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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

An Apology To The Citizens Of 2100

Category: Environment
Posted: 06/10/14 01:04

by Dave Mindeman

I would like to offer an apology. An apology to the citizens of Earth in the year 2100.

We failed you. My generation has failed you miserably. We did not keep the faith as good stewards of your earth.

We let ourselves be held hostage by the obstacles of economic expediency and inflexible religious dogma. We let those obstacles taint our knowledge and our scientific principles to the point of abandoning them for the sake of greed and our own comfort.

And you paid the price. We let political arguments get in the way of good policy. We withered in the battle to defeat the use of coal. We did not stand up for scientific evidence and let the deniers lead the debate. We let corporate money win the day on the economic challenge of greenhouse gases.

We did that. We failed you. We put your planet, your climate, your lives in jeopardy so that we could continue our own greedy quest for economic benefits. It was a short sighted decision on our part and there is little that can be done.

We chose our mining over your water. We chose our economics over your working planet. We chose religious dogma over letting our spirituality grow with our scientific knowledge. We chose coal and petroleum based energy over your air and your atmosphere.

We let you down and there is nothing more we can do except apologize for our short sightedness.

You were our future and we treated you with disregard and disdain.

The only thing left is to hope that you will be better than us. That you will find a way to overcome the problems we dealt to you. We failed in our link to the future - in our responsibility to give you a planet and a life as good as we had for ourselves.

I cannot blame you if your history books hold us in contempt. We deserve it and have no one else to hold accountable. When you look back on our place in the realm of human endeavor, our only contribution will more than likely be what you can learn from our mistakes.

What I offer here is an apology - I hope you are still there to receive it.
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DFL On The Environment - Avoiding The Inevitable

Category: Environment
Posted: 06/01/14 21:52

by Dave Mindeman

Earlier today the worry about the sulfide mining fight in the DFL was averted by an agreement to do nothing. Party leaders obviously stepped in to quell this growing storm and set aside controversy going into an off year election.

But we are just delaying the inevitable. Maybe we can temporarily sweep this under the rug, but at some point we have to meet this public policy with some kind of action. Avoidance is a temporary solution - a band aid.

The Republicans are going to continue to put pressure on the DFL to pick a side. That is the way it will be framed. They side with business. They always side with business. In the case of Polymet, business has managed to morph this into a labor issue. And that is the means of dividing the DFL Party.

The energy companies are pouring big money into framing this debate as being about jobs, economic costs, and energy independence. We are still waiting to have the debate about the methods they are using to make these things happen. And whether the relatively low number of jobs created are worth the costs and the risks.

The use of tar sand, fracking, and sulfide mining are not natural processes. They require chemicals, they require mixing pollutants with the environment, they require big risks.

In the case of Polymet, the question they are wanting us to ask is - 'how much environmental damage is allowed and how much should we be asked to pay to clean it up?'

That is the wrong question.

What we need to ask Polymet is - 'when are you going to present a plan that does not risk the land, the water, and the wilderness?'

When Polymet talks about jobs, the usual numbers talked about run between 400 and 500 jobs. Is that going to move the needle on our unemployment rate? No. Maybe there will be other jobs involved with the ongoing process, but is it enough to warrant the risks involved? We need to answer that question honestly.

More to the point on jobs is that the damage caused by unchecked mining will create more jobs in the clean up process than in the mining itself - and the taxpayers will end up footing the bill for that. All this talk of Polymet paying for the aftermath is bunk - when they are finished stripping the land they will be gone and declare themselves bankrupt if necessary to avoid the long term obligation.

Many of the same things can be said of fracking. North Dakota has sold its future to the oil industry and its fracking methods of extraction. Sure, there are economic benefits for the moment, but what happens in the next generation? How much instability is being created in the earth? How much damage to the water table is in their future? Will North Dakota make enough in the near term to pay for the damage in the long term?

And speaking of the future. As Minnesota considers the major investment we just made to the Lewis and Clark water project in southwestern Minnesota, how are we going to balance the new resource shortage of the next generation - WATER. The western United States knows of this problem now. And although it is hard to imagine in a "land of 10,000 lakes", we could be risking that abundant resource in our own future as well.

Sulfide mining is not safe. There is no clean coal. Energy creates new technology not new jobs. Fracking has consequences. These are the debates we must have in the future.

We can avoid and delay them for only so long.
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On Climate Change - May The Force Be With Us

Category: Environment
Posted: 05/04/14 14:56

by Dave Mindeman

I am a hopeless Sci-Fi geek. And today is a "national" holiday - it's May 4 (May the Fourth Be With You). I grew up on Star Trek in all its forms and have been eager for all the Star Wars films (even the Menace).

I think the fascination with Sci-Fi derives from the fact that we like to think of ourselves (or our progeny counterparts) as being part of the future. In Star Trek, the future is a hopeful one, with mankind solving most of its own problems and moving on into exploration. In the Terminator series the future is not so hopeful - as machines become the enemy.

But the one thing that is consistent about all those futuristic ideas is this - humanity exists. We inhabit the future.

But our reality is that the future is not a certainty. Oh, the earth, itself, will probably survive in some form. But its future may go on without us. There is no guarantee for us.

There are certainly a range of possibilities for the future. We could get hit with an asteroid or some cataclysmic volcano or earth shift could be our undoing. But the most prevalent problem that questions our future is ourselves.

Climate change is a real thing. We can't be certain about how it will shape our future, but we do know it will cause massive changes. Our weather patterns have already become more severe. Global warming IS happening, whether we deny it or not. A lot of people ignore the problem assuming that whatever happens, our technology will find a way to solve the issue. But changes on the scale that will be occurring aren't going to be just "fixed". A more likely scenario is that we will have to make radical adjustments to survive.

I realize that most people think this problem is something out there in the distant future....in far off star dates. But the ability to make the adjustments needed without some radical solution does have a finite timeline. We need to be working on this now - making those adjustments.

Climate change has become much too political. The "deniers" equate climate change to destruction of our economic model. Preservation of wealth seems to be the priority, rather than preservation of life.

Yeah, I know that doom predictions have been occurring for some time. Some of them were wrong from the very time they were said. But there will be a time of reckoning - on a global scale. It will happen and the more we take it seriously, the more we can lessen the damage.

And the idea of questioning science and a lower priority on the teaching of science is a dangerous path to follow. Religious dogma on beliefs is one thing, but using ancient religious tenets as a substitute for known science is ridiculous. Religion feeds the needs of the soul - science feeds the needs of progress. The two have separate paths - and that needs to be respected.

Like I said before, politics has taken over rational thought on this. We need to be acting on climate change with a unified purpose. After all, this affects everybody. When Republican candidates try to please their base by ignoring science, they should not be rewarded for it. When Democrats act timidly on environmental issues, they should not be rewarded for it.

We have to be hopeful about the future - that Star Trek vision of global unity is worthy of being our goal. Let's try to remove politics from our quest to keep our future intact. Having a future may depend on it.

May the force be with us!
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