Statewide: March 10, 2011 Archive
Protesters flooded the Wisconsin Capitol after Republican lawmakers voted to limit collective bargaining rights for unions.
"In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin," -- Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller.
The procedure will likely face a challenge in the courts due to the short notice of the vote. Union leaders across St. Croix river are weighing their options and preparing for their next step. KSTP reported live from Hudson last night that "public union leaders across Wisconsin decried the vote as a sad day for Wisconsin and the country."
Also clicking on MN Today:
Bank employees charged with $10 million fraud
Federal prosecutors said they've made arrests in a $10 million fraud scheme against national banks that include U.S. Bank, TCF Bank and Wells Fargo (BizJournal).
Governor sides with mayors
No one argued over the need to continue state city aid during a meeting of Minnesota mayors and Gov. Mark Dayton, but it will be a different story when Republicans who control the Legislature write their budget (Daily Globe).
Mayor Ness: emergency pothole and water main repairs are wasteful
Duluth Mayor Don Ness said two decades ago, the city had fewer than 50 water main breaks annually. That has jumped to more than 140. He said it costs the city $1-million each year to do emergency repairs. It's one possible place the mayor will cut back spending (WDIO).
Outside report critiques Hermantown PD
The Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute report says communication within the department had become strained under former police chief Mike Anderson, leading to a divided workforce, and poor department morale (Northland News).
A few inches of new snow can't stop Community Sandbagging Day
Busloads of local students converged on Jerome's Addition this morning in an effort to protect the neighborhood with sandbags from a 28-foot crest of the Red Lake River. The students were joined by various other community volunteers (Crookston Times).
Hibernating bear found with 2 cubs in Brainerd park
That a bear is hibernating in the park came as a bit of a surprise to Paul Roth, the longtime manager at Crow Wing. Roth has no way of knowing for sure. But, because this bear had at one time been fitted with a radio collar, the DNR was able to keep tabs on it, tracking it right to the park (Grand Forks Herald).
Blog Box Star Tribune: The Current doesn't deserve taxpayer funding
Riffing on National Public Radio's latest embarrassment, the Star Tribune editorial page takes a passive-aggressive shot at MPR's The Current (Braublog).
Does energy efficiency matter? (Part II)
Well, some in the Insight Now community gagged on the cookie analogy when explaining the so-called "rebound effect" when it comes to more energy efficient products (hybrid cars and CFL light bulbs). To explain why energy efficient cars and light bulbs might not lead to reduced use of fossil fuel or energy units, we used low-calorie foods, specifically cookies. The point was that more efficient (or lower in calories) only means we consume more.
Some who commented weren't sold on the notion that more efficient products make us change our habits. In fact, there was some expression that life can't be reduced to an exercise of moral exhibitionism, which the concept of the "rebound effect" as explained implied.
Then we received an email from the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the "How Efficienty Can Increase Energy Consumption" - that gained such attention in recent weeks. The director, Jesse Jenkins, provided an FAQ on the "rebound effect" and the report's conclusions, it's worth a look.
Jenkins explained that the "rebound effects" are larger than the direct, behavioral responses I focused on in my post. Instead they are much larger, "at the scale of the entire economy, as multiple rebound mechanisms interact. As we conclude in the report, rebound effects are real, and significant, and combined, can erode much if not all of the expected energy savings from efficiency measures that truly pay back more than they save."
And finally, Jenkins writes:
"(You) ask in your post, "How much does energy efficiency matter in the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions?" The answer is that efficiency features prominently in almost all conventional carbon reduction and climate mitigation strategies ... (and) the remarkable fact is that these climate strategies ignore rebound effects, which means we're counting on efficiency to do far more work than it actually can. If rebound means we take two steps forward and one (or more) steps back (on the climate front) when pursuing efficiency efforts, we must more vigorously pursue the other big carbon reducing lever at our disposal: decarbonizing the energy supply itself, by shifting to clean and massively scalable zero-carbon or low-carbon energy alternatives."So a more chastened host would love to pivot the question to ask this:Do we depend far too much on energy efficient products to meet environmental challenges like carbon emission reduction? What should be our course of action?
Spit out the cookies and chew on that for awhile. Click here and get in on the action
Posted at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2011
by Dan Gunderson
Filed under: Environment
Researchers have collected more data that shows how widespread endocrine active chemicals are in Minnesota surface water. It appears these chemicals are found in most rivers and lakes in the state, even in remote locations.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency scientists are analyzing groundwater to see if these chemicals are also found in aquifers. It will be several months before that research is completed.
Endocrine active chemicals are compounds that might come from detergents, plastics, or pharmaceuticals, just to name a few sources. They can mimic hormones in the body and potentially have a variety of effects.
Minnesota researchers are focusing primarily on fish as they look for these effects.
A recent study by a Swedish researcher found Levonorgestrel, a pharmaceutical progestin used as a contraceptive, causes sterility in frogs.
The study, done at the Department of Environmental Toxicology, Uppsala University found exposure to low levels of the progestin
"severely impaired oviduct and ovary development and fertility."
The study found that after mating, only one of 11 female frogs laid eggs, while all of the females who were not exposed to the drug laid eggs.
The Swedish researchers point out that as several progestins are commonly found in surface water, more research is needed to study the effect on wild frog populations.
Some Minnesota scientists believe the use of DNA micro array technology will offer new insights on how these drugs affect aquatic life. The micro array research lets scientists see which of thousands of genes are switched on or off by the chemicals in surface water.
Minnesota scientists have discovered hundreds of genes in fathead minnows are affected by the endocrine active chemicals in surface water. For example, genes related to the immune system and the formation of red blood cells are changed.
By knowing what functions those genes control, scientists will then be able to focus on specific physiologic systems, like the immune system, or creation of red blood cells to learn what the long term effects are.
Until now, much of the research has focused on how endocrine active chemicals affect reproductive systems. But it appears they could have much broader affects, at least on aquatic species.
Listen to my story Friday on the MPR News program Morning Edition.