the quality of water from copper sulfide mining.
Just to steer clear of the false balance thing implied by the title, more encouraging than discouraging. But yes, a bit of both.
The youth vote has become vital to Democrats. We’ve been winning the people voting in their first elections by a large percentage and for several elections in a row, and without them, we would be the ones perpetually fretting about our demographics problem. This has provided a huge incentive for Democrats to get on the right side of gay rights and marijuana legalization, and Democrats who want to win will make student debt a top priority. It goes the other way too, in that if we want to make progress on issues that aren’t seen necessarily as youth issues, we need to win over the “millenials”, a term I put in quotes from uncertainty over just who that describes, but I guess it’s more compact than “30 and under but old enough to vote”. Or are millenials now reaching their early 30s? Anyway, we need to win their support on more than the two or three issues that go on the lit pieces for candidates with a college campus in their district.
Which gets to some encouraging news: millenials (used in this article) are the age group most likely to accept evolution.
The 60 percent level of acceptance of human evolution includes all adults. But digging into particular age groups reveals that, while acceptance is significantly lower in adults older than 65 (49 percent), it is significantly higher in younger adults, between 18-29 (68 percent), with other age groups close to the national average.
Hang on. Since when do we vote on evolution? All in favor of delaying the mutation of new traits to next week say “aye”? Well, we do sometimes elect school board members based on the evolution/creation debate, but I’m thinking a bit more meta. Specifically, when kids are taught that science says one thing, but your parents, your preacher, or the blatherer on wingnut talk radio say otherwise, so believe what you want, the lesson isn’t just that there’s a debate over creationism and evolution. There’s another lesson that science is just one opinion, no better than what feels right however you get there. If science is just another opinion on evolution, then believe whoever you want on other controversial subjects. That, I’m convinced, underlays much of our problem convincing the public on environmental issues, especially global warming.
Which leads to another piece of good news: young adults are most accepting of global warming and the least in denial. Actually, a majority of each age group accepts that global warming is real. We’re short of a majority accepting that it’s man-made, except among those 18-29. We have some work to do there, though a plurality accept that it’s man-made among the other age groups. With so many refusing to accept that it’s man-made, no wonder it’s hard to convince the general public that it’s a top priority. Younger voters are likely the most disposed to accept the urgency, which suggests hope of winning on this issue over the long-term and where we should concentrate our efforts. Forget persuading the quarter in denial because they’ll never be persuaded, and focus on convincing younger voters that they need to act, as in telling politicians this is an issue they vote on.
So what’s the discouraging news? The public has grown more credulous about astrology, with millenials most accepting of it.
Also apparently to blame are younger Americans, aged 18 to 24, where an actual majority considers astrology at least “sort of” scientific, and those aged 35 to 44. In 2010, 64 percent of this age group considered astrology totally bunk; in 2012, by contrast, only 51 percent did, a 13 percentage point change.
The majority said astrology is not at all scientific, but it’s a shrunken majority, and 18-24 year-olds mostly think there might be some science to it. Come on, millenials, seriously? I suppose we can hope there were problems in the methodology, or maybe a pollster ignorant of the difference actually asked about respondents about “astronomy”. Probably not. I did hear a theory that people who are just starting to learn science are most likely to take pseudoscience seriously, because they know a little but not enough, and they’re being open-minded. As they learn enough to figure out what makes pseudoscience “pseudo”, acceptance goes down.
Just like there’s a lot of overlap between creationists and global warming deniers (which is part of my concern that making evolution purely a matter of preference undermines all science), I’ll guess believers in astrology come from the same group mostly, but the numbers indicate there must be some small number of people who accept global warming and know creationism is nonsense, but think there might be something to astrology. If you’re in that group, here a couple ways to see through it.
First, recall that one of the ways you know creationism is bunk is that if the universe were created as is 6,000 years ago, we would be unable to see any stars more than 6,000 light years away because their light hasn’t had time to reach us. Yet the night sky is full of stars further away than that. Those that are other galaxies are millions of light-years away. Now think about constellations, which are supposed to influence your personality or fate. They’re not clusters of stars. They’re merely the pictures we form in our heads by using stars as a giant connect-the-dots. Those stars are very distant from each other, and appear as they do only because of our angle. If you could travel to another star, the constellations would be gone. If you could see the night sky 100,000 years from now, the constellations would be gone because the stars are moving. So essentially, constellations aren’t even real. The creators of the zodiac had no clue about any of that.
And if the alien ever says it comes from the constellation of X, that’s some bad science fiction.
Second, astrologers have the number of planets wrong. I mean, come on, how does that not put paid to the whole notion? I suppose it says something about human psychology that astrology survived the discovery of Uranus in 1781.
But if you’ve had a horoscope made for yourself and it seems a reasonably accurate description of the sort of person you are, try giving it to some other people, tell them you had it made for them, and ask them if it seems accurate. The odds are they’ll say yes. That’s how it works — they’re so generic, that of course they’re accurate.]]>
Last night I attended a talk by meteorologist Paul Douglas, at the Eden Prairie High School. The talk was “Weird Weather: Minnesota’s New Normal? Our Changing Climate and What We Can Do About It,” and it was sponsored by Environment Minnesota, Cool Planet, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. I didn’t count the number of people in the audience but it was well attended (over 100, for sure). Extra chairs had to be brought in.
You probably know of Paul Douglas either because of his own fame or because I often link to (or facebook-post) his blogs at Weather Nation or the Star Tribune, and I frequently post his videos. Paul is an Evangelical Christian Republican who insists that we must adhere to the data and the science. He is outspoken on climate change, global warming, and science denialism, and he is sincere, thorough, and forceful in these areas. I consider him to be a very close ally. The contrast between what Republicans seem to think as a cultural group, and what Evangelical Christians seem to think as a cultural group, and what Paul advocates makes him, in his own words, a Human Albino Unicorn.
The talk, as something organized by three environmental activist groups, had the usual suspects in attendance. I recognized several fellow activists from the Twin Cities area, including individuals from 350.org and Obama’s OFA. I had the sense that I was attending a Democratic Farm Labor (that’s what we call Democrats ‘round these parts) convention being run by a Reasonable Republican.
Needless to say, Paul provided an excellent presentation that would have provided any skeptic sitting near the fence a gate to pass through when the moment was right. His talk would have likely convinced any dyed-in-the-wool skeptic in attendance to at least be quiet about the skepticism and let others take the conversation for a while. Paul tied together several reasons to respect the science and to act on it, touching on diverse perspectives including personal morality, concern for our children and grandchildren, business acumen, responsibility for the Earth’s environment, conservative political thinking, and (briefly, he did not belabor this point) religion.
Since I’m all into climate change and stuff, and give presentations on the topic myself, there wasn’t much new that hit me on the head, though I saw a lot of other heads being whacked with facts and ideas in the room. But there were two things that gave me a double take. They were both brought up in the question and answer period.
One came as part of the answer to the question, why isn’t there more climatology, and in particular, climate change, in with the weather reporting on local TV? I should note right away that this is one of the reasons you should read Paul’s blog. You get the weather AND the climatology. If you are in the Twin Cities area, his Strib Blog is the place to go. If you are elsewhere in the US or beyond, his Weather Nation blog is the place to go. There is a lot of overlap but somewhat different regional coverage. Anyway, Paul’s answer included this: On news TV, global warming is toxic. Meaning, specifically, stating the basic fact that global warming is established science is not really allowed on standard news TV, local or national. The False Balance sells, admitting the facts is boring. More importantly, stating that climate change is real and important will piss off 30% of the audience and the people running the news shows don’t want that. The anchors, including the weather reporters, are to be beloved, not reviled. So “just don’t do that” is the policy in newsrooms.
The other whack on the head was in relation to a question that I thought at first was a bit obnoxious but then I realized it was one of those questions that IS obnoxious but usefully so, and necessary. The question was, in short, “Is there anybody in this room that didn’t already believe in global warming before this talk … was anyone’s mind changed?”
One person raised their hand to indicate a changed mind (everyone cheered) but this apparent fact was left on the table: This talk didn’t do anything but reinforce everyone’s existing position. That was a bit depressing at first.
However, I think the implication and factual basis of that question were wrong. First, there were probably several climate change denialists in that room, but they simply chose not to raise their hands either because they would have been deeply embarrassed or because their mind was not changed. I recognized one person that I’ve encountered before who is a denialists, and he remained silent. I have given talks on climate change attended by people I know are denialists and they’ve stayed silent or asked questions that did not indicate their denialism. So, yes, there are people in the audience who do not “believe in global warming” and I suspect a talk like Paul’s would have an effect on them, eventually.
Also, this: Nobody should “believe in global warming.” That’s where Paul separates his own beliefs (i.e., that there should be Republicans at all … or his religious beliefs which are based on faith) and a scientific approach to life, including both business and climate. A different question might have been, “Was there anything in Paul Douglas’s talk that you didn’t know before, about climate change, that you now know? Did you learn anything new either about climate or about how to talk about climate, in this talk?” The answer to that would have been, for almost everyone in the room, “Yes, many things.”
And this one reason why “preaching to the converted” is important. Anti-climate science industrial interests spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on public engagement to develop and shore up their political position. Hundreds of millions of dollars a year buys a lot of rhetoric, but it does not buy one drop of truth. But truth by itself is not enough. Grassroots organizing and the power of citizenry, when armed with the truth, is enough to effect major change if it is sustained long enough over a sufficient range of the population (and done well). Last night’s talk was a highlight moment for local and regional activism in support of the planet we live on. Those who attended will keep Paul’s talk with them for decades, and it will supply them with tools and ideas, and perhaps most importantly, inspiration and hope, regardless of their personal staring point.
So, yeah, it was a great talk.]]>
Penn State is one of many universities worldwide that are providing free massive open online courses. I signed up for a course on Energy, the Environment and Our Future starting this week. I have already completed two lessons. There are readings, videos, blog-like discussions and quizzes. Even for a person who has studied environmental issues for decades, there is still good information to learn.
For example, history can teach us about what happens when when don’t have trade or alternatives available:
Mesa Verde. Ancestral Puebloan (often called Anasazi) people lived at that site for roughly 700 years—much longer than the history of the Americas since Columbus—first on top of the mesa, but then moving to build intricate dwellings in caves down the mesa sides, commuting up ladders and steps carved in the rock to work the fields on top. But, after most of a millennium, the people left… Within the uncertainties, the history of how many people lived there is the same as the history of how many people could have lived there. Rain nourished people. The population fell when the rain didn’t. We don’t know how many people died in droughts, compared to migrating or not having children, but the population dropped in dry times. And, when a very large drought hit at the end, the people migrated away, becoming what we now would call environmental refugees.
If this sounds interesting, the sign up is here.]]>
Lake Superior is virtually unique as a thing. It is a huge lake, it is far from the equator, it is very very deep, and it is a freshwater lake. That combination is hard to come by. It is therefore almost always going to be true that a major environmental disaster such as the sinking or wrecking of a tar-sands boat on that lake will not have a precedent. If there is a huge tar sands disaster on Lake Superior it will not be possible to clean it up, most likely. And there will be such a disaster; this is almost guaranteed.
With significant opposition to Keystone XL pipeine actually threatening, for once, the big plans of big-petrol instead of just being a thorn in the side, those who wish to ship Tar Sands out of Canada to China and elsewhere through the United States are already working hard on finding alternate routes, and one of the most likely alternates is over land across Minnesota then to Lake Superior. And this applies to the Bakken Fields oil as well.
Here’s a few bits and pieces of information for you to peruse and follow up.
Enbridge to revise ND-Wis. oil pipeline route
Pipeline operator Enbridge has agreed to a revised route for a new oil pipeline from North Dakota across northern Minnesota.
The proposed $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline will carry between 225,000 and 375,000 barrels of oil a day from the booming Bakken oil fields across Minnesota to Superior, Wis.
Enbridge crude oil pipeline across Minnesota faces fresh opposition
The expanded line from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wis., would import more oil from Canada’s tar sands region. Environmental activists who oppose the expansion cite Enbridge’s safety record and concerns about increasing greenhouse gas linked to climate change.
“Enbridge is responsible for the largest on-land spill,” said Tom McSteen, lead convener for the anti-tar sands group MN350. He’s referring to the July 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan that released 20,000 barrels of crude oil, much of it into the Kalamazoo River, triggering a record fine and a $1 billion cleanup. “We don’t want a Kalamazoo in Minnesota,” he added.
Oil and Water: Tar Sands Crued Shippig Meets The Great Lakes? (PDF Download)
And for a summary of most of the current relevant information: Tar Sands’ Next Frontier: Shipments on the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes, drinking water source for over 40 million North Americans, could be the next target on tar sands marketers’ bullseye according to a major new report out by the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes.
The 24-page report, “Oil and Water: Tar Sands Crude Shipping Meets the Great Lakes?” unpacks a new looming threat to the Great Lakes in the form of barges transporting tar sands along the Great Lakes to targeted midwestern refinery markets. As the report suggests, it’s a threat made worse by an accompanying “Wild West”-like regulatory framework.
“The prospect of tar sands shipping on the Great Lakes gives rise to fundamental social and economic questions about whether moving crude oil by vessel across the world’s single largest surface freshwater system is a venture this region wants to embrace, despite the known risks,” the report says early on.
Click through to get the rest.
Please join us. It will be at the West Metro Critical Thinking Club on Saturday, December 28, 2013, at 10:00 AM at the RidgePointe Senior Apartments on 12600 Marion Ln. W, Minnetonka, MN.
I know these people. This will be a tough audience. This is a well educated and thoughtful group. Also, there are many climate skeptics in the group, and a talk given last September that questioned the strength of the evidence for Global Warming was well received. So, this is going to be interesting and fun!
Here’s the writeup for the talk, and more info can be found HERE:
The Global and Local Impacts of Climate Change
Anthropogenic climate change, also known as “Global Warming,” has emerged as a significant reality affecting societies and economies around the world and at home. In this talk we’ll examine the contentious questions of changes in weather patterns and sea level rise. Both of these effects of warming have already had impacts and these impacts are expected to increase in the future. What does the science say about “weather whiplash,” severe storms, and the rise of seas in the near and longer term future, how certain are we of what may happen, and how severe might these impacts be?
Greg Laden is a science communicator and teacher who has studied the relationship between human evolution and ecology, climate change during the Holocene, and African and North American prehistory. He has addressed, mostly through his writing on National Geographic Scienceblogs, the science of climate change, and has presented several talks and workshops on this issue. He is currently teaching at Century College and is writing two books, one on fieldwork in the Congo and the other, a novel, on life in the upper Midwest and Plains in a post-climate change world. He strongly hopes that the novel remains fiction rather than prediction. Greg lives with his wife and two children in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
I’m purposefully not going to address the following things beyond a brief mention:
These are facts so well established by science that I don’t need to drive across town to tell them to people. Within that second fact is the question of the so-called “Hiatus” and I’ll address that briefly but really, it is just a Fox News meme and need not demand the energy and time of this thoughtful group of well educated people.
Sea level, storms, and weird weather, on the other hand, are a different thing. There are aspects of this feature of climate change that climate scientists argue about among themselves, and the there are differences between what the IPCC officially said in its recently released report and what many groups of mainstream climate scientists say. The differences are not deep or huge … we are not talking about science denialism here. But there is uncertainty and we are approaching new territory. This makes the science interesting, and the potential consequences of climate change make it important.
See you on December 28th, come hell or high water. As it were.