There is one telling statement not included in the lengthy Oct. 7 article about Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson that, I think, better defines him. Speaking at a Tea Party gathering in May 2014, Johnson said, referring to Wisconsin’s governor: “My plan would be to go all Scott Walker on Minnesota.” That would mean right-to-work laws governing the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, cutting money for public schools, attempting to eliminate public employee and teachers unions, and eliminating prevailing wages for Minnesota’s construction workers on state projects. We simply cannot allow Jeff Johnson the opportunity to “go all Scott Walker on Minnesota.”
George A. Sundstrom, Duluth
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What an irony. In his Star Tribune profile, Johnson says he will focus on what government can do to give Minnesotans “more liberty,” but then later in the article he makes clear that he wants government involved in private medical conversations and decisions a woman makes about her health care. Which is it? I want a governor who will govern with a little less hypocrisy.
Katherine Bass, Edina
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The article didn’t address Johnson’s views on climate change, one of the most serious challenges the world faces today. His position is that we should do nothing. In a debate with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz on Twin Cities Public Television, Johnson said the following:
“There is a consensus that the plans are out there to deal with climate change somehow aren’t going to change anything in the long run. They just won’t make a difference. Even if we do it on a nationwide scale, but if we do it on a statewide scale, even less so.”
In reality, there is a consensus among climate scientists that we can and must take action to mitigate climate change. Because the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress are intent on undoing current programs that fight climate change, it is more important than ever that the states, like Minnesota, take the lead on this issue. Protecting the world for our children has to be more important than saving a few tax dollars today.
Mary Anderson, Minneapolis
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In the Oct. 7 article, Johnson, a former Republican National Committee member, stated that he is trying to lure independents despite having an extensive conservative record in the Minnesota House and as a Hennepin County commissioner. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Tim Walz is also trying to lure independent and swing voters and has a centrist record in the U.S. House. With very few third-party candidates running for governor, trying to show their independence is a must for the two major party candidates. But based on their backgrounds and records, Walz is definitely the more independent and centrist candidate of the two.
William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul
Cynicism is disheartening, means the rest of us must work harder
I must admit I was stunned by an Oct. 10 letter writer, who wrote in response to the Oct. 9 front-page article “Most dire climate warning”: “You have used the same climate headline for 15 years. … It just means the United Nations wants more of our tax money.”
Given the significant scientific data supporting rapidly approaching threats from global warming (“Climate warning should spur action,” editorial, Oct. 10), it is difficult to be reminded again, that for some of our citizens, short-term personal financial interests and cynicism still trump any concern for the future of their families, our families and the Earth that has been left in our care. It is important, however, that we are aware that this type of cynicism and denial is still out there. It means the rest of us must work harder, to make up for those who choose not to — this is too important.
Susan Sisola, Stillwater
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The Star Tribune was reporting on Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas two weeks ago and in the last week was reporting on Hurricane Michael hitting the Florida Panhandle, both as visual examples of climate extremes. The Oct. 9 article “Most dire climate warning,” the Oct. 10 editorial “Climate warning should spur action” and the Oct. 10 letter “Learning and forgetting” on Oct. 10 all indicate climate change is a real threat to our lifestyle and food security.
The scene from a 1936 documentary film, “The Plow That Broke the Plains,” published alongside that letter to the editor, showed several tractors tilling the soil engulfed in a dust cloud. Recent research has shown that dust is symbolic of a cloud of invisible carbon dioxide that ends up in the atmosphere released from the soil during intensive tillage. These results partly explain the decline in soil organic matter where many soils have lost between 25 percent and 75 percent of that present when intensive-tillage agriculture started. In addition to climate change, this major soil disturbance has compounded soil erosion and other soil, water and air-quality problems.
We need a new climate-smart agriculture to protect our soils from erosion, making the transition to farming better suited to cope with impacts of soil loss and degradation associated with climate extremes. “Conservation agriculture” is a broad term to describe soil management with minimum disturbance, continuous crop residue cover, and diverse planting systems with cover crops as a system of practices that increases water infiltration and reduces soil degradation. With less-intensive tillage, there are more environmental benefits accrued with lower input costs. Economic benefits include reduced fossil-fuel use, decreased fertilizer amounts, decreased pesticide and herbicide, less wear and tear on equipment, and less soil erosion.
Understanding the soil as a “living biological system” is important, and soil must be treated with a little tender love and care, maintaining soil organic matter as the primary food source for the soil life. For farmers, soil health is a key component of efficient production. The slogan “healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy people” is often used to describe conservation agriculture systems. As an advanced civilization, we have a responsibility to address climate solutions and to utilize, safeguard, cherish and pass on quality soil to future generations. Our quality of life is at stake.
Don Reicosky, Morris, Minn.
The writer is an emeritus soil scientist
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It’s interesting that some farmers and groups (“Minnesota corn growers press for tax break for set-aside buffers,” Oct. 6) are already pressing for tax breaks to cover the lost production land that would be needed for buffer strips as required by law. That would be fine if the drainage ditches fed by thousands of miles of tiling were a natural phenomenon. However, those facilities are not natural and are part of an ongoing land grab that portends to eventually turn the Midwest into a semiarid wasteland. This accelerated runoff lowers the aquifer water table and decreases the time of percolation of rainwater downstream from weeks to mere days, thereby exacerbating downstream flood issues. And this doesn’t even begin to address the issues of pollution in the creeks, rivers and lakes on which we spend additional millions of dollars at the state and county levels.
Regarding the tax issues, I don’t remember anyone proposing or sending extra taxes when that cropland was, and continues to be, reclaimed for extra production during the last 50-odd years through various reclamation projects. I believe that only any person who contributed extra taxes in the past to cover the added production acreage gained from drainage is entitled to tax breaks for buffers.
Art Thell, Inver Grove Heights
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Minnesota law requires farmers to protect our waters from pollutant-containing runoff. The law permits them to do so by creating buffers on their own land or by alternative methods that achieve a comparable result. This is simply a cost of doing business. The fact that the public has borne this cost in the past, by accepting the pollution of our waters, does not mean that we should now bear this cost in another form. It’s really that simple. Farmers know this. Legislators know this. It’s time for both groups to do the right thing and retreat from this attempt.
James M. Hamilton, St. Paul