The United Nations climate summit in Madrid unfortunately ended in frustration ("Blame all around at U.N. climate talks," Dec. 16). But while the world leaders may not be able to agree on what to do next to head off the worst effects of climate change, we here in the U.S. can still take action.
The most effective first step is to put a price on carbon. There are several such proposals in Congress already, the one with the most support being HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA). In simple terms, the government would collect a fee on all sources of CO2 pollution (oil, gas and coal), and give that money back to individual households as a dividend. The higher price of polluting fuels pushes all of us to conserve and fosters investment in innovative alternatives. The dividend eases the transition to cleaner energy sources for people who can least afford it, and that money will actually improve the economy.
Economists at Columbia University's prestigious Center on Global Energy Policy recently assessed the EICDA and found that it will reduce U.S. carbon emissions to Paris Agreement levels, decrease air pollution and have a positive financial impact on the majority of citizens and the overall economy. In January, a group of more than 3,500 U.S. economists of all stripes — liberal, conservative, Republican and Democrat — issued a call for climate action and recommended a carbon tax and dividend strategy to drive down carbon use and "encourage technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development." The EICDA alone will not be enough to stem climate change, but it's the policy with the best chance of gaining bipartisan support and is an excellent first step.
Since we can't count on international "leadership" to lead the way, we need to apply pressure from the grass roots. Urge your representatives at all levels to support a national carbon fee and dividend. We can't wait for the next climate summit.
Cathy Ruther, St. Paul
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I was very excited to read the Star Tribune Editorial Board's headline "Walz takes charge on climate change" (Dec. 12).
Disappointment set in by the first paragraph. It said Walz issued an executive order that "will continue pushing this state toward emission reduction goals set more than a decade ago under a Republican governor."
So "taking charge" of climate damage means we now are going to try to meet targets that we set 10 years ago? That's like "taking charge" of the Titanic by bailing it out with a mayonnaise jar.
Nowhere in the piece does the Editorial Board mention the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. According to the environmental impact statement, that project would add $287 billion in climate damage worldwide over three decades. That's damage from more severe storms and droughts, agricultural losses, health impacts and more.
The Editorial Board said Walz considers climate change "an existential challenge." If Walz wants to get serious about climate damage, he should start by rejecting this unnecessary and dangerous pipeline. That would have an immediate impact.
Scott Russell, Minneapolis
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Lots of selective fuss over salaries
The other day four members of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents voted to oppose the $500,000 salary proposed by President Joan Gabel for her new provost (second in charge) at the University of Minnesota ("U regents approve $500K for provost," front page, Dec. 13).
These same regents had no trouble in November approving a $1 million increase in football Coach P.J. Fleck's annual salary from $3.6 million to $4.6 million per year for seven years and sweetening the pot further by approving an additional $1.05 million for his assistant coaches.
The score: $5.65 million for football (entertainment and distraction) and $500,000 for academic excellence (inventions, art, creativity, new medical cures). It makes perfect sense to me.
Rob Super, St. Paul
Don't scold Minnetonka schools because students want to go there
The Minnetonka Public Schools should be applauded, not chastised, for the many reasons parents want their children to go there ("Using school open enrollment properly," editorial, Dec. 17). First, open enrollment was promoted to give parents freedom to pick another school/district so their child could have a better chance of success. It was also heralded as promoting the schools/districts that are doing things better so other districts could copy those elements. And yes, it has worked that way, as the Minnetonka district has put together an educational system with some of the best technological know-how in the entire country, led by technological guru David Eisenmann.
The National School Boards Association, when asked by districts throughout the country on where to pick up educational tech ideas that work, answers by telling them to go to Minnetonka, where its community has invested additional dollars in helping make this happen.
Instead of blaming Minnetonka for its success, maybe the blame should go to the way we finance public school education in this state. Also, there aren't many David Eisenmanns out there who understand how to get the most out of educational technology. So maybe the answer is to make him a Minnesota Department of Education technology leader so more schools can benefit from how good educational tech can increase educational success. His expertise could then be shared with all Minnesota Schools, which is one reason the open enrollment law was created in the first place. Then maybe more parents will not want their children sent to Minnetonka or another district.
Stan M. Feldman, New Hope
MINNEAPOLIS City Council
If you don't like it, change it
Interesting contrast in the Dec. 17 paper: first, a letter from a reader who obviously wishes there weren't a government to run the city of Minneapolis ("City Council fashions itself an expert"), and second, the Page B1 article called "Marching for a safety net" in which demonstrators are calling attention to things like wage theft and unpaid sick time.
I'd like to gently remind the letter writer that if it weren't for governments — if we left all business owners to their own interests — workers in all places would still be making 10 cents an hour, and we'd never have heard of "fringe benefits."
Individuals are the problem, not government itself. If one is not happy with those who occupy the seats of government, then get yourself to the ballot box.
I shudder to think what Minneapolis would be like without people to run it. And, if you're unhappy with how it's being done, change it!
Jim Stromberg, North Oaks
person of the year
And the award goes to ...
Very exciting that Brian Cornell was recognized as "Person of the Year" by Twin Cities Business magazine. A well-deserved honor. Very disappointed to discover that it was the "other" Brian Cornell — the Target CEO.
Brian Cornell, Minnetonka
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