Today we will welcome Earth Day, a time to review our biblical obligation to care for the earth and its natural resources. Beginning with verse 26 in Genesis, humans are placed upon the earth, told to be fruitful and multiply, and to replenish the earth. Humans receive dominion over the fish of the sea, and presumably the sea in which the fish live; over the fowl of the air and the atmosphere in which the fowl live; and over every living thing that moves upon the earth which humans must replenish.
The copper nickel Polymet mining project has cleared one of the hurdles in the way of approval, as its 3,500 page Environmental Impact Statement is deemed adequate by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. More hurdles involving finances, land restoration, and lawsuits by environmental groups remain to be topped.
Governor Dayton is now touring the proposed non ferrous metal mining projects on the Iron Range, as he wrestles with an approval decision. Nearly a billion years ago, the area that we now know as northern Minnesota was one of the most geologically active areas on earth. The Mid Continent Ridge was trying to separate the continent, leaving behind a curved gap in the ground which filled with water to become Lake Superior. Mineral rich magma thrust upward, leaving behind volcanoes and world class deposits of iron, copper, nickel and gold.
The new 170 page encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato SI, is an eloquent plea for an equitable distribution of the earth's resources, conservation, renewable energy and a caution to an affluent minority who believe they have "the right to consume in a way that can never be universalized." Few of us will dispute these themes, but it is worth a look at some of the details. The Laudato calls for consumption-oriented rich countries to address an "ecological debt" to less developed countries.
A new Supreme Court decision is restricting EPA's ability to limit emissions of carcinogenic mercury which results from coal burning. Where does that leave President Obama's Clean Power Plan? That plan is focused on limiting coal burning emissions of carbon dioxide(CO2), an invisible non-toxic trace gas which is an essential plant food, and with dangers less certain than those from mercury. The court's new decision focused on EPA's failure to do a cost-benefit analysis of its regulation.
"Today, our planet faces new challenges, but none pose a greater threat to future generations than climate change," President Obama wrote in his proclamation for April's Earth Day. "As a Nation, we must act before it is too late," he said. As to real future threats, a short distance north of the U.S. capitol smoke was rising over Baltimore as thousands of frustrated and disadvantaged youth rioted, torching cars and stores. Across the nation, the education and employment gap between the children of the well off and the less well off widens.
The latest alarmist climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) tells of "severe irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems." This follows a series of such IPCC reports, all of which have over estimated actual global temperature rise which has been a modest one degree or so since the Little Ice Age ended about 1800. Last year, as the Twins took the field for a frigid opening day, I was reminded of a recent comment from one of my college's most distinguished professors.
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the latest Obama administration plan to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants, especially coal burners, the country's single largest source of the heat-trapping gas. The new program bypasses Congress and uses the president's authority under the Clean Air Act to achieve greenhouse gas reductions. It will raise threats of lawsuits, claims of job losses and higher energy prices, and references to the recent pause in global temperatures dating from the beginning of the 21st century.
The cringing professor (Cringe-worthy June 27) objects to my statement that CO2 doesn't cause asthma and heart attacks. He cites dangers from mold, pollen, and ozone which have nothing to do with CO2. So keep drinking that Coca-Cola; you may gain weight but you won't get asthma from the CO2. He didn't like my reference to all of the CO2 that we inhale and exhale with each breath without harm to us. It doesn't harm the planet either. He also claims damage to plants from CO2. He needs to tell that to greenhouse operators who pump CO2 into their greenhouses to enhance plant growth.
Speaking in his weekly radio address, President Obama argued that the new EPA rules limiting power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions "would reduce asthma attacks by 100,000 and heart attacks by 2,100 just in the first year." But the new EPA standards are not aimed at carbon soot, mercury, sulfur or other coal burning particulates that affect human health. The EPA standards control carbon dioxide, not carbon emissions. When carbon based fuels burn, the carbon unites with oxygen, producing CO2, a non-toxic greenhouse gas which we inhale and exhale with each breath.