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Tuesday Talk: Can Minnesota limit climate change?

April 23, 2013 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Some climate change skeptics would use the latest rounds of spring snow to disprove the theory. However, climate change involves more than just hotter temperatures. It includes extreme, untimely weather events, such as spring snow and severe summer flooding. During the week we celebrate Earth Day, it’s important to raise awareness not only of climate change but sustainability overall, such as reducing waste and keeping waterways clean.

What are the most important steps Minnesota can take to combat climate change and improve sustainability?

What strategies have been most effective in your community?    

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14 Comments:

  • kay kessel says:

    April 23, 2013 at 7:45 am

    The League of Women Voters along with Mayhflower Congregational Church, Interfaith Power and Light, and 40 plus co-sponsors held a Forum on Climate Change on March 14th.  This was the 5th year that LWVMpls colloborated with the City of Mpls Sustainability Office under the leadership of Mayor RT Rybak and Gayle Prest.  We spent a year developing the Forum which was held at Mayflower Church because they initiated a Resolution for all Mn Congregational Churches to be carbon neutral in 2030. This sumjmer there will be an installation of solar panels funded by Mayflower members and grantsw, hopefully, from XCEL.

    Faith based environmental ministries are key leaders across the state for educating citizens about Climage Change and most important taking action on a personal, city wide, and state level.

  • Jen says:

    April 23, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Sensationalizing weather. It makes many people like Al Gore millions of dollars. It generates huge business for may others (I guess MN 2020 is trying to capitalize now.) The thing is, weather has been changing since the creation of Earth. Transitions from oceans to deserts, volcanoes to arid mountains, ice ages, droughts, floods. Yes, there is and always will be climate change. And yet there is not much evidence that humans can advertently or inadvertently have much affect on it though science keeps trying. Of course we want to keep our Earth clean and protect and preserve our natural areas, but the business of “climate Change” has worn out it’s welcome. Those who care to live in realville and tackle some of the very difficult issues that face our state an country get that this is just a way to stir up the base. Yes, this winter and spring sucks big time. Payback for a string of early springs. But it will be a story we can tell our grand kids. We couldn’t put the dock in until June in 2013!

  • Tim Gieseke says:

    April 23, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I think progress can be viewed from two perspectives; taking the right steps and taking the right paths.

    The right steps today can improve our resource management of the systems we use today and the right paths can transform the systems overall.  The right steps are good to build awareness and some progress in most all areas of our lives and livelihoods, but there is a green ceiling above.

    The systems change needed, whether that means an education system that prepares people to interact within new systems, health care that focuses on health, environmental efforts that focus on outcomes, or the biggy - an economic system that reduces its sanctioned externalities; hinges on governance.

    We don’t really talk about governance, because we accept governance is government, much like fish accept water as their context.  They certainly have no need to evolve if they stick with it.

    Sustainability at the scale and within the sectors that will make a difference will require a shared governance model.  It is now possible due to networks, data, communications and intelligent people.  It is now probable because is saves money, achieves outcomes and spawns innovation. 

    It is the wide path with few footprints.

  • Mike Downing says:

    April 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I hope you liberal progressives can limit climate change. I’ve had it with the global cooling over the last 10 years and this April in MN!

    PS Very timely topic as I look out my window this morning.

  • Mike Lilja says:

    April 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

    One thing we can do that would have an impact on both climate change and water quality would be a change in our farming practices.  I am one who is involved in farming from both the small scale sustainable and the large scale not so sustainable side of farming. We do know that a large amount of carbon is released every time the soil is tilled and annual agriculture contributes to that.  We know that barren fields cause large amounts of run-off in the spring and allow the top soil to erode and end up in our water ways, especially rivers.  What may not be so well known is that only a small amount of annual commodity crops raised (corn, soybeans) go to human consumption.  Most goes to feeding animals.  By switching to a grass or pasture based system would improve water quality by reducing erosion and chemical use and run off.  By not tilling the soil there would be long term carbon sequestration and better ground water recharge through water percolating into the soil.  By switching to a perennial based system of pasture and nut and fruit trees, both animal feed and food for human consumption can be produced while improving water quality, air quality and helping slow climate change.

  • Tom Brinkman says:

    April 23, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Global warming is determined by statistically looking at temperatures from hundreds of stations and instruments around the world. Essentially this results in an average temperature number.  So over such a wide area, one region or state is a very small piece of the action and does not necessarily give a true picture of overall global temperature.  The concept here is quite simple, but the scientific community never explains this to the media or to the public.  With a warmer atmosphere more moisture can be contained.  This can lead to wider swings in strong weather. And this can break some traditional weather patterns in a random way throughout the year.

  • Tim Gieseke says:

    April 23, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Relatively speaking, the atmosphere is the thickness of cellophane wrapped on a basketball.  Changing its composition is a one-way experiment and its results are unknown.  What is known is we have the capacity to change the composition.

    But knowing that is not the crux of the matter.  People understood that slavery was detrimental to many humans, but they clutched on to it because it gave them security that their way of life would not change.  Nearly identical today as instead of using humans for energy, we use fossil fuels and giving that up gives up security of our way of life.

    People aren’t dumb, they are certainly clever enough to fool themselves.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    April 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I must disagree, Jen, that discussing measures to reduce global warming before it pretty much destroys the Earth can hardly be simply boring. Scientists and activists who understand what’s happening have been countered by propaganda financed by folks like the Koch Brothers and the rest of the energy industry, who—for the sake of profit—pretend that global warming is just a theory that has not been proven.

    St. Paul has had some major successes, first with the District Heating system that burns wood chips (producing clean vapor rather than pollutants) and which produces enough energy to heat and cool almost all of downtown St. Paul and the Capitol buildings.  More recently, it has installed large banks of solar panels on at least one large public rooftop to further reduce the use of energy.  I’m sure there’s more to come.

    Senator John Marty and Rep. Melissa Hortman have introduced legislation to “make Minnesota the first state in the nation to transition to a 100% renewable energy economy that no longer uses fossil fuels as an energy source.” See SF901/HF956 or Senator Marty’s newsletter site www.apple-pie.org.

  • Jean Lewandowski says:

    April 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Each of us is capable of acting locally to “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” but it will take us working together to create and support public policy that treats climate change as the enormous health, economic, and security problem that it is.  This means, in part, strongly urging our policy makers to shift subsidies from fossil fuel industries (which subsidies cost us many times over, in reduced revenue, and then, perversely, in public monies needed to help those who are dislocated and whose communities are destroyed in extreme weather events)to clean, renewable energy sources.  We can also support private and non-profit efforts to protect the environment.  This is the public policy issue of our time.  If we don’t act in concert to get this right, all those personal freedoms we cherish so much will fade to insignificance.  All of us who are able to act in the common good are the grandparents of the children who will have to deal with the consequences of our decisions 50 years from now.

  • TONY says:

    April 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    to my friend Mike, 10 of the last 11 years have been the warmest on record w/2012 being the warmest. you need to update your Fox/Koch talking points. There are 1000’s of papers out there detailing this. Jen, if someone can make millions protecting your kids & future grandkids, thats a good thing. It’s called the American way. Why do you hate America?  Better than endorsing the old technologies(oil) that are endangering our families…

  • David Wells says:

    April 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    In my opinion, I see education of both the youth and the adults as necessary in order to affect climate change.  If students can have the opportunity to research climate history and its effects on us locally and globally, it will be more effective than just spoon feeding them random bits of information.
    Another way would be to take a hard look at the meat and dairy industry, and along with reducing our consumption, adopt practices that are more earth-friendly, as mentioned earlier.  We could develop more ways to use the toxic byproducts of methane and waste, as energy resources.  It’s done on a small scale on some MN farms already and on a larger scale in other countries.
    Another thing is, why not go back to consuming grass-fed live stock?  It’s easier on the land, and it’s the diet that’s best for them.  We eat corn and soy products anyway, and some of us eat too much.  But that’s another story.
    We will always have those who hold the extreme position on matters that concern all of us, as well as those who want to keep things as they are, and not “rock the boat.”

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    April 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Yes,thank you, David.  It would also end the suffering of cattle who spend the last month or more of their lives wallowing in knee high muck and feces in a feedlot. While there, they are fed a diet meant to produce fatty marbling in their meat and are pumped full of antibiotics to prevent their getting infections during this time. 

    Pigs go through similar suffering in order to make dollars for the factory farmers who, when they die or are killed, sell them to meat processors/manufacturers. Chickens and turkeys don’t always have it so good, either.

    Not only is this method extremely cruel, but our soil and water can be contaminated by excreted antibiotics.

  • Tom Larsen says:

    April 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Fossil fuels and nukes pose an unjustifiable threat to life.

    First we must stop the run away train driven by BIG MONEY for BIG MONEY that is the fossil fuel industry. It is not on a track that preserves life as we know it.

    Stop the Pipelines.
    Stop the Sand Mines.

    Turn to the sun and the wind. Slow down and live.

  • Ginny says:

    April 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    It is more expensive, but for me it’s worth it to buy organic meats that are grass-fed, and more humanely raised and slaughtered. I eat more and more vegetarian meals (and my cholesterol levels are really low). It’s really easy to eat a vegetarian meal now and then—say, every Monday, a couple of times a week. Better for you, for the environment, and for the animals. And it tastes better.
    I don’t understand why people keep saying Al Gore is in the attempt to reduce climate change for the money. It must come from some conservative’s talking points or websites. The fact is, Al Gore comes from a long and esteemed family in Tennessee and he is worth about $100 million. Unless he has an insatiable need for money (e.g. the Koch brothers) he simply doesn’t need any more money.