I am a native Minnesotan living in Austin, Texas. Two years ago, Austin banned single-use plastic bags. There was grumbling, primarily from the retail community, but even before the ban was in place retailers started selling reusable bags. In short order it became the norm to carry bags to the grocery store, the corner store and the mall.

Like the Minneapolis merchants (“City checking out plastic bag ban,” July 25), retailers were similarly afraid that shoppers would go to neighboring cities to shop. But Austin soon discovered that creatures obsessed with the adage “time is money” are reluctant to travel out of the way if it is not convenient. As a result, there has not been a downswing in retail sales in Austin. Where there has been a downswing is in the amount of trash accumulating on the side of the freeways, in trees, fences, parks, yards, storm drains, creeks, rivers and in landfills. Such a small effort — carrying our own bags to shop — has made a huge difference in the way the city looks and in the amount of trash the city accumulates. Austin is cleaner, even more visually beautiful, and the natural creeks and rivers the city takes such pride in are healthier and more robust.

JoyJean Hughes, Austin, Texas

• • •

I wonder how many of our City Council members use these small plastic bags from retailers as trash-can liners? If they do, they know that these are ideal for the purpose. The bags are exactly the right size for most room-size residential trash containers; they are readily available, as the article states, and so far they are free for the taking, a gift of garbage from our favorite big-box stores.

Now it’s true that these bags don’t hold much water, which is true also for the proposal to ban these lightweight tools — but I digress, and I apologize to our cats, who will now be forced to clean up their own litterbox, and to the garbage collectors, who instead of flinging these little balloons filled with you-know-what will have to actually dump all those small containers into the truck. It’s really all about the garbage.

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis

 

BELIEF SYSTEMS

Speaking of inadequacies, you might find some in religion

Let’s do talk about religion (“Religious violence: Understanding requires attention to secular inadequacies,” Readers Write, July 27). We are a more secular world because there’s more knowledge. Religious texts were written when people thought that Earth was the flat center of the universe. Religious beliefs evolve, but the one constant is that each religion is mutually exclusive in its membership.

Religion began with two primary goals: control of people and the placation of humans’ greatest fear, death. Religion is used to justify war, greed, hatred and bigotry. Believers of all stripes contend that they know the will of their God. Believing in God and following a set of religious doctrines is fine until the doctrine becomes a law inflicted on nonbelievers.

The problems we face as occupants of this planet are many and complex. Manufacturing problems relating to a belief in afterlife and the arbitrary and capricious behaviors required to get there is a serious mistake and a waste of resources and time. Belief is an opinion. It is one of hope and should be personal. Gathering together in belief to form a religion, while comforting, doesn’t make the belief true. The absolute certainty of a belief is arrogant, and the burden of proof of truth rests with the believer.

Greg Oasheim, Minnetonka

 

THE CLIMATE

A ‘consensus’ would have to include these folks, but it doesn’t

The July 25 editorial instructs readers to heed the moral clarity of Pope Frances on climate issues. Frances advises that “a very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climactic system.”

The term “scientific consensus” is what is disturbing. There is no such thing as a “scientific consensus.” A scientific finding must be based on a thoroughgoing scientific investigation that delivers objective proof that a given hypotheses is a fact or is not a fact. One fact is that many thousands of scientists in the relevant disciplines do not agree that global warming or climate change (or whatever its enthusiastic promoters want to call it) has ever been proved to be a fact. The dissenters include or have included people such as Richard Lindzen, emeritus professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the late Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Scientists; Harvard’s world-famous astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas; Fred Singer, founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami and founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and many thousands of other physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists and environmental scientists who have studied in this field.

I am a practicing Roman Catholic. Francis is a great and good man. He has my attention when he speaks on matters of faith and morals. On climate change, I am with those nasty thousands of “denier” scientists in the relative disciplines.

John G. Hubbell, Minnetonka

 

DONALD TRUMP

There’s a key difference between his prospects and Ventura’s win

For U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison to compare Donald Trump’s presidential chances to Jesse Ventura’s gubernatorial win in Minnesota (“It could happen …,” July 27) forgets one thing. The Republicans have done everything they can to prevent voter participation, and there are very few states that allow same-day registration as we had here. That was a key component in Jesse’s win, with lots of first-time voters deciding to do something different. So whether Trump gets the Republican nod (unlikely) or runs as a third-party candidate (much more likely), he will have to depend on registered voters, who may not be as disillusioned as many of his supporters are.

David Miller, Minneapolis

• • •

In defense — partial defense — of the much-maligned Donald Trump, I would point out that he has provided some very sound and compelling reasons not to vote for Gov. Scott Walker and other announced Republican candidates for the U.S. presidency. From a purely electoral perspective, the major failing of Mr. Trump’s primary campaign is that he has provided no cogent reason to vote for Donald Trump.

Bradlee Karan, Blaine

 

‘MIXED MARTIAN ARTS’

You and whose alien army?

The Star Tribune is a newspaper where hidden gems can be found where you least expect. Take, for example, the July 25 edition. In the “On the Air Saturday” TV and radio listings in the back of the sports section, on Page C5, were listings for auto racing, baseball, golf and something labeled “Mixed Martian Arts.” And here I thought that news of the invasion might have merited the front page.

Patrick Hirigoyen, St. Paul