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A World of Difference

Winter is synonomous with Minnesota. As a young boy I played in knee-deep snow that fell by Thanksgiving, certainly by Christmas, and stayed resolutely until early March. To combat the accompanying cold of bitter proportions I wrapped myself in one downy layer after another looking like a cross between the Michelin Man and that kid from A Christmas Story. Oh, how things have changed.

Recently, I attended a presentation at the University of Minnesota Morris by noted polar explorer Will Steger as well as J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director for Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ME3). Steger was clearly the headlining speaker, and I was excited as the next person to hear him talk on matters of global warming. Who wouldn't be? Steger has been a trailblazer, literally, dog-sledding across the North Pole, traversing Greenland, and making the first dog-sled journey from one end of Antarctica to the other. Heck, he's even crossed the Arctic Ocean by dog. Not surprisingly, he's still the only person to have done it. Given the rate at which the Arctic ice is melting and retreating, his record may stand for quite a while. I watched, fascinated, as he brought up one slide after another detailing the effects of global warming both in the arctic and the antarctic. Here was a person who had stood in places previously unvisited, white vistas of beautiful desolation, bringing back urgent stories for their survival.

Yet the most captivating speaker for me was not Steger, but Drake Hamilton from ME3. In contrast to Steger's global vision she offered real solutions to the problem of global warming on a more manageable local scale. With each passing minute I felt myself relax and a new-found sense of hope emerge. Perhaps, all was not lost. There was something I could do. Currently, ME3 is advocating in the Minnesota state legislature for a 20 percent renewable electricity standard by 2020. Makes sense to me. Do we really need more coal plants? It's time to look ahead to cleaner forms of energy like wind, solar and biomass. Such a move has already been made by a dozen or more states across the political landscape. Sure, investing in renewable energy is a little bit more expensive in the short-term, but the long term benefits will mean cleaner air, a more stabilized climate, and jobs in Minnesota.

To find out more about ME3 go to . While you're at it go to and using the link provided ask Governor Pawlenty how he will protect Minnesota's economy and natural heritage. I may be a bit more blunt and simply ask why he has not yet supported the clear-sighted 20 by 2020 initiative. Such a small step could make a world of difference.


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