As I bask in winter sun filtering through my window in the St. Anthony Main area of Minneapolis, I can’t help questioning the recent Babelesque fascination with the construction of towers in this historic neighborhood and elsewhere. City leaders and planners claim to focus on development that encourages walking, biking and street life. But, how much street life and activity does one see around the Carlyle just across the river, where that tower looms over narrow sidewalks? We need to look to the livable cities of Europe and our own Portland, Ore., where building heights have been limited in neighborhoods. With a similarity of building sizes and heights, bikers and walkers can move about in sunlight and people can sip coffee in bright sidewalk cafes instead of living in monstrous monolithic shadows. Buildings in neighborhoods should accommodate and welcome, rather than intimidate. If the only concern we have in guiding development is maximizing economic return, than we should tear down Our Lady of Lourdes Church and make room for still another tower stretching to the heavens. After all, nothing else seems sacred.
Steven M. Lukas, Minneapolis
Do deniers deserve the space they receive?
The Jan. 30 letter taking the Star Tribune to task for its coverage of the “unproven concept of ‘global warming’ ” provides an excellent example of the way climate-change deniers sow doubt. In a word: confusion.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “a scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not ‘guesses’ but reliable accounts of the real world.”
The evidence for climate change is emerging. It is overwhelming and getting stronger. The organizations that believe in it (like NASA) are more believable than the ones that don’t (the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow”).
Scientists respect the natural world. That’s why they use careful language. Their use of the word “theory” leaves the door open for new interpretations based on new evidence. That doesn’t make a hypothesis weak.
The one thing the letter writer got right is that we have the technologies to solve the problem. Collectively, they are known as sustainable energy.
Karl Glotzbach, St. Louis Park
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Boy, that’s quite an analogy by one of the other Jan. 30 letter writers, who compares denying climate change with denying the Holocaust. The Holocaust has been proven many times by eyewitness accounts and even film footage. The climate-change scenario is nothing more than speculation based on what’s already been proven to be partly flawed data.
John A. McGuire, Plymouth
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Let’s suppose that there are still valid arguments on both sides of the issue, even though more than 98 percent of climate scientists agree humans are responsible, at least in part, for the Earth’s changing climate. Ask yourself: What if I’m wrong and the other side is right? If climate-change deniers get it wrong, and we don’t take immediate steps to change direction, the world will spiral down into increasingly severe weather disasters and havoc. If the vast majority of climate scientists have gotten it wrong, we end up with more jobs creating alternative energy, which would balance the jobs lost in the coal and oil industries and result in fewer pollutants entering our atmosphere, with cleaner lakes, rivers and oceans. Do we really want to play Russian roulette with Mother Earth?
Warren Blechert, Excelsior
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Thank you, Star Tribune, for printing the ongoing debate on climate change in the letters section. In your zeal to be fair and objective, you have printed letters from both sides, and that is commendable. However, the sides to this argument as defined by the letters you printed should be redefined, and must be in order to move the discussion forward. The climate-change-denial position has been totally discredited by the scientific community and by physical facts. Climate scientists are speaking and writing in the subjunctive less and less as climate-model predictions become reality one by one. The question isn’t “what if” anymore but “what now?” Something must change to preserve life anywhere close to what it is now, and that’s the real debate — honestly identifying impediments to action, individual vs. collective action, market forces vs. central planning, technology vs. social engineering, and on and on. I know intelligent, well-educated, well-informed, freethinking millennials who scoff at exchanges like those in the letters section recently; they are focused on figuring out how to survive in the future we’ve set in motion.
Steven Boyer, St. Paul
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Editor’s note: As we’ve stated previously, writing letters to the editor is a way for members of the community to express their views. This forum is open to anyone, regardless of ideology or station in life.
Since we receive many more letters than we can publish, obviously we make subjective choices each day. Those choices are guided by three often competing goals — to add insight to ongoing debates; to reflect, on balance, the nature of the material sent to us, and, finally, to be interesting.
We’re aware that some publications have established strict policies about what they will print on certain issues, specifically climate change. We respect their approach but disagree with it.
We also understand that some readers think that we lower our standards too far in our attempts to reflect the community. Certainly we feel it at times. But misconceptions, cherry-picking, logical fallacies — these are part of the nature of discourse. You’ll find them even in the best opinion articles.
We believe that it’s valuable for advocates of any position to know what their opponents are thinking, along with the prevalence and staying power of such views.
We also believe that this forum is a place where readers should be given space to disagree with our own opinions — such as “As Midwest warms, economy will suffer,” an editorial that appeared on Tuesday.
Finally, we have faith that most people, presented with a range of arguments over time, will be able to discern which are strongest — and act accordingly. This nation’s founders thought that, too.
David Banks, assistant commentary editor