Category Archives: Featured Local Businesses

NW Metro Businesses making a difference for Climate Change

Great River Energy and Renewable Energy

On Tuesday, January 9th Zac Ruzycki of Great River Energy made a presentation  titled “Great River Energy – Leading Cooperatively toward a Cost-Effective and Carbon Constrained Future” to NW Metro Climate Action members and guests. 


Great River Energy is a “generation and transmission” cooperative that  provides electricity to local electric co-ops across Minnesota.  Zac’s presentation led the captivated audience through several topics including changes in the industry, wholesale power markets and MISO as well as the numerous steps GRE has taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was a fascinating look into the world of energy and how the markets actually work, and what role renewables play now and in future. 

If you’d like to learn more visit the Great River Energy site, where you will find plenty of the information covered during the presentation.

As mentioned, GRE is involved with several innovative programs to promote energy consumption and renewable energy. Below is more information and helpful links on the great work Great River Energy is doing. 

 …GRE’s “Rәvolt” program which offers 100% wind energy at no extra charge for car charging by electric customers who buy electric cars 

 

GRE’s headquarters building in Maple Grove is very energy efficient.  It was the first LEED Platinum commercial building in Minnesota

 …GRE’s “Community Storage Initiative”, a program to help homeowners save money and reduce carbon footprint through use of electric water heaters that use cheaper nighttime electricity

…GRE’s partnership in a pilot project to bring electric school buses to Minnesota that will reduce emissions, fuel costs and maintenance costs

…GRE has accelerated the depreciation of its largest coal-fired generating plant so that its members will not be saddled with a “stranded asset” if/when burning coal becomes off-limits 

…GRE appreciates wind energy!  At minute 10:49 of the video linked immediately above, CEO David Saggau says “wind is quickly becoming the new baseload power, and to be viable going forward, all other resources must be flexible enough to be supplement to the wind”. 

NW Metro Climate Action looks forward to a continued partnership with our local leaders in Renewable Energy.

Climate Change Impact to BWCA

On Thursday, November 9th, NW Metro Climate Action group had the priveldge of hosting Dr. Lee Frelich, Director at The University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology, and Minnesota photographer and artist David Luke. They gave an informative and moving presentation on the future of Minnesota’s beloved BWCA boreal forests in relation to climate change. This topic touches the wild hearts of many Minnesotans. The great firs, birches and spruce forests of the BWCA are deeply embedded into the memories, identity and personal experiences of Minnesotans, holding real value in our lives.  

The question that Dr Frelich and David Luke answered is how will climate change impact these forests. While Dr Frelich provided the science, David showed us the vision in pictures of what will become of the BWCA in only a couple short decades.

Minnesota is made of four biomes: coniferous/boreal forest, prairie grasslands, deciduous forest, tallgrass aspen parkland. The boreal forests reach down from Canada and touch the northern part of the state, including the BWCA then stretching down along Lake Superior. The firs, spruce, birch, aspen and pines of the boreal forests thrive in this area due to the cold climate. These trees live in climates with long, severe winters (up to six months with mean temperatures below freezing) and short summers (50 to 100 frost-free days).

Climate change is caused by the dispersment of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Increased density in our atmosphere cause temperatures to increase. With the continued burning of fossil fuels, C02 levels have reached record levels this year of 410 ppm (parts per million), well above the 350 ppm needed to avoid global warming.

By the end of the century, and even if all UN proposals are met, we are still on track to reach 670 ppm, a rise in temperature of 3.7 degrees C. In Minnesota, this means our summers will be on average 13 degrees warmer. Minnesota’s climate will feel like Kansas, and the BWCA’s climate will be equivalent to Omaha.

Never mind all the health, lifestyle and economic impacts this will bring to Minnesota: What does this mean for Minnesota’s BWCA? It means our boreal forests will begin to disappear, replaced by either grasslands or more likely prairie within a couple of decades. Moose will be replaced with deer and Lynx with Bobcats. Much of the northern wildlife that we identify with Minnesota will be gone, including our state bird the Loon.

Other factors that will accelerate the change over from boreal to prairie forest, will be weather factors caused by climate change such as droughts, wildfire, blowdowns and insect infestation. Similar to the blowdown of 1999 that uprooted and snapped trees in 370,000 of the 1 million wilderness acres. One or two of these blowdowns would be enough to wipe out the tall spruce and firs, leaving the underlying new maples to repopulate the area. Increased temperatures would prevent new boreal forest trees from fighting back.

Also, phenological disturbances such as a 70 degree run of weather in March causes enough stress on the boreal forests to kill them, such as we have had in recent years. Perhaps after one year they would recover, but of a run of several years, which is a certainty in climate change, and they will not have the energy for a comeback. The boreal forest would be forced to surrender their ground to the soft prairies and maples.

David Luke provided both beautiful and disturbing before and after photographs of our BWCA forests today and what they will look like in future. Large green spruces, replaced by yellow grasses, trees that reach up into the sky, replaced by low lying shrubs and wide maples. Many of the pictures were taken on a lakes edge, and in the after pictures the firs and pines survive in haunting reflections upon the water.

When the lecture was complete, we were left with a deep sadness and need to grieve for our imminent loss.

The BWCA’s untouched, seemingly endless acreage of spruce, firs and pines are worth protecting for most. While climate change is a fact, the damage it prevails is still in our control. We as MN citizens need to know that we have a voice in protecting our environment and that which we love most about our state.

Please make your voice heard. Call or write your congressman, senator or local paper about this issue.

Go to our Action Center page to find your representatives and find other ways to get involved. 

To see David Luke’s imagery and learn about upcoming showings, visit his website here.

To read Dr. Frelich’s many papers on climate change and forestry, go to his website here.

 

 

 

NW Metro at Earth Day Marches

On April 22nd, Earth Day, the Kid’s Climate March along with the Science March ascended upon MN State Capital to protest Climate Change. Among the 10,000 participants were many from the Northwest Metro suburbs. All were there to show support for science and rally against our government’s anti environmental policies.

 

The Kids Climate March started in the brisk morning sunshine in the front of the Science Museum. Kids playfully tried on ferry wings and capes hand painted with messages of love, hope and resistance. Parents huddled around them, taking pictures and joining in their contagious upbeat attitude.

Kids from around the cities then took the stage to sing songs of inspiration and protest, sharing personal stories of Climate Change resistance and accomplishments.

 

 

With an air of empowerment the young advocates then took to the streets. The Science March fell in line in their ranks, accompanying them in their rally chants. Energy was high and moods were upbeat as passerby’s cheered the young and old on alike.

However, the notes of discord were not to be overlooked or ignored. Marchers were not shy about expressing their true feelings about their state representatives views of Climate Change. Eric Paulson, the House Representative for the NW suburbs, took some of the hardest hit.

 

After a day such as this, the power of people coming together for a single important cause can not be overlooked. And after the streets empty, the hope and expectation remains that each take the energy back to their communities and neighborhoods. For those in the Northwest Suburbs, we look forward to continued focus as we together, young and old, embrace and help build the climate movement.