I appreciate the comments of CenterPoint Energy’s Brad Tutunjian on reducing the use of natural gas (“Don’t single out natural gas,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 5). I laud the company’s efforts to be an environmental steward by reducing distribution system leaks and recapturing methane gas. I am particularly delighted to hear of impulses toward our future human survival.
Frankly, though, it is not enough. Not nearly. We need to use our land-grant resources at the University of Minnesota to get our engineers to study the practicality of installing solar-thermal tubes on our roofs, using the sun to help heat our houses. We need them to explore our climate and geological challenges to ground-source (geothermal) heat pumps, like those used in the visitor center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We need them to figure out efficient ways to repurpose our sewage treatment plants to use anaerobic digesters to produce renewable gas like that produced from landfills. Then we need to get our economics department and Humphrey School wizards to figure out how to do it as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Finally, our state legislators need to figure out the best mechanisms for funding plugging the air leaks in our houses and businesses, so we just stop wasting all that heat every winter.
Yes, I admire CenterPoint’s efforts and praise its newfound long-term citizenry, but natural gas and other fossil fuels are eventually going to kill us all, if we don’t replace them. Let’s use our amazing state resources to figure out a way.
Charles Underwood, Minneapolis
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In a series of climate-related town hall meetings, the Democratic candidates have outlined their plans to deal with climate change (“Democratic candidates give their climate-change pitches,” Sept. 5). The Republican National Committee immediately dubbed them “radical climate policies.” But the most radically dangerous path we can take right now is the status quo. Yes, Democratic plans will cost money, but climate change is already costing big money, and rapidly accelerating in cost.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around a huge change like moving away from fossil fuels. But we need to listen to the rational side of our brains and make a start.
Luckily, there is already a bill in Congress proposing a conservative, effective, and efficient way to make such a start. It is H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. It would enact a carbon fee and dividend. The government would collect a fee on all sources of CO2 pollution (oil, gas and coal), and give that money back to individual households as a dividend. This eases the transition to cleaner energy sources for people who can least afford it, and that money will actually improve the economy. An economic analysis done by Regional Economic Models Inc. predicts that this fee/dividend would add 2.8 million jobs above baseline over 20 years, due to the stimulus of the dividend. And over that same 20 years we would see a 50% reduction in carbon emissions. The carbon fee and dividend idea is a market-based, practical solution that can generate bipartisan support.
What is needed now is for people to learn about it, and let our elected officials at all levels know that we support it. Get educated and then act.
Cathy Ruther, St. Paul
Delayed 911 responses. Need to know more to increase the force?
St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson says she doesn’t have enough information to make a decision about police staffing (“St. Paul police chief opposes cuts,” Sept. 5). St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell says that more than 5,000 high-priority 911 calls could not be handled quickly because there were not enough police officers available. In Minneapolis the number is more than 6,000.
That seems like enough information to me. Please hire more police officers.
Nat Robbins, Minneapolis
STUDENT TEST SCORES
Add parenting to this equation
There is a lot of talk about Minnesota kids’ math and reading scores (“Fewer schools beat odds in math,” Sept. 6); many people are saying “enough already!” It is very important that individuals be able to read, write and problem-solve with numbers. I believe everyone agrees with that, but let us not forget that everyone has different abilities and strengths. Imagine a test that required everyone to run a mile in less than 6 minutes, dunk a basketball, paint a realistic picture, play a violin, create a piece of jewelry and walk across a balance beam. I know I would fail that test.
So, some of us won’t be great readers and writers and mathematicians. We should at least accept that. Meanwhile, schools have worked hard to improve reading and math scores with little or no positive results and everyone scratches their head and asks what needs to change.
Teachers need to know the best way to teach reading and math to each student in order for each student to succeed. (That is not news.) It is, however, a huge undertaking — there isn’t a lot of one-on-one time in today’s classroom. So, the original teachers, the parents, need to step up and work one-on-one with their children daily. Yes, you have jobs, you may be a single parent, your life is busy, but the most important job you have is being a parent and that includes helping your children learn. I’m not excusing teachers from doing their jobs, but there isn’t enough time in a day to meet the individual needs of each child in a class or 20 or 30 children. Parents, I encourage you to find at least 30 minutes a day for each of your children to do homework, math, reading and writing activities. I know it will make a difference!
Renee Tyszko, Burnsville
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If our statewide math scores have dropped for the fourth straight year, maybe we should ask if our schools are setting too high a standard for the basic math concepts we think a student needs to learn. Everyone needs a certain amount of math for daily living, but do all students need what we’re expecting of them?
For years, the expectation was that all students should get a college degree. Now we recognize that’s not realistic. Should we consider how realistic our math curriculum is? Is it geared for pre-college only, or are we adapting our curriculum to the needs of those who’ll do better in vocational and technical schools?
Lois Willand, Minneapolis
Already a fair, welcoming system
As a front-line circulation worker in the Hennepin County Library system my perspective is totally different from a recent letter writer (“Let’s shelve overdue fees,” Sept. 3).
Our current checkout system will automatically attempt to renew a patron’s items up to three additional times (this can amount to a total of four weeks for DVDs and 12 weeks for all other items). Renewals won’t take place only when there is a waiting list. Some newly released items may have more than 1,000 people signed up awaiting their turn. These patrons want to be treated fairly by our system of sharing and hope that those items will be returned in a timely manner.
Over the more than eight years I’ve been here, our library has made amazing strides in eliminating extra fees and getting all patrons restored to full borrowing privileges. Every week I hear from our patrons how delighted and grateful they are with our customer service, checkout programming, and our welcoming spaces.
There can be a tendency to go to extremes when we don’t weigh all the facts. At the same time, all library users expect to be treated fairly. Everything I’ve experienced affirms for me that our library system is doing a great job at that!
Terese Krulik, Chanhassen
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