The United Nations recently released a summary of its Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It concludes, according to the chairman of the panel that produced the report, that the “health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Ron Way’s beautifully written May 5 commentary about the history of the Minnesota River (“A run-down river runs through it”) documents a local example of our rapacious assault on the ecosystem. “And we just won’t stop,” the summary for the article concludes.

The U.S. frontier extended to the Pacific after our “victory” in the Mexican-American War in 1848. Soon we had decimated the country’s virgin forests, reduced the buffalo population from tens of millions to a few hundred, created thousands of now-abandoned mine shafts, farmed in a manner leading to the Dust Bowl and ongoing pollution, and reveled in the bounty. And now we lead the world in per-capita climate-changing emissions, nearly double that of other developed nations. “And we just won’t stop.”

Don Bailey, Bloomington

• • •

Wow. The Star Tribune and its loyal and mostly unthinking liberal minions did it again. Blaming the hand that feeds you (Minnesota River pollution) as long as you don’t have to look in the mirror, eh? No runoff from road salts, pet manure or commercial lawn care, we are to believe? How about all those cars leaking motor oil and transmission fluid, or all the rubber that’s worn off all those tires on your daily commute? How about the tons of trash produced daily? And last, maybe the light just might come on even though dimly as to why Donald Trump is president and why in all likelihood he’s going to get a second term.

Doug Carstensen, Pipestone, Minn.

COLLEGE COMPETITIVENESS

Look, this St. Thomas brouhaha is basically about unfair football

As an alumnus of the Carleton football program, I read with interest Chip Scoggins column on the current state of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference — more specifically, the possibility of the University of St. Thomas being removed from the conference (“MIAC’s actions baffling, high-handed,” Sports, May 5). While I agree with some of Scoggins’ comments, comparing football to choir, as he did, is just plain ridiculous. I know a little about football and the MIAC, but will admit that I don’t know much about choir and perhaps the competitive nature that surrounds that activity. So I went to the MIAC website and searched for “choir.” Perhaps this may surprise Mr. Scoggins, but I couldn’t find anything on the topic!

I applaud a college or university for investing “in something that enhances the school’s overall image and pursuit of excellence.” But this is NCAA Division III college athletics, and I think we all need to agree that football scores like 97-0 do nothing to benefit anyone, neither the winner nor the loser. Again, I’m no expert on choir, but I doubt the choir programs at MIAC schools other than St. Olaf are not heading home with the likes of a 97-0 whipping on their minds.

Scoggins would feel differently, I suspect, if his son played football at Carleton. Or St. Olaf. Or Hamline. So I’m not advocating for removal of St. Thomas from the MIAC, but I am saying that the league needs to find a way to address the gross inequities that exist in football specifically. The MIAC mission statement, copied word for word from their website, states: “The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference strives to guide, govern and support fair and equitable athletic competition and promote student-athlete well-being among its members. ” A 97-0 football game is hardly “fair and equitable.” And comparing football to choir — well, that simply makes no sense at all.

Paul Johnson, Eden Prairie

U.S. POLICY ON VENEZUELA

We must gaze darkly in the mirror

It was fascinating to read Mark Feierstein’s May 5 commentary (“Trump is on target with Venezuela”) proclaiming that, although the president’s initiatives have often “abandoned American ideals and undermined U.S. interests,” his instincts on Venezuela “have often been right.”

Shouldn’t we be looking in the mirror before attempting yet another disastrous regime change? Feierstein rightly complains about Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ignoring his country’s democratically elected National Assembly and about stolen elections, yet our own president lost the popular vote right here, and U.S. voter suppression, gerrymandering and foreign hacking continue apace.

Feierstein is correctly outraged at the Maduro regime’s use of torture, yet our own prisoners have become geriatric in Guantanamo while waiting for justice after so much torture at our government’s hands. It may be true that President Donald Trump has not “shuttered media outlets” as Maduro has done, but he has threatened to do so and has undermined the credibility and even safety of the “fake news” in a way that Maduro has failed to do.

Our food and medicine have not grown scarce, as has happened in Venezuela, yet the prices of food and, particularly, medicine have meant that our own citizens must choose between them, or simply go to bed hungry.

Even Feierstein’s use of Albright Stonebridge Group’s polling is suspect, considering that that group is headed by our own cruel former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who once famously stated that U.S. sanctions against Iraq were “worth it,” even though they resulted in the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children.

Charles Underwood, Minneapolis

ABORTION

The question some prefer to ignore

Thank you to George F. Will for his May 5 column on “heartbeat bills” and the immorality of abortion. This reminded me that I’d meant to send a 36th question to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in response to his list of 35 questions about our political climate (“When and how did we become the way we are? An inquiry into U.S. principles and priorities,” Opinion Exchange, April 24): Just when, where and why it was made not only permissible, but celebratory and worthy of applause, to snuff out the life of a newborn child?

Martha Kinney, St. Paul

• • •

I read Will’s abortion piece twice looking for the word “woman.” Nope. All of his references were from men. Conservatives and the Republican Party in glorious misogyny. He used dog-whistle terms like “pro-abortion extremists,” “fetal life” and “nuanced abortion regime.”

How convenient that Will speaks of improved science when it comes to a sonogram while conservatives mock other forms of science and scientists as elitist intellectuals. You can’t beat selective facts and reasoning when it comes to manipulating the self-righteous.

Abortion is about freedom. Give leaders control over a woman and her womb, and the next leader could have a radically different form of control in mind. Be careful what you legislate. Freedom applies to all. A blinking fetus, even in HD, is contained in a smart, free-thinking, voting woman. No one, especially a male-dominated government and judiciary, has the right to interfere.

Greg Oasheim, Minnetonka