Local Environmental News Tidbits
By Craig Minowa
For more information about local
environmental organizations, issues and events, go to
Worst News of the Week
Working in the environmental field, there’s a
ton of sucky news, but this one hit me the hardest this
week: I’m sure you’ve seen those horrifying images of
starving Ethiopians. Stomachs bloated. No energy to
swat away the flies. Well, from 1970- 1985, there was
a HORRIBLE drought in Ethiopia. 1.2 million people died.
Horrifying. This week’s news (covered in New York Times,
Washington Post and every other major periodical) tells
us that an international team of scientists are saying
that devastating African drought was due to air pollution
from industrialized nations in North America, Europe,
and Asia. The pollutant guilty of this atrocity is sulfur
dioxide, mainly from coal burning power plants (80%
of Duluth’s power is from coal). According to this life-altering
report, these pollutants “were able to alter the physics
of cloud formation miles away and reduce rainfall in
Africa as much as 50 percent”. Truth= The environmental movement is also a
human rights movement.
Eco-Quote of the Week
“You know what has to be done. Why
don’t you do it?”
Spirit Mountain/ Chapter 238- It
Two weeks ago the Duluth City Council voted 5-4
NOT to approve work permits for the proposed development
of a golf course and hotel on Spirit Mountain--hoorah.
65 people spoke at the meeting and over 100 citizens
rallied outside City Hall before the meeting to protest
the golf course—downright inspiring. Shortly after that,
Mayor Doty pulled out his usual dictatorial tactics
and vetoed the Council’s decision. In response, the
Council met last Monday night and tried to decide whether
or not to override the Mayor’s veto.
Duluth citizens, potential swing voter Councilor Ken
Hogg received 78 emails and 80 faxes last Monday, saying
it would be a mistake to let this project go through.
At the meeting, 26 people spoke to the Council about
the issue. Only one of those speakers wanted the project.
So democracy rules, right? Wrong. Conservative Duluth
City Council members (Hogg, Stenberg, and Stauber) responded
to the sound of old-school politics, rather than the
voice of those who put them in office. Needless to say,
they let the veto stand. As a result, work permits to
build a golf course and hotel on Spirit Mountain will
be approved by default Aug. 1 (and another old growth
forest/sacred Native American site/potentially powerful
tourist magnet will be lost forever). The developers still need approval from the state,
and some other permits, but this thing aint lookin’
But the real
shining light here is the fact that even though it’s
the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, and Spirit
Mountain is losing horribly (sorry, I hate sports analogies
too), it seems the folks of Duluth are not giving up.
In fact, they’re downright SUPERCHARGED. There’s talk
in the environmental community about lawsuits and peaceful
citizen “camp watches” up on Spirit Mountain (to make
sure the developers don’t start digging until they’ve
acquired all necessary permits). There’s plans to make
“Save Spirit Mountain” bumper stickers and buttons (according
to Skyline Planning and Preservation Alliance’s Nancy
Nelson, one potential slogan is from the last Forest
Fest “You can’t see the forest from the tees”). I’ve
heard of people saying they’d even chain themselves
to trees. Point being, this community has a lot of vitality—we
have too much energy to be pushed around by Dictator
Doty and his henchmen. If you’d like to get involved
in some way, shape or form, contact the ultimate Spirit
Mountain guardian angel, Nancy Nelson at 728-1002.
Eco-Fact of the Week
In an average
Northland Reader, the page my column is printed on can
be reused, chewed up and formed into roughly 178 spitballs
(based on experience and designing the ammunition to
be optimum size for launching through drinking straws).
Normally around 5,000 Northland Readers are printed
each week. If we get enough people (and saliva) together,
we could make nearly a million spitballs from my article
alone! That kind of artillery won’t actually hurt anybody,
but it’ll gross them out long enough for us to reclaim
some vital habitat for at least a few rare species.
My brilliance is stronger than an unspecified number
of 100 watt incandescent bulbs!
The Future of Park Point
July 23, citizens of Duluth met to discuss the future
of Park Point. The focus of the meeting was on issues
that have a negative land use impact on the area. To
assist the residents in creating a land-use plan for
the future, the consulting firm of URS was in attendance.
How’d it go? I have no frickin’ idea, the meeting was
Wednesday night, and my article is due on Tuesday. What
do you people want from me? If you’d like to get involved
in future discussions, call Charles Froseth, at 723-332
City of Duluth Going Solar?
True or false: Duluth’s local government is anti-environment.
The answer is “E”, none of the above. Actually, our
local government makes some pretty Green decisions every
now and then. You may remember, not too long ago, Duluth
became the first city in North America to ban the sale
of mercury thermometers. Well, there’s great news this
week, too. Thanks in part to local eco-superheroes like
Carin Skoog, Coordinator of Cities for Climate Protection,
a while back, the Duluth City Council signed a resolution
to become one of a handful of cities in the world to
be a part of a campaign to reduce greenhouse gases on
a local level.
As part of
its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
the City of Duluth has purchased and installed 8 – 300
watt photovoltaic (PV) modules on the roof of the Duluth
Public Library. The
2.4 kW solar paneling system will save the library over
$1,000 year in energy costs as it quietly produces clean,
renewable energy. St.
Louis County has also recently installed an 855 watt
PV system on the County garage. Both systems were designed and installed by
locally owned and operated Conservation Technologies.
to Skoog, the ringmaster of this earth-friendly energy
bonanza, “Putting this system on one of the area’s most
heavily-utilized educational facilities with over 250,000
annual visitors is a great way for the City to educate
and motivate the community to conserve energy resources.”
Following the PV installation, an ‘energy and environmental
resource display’ will be built in the Library. The kiosk’s computer will show real-time data
about how much energy the panels are producing, how
much greenhouse gas emissions are being saved, and compare
those statistics with other energy sources, such as
coal, oil, natural gas, wood, wind, and hydro.
the completion of the paneling install, a yahoo-one-heck-of-a-good-time
gathering is scheduled for Thursday, July 25th
at 10:00 a.m. outside the Duluth Public Library on Michigan
St. In addition
to the intelligent, environmentally ethical people that
will be in attendance, Mayor Doty will also be there
(but you can ignore him and his thugs, cuz they’re just using this event to greenwash us
all into thinking they’re environmental. In actuality,
they had very little to do with this. But after this
whole Spirit Mountain debacle, their political careers
are going to be over soon anyway…but I digress).
Back to the good news-
As well as
announcing the installation of the new solar energy
systems on Thursday, the City of Duluth will also have
its two most recent additions to the City fleet on hand
for Mayor Doty and local officials to inspect.
The City recently purchased two GEM (Global Electric
Motorcars) utility vehicles to be used for Lakewalk
maintenance and at the Lake Superior Zoo. The electric vehicles can drive up to 40 miles
on one charge, and use less than 0.18 kWh per mile. They are replacing gasoline-powered Gators,
are almost completely quiet, and the car at the Zoo
will soon be powered by a solar electric fueling station.
Skoog for Mayor.
Eco-Stuff Going On
25th 10am: Official public release of
the new solar panels on the Duluth Public Library…déjà
frickin’ vu. For more info, read this column.
Demise of Democracy- Come see mega-stars like Paul Wellstone
and John Stauber talk about the rise of corporate power,
simple living, environmentalism and the future of capitalist-based
democracy. More info? Contact the Institute for a Sustainable
Future at 525-7806 www.isfusa.org