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Why Erik Paulsen Has To Be Replaced As Minnesota’s Third District Representative

by gregladen on January 30, 2014 · 10 comments

Huxley hoarding snow, just in case!

Huxley hoarding snow, just in case!

My son, Huxley, is 4. It is possible that he will see the end of the present century. If climate change proceeds as it is now, with no serious action to curtail the release of fossil carbon into the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will be well above 500 parts per million.
The last time there was this much CO2 in the atmosphere sea levels were meters, not centimeters or millimeters, but meters, above present level. When CO2 is added to the atmosphere quickly, as we are doing now, the Earth’s surface starts to heat up. It takes years to reach equilibrium. As this heating takes place, glacial ice melts and raises sea levels. We do not really know how fast temperatures reach equilibrium, and we know even less how fast glaciers melt. But we are already at the point where sea level “should” be higher than it is now. It is quite possible that Huxley will witness the historic event of major cities around the world being inundated by the sea.
But if he lives in Minnesota, one might think, he’ll have to travel to the coasts to witness this event. But that is not really the case. Minnesota at present has about 5.3 million people. Since I moved here close to 20 years ago, about one million people have been added to the state, mostly through migration and immigration. When 25% or more of the population of the United States has to move, places like the Twin Cities will have to absorb millions of people. A large percentage of our food staples, globally, are grown in regions which will be inundated by rising seas, especially in places like South Asia and Southeast Asia, but really, all around the world. Climate change induced or worsened drought and severe weather already affect food supplies. The civil war in Syria stems directly from the climate change induced collapse of agriculture in that country, and climate change is implicated in all of the Arab Spring uprisings as a major causal factor. Smaller and more arid countries are being affected now by climate change in this regard. Everyone else will be affected over the next few decades.
So Huxley will not have to go to the coasts to witness the effects of sea level rise. The mass migration of people away from heavily settled coastal regions will come to him even if he stays here in the middle of the continent. And, the food supply will not be as stable and secure at it is now, by any means. I’ve never felt comfortable with survivalism and I have always thought of it as a rather quirky and even dangerous cult. But I wonder if I should try to make sure Huxley has some of those skills. It pains me to write this but I find myself defying my own distrust of apocalyptic scenarios when I examine, as a scientist and a science communicator, and a father of two (Huxley is the youngest), and find it not so hard to see the shadow of collapse not to far ahead, around a corner we are approaching all too quickly.
President Obama, in the State of the Union Address, reaffirmed that climate change is real. The Republican opposition took no time to deny this. It is absolutely essential that we understand the science of climate change and apply good science to the development of effective policy at all governmental levels. But any unit government that has a significant GOP power base, such as the US Federal government today with a GOP house, is unable to do so. At present we are 17 seats away from removing the anti-science pro-global warming Republicans from a position of ruinous power in Washington. Erik Paulsen, my representative, is one of the 17 members of the House who has to go.

Mac Hall January 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

IMO, Mr. Paulsen’s problem is the Republican Party and the need to appease them.
As I review various roll call votes and note that occassionally Mr. Paulsen’s votes against the majority of Republicans … thus he acknowledges that we have problems.
Case in point — Jared Polis (D-CO-02) offered an amendment to H.R. 1965 on November 19
“An amendment numbered 7 printed in Part A of House Report 113-271 to require National Academy of Sciences to study and report to Congress about the impact of flooding on oil and gas facilities and the resulting instances of leaking and spills from tanks, wells, and pipelines.”

It Failed by recorded vote: 202 – 221 (Roll no. 597) as only 8 Republicans thought it was reasonable to even “study” to see if there could be a potential problem.
Erik Paulsen was one of the eight.

John Kline said no to even a study … no to regulations … no to leadership … no to responsibility.

Sean Duffy also, said no

You are correct that 17 seats must be replaced … but Erik Paulsen does not even have a challenger yet … but for discussion sake, let’s assume that he does prevail in November and the Dems gain 9 – 12 – 15 seats, IMO, Mr. Paulsen could be pressed and along with the other 7 Republicans that voted for Representative Polis’ resolution, would move on some climate change legislation.

John Kline will never change … but he does have an active DFL base concerned about this issue.

But the best case may be Kelly Westlund … the Democrat challenging Sean Duffy. Westlund as a vocal critic of the Republican-backed mining bill that gutted environmental regulations in Wisconsin. Westlund previously served as executive director for the Alliance for Sustainability.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons why Erik Paulsen should be replaced (his gutting of the ACA under the premise that medical device jobs will be lost and a year later, companies are still reporting record sales; failure to back equal pay or ENDA, unwillingness to address immigration or minimum wage, etc.) … but if the goal is to convert 17 Districts, I would look to WI-07 and MN-02.

Doug Alder January 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I’m glad you are addressing this, in this way Greg. I have 3 grandsons (well step-grandsons) and I worry for the fate of all 3. If I was younger, knowing what I know now, I would be adamant about personally not having kids, regardless of my partner’s wishes. Assuming the tipping point has not already been passed – and there’s no guarantee of that at all – then everything that can be done to prevent an extinction level event must be done. Anything less would be immoral. If the tipping point has been passed then bringing a child into this world would be a very cruel thing to do. (this is not to cast aspersions on those who already have kids – it’s understandable). I hope my grandchildren and Huxley have long and pleasant lives. I fear given today’s politics, in the US and abroad, that is far to likely to be a faint hope. By most people’s standards I’m very pessimistic (as you no doubt know :) ) but I prefer to look at it as being realistic. As bad as the IPCC’s projections looked with every release, the knowledge that they have consistently erred too much on the side of caution, (e.g. polar ice melting is much faster than predicted) sometimes because the science just wasn’t there yet, other times for political reasons in order to get a consensus, leads me to call it realism not pessimism. YMMV

Can’t believe how fast Huxley’s grown – quite the little man there.

Mac Hall February 1, 2014 at 10:03 am

Got an idea for a campaign commercial … acknowledging that the “Math Guy” regularly features his daughters in them, why not have a children such as Huxley look into the camera and shedding a few tears about future generations being robbed by their parents and grandparents, and asking “Do you think of me or your campaign contributors when you vote to oppose climate legislation ?”

BTW … it would be interesting to hear a questioned posed by Cassie Paulsen, who has been involved with Science Alliance projects suggesting that she is more attuned to today’s problems than some Members of Congress.

JeffStrate February 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I appreciate Gregladen’s essay and Mac Hall’s clarification of Eric Paulsen’s record. The absence of any viable candidates to run against my Eden Prairie colleague has sparked alarm in my progressive fibers since last autumn. The lack of a monied, charismatic, principled and moderate candidate at this late date suggests that among the many exemplary and toiling worker bees at DFL Congressional District Three (all unpaid volunteers) are no folks who ever socialize, do business and play golf with or share private phone numbers with those who can win our home grown, conservative Opie.

We are a nation of avoiders and deniers regarding climate change. Shawn Otto has appeared twice on Democratic Visions talking, for the most part, about the denier issue deniers and the “false equivalencies” that the major media have provided them. Here are the links –
Climate Change Deniers -

Science and National Politics

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