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The perfect storm


Fri, Aug 31st, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Not many of us would consider the recent rains that brought such devastating flooding to our region, the perfect storm. Most would consider the perfect storm as one that would have brought its 10+ inches of rain, with us making note of only how the water hugged the river's outer banks, not of how people hugged the roofs of their flooded homes. But indeed a perfect storm did hit us this month; a perfect storm of geography, topography, climate change, and land use.

It is easy to see how the bluffs and valleys make us vulnerable to heavy rainfalls but what has been more of an abstraction is how change in our weather patterns and land-use intensifies that vulnerability. Aside from an increase in air temperature, many scientists have also been quoted stating that climate change may result in greater weather extremes. For example, in Minnesota we may not see a decrease in average total rainfall but a decrease in the frequency of rain events with increasing rainfall event totals. What once was abstract is now a tangible reality. July gave us 3 inches of rain, August has given us 24. The blufflands can tolerate natural rainfall pressures; the flooding occurs when we receive more than 1.5 inches over six days. We now see what happens when we receive roughly 14 inches over three days.

Some say that there have always been natural changes in climate and humans aren't the cause and let us assume for the moment (and only for this moment) that is true. Regardless, we should look closely at whether the ways we are using the land allow it to tolerate the consequences of the natural change in weather and climate.

For the past century we have been drastically altering our landscape. In the last 100 years southeastern Minnesota's natural forest cover has been reduced from approximately 60% in the late 1800s to 15% in 1990. Most of this land has been developed or converted to cropland, even in historic floodplains. In the 6 counties that make up southeastern Minnesota (Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona), corn and soybean acreage is at historic levels, making up 75% of all crops grown. Corn and soybeans are more susceptible to soil and water runoff than other perennial crops. By eliminating ground cover and replacing it with erodable crops, blacktop, concrete, and rooflines we are pushing more and more water into our already strained watersheds.

While I hope that the residents of Fillmore County will never have to experi .....
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Loans to Rushford businesses may not be enough

Fri, Aug 24th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

When asked early last week whether the recent rainfall was a 50 year or 100 year event, Fillmore County Engineer John Grindeland shrugged his shoulders.

"Who can conceive of 17 inches of rain?" Grindeland asked rhetorically.

Call i ..... 
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We all must do our small part to rebuild Rushford

Fri, Aug 24th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Friday, August 18, was a pretty typical day in Rushford. At least for me. I dragged myself out of bed to go walk the high school track. The R-P football team was practicing next door on the practice field by 7:30 a.m. I like watching their practices ..... 
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The bogeyman is gone

Fri, Aug 17th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Karl Rove will be departing the White House at the end of August, leaving Washington, our government and the party of Lincoln in tatters. The brains behind George Bush, Rove's take-no-prisoners political tactics set the tone for this presidency, an ..... 
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Enough is enough

Fri, Aug 10th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Had enough? Tired of the war? Tired of the government seemingly helpless (or is it hapless?) to deal with the problems directly in front of them? Tired of paying taxes and not getting the bang for your buck you had expected? Tired of the "rich" gett ..... 
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Eisenhower showed us how to get the job done

Fri, Aug 10th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

As a young boy I remember exploring the tall sand hills about a mile from where I grew up in Austin. At the time I was too little to know what they were to be used for.

A few weeks ago, I drove over that same hilly ground I first visited in ..... 
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Bush the Blacksmith

Fri, Aug 3rd, 2007
Posted in Commentary

As a philosopher, President Bush would make a good blacksmith.

The House and Senate are debating extending one of the most successful healthcare programs, the State Children's Health Insurance Program or SCHIP. Bush says he is opposed to the ..... 
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Bush talks to an Old Testament God

Sat, Jul 28th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

After the 2004 election, I was mystified over the "moral values" thing. The notion that George Bush's lying about WMD and the killing of so many innocent people in Iraq could be parlayed into good election karma never occurred to me.

And th ..... 
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God bless our troops, bring them home

Fri, Jul 20th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

If the politicians who call for war were the soldiers headed for the trenches, there would be no war.

I'm not really sure where or when I read that thought-provoking statement, but I certainly feel it is quite valid. I hope what I have to sa ..... 
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