Thanks very much for the thoughtful, wonderful article and photos in the Dec. 20 Star Tribune, “The North Pole’s got nothing on us”— beautiful photos celebrating our winter wonderland, and our unique Minnesota culture. Loved it!
Abby Marier, St. Paul
Letter writer who doubts the narrative was quick to twist it
Some false stories never disappear, no matter how often or how thoroughly they are debunked. Case in point: the claims that scientists used to warn of global cooling; when that didn’t work, they warned of global warming, and finally, to achieve credibility, they switched to calling it climate change (Readers Write, Dec. 18).
Fact: Back in the 1970s, some popular media outlets hyped a coming ice age; at the same time, reports by climate scientists in peer-reviewed journals were already warning of global warming caused by human activity.
Fact: Global warming is dangerous, it is happening, and it is clearly caused by burning fossil fuels. The physics of greenhouse gases has been understood since the 19th century, and the evidence for warming extends back to the start of industrialization. Among reputable climate scientists, there is no question about this. The warming is changing our climate, increasing the intensity of storms, melting polar ice, killing off coral reefs and destroying ecosystems, increasing droughts in some places, flooding in others. Climate change is the result of global warming, not a term deployed to confuse the public.
As for dollars spent on climate research, the real financial bonanzas come from fossil-fuel companies paying to confuse the public and dispute the facts of global warming, not from government grants.
Joyce Denn, Woodbury
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In his Dec. 15 counterpoint “We don’t trust science? I do, but not all of it,” Doug Shidell says that “[w]hen climate scientists first raised the alarm, there was no constituency for their findings.” That’s not quite true. College-aged baby boomers were chafing under their parents’ authority, much of which was concentrated in industry. Without environmental issues, how could they have faulted a system that was launching the world’s first mapping satellites, bringing transatlantic phone service to the masses and deploying the first helicopter ambulances? They would instead have been stuck waiting at the bottom of a seniority system, as younger generations are today. I’m sympathetic to much of their legacy, but to say that they had no ulterior motive insults the reader.
Karl Hammerschmidt, Minneapolis
Race in Minnesota
Embrace cultural differences, but don’t make them an excuse
After reading Brandon Ferdig’s Dec. 11 commentary about the Hmong community in Minnesota (“Little marvel on the prairie”), I’m left with many questions. While it makes perfect sense that a Hmong person might enjoy and excel in Minnesota traditions like fishing, is this type of assimilation the only acceptable way for an immigrant to behave? Why is success measured by the degree to which immigrants have assimilated to American culture, without considering the ability of the established community to welcome new members? And why, when observing cultural controversy, does the author only note Hmong traditions and beliefs that might be found unacceptable in American culture, and not the reverse? In a community with some of the worst racial disparities in the country, the subtext of this piece is clear — that there is a “right” way for an immigrant to present themselves, and that other groups are not measuring up. But we Minnesotans have to ask ourselves if we are judging success this way because it’s truly the right way or because we can only accept people who are able to and interested in one way of life. Must every immigrant group “melt” into the existing community, or can we embrace cultural diversity in our community?
Meg Reid, Minneapolis
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A Dec. 23 letter writer discussing the sexual misconduct crisis at the University of Minnesota brought up a past incident involving the men’s basketball team and intimated that players recruited for some of the school’s sports programs come from a culture different from what they are used to. To help acclimate them, he explained, mentors were hired from their own culture for this adjustment period. The writer stated that former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins “recognized the value of connecting his basketball players with mentors from their culture.”
My question: In what culture has deviant behavior occurred such that “mentors” are needed to help with adjustment? Aberrant behavior is against the law, unacceptable, and not indigenous to any particular culture. To infer that only blacks understand blacks is problematic and dividing at best. No matter what a person’s culture or upbringing, sexual assault is horrific and never justified. To imply a mentorship program could ameliorate this problem is a simplification of a bigger issue.
Ty Yasukawa, Burnsville
Bureaucracy and regulation are ruling the day
The city of Minneapolis, with much fanfare, has unveiled a new office of navigators who are to help small business conquer the complex and poorly organized bureaucracy of city government (“Mpls. smooths the way toward ‘getting to yes’,” Neal St. Anthony column, Dec. 19). This was apparently easier than actually simplifying the city’s procedures and regulations themselves such that someone wouldn’t need to hire a guide, like a tourist in an exotic land. However, I think the role of the navigator office changes with the recent revelation that the mayor (and apparently a majority of the City Council) will support a $15 minimum wage in the city. This is coupled with mandated sick leave, a generally regulation-heavy environment and a suspicion that city officials will again try to regulate workers’ schedules. I think these navigators may find that the first customers are actually current Minneapolis business owners looking for help navigating their exit to beyond the city’s borders.
Mike Hess, Minneapolis
I rejoice at what I get in return for my taxes
Shortly before the recent snowfalls, I entered our beautiful Minnehaha Avenue at its south end and looked northwest down the wide, freshly paved and redesigned street all the way to Lake Street. It’s simple, utilitarian and beautiful. In that moment, I realized again that the money I spend in taxes is my totally best buy bar none, and my heart gave thanks for my fellow citizens who together make this possible. By this, I mean Minnehaha Park, West River Road, Kenwood Parkway, Lake Calhoun, the Mississippi Gorge. I could afford none of them on my own.
As I think on this, my list seems more and more partial. The more assets I name, the more come to mind. Schools! Think about our schools for a moment. The young lives that are cared for and taught. Kids getting to know each other, playing together, making music. Where would we be without the schools and the teachers? I rejoice at what I get for my money. Thank you, my fellow citizens. I am nothing without you. Thank you, City of Lakes. I blush only slightly when I say I love you.
Phil Johnson, Minneapolis