Unions dismayed by Wisconsin vote

Protesters flooded the Wisconsin Capitol after Republican lawmakers voted to limit collective bargaining rights for unions.

“In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” — Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller.

The procedure will likely face a challenge in the courts due to the short notice of the vote. Union leaders across St. Croix river are weighing their options and preparing for their next step. KSTP reported live from Hudson last night that “public union leaders across Wisconsin decried the vote as a sad day for Wisconsin and the country.”

Also clicking on MN Today:

Bank employees charged with $10 million fraud

Federal prosecutors said they’ve made arrests in a $10 million fraud scheme against national banks that include U.S. Bank, TCF Bank and Wells Fargo (BizJournal).

Governor sides with mayors

No one argued over the need to continue state city aid during a meeting of Minnesota mayors and Gov. Mark Dayton, but it will be a different story when Republicans who control the Legislature write their budget (Daily Globe).

Mayor Ness: emergency pothole and water main repairs are wasteful

Duluth Mayor Don Ness said two decades ago, the city had fewer than 50 water main breaks annually. That has jumped to more than 140. He said it costs the city $1-million each year to do emergency repairs. It’s one possible place the mayor will cut back spending (WDIO).

Outside report critiques Hermantown PD

The Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute report says communication within the department had become strained under former police chief Mike Anderson, leading to a divided workforce, and poor department morale (Northland News).

A few inches of new snow can’t stop Community Sandbagging Day

Busloads of local students converged on Jerome’s Addition this morning in an effort to protect the neighborhood with sandbags from a 28-foot crest of the Red Lake River. The students were joined by various other community volunteers (Crookston Times).

Hibernating bear found with 2 cubs in Brainerd park

That a bear is hibernating in the park came as a bit of a surprise to Paul Roth, the longtime manager at Crow Wing. Roth has no way of knowing for sure. But, because this bear had at one time been fitted with a radio collar, the DNR was able to keep tabs on it, tracking it right to the park (Grand Forks Herald).

Blog Box Star Tribune: The Current doesn’t deserve taxpayer funding

Riffing on National Public Radio’s latest embarrassment, the Star Tribune editorial page takes a passive-aggressive shot at MPR’s The Current (Braublog).


Does energy efficiency matter? (Part II)

Well, some in the Insight Now community gagged on the cookie analogy when explaining the so-called “rebound effect” when it comes to more energy efficient products (hybrid cars and CFL light bulbs). To explain why energy efficient cars and light bulbs might not lead to reduced use of fossil fuel or energy units, we used low-calorie foods, specifically cookies. The point was that more efficient (or lower in calories) only means we consume more.

Some who commented weren’t sold on the notion that more efficient products make us change our habits. In fact, there was some expression that life can’t be reduced to an exercise of moral exhibitionism, which the concept of the “rebound effect” as explained implied.

Then we received an email from the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the “How Efficienty Can Increase Energy Consumption” – that gained such attention in recent weeks. The director, Jesse Jenkins, provided an FAQ on the “rebound effect” and the report’s conclusions, it’s worth a look.

Jenkins explained that the “rebound effects” are larger than the direct, behavioral responses I focused on in my post. Instead they are much larger, “at the scale of the entire economy, as multiple rebound mechanisms interact. As we conclude in the report, rebound effects are real, and significant, and combined, can erode much if not all of the expected energy savings from efficiency measures that truly pay back more than they save.”

And finally, Jenkins writes:

“(You) ask in your post, “How much does energy efficiency matter in the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions?” The answer is that efficiency features prominently in almost all conventional carbon reduction and climate mitigation strategies … (and) the remarkable fact is that these climate strategies ignore rebound effects, which means we’re counting on efficiency to do far more work than it actually can. If rebound means we take two steps forward and one (or more) steps back (on the climate front) when pursuing efficiency efforts, we must more vigorously pursue the other big carbon reducing lever at our disposal: decarbonizing the energy supply itself, by shifting to clean and massively scalable zero-carbon or low-carbon energy alternatives.”

So a more chastened host would love to pivot the question to ask this:Do we depend far too much on energy efficient products to meet environmental challenges like carbon emission reduction? What should be our course of action?

Spit out the cookies and chew on that for awhile. Click here and get in on the action