State Rep. Jeremy Munson itemizes the ills of mining materials around the globe, yet the mining of metals like nickel and copper are precisely what some are advocating in our own state (“ ‘Green’ energy relies on copper-nickel mining,” Opinion Exchange, Dec. 12). Already the cleanup costs of the environmental devastation caused by abandoned sulfide mines in the United States carries a price tag of an estimated $54 billion, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — a price that will be borne by taxpayers.
Should we be satisfied with the array of problems that Munson outlines as we strive to work toward clean, renewable energy? Of course not. But neither should we be so narrow-minded as to think we have already explored all the options for energy production, and that reverting to further extraction of carbon fuels is a wise course of action.
Necessity is the mother of invention. We often are not willing to make changes in how we do things until absolutely necessary. As we are starting to feel the crunch of less availability or higher costs (whether economically, environmentally or socially) of nickel, copper and other metals, now is the time for industry to use fewer of these metals or replace them with more common metals. For example, industries have already been pushed to find alternatives or ways to reduce our use of difficult-to-acquire rare-earth metals that are used in cellphones, computers and other electronic devices.
Of equal importance in this conversation is the imperative that we vastly increase our recycling of already extracted metals. The more we recycle our used products, the fewer raw materials need to be mined from the earth.
Louis Asher, Vadnais Heights
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In his rant against green energy, Rep. Munson paints a bleak picture of green energy’s supply chain, conveniently leaving out one very important fact: Unlike fossil fuel extraction and transportation, alternative energy encompasses several rapidly developing technologies. Worldwide, electric motors that do not use rare earth magnets, batteries that use glass instead of lithium and cobalt, and roadbeds that charge vehicles as they pass are all in development. Every vehicle manufacturer on the planet is focused on electrification. The vehicles that his and my grandchildren will drive will be electric.
Meanwhile, all the fossil fuel industry can offer is to despoil the environment and adversely affect the climate to extract, transport and consume, just as they have been doing for over a century.
Gary Box, Golden Valley
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I want to thank the Star Tribune for publishing Rep. Munson’s piece on green energy. It brings up the important point that all factors must be considered when evaluating the costs and benefits of our energy production options. There is one word that seems to be missing from discussions on how to solve the problem of CO2 emissions: sacrifice. Each individual will be required to make sacrifices if we are to reach our goal of keeping the planet’s temperature in check.
The Greatest Generation, during World War II, made those sacrifices. Through the cooperative efforts of rationing of fuel and goods, conversion of manufacturing to fight the enemy and a societal focus, we defeated the enemy. Now the enemy is ourselves, and we must look in the mirror and address that. Each individual must be able to recognize what stares back at them and accept their role. Then there is hope.
I am willing to concede that by living and consuming, I am also a cause of our crisis. The world’s population has doubled in the last 50 years along with the standard of living, creating a multiplication effect in resource consumption. We must face the need to slow our population growth and consumption, move away from large vehicles and multiple car households and limit our use of natural resources. If we don’t make voluntary sacrifices now, draconian measures will be necessary in the near future to continue the survival of our species. Each one of us, now, in everything we do, every minute, must be laser-focused on reaching zero CO2 output. We can do this, but not without sacrifice. If we are successful, our grandchildren will be calling us The Greatest Generation.
Philip Schimke, Edina
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Almost all of Rep. Munson’s commentary describes the pollution that producing green products can cause. Of course, we should take into account, and try to reduce, that potential pollution. However, the article makes a startling and unsupported leap to a conclusion for which it provides no evidence. As to wind and solar projects, Rep. Munson concludes, “More energy goes into mining, manufacturing, transporting, installing, maintaining and dismantling them than will be produced from them.”
Munson’s article does not cite a single source about energy inputs and outputs for wind and solar. Net energy debates are reasonable regarding many products, such as ethanol. The claims that wind and solar require more energy than they produce have been repeatedly debunked by independent, scientific sources. They survive only in the dark corners of the internet and in uninformed op-ed pieces.
William J. Wernz, St. Louis Park
STATE BUDGET SURPLUS
Don’t waste money giving ours back
Regarding a budget refund for Minnesota’s surplus (“You have extra? I want it back, then,” Readers Write, Dec. 9), the average “Jesse check” from former Gov. Jesse Ventura was $650 in 1999, $317 in 2000 and $396 in 2001. Along with the rebates, the 1999-2001 Legislatures cut taxes but not spending, resulting in a decade of budget deficits, borrowing and shifts of funds. Quite apart from the considerable cost of processing those refunds, our reserves were depleted when we could have made significant investments in education and needed infrastructure repair and bolstered our reserve for future, leaner years.
Why would we want to repeat this mistake?
Adele Evidon, Minneapolis
Where was skepticism throughout?
In light of the publication of the Afghanistan Papers, it is perhaps time for the Star Tribune Editorial Board to review the positions it has taken during the last 10-15 years on our military intervention in Afghanistan. Did the board live up to the standards of responsible journalism: searching, questioning, skepticism, presentation of dissenting views, independent analysis of available information and, foremost, clarity?
The board’s most recent editorial on the topic (“Afghan war lies,” Dec. 11) is not reassuring. Its admonition that “it’s crucial that the U.S. not exacerbate its errors with a chaotic withdrawal that would cost even more Afghan and allied lives” is a repetition of the justification for our continued military presence in Afghanistan that we heard and read over and over again. It seems to me that the only responsible reaction to what we have learned from the Afghanistan Papers would be a call for an immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal.
I fear that you have let us down.
Geza Simon, Minneapolis
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Can we now step back from the jingoistic rabid attacks on Chelsea Manning and even the megalomaniac and malevolent Julian Assange? After all, these whistleblowers basically butted in line and gave the U.S. public an early preview of the kind of lies and treachery that this trove of confidential government documents has revealed.
Maybe the primary sin of the whistleblowers is distracting the public from their cat videos, inane entertainment proclivities and devices, and for an uncomfortable, brief moment reminding them that absentee citizenship is the catalyst for government abuse and the undermining of the founding principals of our nation.
Gene Case, Andover
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