B2B Headliners: Mike Duval and Phil Hunsicker on Climate Change and Aquatic Invasive Species

Jan 18, 2018

Mike Duval and Phil Hunsicker are keynote speakers for this year's Back to Basics workshop in Pine River. Both of them work for the MN DNR's Division of Ecological and Water Resources. Phil is an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Planner and Mike is District Manager. They're also both musicians in the band Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors. Phil describes the group as "five friends who enjoy being together and playing some music together."

Not surprisingly, music will be part of their keynote presentation on January 27th. "Usually these events feature a speaker blasting through a number of slides and presenting their topic," Mike explains. "We thought we'd mix it up a little bit and bring some of our passion for music in among some of our technical information that we'll be presenting."

Mike and Phil's topics--climate change and aquatic invasive species--can definitely use a musical moment. "A lot of folks think both of these issues are hopeless--it's inevitable--so why do anything?" says Phil. "But both of them happen because of the actions of humans, and both of them can be solved through the actions of humans.

"One of the things I'm going to talk about is things we as individual Minnesotans can do. These problems, we know what causes them. We know what we need to do to solve them. We just need to do it! Things like making sure you inspect your boat and trailer and engine before you drop it into the water every time, and every time you pull it out making sure that it's clean."

Mike and Phil believe that the idea that humans caused both climate change and the spread of aquatic invasive species--and that humans can make both of these things better--is a common thread. "We know climate change is real," says Mike. "We know it's happening now. Our DNR State Climatology Office has been monitoring and analyzing temperature going back over 100 years in this state, and it's very clear that we have a changing climate. It's showing itself in the frequency of extreme weather events--a weather event by itself does not mean climate change--but it is the pattern of extreme weather events that indicates climate change. We're seeing a more frequent occurrence of extreme rainfall events over our history in Minnesota--it's very clear. It's also clear in the Midwestern weather records and clear in other ways...The temperature that is showing as a sign of climate change is that our winters are getting warmer...it's mostly our that our low temperatures are not as low."

Mike and Phil believe there is hope. Due to actions to limit fluorocarbons, ozone levels will return to pre-1980s levels by 2075. "Climate change is going to take longer to engage," says Mike, "but our actions now and today are going to lead to a hopeful future for our children and our grandchildren."

You can catch the entire interview with Mike Duval and Phil Hunsicker below. The Back to Basics conference is coming up on January 27th at the Pine River-Backus School. The theme is "Navigating Changing Currents." For more information visit Happy Dancing Turtle's website.  ALSO, be sure to check out Phil's original lyrics to "Invasive Species Blues" below.

As a musician with a local band – Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors – Phil Hunsicker came up with a song that, in his words "probably won’t solve the problem of AIS, but at least we can have a catchy tune in our heads while we put those heads together to figure out real solutions.  I put the words to an old blues song called 'St. Louis Blues.'  One of my favorite musicians of all time – Doc Watson – does a great version of this song.   I call my own version 'Invasive Species Blues.'  Enjoy."

Invasive Species Blues
by Phil Hunsicker

I hate to see
Invasive species spread around
I hate to see
Invasive species in my town
You know it makes be blue
It really brings me down

And if I feel tomorrow
Like I’m feelin’ today
Oh if I feel tomorrow
As blue as I’m feelin’ today
I’m gonna box me up some zebra mussels
And send them back to their homes far away

Yeah they should be over in Russia
In Eastern Europe too
But like me they moved to my lake
What’s a Minnesotan to do?

Now they’re living on my Chris Craft
And on the poles of my docks
To swim I have to wear sneakers
And I do but with black socks
Because that rocks!

I’ve got the invasive species blues
Just as blue as I can be
Now Mr. Zebra Mussel’s throwin’ a beach  party
And he’s invited Mr. Spiny Water Flea
These good-for-nothin’ invasive species
They’re makin’ fools out of you and me

All is not lost
I’m told there’s plenty we can do
All is not lost
I’m told it’s up to me and you
So my brain has started workin’
To come up with an idea or two

You see I’m gonna hit
Every McDonald’s between Maine and Washington
You see I’ve got a plan
To get something done
I’m gonna ask them to slip a zebra mussel
Between every beef patty and sesame seed bun

Yeah billions will be served
And they won’t even know
We’ll just hide the taste in more catsup
And people will eat our worthy foe

Happy meals might not be so happy
But into the box we can fit
A slightly bigger toy
To thank them for eating an intertebrate
And a little bit of grit!

I no longer have the blues
Now I just want to sing
I’ve come up with an idea
That is brilliant and interesting
And if I crave a fast food burger
I’ll just go to Burger King