Sunday, April 16, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
A Long-Term Look At Environmental, Political, and Social Issues, From The Perspective Of Michigan’s Oldest (and Most Optimistic) Tree Species
By Marvin Roberson
I was recently talking with a friend of mine about this column, and she challenged my assertion that things are getting better in terms of implementation of progressive values. She acknowledged that in many of the examples I’ve given, things are improving long-term. However, she noted that even if the overall progress is positive, I had to admit that there is regression sometimes.
She noted that “We’re moving in the right direction long term” is of little comfort to those who experience the actual effects of regressive policies. In the current political environment, people are being discriminated against, and rights are being devalued, solely based on color, religion, and gender. Telling folks who are experiencing this bigotry that “It’s OK because things are getting better long term” is not much help.
She’s got a point. There is no question that regardless of long-term outlooks for progressive policies, people get hurt during the “backlash” periods. And this is happening right now. No question about it. People are getting hurt.
However, I’m not claiming that everyone, all the time, in every issue, will experience the benefits of progress. I’m claiming that the overall trend is towards Progressivism, even as there are periods of setbacks.
It is rare that any issue gets set back far enough to erase all progress. In other words, even during periods of setback, the worst of it is not as bad as the worst was in previous times.
Below is a graphic illustration of my point (thanks to volunteer Sarah Tresedder for another wonderful graphic):
In this graphic, the black, line is the graph of actual progress (according to me). The red line is the average.
Note that the average goes up, as I’ve described. However, also look at the peaks and valleys. The high points of each peak get higher each time, as do the low points. In other words, even during setbacks, not all progress is lost. And after the setback, we reach more progressive heights over time.
This is illustrated by my friend herself. She is a highly talented professional, and the CEO of a non-profit. There are setbacks in women’s rights happening right now. No question. However, even during this period, she is still experiencing the progress made during previous periods.
A century ago, she would not have been allowed to vote, much less run a non-profit and supervise a number of male employees. And even during the pushback we’re experiencing right now, no one is suggesting rolling back the 19th Amendment. No one is suggesting outlawing her right to run a company.
So progress that has been achieved is almost never rolled all the way back (I say “almost never” because I never us superlatives...I’ll wait a minute while you think about that assertion).
In addition, it is almost never the case that progress in all areas is rolled back significantly all at once. Partly that’s because each type of progress (gender equity, environmental issues, etc.) has its own constituency and its own enemies.
So almost never is there a monolithic “roll back everything” movement (no matter how much it might feel that way). And the moving target of various constituencies makes that almost impossible, even if it were to come to pass.
To recap: Things are moving in the Progressive direction over time. Everyone experiences at least some of this progress, even during the regressive periods. Even the regressive episodes move in the Progressive direction, over time.
Next time - I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. Consequently, television has been a bigger part of my life that I like to admit. However, TV provides a lens into how our society looks at issues of concern to Progressives. I’ll talk about that.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Alliance for the Great Lakes - American Rivers - Bad River Watershed Association - BaySail - Bluestem Communications - Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper - Clean Water Action - Clean Water Action of Minnesota - Detroit Riverkeeper - Environmental Law & Policy Center - Freshwater Future - Friends of Pool 2 - Friends of the St. Joe River Association - Genesee Valley Audubon Society - Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition - Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters–USA–JPIC - Hoosier Environmental Council - Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited - Indiana Wildlife Federation - Izaak Walton League of America - Izaak Walton League of America, Headwaters Chapter - Izaak Walton League of America, National Great Lakes Committee - Kentucky Waterways Alliance - Lake Erie Foundation - Michigan Wildlife Conservancy - Milwaukee Riverkeeper - Minnesota Conservation Federation - Minnesota Division, Izaak Walton League of America - Minnesota Lakes and River Advocates - National Wildlife Federation - Natural Resources Defense Council - Nature Abounds - Ohio Environmental Council - Prairie Rivers Network - Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes - Save the River - Schlitz Audubon Nature Center - Sierra Club - Tennessee Clean Water Network - Tipp of the Mitt Watershed Council - Wastewater Education 501(c)3 - The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay - The Wetlands Initiative - Wisconsin Trout Unlimited - Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
March 23, 2017
On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Great Lakes and Mississippi River advocates that our organizations represent, we write today to ask that you immediately release the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Brandon Road Tentatively Selected Plan. This plan seeks to provide options to reduce the risk of Asian carp from entering and decimating the Great Lakes.
Asian carp are a widely recognized threat to the Great Lakes. Our regions have spent years developing plans to stop Asian carp from adversely impacting the Great Lakes economy, and any further delay in advancing plans could allow carp to continue their movement towards the Great Lakes. The Brandon Road study is one piece of a comprehensive approach needed to stop Asian carp. The study is assessing the viability of establishing a control point at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to protect against the one-way, upstream transfer of aquatic invasive species (AIS) like Asian carp from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes. In addition to providing stronger protections against Asian carp, technologies to be evaluated at Brandon Road could be critical for subsequent efforts to stop dozens of AIS poised to move into the Mississippi River region.
The Corps was ready to release its Tentatively Selected Plan for Brandon Road on February 28, 2017. However, the Corps recently announced that the release of the draft study was being deferred “pending further coordination” with government officials and other groups. We strongly disagree with this deferral since the Corps has been coordinating with a wide range of stakeholders for years on Brandon Road and all other aspects of the region’s Asian carp defense.
Completing this study without delay has been a priority since 2015, when the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee, which includes organizations like the American Waterway Operators, the Great Lakes Commission, and dozens of other stakeholder groups representing commercial, recreational, and environmental interests from both the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions, wrote the President asking him to provide all the necessary resources to the Brandon Road study so it could be completed “as quickly as possible.” The August 31, 2015, letter further states:
“Given the challenges and lengthy timeframe associated with a long-term solution for two-way inter-basin transfer, advancing work at Brandon Road should be one of the Corps’ top priorities for achieving greater protection from AIS in the near term. Not only is Brandon Road an important control point for the movement of AIS such as Asian Carp [sic], it also presents an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of control technologies and how to ensure their compatibility with transportation, the natural environment, and other important factors on the waterway.” (Letter attached)
The Corps’ recent decision to delay progress on this important project is unacceptable. We ask that you contact the Corps immediately and demand the release of the Tentatively Selected Plan for Brandon Road, so that the region does not lose any more time protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp.
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Bad River Watershed Association
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Action of Minnesota
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Friends of Pool 2
Friends of the St. Joe River Association
Genesee Valley Audubon Society
Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters – USA – JPIC Hoosier Environmental Council
Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited
Indiana Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America
Izaak Walton League of America, Headwaters Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, National Great Lakes Committee
Kentucky Waterways Alliance
Lake Erie Foundation
Michigan Wildlife Conservancy
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Minnesota Division, Izaak Walton League of America
Minnesota Lakes and River Advocates
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council Nature Abounds
Ohio Environmental Council Prairie Rivers Network
Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes Save the River
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Tennessee Clean Water Network
Tipp of the Mitt Watershed Council Wastewater Education 501(c)3
The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay The Wetlands Initiative
Wisconsin Trout Unlimited
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation