Matthew’s Musings: March-April, 2013
By Matthew Schaut, MRVAC President
I’d hoped to have a better idea by now what the plan is. How are we going to meet our environmental challenges? I haven’t heard much from our Minnesota Congressional delegation or national leaders about our plan to address global warming, habitat destruction, human overpopulation or resource depletion. I can’t for the life of me understand why I am still waiting to hear whether or not the State Department and/or President Obama will nix the Keystone Pipeline. I write before the massive 350.org rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Feb. 17, 2013. Maybe our leaders are saving the hoped for announcement for that occasion? Why the wait? We can’t really afford to wait. (And even if they do nix the Keystone idea, Enbridge is a many-headed hydra – they are also trying to route pipelines through British Columbia and Maine.
If you think America’s commitment to its environmental protections is lukewarm at best, the situation right now is much worse in Canada and Great Britain). Scientific American recently published an article by James Hanson declaring that if the Alberta tar sands continue to be excavated, it’s “game over” for alleviating climate change. Where’s Al Gore when we need him? These days he seems more interested in selling radio stations high and buying Apple shares low – where is his voice and expertise? Is making money really that distracting?
Our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a long-time proponent of action to address climate change. At his Senate confirmation hearing, he said, “The solution to climate change is energy policy. And the opportunities of energy policy so vastly outweigh the downsides. You want to do business and do well in America? We’ve got to get into the energy race. Other countries are in it… This is a place for us to recognize what other countries are doing and what our states that are growing are doing.” Kerry is talking about a 6 trillion dollar green energy market. Will he have any visionary partners in a truly Green Marshall Plan?
There are things being done. I just signed a petition asking Governor Dayton to aim for a 10% solar energy standard in 20 (I think) years. I added a comment – “why 10%? Why not 40%, 50%, 100%? Why not outdo Germany?” Our leaders aim so low. Are we asking too little? I signed another petition and afterwards the petitioning organization presented a list of activist environmental groups supporting the issue. The Audubon Society wasn’t even on the list. That chagrined me. It’s nice to have corporate partners and friends in high places, but if the world is burning it’s not that important. Business as usual, the cacophony of competing interests, the disastrous and outdated endless growth models of economic development (read: habitat destruction, resource exploitation, population explosion) – we can’t afford it!
The Audubon Society should be the most reliable partner at the forefront of the effort for desperately needed change. The National Audubon has initiated a Spanish language website, which is pretty exciting. I hope it gets more people involved in conservation efforts and helps MRVAC reach more underserved youth. Neotropical migrants need all the allies they can get in the Spanish-speaking diaspora.
At MRVAC’s January presentation at the refuge visitor center, Dr. Robert Zink said there were 5 billion North American migrants. Dr. Zink’s talk, Bird populations vs. man-made threats, was somewhat heartening. He analyzed the impact of collisions with buildings on bird populations and concluded that such collisions are not a major impact on population mortality. The statement that there are 5 billion migrants per year was meant to be reassuring, but it frightened me. The world population of Homo sapiens outnumbers North American neotropical migrants, and we are large galoots. Do the birds even have a chance? I worry about the cumulative negative effects of all the various human-caused challenges birds face when aggregated together. We have species after species steadily (or precipitately) declining.
Another encouraging initiative is an effort to start clubs for young birders. Here in Minnesota, the effort is being called Minnesota Young Birders Club, and it is open to youth ages 13-18 in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. It’s an initiative of the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center. More information can be found on page 6 and at the website warnernaturecenter.com/youngbirders, or by contacting Outreach Coordinator Kirk Mona at email@example.com. He is looking for participants.
Trumpeter Award Nominations Due March 26
The Trumpeter Award is given to one of MRVAC’s members for outstanding long-term contributions to the organization. Nominate someone today! Read more.
2013 Birdathon: May 1-13
Go birding for a day in early May, and help raise money for educational projects to get kids outside and interested in exploring wild places. It’s easy and fun! Learn more!
2012 Christmas Bird Count Results
Birders braved a drizzly weekend to count birds and enjoy a potluck dinner in the 2012 Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Minnesota Young Birders Club formed
Do you know a budding birder ages 13-18? An initiative of the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center, The Minnesota Young Birders Club connects youth to other young birders in the state via monthly field days, workshops and social media. Learn more.
Long-time MRVAC member Dorothy Taylor dies
Former MRVAC membership chair Dorothy Taylor passed away on January 31, 2013 at the age of 86. She was an avid birder and volunteer for Hennepin Parks and other community organizations as well as for MRVAC. Dorothy, along with her husband Richard, lived at Friendship Village, Bloomington in recent years. There she continued to remain active until contracting influenza a few weeks ago. She died after a brief hospitalization. A memorial service was held at Friendship Village on Saturday, 1 PM, February 9. Family prefers memorials..
Elementary Classrooms Eligible for Free “Audubon Adventures”
For many years, MRVAC has provided “Audubon Adventure” materials to elementary school classrooms in our area. Money raised at the Birdathon and fall auction is used to purchase these kits. Read more.
Treats Needed for Upcoming Meetings
If you can bring a few dozen cookies, bars or some easy-to-eat snack to share at the September or October meeting, please call Jan at 952-858-8604.
Steve Weston receives the 2012 Trumpeter Award!
The Trumpeter Award is given to one of MRVAC’s members for outstanding long-term contributions to the organization, and this year the award went to Steve Weston. Steve has served as the chapter Program Chair for over 10 years, bringing a wide variety of excellent speakers to our monthly meetings. While in this position, he has also been an active member on the MRVAC board of directors. Read more.
Fire Codes Affect Seating in Refuge Visitor Center Auditorium
At upcoming MRVAC meetings (the 4th Thursday of the month, during the school year) you may be asked to fill up empty seats or move in towards the center to allow others to sit down in the auditorium. We cannot bring in extra chairs and sit in the back when the room starts to get crowded, due to fire regulations.
Please help us comply with the rules and allow us to continue meeting at the Visitor Center by switching seats if necessary and by not carrying chairs into the auditorium. Thanks.