Sustainability is a plot — a plot! — to change our ways, says Katherine Kersten ("Going green is just part of the plot," June 28.) Holy cow — I am participating in a cult if I embrace bicycling to work, riding a bus, living more modestly, refusing plastic bags and embracing equality. For I am rejecting — rejecting! — landfills, garbage burners, plastic cutlery, coal-fired power plants that contaminate our Minnesota fish with mercury, and disreputable police work.

Yes, we must question, as Kersten suggests. We are questioning practices of the past 50 years. For me, this movement of embracing new methods, ideas and technology that Kersten describes as a spiral into moral decadence, is — ahem — a breath of fresh air.

LuAnn Johnson, Minneapolis

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Kersten's blinkered approach to argument could not be more in evidence than in her screed against "sustainability." The National Association of Scholars she cites should be properly labeled "conservative" scholars, as it is a rump group funded by conservative donors. Far more important, her argument is devoid of science. Readers should instead turn to the Star Tribune's "Science and Health" section published the same day. It headlined three scientific studies describing unsustainable trends: "Earth's species disappearing at frightening rate"; a NASA study showing the "world is running out of water," and a study of dinosaurs and climate from which the scientists conclude that "our data reflect that there are possibly substantial hurdles to human sustainability in the future if we undergo the high CO2 levels predicted to occur in the coming 100 to 200 years." Science matters. So does sustainability.

James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis

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Kersten once again employs a strategy of setting up straw men in her personal shooting gallery, popping them off, then declaring victory. In the piece, she states that "scientists who question climate change, for instance, are branded 21st-century heretics." Implicit in that statement is that science is a religion — as only a religious body can proclaim a "heresy." This is currently a popular tactic with many climate-change deniers. If they can reduce science to the level of religious belief, then it is simply one belief against another. But science is evidence-based, and religion is not. The (very large) majority of scientists who conclude that climate change is real do not say that deniers are heretical — they say that, based on the evidence, deniers are wrong. Big difference.

Chris Todd, St. Louis Park

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The young people of this country need to be aware of the condition of the planet they are going to inhabit, simply out of necessity. They are the ones who will have the tall order of trying to reverse or at least cope with the catastrophic damage that Kersten's generation has inflicted on the climate. She would do well to step out of the way of their monumental task.

Andrew Broder, Minneapolis

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I see light rail, and Ms. Kersten sees social engineering. I see gay marriage, and Kersten sees the advancing threat of a gay agenda. And now I see a common-sense idea like sustainability, and she sees liberal brainwashing.

If I overturn a rock, I will see dirt and a few worms. Kersten will overturn a rock and see a vast decompositional conspiracy that must be stopped.

Mark Brandt, Minneapolis

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The article does little to discredit the sustainability movement on college campuses but effectively discloses Kersten's conservative bias. In a telltale sign of this slant, she discusses St. John's University activities without mentioning the College of St. Benedict. As a proud graduate of both CSB and SJU, I correct her omission. CSB for women collaborates with SJU for men in a unique partnership between equals. CSB has the larger student body and consistently rates high in annual U.S. News and World Report rankings.

To support Kersten's position, she claims the movement violates liberal education's mission by discouraging "honest analysis of costs and benefits." As a reader of sustainability literature generated on campuses, I can assure Kersten that such analysis abounds. She criticizes the movement for appealing to students with its "transcendent meaning" and moral sense. What's wrong with that?

Finally, she links sustainability with rising college costs. The two have no connection. If colleges were teaching conservative ideology, it would have no effect whatever on college costs. But here's a relevant fact — the College of St. Benedict ranks second in the nation among liberal arts colleges for operating efficiency.

Jeanette Blonigen Clancy, Avon, Minn.


Better to honor Dred Scott, who was brought here as a slave

How about renaming Lake Calhoun "Lake Scott," in honor of Dred Scott? In contrast to John C. Calhoun, who was a slavery proponent from South Carolina, Scott was an African-American who lived in Minnesota and actively opposed slavery.

Scott was brought to Fort Snelling as a slave by his owner, an Army surgeon. After Scott returned to the South, he courageously sued, arguing that he was free because he had resided where slavery was illegal. In 1857, he lost in the Supreme Court, which held that no person of African descent, slave or free, was a citizen of the United States, and thus Scott could not sue.

Scott was eventually freed by another owner, but soon died, having little time to enjoy his freedom.

There is nothing like Lake Calhoun on a summer day. You can see every kind of person — young, old, black, white, gay and straight — engaged in every kind of pleasant activity, at play and, usually, in harmony.

What better way to honor Scott than to name this scene after him? And to remind ourselves that this beautiful life is possible only because of those who have struggled so that all could be free?

Ted O'Toole, St. Paul

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I think I have a practical solution to the Lake Calhoun name controversy. In keeping with Minnesota tradition (Prince), how about calling it the "Lake formerly known as Lake Calhoun."

Everyone's happy, right ?

Tom J. Linnihan, Minneapolis


The state needn't spend that much to make it not stink

I read with some alarm the June 28 article about the $300,000 Crane Lake boat landing restroom upgrade project prompted only by the poor indoor air quality of that facility.

I read nothing about a demand for flush toilets, sinks or running water. Those pit toilets are just what we expect at an end-of-the-road wilderness put-in. The complaint is the smell.

When I built a local "nature park" years ago in my hometown of Paynesville, Minn., I modeled the restrooms after those same DNR outhouses I've used so often — right down to the same plastic toilet risers. The only difference was in the way we ventilated them. I didn't want them to smell.

A low-cost bath fan installed to draw air out of the concrete holding tank vent constantly draws fresh outdoor air under the doors and into the restroom, then down through the plastic pit toilet and out the vent. In nearly 20 years of operation, our restrooms have never smelled. And I repeat that they are exactly like the restroom that now seems to require a $300,000 upgrade to eliminate odor complaints.

A solar or line voltage fan installed in that fashion in the Crane Lake restroom would correct the problem and end the complaints for a minuscule cost. And the landing would continue to have a nearly maintenance-free, rustic and perfectly acceptable restroom.

I am always in favor of sound public infrastructure, appropriate public facilities and good local economies, but like everyone else, I'm also frustrated to see our hard-earned tax dollars spent recklessly or needlessly.

Tom Koshiol, Paynesville, Minn.


As local businesses fight back, big-box store can cry in its beer

So Total Wine doesn't like it when the tactics it uses against other liquor stores are used against it instead? Well, boohoo.

Big retailers like Total Wine think they can swoop in and use bully tactics to drive their competitors out of business. It's about time someone fought back.

If the municipal and private dealers have learned to "play nice," Total Wine can either learn to get along or get out. I have no sympathy for this retailer.

Kirsten Cackoski, Minneapolis