Bonnie Blodgett suggests that tackling the issue of climate change is difficult, intimidating and overwhelming. The answer is, rather, for individuals to find a hands-on project that fits their interests and abilities, a project that will give them meaning ("Somewhere in the mix is a project for you," June 21). While this is a valid view, I maintain that many are finding personal empowerment by engaging climate change on the federal level.

On Tuesday, 900 volunteer citizens met with their representatives and senators in Washington. They are creating a dialogue between members of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and their elected officials regarding the need for carbon-fee-and-dividend legislation, the best first step to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and to mitigate the effects of a changing climate.

In 1968, Myles Stenshoel, my Augsburg College political science professor, stated that 3 percent of the population are activists and that these 3 percent influence government policy. It took 47 years for this statement to sink in for me, but I just picked up the phone to urge U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen (202-225-2871) and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Al Franken (202-224-5641) to support legislative action on climate change because I am vitally concerned about the impact that such change would have on Minnesota agriculture and tourism.

Congress needs to act now to place a price on carbon. Rather than railing against the greed of corporations or ranting against the ineffectiveness of Congress, I chose to act. I urge you to become part of the 3 percent. For information about Citizens' Climate Lobby, their legislative proposal and how to act on climate change at the federal level, go to citizensclimatelobby.org.

Daniel Sevig, Eden Prairie

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Blodgett has outdone herself this time. Her thoughts on why we can't quite get a game going against climate change includes this gem: "a more insidious force against change is democracy itself." Is this a vote from Blodgett for another form of government? Socialism or maybe communism? A short read into history will tell the bloody story of how that always turns out.

Below that we learn about evil democracy, in which the stupid citizens vote to benefit themselves with cheap gasoline, when the obvious answer, in Blodgett's reality, is that we'd all be better off if the poor in other countries could vote. And the unborn (future generations) should vote as well. (Goodbye, abortion!) But, saving the best for last, the animals should get a vote, too. Issue an ID to every bird and cat.

Then, some more encouraging words about those who are getting it right — the sustainable-farm movement where many "believe that our species' extinction offers the rest of nature's best hope." These are some real and serious answers to the problems we face today. I can't, for the life of me, sort out why thinkers like this haven't put all our troubles in the rearview mirror.

Dan Johnson, Farmington

JUSTICE AND MERCY

The challenge of both church and state with abuse, MSOP

Kudos to D.J. Tice for calling out church and state as mirror images of injustices on the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and clergy child sex abuse ("Clock runs out on denial and foot-dragging," June 21). Both institutions preach social justice but have covered up gross wrongdoing — both unconstitutional and immoral — in order to keep the favor (financial and political) of their respective followers.

In this instance, it seems the governor and Legislature have wanted to please, at the cost of long-term inhumane treatment, voters who are fearful of sex offenders. And certain of the church hierarchy have wanted, at the cost of not acknowledging child abuse, to keep their power and their pews filled with the unquestioning faithful.

How ironic that, on the one hand, we see an extreme lack of accountability, and, on the other, extreme levels of punishment. My hope is that these leaders, and all of us as well, work to respect human (yes, even the various levels of sex offenders) rights and responsibilities. To paraphrase Shakespeare, justice and mercy are best when seasoning each other.

Nancy Cosgriff, Marine on St. Croix

SUBURBAN POVERTY

Well, this would be the result of social engineering, no?

After reading "Poverty nearly doubles in metro suburbs" (June 21), I fail to understand what the fuss is all about. The crux of the story talked about suburban poverty population numbers at 385,000 vs. 259,000 in the urban core. Libby Starling of the Metropolitan Council called it "significant and surprising."

Well, maybe the Met Council and other urban planners are seeing the result of their very own agenda to move people out of the urban setting. Through Section 8 housing and affordable housing demands, they have moved some of the poor out to the suburbs. Suburbs and small cities have been forced to provide for affordable housing in order to secure Met Council and other funding sources. So now that the decades-old plan is showing "success," we consider it to be a problem?

What the study is lacking is a breakdown of who were residents who suffered under the 2008 recession vs. who moved out of the inner city due to housing opportunities. Maybe if the Met Council and other urban planners would stop acting like real estate agents, people would live where they preferred.

The solution to those in poverty is a healthy economy looking for those ready and willing to work. Once gainfully employed, individuals can choose for themselves where they want to live. Isn't that the way it should be?

Joe Polunc, Cologne

VETERANS HEALTH CARE

Continued neglect, even under scrutiny. How does that happen?

As a disabled Vietnam veteran, I found "Waits grow as more vets seek care" (June 21) disconcerting. The subheadline — "as the lists get longer and treatments more costly, the VA faces a nearly $3 billion shortfall" — was troubling. To learn that the number of veterans on a waitlist of 30 days or more has increased by 50 percent since the height of last year's disclosure of wait times is absolutely indefensible.

The government that keeps sending us to war does not seem to grasp that will mean that those of us that get back home alive, sort of, will need follow-up medical care. This isn't calculus. Additionally, rectifying how veterans returning from war are cared for is not a partisan issue. I call on all of Minnesota's elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives to take the necessary measures to correct this unjust treatment of those of us who have honorably served this county.

The article closed with this statement by VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson: "Veterans are going to respond with increased demand, so get your checkbooks out." As to that needed funding, is it just me or has anyone else noticed there is never, ever, a shortfall of funding for foreign aid? This veteran does not support that set of priorities.

Tom Edwards, Forest Lake