Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oh giddy rapture

Despite a daytime high still edging eighty
  local flora and fungi have decided that summer is a goner
   and the time is here to abandon the tired green
     for a cooler, richer color scheme

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer wanes

Rain yesterday in the amount of 0.9 inches
nary the past three weeks
if you don't count the spit in the ocean
that is eleven drops

overnight Lobsters abound
and the first ever Hedgehogs
I spy

Hazelbrush yellows
as the raspberry fruits fall


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A well aimed hammer

 Although politics and the environment are the stuff of my daily work life, I don't write much about it here. However, the last couple of weeks have been partially filled with data reviews and conversations relating to the current debate about the exclusions to the Clean Water Act and whether they should be reconsidered in some near future legislation, either in a revised Act or in some new rule making effort here in Minnesota.  In the course of these conversations, there has been a lot of talk from the more right leaning side of the political spectrum about "regulation" and "over regulation" and how it stifles business, kills jobs and is generally a bad thing for everyone it touches.
I respect that point of view (to a point), but when I have asked for specific examples of the evils of society's rules, at least in the context of environmental regulation, I haven't received an answer that can be debated.  Rather, it appears that people just don't like having to plan ahead and think a little bit beyond the scope of their own lives. Considering the other person, therefore is somehow unnecessary and in the extreme even "un American".

Reading MinnPost this evening, I saw a comment to an article about the Republican hopeful who is running against the Democratic incumbent for US Senate this fall.  The article is about fact checking and how data gets spun, but the comments to the article are where the fun really is at. The commenter provided what I think is lacking in much of our political debate - that we have regulations for good reasons. To me, this is a brilliant piece of context to the debate. And funny. I don't know the writer making the comment, but I appreciate his courage to put this out there. Here it is:

Logan, you raise a good point. There's always talk about regulations being bad without any indication as to *which* regulations. It's important to remember that the regulations were put in place to fix a problem. For example, some idiot dumped the waste from their factory into the stream because there isn't a law saying they can't do it. So a new law gets enacted.

Then they dump the waste into the ground because the new law only mentions streams and then we're back to the races again. We wouldn't need all these regulations if people would simply do what's right for society rather than simply maximizing profits. It's the same problem we've been dealing with for hundreds of years: business owners want to privatize profits and socialize loses. If the pollution drifts downstream into the water supply of the next town, well tough petunias. The company will simply do their best to delay the regulatory process, deny there's an issue, ruin the reputation of the scientists studying the issue, and then declare bankruptcy when all else fails. Oh, but not before voting a big bonus for the company officers while laying off all the employees.

Then the assets are bought up for pennies on the dollars at bankruptcy auction, a new corporation is formed, and they complain about how regulation is such a burden on them. "Gosh," they cry, "we could add so many jobs to your area if only we didn't have the burden of regulation. Won't you please reduce you regulations so we can repeat the above process all over again?
Been there, done that, got the T shirt dipped in asbestos.

Beautiful man, beautiful!