Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Climate change activists visit Ely's Tuesday Group

The Two Harbors family of four is seeking funds for a three-year Sea Change project

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 2/26/15

ELY— A Two Harbors family shared their story of citizen activism during a recent presentation to a large gathering at Ely’s Tuesday Group.

Katya and Mark Gordon have spent years sailing to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Climate change activists visit Ely's Tuesday Group

The Two Harbors family of four is seeking funds for a three-year Sea Change project

Posted

ELY— A Two Harbors family shared their story of citizen activism during a recent presentation to a large gathering at Ely’s Tuesday Group.

Katya and Mark Gordon have spent years sailing to far-flung locations aboard their boat, known as the Amicus, with their two daughters, Cedar (12) and Lamar (10) in tow. Now, they’re using their boat and their considerable energies to raise awareness about the effects of climate change, to offer realistic solutions to mitigate the effects of burning fossil fuels, and to promote sustainable living.

The Gordons recently founded an organization called Sea Change, which introduces young adults to sailing and citizen activism around the issue of climate change. The three-year project, now working towards its second year, takes young people sailing around all of Lake Superior. Along they way, they stop at every significant port, both in the U.S. and Canada, where they conduct presentations on the growing impacts of climate change, and possible solutions.

The Gordons currently have a Kickstarter campaign that seeks to raise $3,200 to fund the project in its second year. The four-to-five young adults (ages 18-24) selected to accompany them each year pay just $325, which doesn’t come close to covering all the expenses for their weeks of travel. The Kickstarter campaign ends March 3.

Katya said the Sea Change presentations, which are done by the Gordons as well as the young people who travel with them, keep the focus on local impacts from climate change as much as possible. “We talk about what’s happening to the boreal forest, and on Lake Superior,” she said. Katya notes that the frequency of extreme weather events has increased dramatically in Minnesota since 2000. “In Minnesota, between 1950 and 2000, there were 36 flash flood events during that fifty-year span. Yet, from 2000 to 2014, there have been three times as many in just fifteen years.” Among the biggest was the 2012 flash flood event that impacted the region surrounding Duluth, which resulted in widespread infrastructure damage as well as a massive inflow of sediment into the western end of Lake Superior, affecting water quality.

Katya said warming temperatures, particularly the rise in overnight low temperatures, threaten to open up northern Minnesota to a wide range of invasive pests that the region’s extreme cold used to keep at bay. That, combined with the increasing frequency of drought, increases the risks of the loss of tree species. Common trees, like black ash, are now in jeopardy from the spread of the emerald ash borer, while other common northwoods trees, like balsam fir and paper birch are susceptible to drought and soil warming, and could disappear from the region’s forests in the near future.

While highlighting threats posed by climate change, the Gordons also focus on solutions, and they are active with the Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that’s pushing market-based solutions to climate change. The group advocates the establishment of a carbon tax that would assess a fee per ton or barrel on fossil fuels, which would provide a financial incentive throughout the economy to pursue greater energy efficiency and the development of renewable forms of energy. At the same time, the money raised from the fee would be rebated back to Americans on a monthly basis, so the carbon tax would be revenue neutral.

According to Katya, that particular provision makes the Citizens Climate Lobby’s plan more amenable to Republican members of Congress, who have traditionally been opposed to any efforts to fight climate change. The Gordons say that many Republican members of Congress secretly acknowledge climate change and acknowledge the need for action, but can’t say so publicly because of the unprecedented spending of the Koch brothers. The two brothers, Charles and David Koch, inherited a vast fossil fuels empire that has left them among the nation’s wealthiest heirs. The Washington Post reported last month that the two brothers plan to spend roughly $900 million dollars leading up to the 2016 presidential elections to fund a wide-ranging political network, most of it aimed at heading off climate change action, which could significantly undermine the profits of Koch Industries.

“The Koch brothers will target any Republican who acknowledges climate change, so much of the discussions right now are happening behind closed doors,” said Katya.

Still, the Gordons regularly spread the message and meet with editorial boards in communities where they travel to help raise awareness of the problems and the potential solutions.

“When it comes to climate change, you have to offer solutions,” said Katya. “Otherwise, it can seem too overwhelming.”

Comments

3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
pzebich

Ah, the Koch brothers. Can't have a liberal group without jumping on them. Never mind that they are mostly neutral in their politics, unlike Warren Buffett and George Soros who control the Democrat party, which was easily seen in Obama's recent veto of the Keystone pipeline which keeps their railroads carrying the oil.

Thursday, February 26, 2015
jtormoen

"mostly neutral in their politics" ... will comment further when the laughter subsides

Thursday, February 26, 2015
bonfire

The Koch brothers network has budgeted $889 million for 2016, a staggering amount of money. This on top of the hundreds of millions of dollar they have spent up through 2014. That's well over a billion dollars.

They may personally be neutral on a few issues such as same sex marriage but they have continually funded many groups with the goals of killing marriage equality, wall street reform, regulations on gas, oil, health care reform, voting rights, solar, wind power, etc, etc. They are key funders of ALEC which writes bills for legislators on same sex marriage, illegal immigration, regulations, voter ID, gun rights, taxes and much more. They want less or no taxes and regulations with maximum profits, period.

David Koch says he is a social liberal. Barbara Walters asked him why he then uses his wealth to elect socially conservative candidates if he supports gay rights and a woman's right to choose. He replied, "Well, that's their problem. I do have those views."

The Koch brothers do not ever let any of their personal views get in the way of more $$$$$.

It's incredibly naive to think that one family or single group willing to spend over a billion dollars in politics is neutral politically. They want a return on their investments. This should raise a big red flag for any of us.

Friday, February 27, 2015