Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels will be painful and expensive.
Rolf Westgard ("Climate change: So hot it must be handled?" Feb. 12) seems to be pretty comfortable driving on the lake. Those "Thin Ice" signs could be wrong, and anyway we've never fallen through, right?
But climate change is real -- the only dispute is over how much of it has been caused by us. A majority of those who study the question have concluded that human activity and our addiction to coal, oil and gas are a big part of the cause.
Mr. Westgard is one of the few who say no. If he's right, wonderful. If he's wrong? We can't take that chance.
Yes, weaning ourselves off fossil fuels will be painful and expensive. Many of the nonpolluting substitutes we try will be dead ends like the ethanol fad.
None of that matters. Going the same direction isn't an option. When the ice cracks, it won't be gradual.
JEFF EKEGREN, DAYTON
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The gun debate is characterized by two extreme points of view, neither of which is based in reality. A law requiring background checks will be about as effective in keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill as our laws against the use of pot. On the other hand, those taking the opposite side of this argument talk like nothing has changed in the two centuries since the Bill of Rights was originated.
The Minnesota Legislature should avoid writing sweeping laws about gun control that will result in costly litigation on constitutional matters that belong in the federal domain. It should instead focus on the things that it can and should do at the state level. We should enact laws that limit the sale, use and storage of assault rifles, large capacity clips, and high-powered sniper rifles to certified public gun clubs -- laws that will become a model for federal legislation. Let gun owners appreciate and operate these weapons of war, but expect them to operate them responsibly in a controlled environment.
Likewise, decades ago we should have figured out that having school counselors with caseloads of 500 to 800 students is ridiculous. But we accepted those numbers because we were electing into office the politicians who were promising to eliminate all that "wasteful spending." We can fix these things in this legislative session, but only if we are willing to raise taxes and spend money.
JOHN MATTSEN, NEW BRIGHTON
The writer is a retired federal law enforcement officer.
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U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan says one of the problems in Congress is that members are encouraged to spend four hours daily on the phone to raise campaign contributions ("'Show me the money' is new D.C. mantra," Feb. 11), and his plan is to introduce legislation to mandate public funding for elections, restrict the length of campaigns, and stop the billions of dollars from corporate, labor union and individual contributions as set forth by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
The chance of this bill being passed in Congress is about the same as the chance that Richfield will be hit by the asteroid DA14 this week.
NORMAN HOLEN, RICHFIELD
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While the Minnesota Orchestra came close to winning a Grammy this year, this week another brand new CD featuring the orchestra has been released featuring Sibelius Symphonies 1 and 4 -- perhaps a CD of destiny! Thank you to our Minnesota Orchestra musicians, Osmo, the staff, the management, WAMSO, Symphony Ball committees, Crescendo members, ushers, stagehands, construction workers, loyal patrons and donors ... we all help produce this spectacular quality of music.
There are no musical "sides" in our community -- we are all for the musicians. Our region is not known for damaging rifts. Will the musicians join us, issue a counterproposal and together work out a contract point by point, finding a way toward a stable financial structure so we can support this wonderful music for years to come?
Board members want our musicians to be paid at the highest level possible, but the orchestra has not been immune to market forces. The orchestra board has no hidden agenda. We all want our orchestra to be the finest and the most forward-looking possible. There are wonderful plans ahead for exciting concerts, recordings, tours, glorious music. For the sake of the music, can we begin again?
MARGEE BRACKEN, MINNEAPOLIS
The writer is a member of the Minnesota Orchestra board.
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