Your voice matters, whether local or not
Frank Ongaro's breakdown of signatures on the anti-sulfide-mining petition (Readers Write, July 7) was ridiculous. Ongaro, the executive director of Mining Minnesota, acts as if only the people who live close to the proposed destructive mining operation should have a voice. He discounts the fact that the north woods are visited by more than 200,000 people a year from across the country, and that many people in northeastern Minnesota make their living from these visitors.
Never has a sulfide mine been in operation and not polluted surrounding lakes and streams! We cannot do this for the sake of a few temporary jobs. When the mining companies are gone, Minnesota will be left with a destroyed legacy that may never recover. If the petition were circulated throughout the country, 12,000 signatures would be a drop in the bucket.
JERRY BERLIN, NORTH BRANCH, MINN.
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Can't live without it (but let's try)
I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Xcel Energy for providing the power to keep all the fans and air conditioning going during the past week of beastly heat and humidity. No brownouts, no outages! We couldn't have survived without you. Thank you.
MARY ANNE PAGE, MINNEAPOLIS
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Kudos to Shirley Erstad ("Assuming good health, it's hip to be hot," July 6) for declining the air-conditioning rage within her family. Certainly, air conditioning saves lives, and makes life more bearable during extreme times of heat like this nation has been having.
However, I feel correct in saying that it has become a cultural addiction. Almost one kilowatt of every five is used up in air conditioning, and that figure grows during peak cooling periods. It is difficult to walk into any home or public building during the summer months without the air conditioning on, whether or not the temperature and humidity outside are more comfortable. Often, many people must put on a jacket inside an air-conditioned building to be comfortable. It's a ridiculous waste. Have we become that fragile?
The problem is not strictly one of perceived comfort and additional costs. We now live in a country that, evidently, considers weather to generally be a "bad thing." Most often it is too warm, too hot, too humid, too cool, too frigid, too windy, too rainy, too threatening, too dangerous. Occasionally it is; mostly we just feel entitled as Americans to have whatever conditions we want. And, as Erstad points out, this refusal and inability to adapt to what nature offers us and embrace it will ultimately weaken us a society. For our children's sake, I hope we consider the long-term result of our demands.
JAY THACKER, SHOREVIEW
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The evidence points to a human influence
A reader asked recently if the Earth's current global warming could be a natural phenomenon. The short answer is no.
Natural phenomena have physical causes. Factors that influence the temperature of the Earth include variations in the planet's tilt and orbit (Milankovitch cycles), variations in the sun's output, variations in the reflectivity of the Earth, and variations in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which can be caused by massive volcanism as well as by humans.
Climatologists have examined these and other possible natural causes and have found no correlation with the current warming. The Earth is at the wrong point in the Milankovitch cycles. The sun's output has not changed significantly. The Earth's reflectivity may have shrunk slightly with the decline in the arctic ice cap, but this would be effect rather than cause.
The factor that has changed most and is most easily measured is the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Since there has been no unusual volcanism in the last century, this increase must be due to human activity, a conclusion that is also supported by measurements and calculations of how much human society emits each year.
Since it has been known for well more than a century that greenhouse gases can cause global warming, the real question is not whether human activity has caused global warming, but rather if not, why not?
CHUCK HOLST, ST. PAUL
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A quick question about practicality
For the most part, when Islamic women are shown in traditional clothing, they are wearing black or gray ("A first among firsts: Embracing the hijab," July 6). I remember being particularly struck by an article in the Star Tribune a few years back reporting on the extreme heat in parts of the Middle East.
All the women were covered head to foot in black, while all the men wore white. In Minnesota, when it is very hot, we put away the black in favor of the cooling effects of white clothing. I'd truly like to know why the Islamic culture seems to require women to wear black, while men wear white.
VALERIE KOENS, EXCELSIOR
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Missed opportunities to deport driver
When will we start taking illegal immigration seriously ("Driver who killed teen in St. Paul had no license," July 7)? A beautiful young soul, 16-year-old Clarisse Grime, lost her life at the hands of a man who, according to a complaint filed by prosecutors, is said to be an undocumented immigrant who worked in our community with a fake Social Security card.
Did the authorities check on his residence status when he was arrested and convicted for drunken driving 11 long years ago? Did they do so as recently as April when he was fined for driving without a license? Perhaps if they had, this reprobate would have been forced out of America, and a wonderful young girl with so much to offer would be alive today.
MARK H. REED, PLYMOUTH