By Mo Schriner
with contributions by e-news editor Sid Farrar

The climate crisis is leading organizations of all sorts to be faced with – and forced to answer – tough questions. Those tough questions were a common theme in this week’s climate news, compiled and distributed daily by MN350 volunteer Sid Farrar. Here are just a few of the tough questions on climate and the who, what, why, when and how of organizations responding with actions to protect the environment:

What would be the impact of an oil spill in Lake Superior’s watershed?
That unanswered question was reason enough for the Minnesota Court of Appeals on June 3 to reverse the state Public Utilities Commission’s actions to approve the Line 3 replacement project’s environmental review, saying it was inadequate for not considering an oil spill impact on Lake Superior.

Read the Court of Appeals’ opinion, along with other news and key project documents for the Line 3 Project, in this compilation published online by Minnesota Department of Commerce.

How did bees and other environment issues fare in the 2019 Minnesota Legislature?
Minnesota Public Radio environmental reporters published this comprehensive assessment of environmental issues that the Minnesota Legislature did – or did not – address in the 2019 session and special session. How did bees fare?

Rusty-patched bumble bee on culver’s-root at UW–Madison Arboretum. Photo: Susan Day/UW–Madison Arboretum

The rusty patched bumblebee, on the brink of extinction in cities in the Upper Midwest, was named the official state bee of Minnesota. Lawmakers also set aside $900,000 to assist homeowners to convert from turf grasses to native grasses, wildflowers and clover as part of an effort to help rebuild the state’s bee population.

But lawmakers did not ban neonicotinoid pesticides widely used on lawns, gardens and crops, even though earlier bills in the Senate and House had language for banning the bee-killing chemical. Among the lengthy list of unanswered environmental issues is when will the state of Minnesota commit to carbon free in 2050? That issue will return for the 2020 Legislature to debate.

Why did the biggest 215 global companies estimate $1 TRILLION at risk from climate impacts?
The corporations measured future risks as part of this survey by CDP, a nonprofit formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, which for the first time asked for explicit calculations of how the climate crisis would affect businesses. Investors require corporations to disclose risks, and the CDP survey found the $1 trillion at risk would likely hit within the next 5 years. Climate impacts include risks due to extreme weather interrupting services or productions, as well as loss of markets as consumers and investors shift to low-emission producers.

But the consumer and investor shift to low-emission producers also offers business opportunities, calculated at over $2 trillion, from new products and services, such as electric vehicles.

How many extra days does Minnesota have hazy skies from wildfires?
Wildfire season in the western region of the U.S. is now about 105 days longer, compared to the 1970s, in an analysis by Climate Central, reports Minnesota Public Radio’s meteorologist Paul Huttner and digital reporter Cody Nelson. The West also has wildfires burning six times the acreage and has three times more fires that exceed a thousand acres. Fires in north-central Alberta, Canada, were sending smoke particles to Minnesota the first week of June.

What do the House Oceans Caucus co-chair and first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean say about the climate crisis?
To protect our planet, look to the ocean. The power and importance of our ocean are simply too great to ignore. Read the co-chair and scientist’s opinion published in The Hill.

Is there a better way to think and talk about the climate crisis?
Yes, according to Per Espen Stoknes, a psychologist and economist professor and director for the Center for Green Growth at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway. Listen to the compelling arguments of Per Espen, one of five TED Talks speakers featured on this week’s episode of the NPR podcast TED Radio Hour, titled “Climate Crisis.”

The episode opens with the youthful, sincere voice of Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who at age 16 has become one of the world’s most influential climate activist leaders. She closes her TED Talk with these haunting words:

“And this is where people usually start talking about hope, solar panels, wind power, circular economy and so on. But I’m not going to do that. We’ve had 30 years of pep talking and selling positive ideas. And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t. And, yes, we do need hope. Of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action.

Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then and only then, hope will come. Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There aren’t rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. Thank you.”

Mo Schriner is a communication strategist and storyteller. Her goal as a volunteer with MN350 is to put into motion actions to solve the climate crisis.