Why Green Roofs Matter, MN Pollution Control Agency  Proposes $2.9 Million Sewer Resilience Improvement Legislation, Red Lakes Band Of Chippewa Tribe Goes Solar, Happy 10th Anniversary Of The Adaptation Fund!

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Why Green Roofs matter, plus Minnesota pollution control agency  proposes $2.9 million sewer resilience improvement legislation. Red Lakes Band of Chippewa Tribe goes solar, and happy 10th anniversary of the Adaptation Fund!





I worked for years in a building that had a green roof. And for years before I got there, the green roof was off limits to everybody. So the very first thing I did—because I was in charge of the building—was cozy up to the university police who patrolled this building, convinced them it was important as manager of this space to know all parts of the building and ask for access to my green roof. They bought the argument, and so one beautiful spring day, security escorted me and my staff up onto the green roof.

What we saw there was astonishing. Instead of a flat roof, covered in black rubber or clad in roofing tiles, we saw a thick carpet of low underbrush—succulents with fat leaves, purple flowers alongside wild grasses! And lo and behold, even a bee hive! Five minutes up, we had to retreat to our ordinary, air conditioned lives. That experience drove me to research what a green roof is and why they’re important to us.

Green Roofs retain 70-90% of the precipitation that falls on them, and they moderate the temperature of the water and act as natural filters for any of the water that happens to run off. Green roofs reduce the amount of storm water runoff and also delay the time at which runoff occurs, resulting in decreased stress on sewer systems at peak flow periods.

They also help reduce the Urban Heat Island effect that contributes to unhealthy urban air and climate change. Speaking of which, Green roofs can also help reduce the distribution of dust and particulate matter throughout the city, as well as the production of smog. This can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting urban areas to a future climate with warmer summers. Did I mention they also make a great private park?

DEEPER DIVE: GreenRoofs, National Park Service, EPA




Minnesota lawmakers have proposed two bills to create climate resiliency by beefing up the municipal sewer systems of several cities in the “land of 10,000 lakes”.

Laura Bishop, commissioner of Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency says, “the cost of inaction is simply too high for our communities to bear. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our families and communities. And it’s no longer a far-off possibility. It’s happening here, right now, with devastating effects that we’ve seen throughout our state.”

The $2.9 million dollar proposal would be delivered in two chunks and in two separate fiscal years. The goal is to assist certain Minnesota cities and tribal nations to create plans to bolster their sewer systems and other infrastructure.

Why this is important is because water overflows, swamps municipal sewer systems end up in Minnesota rivers or Lake Superior. Prior to 1998, the system overwhelms were rare. But in just the last two years, 29 northwest Minnesota sewer systems overflowed due to extreme weather.

The significance of this proposal is an admission that climate change is real and is negatively impacting Minnesota infrastructure. It is also meaningful in that it creates a path to resilience and adaptation as well as a framework for a template for other states to follow.




“Equity,” “power,” “independence.” These are the words Red Lake Band of Chippewa native Robert Blake uses to describe why it’s so important for his tribe to continue work on a 12-step solar project on Red Lake Nation’s reservation. Blake also runs Native Sun Community Power Development, a non-profit promoting “a just energy transition” away from oil and gas and to renewable energy. This multi-step solar project is only part of Red Lake’s goals for energy independence.

Says Blake, “Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki is the kind of chairman who thinks seven generations ahead,” Blake said.  “That’s what the community needs to do.  It’s what we used to do. That’s why other green technologies will eventually complement. The plan to localize—and therefore control—the tribe’s energy needs began five years ago. Initially, no banks wanted to invest in the project, but Ralph Jacobson, an ally and founder of Impact Power Solutions told Chairman Seki about a conference he attended on crowdsourcing. 

Seki agreed to give crowdsourcing a whirl. Together, Jacobson and the tribe raised $115,000 for stage one of the project which is currently generating 67KW. There are still hurdles to clear, but Blake is optimistic. “I just feel like this is what I have to do,” he said. “This project is so important not only to Red Lake but to tribal country and, I want to say, really to all of us as a whole.  It not only will help native people and Red Lake, but it could be an example for the rest of us to look to for what is possible.”

DEEPER DIVE: MinnPost, Native Sun




Experts from all fields on climate change tell us there are three ways for humans to cope with the climate crisis — mitigate how much we contribute to climate change, adapt to it and develop strategies for resilience in the face of climate change. One nonprofit decided to tackle the concept of adaptation fully. The self-named ‘Adaptation Fund’ helps developing countries build resilience and adapt to climate change. Developed nations often have the resources they need—whether they use them wisely is another story—but developing nations not only bear the disproportional brunt of climate change, they also possess insufficient resources to overcome what’s coming.

The ‘Adaptation Fund’ was established under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and since 2010 has committed $783 million to climate adaptation and resilience activities, including supporting 115 adaptation projects, with over 27 million total direct and indirect beneficiaries. The Adaptation Fund has pioneered Direct Access and Enhanced Direct Access, empowering locally-led projects and building country ownership in adaptation.

The Adaptation Fund does significant work where, in some parts of the world, climate change has already contributed to worsening food security, reduced the predictable availability of freshwater, exacerbated the spread of disease and posed other threats to human health. So happy anniversary, ‘Adaptation Fund’. Here’s to many more.

DEEPER DIVE: Adaptation Fund