Category Archives: Environmental Change

Strike, Strike, Strike

The Students who are striking today…as opposed to those sneaking out and pretending to…have read that in a decade or so it may be too late to roll back or stop Global Warming. Their families and future might be as bleak as North America is becoming for birds.

The powers that have shaped their curriculum have not managed to teach them that all is well and not to let anything trouble their pretty little heads.

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/education/4661386-Its-our-future-Duluth-students-organize-climate-strike

Students in Duluth will meet at Duluth’s City Hall at 11:30 AM this morning. I would join them were it not for my being scheduled to serve lunch at the Damiano Center. If you can take my place please join them and show your support for humankind’s future.

You pave paradise and put up a parking lot

I was originally going to title this post: Grandchildren defenders vs. Grandchildren Killers

I have not heard anything yet about Duluth Students participating in a climate Strike during school hours. If they do I’ll gladly support them

For the past month I’ve been sending the alarming news about the accelerating destruction of the Earth to myself for inclusion on a blog page and lay out why Global warming denialists must be challenged.

Here are some of them with a description of the content

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/19/762090471/north-america-has-lost-3-billion-birds-scientists-say

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/09/great-spawning-corals-becoming-undone/597466/

‘The Water Rises From the Ground in Our Yards.’ How Dorian Devastated the Bahamas. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/opinion/hurricane-dorian-bahamas.html

How One Billionaire Could Keep Three Countries Hooked on Coal https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/15/climate/coal-adani-india-australia.html

The current existential question for the human race is climate change. If we continue on the current path, some currently populated areas of the planet will become uninhabitable. For instance, coastal cities will be submerged and the whole nation of Bangladesh will be displaced. Everyone will be … http://flip.it/fWJadw

David Koch Was the Ultimate Climate Change Denier https://nyti.ms/2MyMbJB

This list doesn’t include stories about the massive burning of the Central African rain forest or massive burning in the Amazon rain forest or the deforestation of the Indonesian forests for palm oil plantations orr China’s funding of 150 coal burning electrical generation plants across the third world or the melting of virtually all glaciers on the Earth.

Everywhere one turns there is evidence of world trauma and the displacement of peoples caught in the middle of wars over diminishing resources.

I welcome the environmental activism of young people. I remember avidly studying the world’s geography in grade school when much of the planet was still labled unexplored in world atlases. Now the new world ethos is summed up in the song lyric: “You pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Silverfish and Daddy long legs

A week ago I saw the first silverfish since I was in junior high school in North Mankato, Minnesota. Back then our basement had these creepy silvery bugs in it. A lot of them. I squashed the one who wriggled into dreaded light last week. They are found in damp places and avoid the light. Our house in North Mankato lay in the Minnesota River’s flood plain. It had been flooded in 1950 the year I was born in Kansas although, I would not move in with the silverfish until thirteen years later.

Reading the Wikipedia entry on the critters I realized they were not a new species in our area. Its just one I’d not seen before so unlike the cardinals I’d grown up with in Kansas but only started seeing twenty years ago its not a species fleeing climate change.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned the venus fly trap we bought for our older grandson. It has a taste for daddy long legs. We took it outside by our garden and it has consumed about a half dozen of them. The last one managed to have half its body sticking out of the Venus’s maw and not just its legs.

We also have been setting a trap for fruit flies which invade this time of year. Its a jar containing apple cider with a saran wrap cover poked with toothpick holes. Its very gratifying to see the little buggers dive to their doom though one of the holes.

half a ton of sand

I occasionally get a little anal retentive about clean up. Ten years ago I noticed a lot of cigarette filters along the thin boulevard along my retaining wall along 21st Ave East in Duluth. I collected 132 of them from street to alley. That’s bad. I was tempted to write about them in the Duluth Reader but never got around to it.

For about ten years the City of Duluth has been sweeping up the winter sand it strews on the avenue to keep cars from sliding off the road or into the intersection. This year I waited a long time to see the little sweeper that brushes off the sand. It drove up the hill one day but never returned to sweep my sand. A week ago I sent emails to a couple of City departments asking which was responsible for clean up. One supervisor told me it was street maintenance’s department but I’ve never heard back from them not even when I sent them this picture after I picked out the leaves which I took to the yard compost facility on 27th Ave West.

Over the week-end of nothing more than cold shoulder from street maintenance I began cleaning off the sidewalk. Today I called and left a message to the manager explaining that I had swept up the sand myself but telling him I hoped they would pick up the piles which I placed around a construction sign they behind. The sign was held down by a couple of 40 pound sand bags to keep it from blowing over. Comparing the bags with the two mounds of sand behind them I estimate that I swept up a thousand to 14 hundred pounds of sand. Imagine them along every half block of street artery in Duluth after the winter. The sand would probably do a good job plugging up our sewers. At least they aren’t cigarette filters.

Mining Minnesota

The Glen Avon Presbyterian Men’s group getting a good look at Polymet Mine’s operations this May.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned here that my church men’s group got a tour of Polymet. I was impressed. Today I discovered that the little people who invested in the new mine have been used and now sold out so that Polymet can sell out to the huge mining investor Glencore. This is the outfit once headed by Marc Rich who Bill Clinton infamously pardoned on the last day of his Presidency.

Here’s what Minnesota Brown (Aaron Brown) wrote about this today: http://minnesotabrown.com/2019/05/polymet-leaves-some-investors-cold.html?unapproved=514092&moderation-hash=802b40e6d75ccff5c4c9222cc0e97bdc#comment-514092

Here was my two cents entered into his talk back section:

Aaron,

Letisha gave my church men’s group a tour of Polymet 2 weeks ago. I was impressed. Lurking in the back of my mind was Glencore. They seem to represent the nexes between profitability and amorality. Letisha told us of her decade working hard to open Polymet and add new mines to the Range. I guess she risks betrayal of that long work as well.

Reply

My aplogies to the WLSSD

The Western Lake Superior District is not the garbage and recycling company Waste Management that so disapointed me from January to April. Not surprisingly WLSSD was taken aback when they read an April 12 post complaining about their lousy service.

I got a very concerned email from the water treatment folks today seeking clarification and if possible a correction.

This is the email I just sent them:

WLSSD,

I am very sorry. I will make the change to Waste Management. WLSSD is next to it in my cell phone’s directory and I suspect that is why the acronym stuck in my head when I wrote that post.

I hope most of my readers saw my mistake but I will also post a correction for regular readers tonight in today’s posts.

My apologies
Harry

I am making the correction NOW. Tomorrow I am hauling last fall’s leaves to their compost site tomorrow! I don’t want to have to go wearing a disguise.

Chimpanzee’s didn’t do it

“Juan Percent took me to task over my Republican’s as Socialists column. His complaints had little to do with my column. His last comment in the Reader was as follows:

Juan wrote:

So you believe that climate change is 1. Man made 2. Is absolutely going to cause a disaster and 3. The green new deal and central planning will solve it. Of course you also bought into Russian collusion, so maybe you’re just easily fooled.

I replied:

Juan,

Let’s start with collusion. “Russia, if you’re listening, send us Hillary’s emails.” I could pretty well rest my case there and that was before Mueller started sending Trump’s cronies to jail. We will see how quick Trump is to force Javanka to release their private emails on foreign policy.

As for Global warming it’s simple. For 500 million years vegetation absorbed photons and made starchy energy rich carbon compounds out of them. Over those 500 million years erosion, sedimentation plate techniques and other geological forces buried a fabulous mother load of carbon based methane, coal, oil and natural gas in the ground thereby removing a heat trapping gas from the atmosphere. Something dug up a shitload of that energy, starting with the industrial revolution, and freed the carbon to refill the atmosphere and the oceans. It wasn’t chimpanzees that did all that!

Glaciers!!!

I was going to use a different title for this as my previous post suggested. It was to be “Read this you climate denying numnuts“. But “Glaciers!” is better because it reminds me of a family story.

This post was prompted by a story in the DNT a couple days ago but couldn’t find it on their website. But this will do. This news article stuck a cord in me.

When my children were little I developed a reputation for tiresome pedantry. (endless and boring explanations) Rather than getting all bent out of shape over my reputation I put it to good advantage with my nephews. One day I tried putting them to bed with the story of “Mr. Boring.” Mr.Boring talked about glaciers. He spoke slowly with big words and his super power was putting people to sleep. For a year or two afterward my nephews wanted me to tell them more Mr. Boring stories.

The starting point for original boring story were our Great Lakes which even now are full of the water that melted 10,000 years ago from the glaciers which covered half of the United States and all of Canada. A mere 10,000 years of rainfall has not been enough time to flush and replace the snow and ice that had accumulated over millions of years in the lake basins gouged out by the glaciers. And even now, 10,000 years later the ground beneath our feet is still upwelling like a cushion freed from our butts after we stand up.

But I’m not sure I ever considered that the original glacier was still in existence. A tiny remnant still exists covering one of Canada’s arctic islands. But it won’t be there for long. It survived two and a half million years but will be gone in a couple hundred more. As the story says our climate is warmer than when the mile thick North American glaciers began melting. This new climate is also turned its attention on Greenland and Antarctica as it hasn’t since our earliest ancestors stood up on the steppes of Africa.

To me the tribulations of a man who never expected to be President but only wanted to build his brand and his billions while blaming his expected defeat on election fraud are just piffle compared to what ten billions of humans will do to the Earth.
Panicking Republicans are manufacturing new crises to stave off the assault on their President’s. OMG -Minnesota has an Israel-bashing Muslim congresswomen !!! AOC has a Green New Deal!!! And don’t forget Socialism! or Impeachment!. Maybe they should have thought about that more when they tried to impeach Bill over mostly consensual sex.

Meanwhile the Earth is burning……..literally.

Jennifer challenges my “agnosticism” on Copper Nickle mining

From: “Zenith City Weekly”
To: “Harrywelty”
Cc:
Sent: Friday July 27 2018 7:44:41PM
Subject: Response to #4 Copper-nickel mining (with two follow-up questions)

Thank you for your detailed responses to my first set of questions, Harry. I really enjoyed reading your replies! I also enjoyed reading your responses to KBJR. Continue reading

Inside Baseball oops School Board – email 2

like Duluth the Minneapolis schools has decided to replace its rubber tire mulch. Cory Kirsling who has been lobbying the State Legislature with other ISD 709 parents to get rid of rubber tire mulch on State playgrounds forwarded this email to Duluth School Board members:

Hello board members
I’m sharing this email I just received, and want to thank you for your commitment.

Sincerely, Cory Kirsling

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Dianna Kennedy
Date: Apr 28, 2017 3:45 PM
Subject: MPS will replace the tire mulch!!!!
To: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE INCLUDING THE DULUTH SCHOOL BOARD

It’s official!!!

The Minneapolis Public Schools have included $3.3 million dollars in this year’s capitol budget to replace the tire mulch in all 47 playgrounds!!!! Thanks to the commitment of Director Nelson Inz and Superintendent Ed, the project is fully funded and work will begin soon.

What happened last night:

At last night’s Finance Committee meeting the new COO Karen DeVet and Superintendent Graff made a special point to announce that the project will be fully funded in the FY18 capitol budget. They are EXCITED about it and call it an early, positive step toward their larger overall Wellness goals. Of course, our champion Director Nelson Inz was there, but it was the chair of the committee, Director Jenny Arneson, who gave us our moment. She insisted on giving Graff and DeVet a few minutes to present the news despite the fact that the meeting was running very late. The committee then passed a motion to recommend all of the staff capitol budget recommendations to the whole board, making the recommendation to include playgrounds in the captiol budget official.

The big discussion last night was centered on the general budget (called Fund 1)—which is facing a very difficult deficit. You’ve probably been hearing about layoffs and difficult meetings. It seems that everyone is happy to have the capitol budget (called Fund 6) be dispute-free, as there is ample money in that fund to cover the projects they want and it cannot be used for the general budget.

After the meeting, I also learned that Superintendent Graff is planning a resolution for the May 9th school board meeting, in conjunction with the 1st reading of the budget to the whole board. The school staff and the school board are looking at this project as a positive action that they can tout…because they all really need something positive right now since the general budget is so difficult.

So we did it! They did it! Minneapolis children will have healthy playgrounds!

and like college campuses perhaps newspapers should be free from offensive politics

The Duluth News Tribune devoted almost an entire page to a dozen letters critical of a Steve Lindstrom cartoon that I thought was clever if a bit too easy. It showed the Dwarf “Doc” looking out of his mine at Dwarf “Dopey” who was drinking from mine waste dribbling out of the mine’s entrance. The caption explained that this is how Dopey got that way.

Many of the writers would have had the Tribune pull the cartoon like the disinvite of Coulter from UC Berkeley.

Here’s the first critical letter.

That the cartoon generated such a heated response was both a testament to Steve Lindstrom’s simple idea and perhaps to today’s Blue collar resentments.

I have not yet taken the time to read up on whether the mineral investors can be counted on to protect those of us who live downstream from their mine’s sulfides. Having a Donald Trump as our President only aggravates my concern. In the meantime, I welcome the skepticism cartoonist Lindstrom has aimed at the project just as I welcome the eruption late night humor directed at the Oval Office.

Save the Earth – start with rubber mulch

Duluth Parents for Healthy Playgrounds Playgrounds Fundraiser for Duluth Public Schools

Join the PTA for a family-friendly event with food, fun, cash bar, silent auction, and prize drawings! They are raising money to help the Duluth Public Schools remove tire mulch from the playgrounds and resurface them with wood fiber. Every dollar they raise (up to $30,000) will be matched by an existing playgrounds improvement fund started decades ago by the Miller family. Check their Facebook page for a list of the silent auction items that will be up for bid!

TICKETS FOR SALE!!! ?
Where to purchase:
Lester Park Elementary 4/13/17 at 5:30-7:00pm
Lowell Elementary 4/14/17 at 7:30-8:30am, 1:44-2:45, & 4:00-5:00pm
Skyline Bowling at front desk – Available Now!!… See More — with Duluth Public Schools in Duluth, Minnesota.

Ignorance is Bliss

From Chapter 14 of Destiny of the Republic: A tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President:

“Not only did many American doctors not believe in germs, they took pride in the particular brand of filth that defined their profession. They spoke fondly of the “good old surgical stink” that pervaded their hospitals and operating rooms, and they resisted making too many concessions even to basic hygiene. Many surgeons walked directly from the street to the operating room without bothering to change their clothes. Those who did shrug on a laboratory coat, however, were an even greater danger to their patients. They looped strands of silk sutures through their button holes for easy access during surgery, and they refused to change or even wash their coats. They believed that the thicker the layers of dried blood and pus, black and crumbling as they bent over their patients, the greater the tribute to their years of experience.”

Just as many politicians ridiculed Darwin in the Era of the Scopes Monkey Trial and today’s Republican party has concluded that 97% of environmental scientists are ignorant to believe that Carbon is causing Global Warming, there was a time when germs did not exist – at least not in America.

In Chapter 14 poor President Garfield’s medical care has just been commandeered by a self confident Doctor who has already stuck his unwashed finger and two long unsanitized probes into the President’s back. In the next fifty pages I will be reading more about how Dr. Bliss turns a wound that left untreated the President would have survived into a pus filled killer of the President.

Ignorance is Bliss takes on new meaning in this book. It killed Garfield in 1880 just as it threatens to kill the earth as we know it today.

Paradise

One of my latest sources of information and a highly visual one is Pinterest. On it a few months ago I found this arresting illustration showing Earth with its ocean and atmosphere congealed into spheres representing the non solid components of the planet:

I have always been interested in science beginning with dinosaurs and seashells. As a second grader I reconciled religion and science by determining that Adam and Eve were cavemen. The trouble is that I eventually concluded that Adam and Eve’s eariest ancestors were single celled organisms. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, is, is…..Wrong.

The message I take from this illustration is the fragility of our planet’s zone of habitability. Why are we not like Venus or Mars? Well, yes its partly our being in the goldilocks zone of not too hot and not too cold but there is much more to it. We have a Moon that was likely created by a massive collision four billion years ago. That collision and/or the Moon’s constant tidal influence seems to have given us an active interior which in turn has given us the magnetosphere which keeps killer cosmic rays [Correction – Earth’s magnetism keeps the solar wind, not cosmic rays, from stripping away our atmosphere] from ravaging life on Earth. Without this guide for compases our ocean would probably have been blown away into space as were the oceans of Mars. Perhaps those oceans now coat the comets in the Oort Cloud.

I’ve read many articles on how unlikely the Earth we live on is. At the same time I am inundated with news stories about how a massive human population is undermining the Earth’s livibility. But we only have Earth. I uploaded another space related post on just how remote we are from everywhere else in the Milky Way. It won’t be generations before we can get to other potentially habitable planets. Rather, it will be a hundred generations and possibly tens of hundreds of generations. And that doesn’t even begin to account for the time it will take to “terraform” other planets into zones where we can grow bacteria, insects, fish, palm trees let alone humans.

In the next couple of generations we will need to experiment by sending poor copies of Earth’s environment into our own solar system. Each such vessel will have to take a tiny grain of Earth with it like soup stock or starter dough. They will not be able to carry the zillions of lifeforms on Earth that keep our planet alive but they will have many generations to perfect their zoologies before we dare escape the Sun. In the meantime we must begin working overtime to give the remaining non-human part of Earth some space not to disappear. I love EO Wilson’s suggestion that we keep half of Earth for everything else. Developers will hate that idea and won’t rest until we humans can walk accross the oceans on all the floating garbage we let loose from our coastlines.

I talk about rejoining the Republican Party and bringing some sensibility back to it but the often flakey Green Party might be a better fit for me as I blunder into old age. It might welcome me hey, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican as well as the founder of our National Parks.

I always liked Joni Mitchel’s song Big Yellow Taxi:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ’em
No no no
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey farmer farmer
Put away the DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey, now they paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?
Listenin’ late…

A lot of the Earth that I knew as a child is gone. Even more of the Earth that existed when my Father was a child is gone not to mention what existed when his Father was young.

I’d like more than parking lots left for my Grandchildren.