In the wake of Xcel Energy’s recent announcement that it will be retiring its Sherco 1 and 2 coal-fired power units by 2026 and slashing its carbon emissions 60 percent by 2030, I feel that the conversation around climate change and clean energy in Minnesota has shifted in an important way (“Xcel aims to speed CO2 reductions,” Oct. 3). Rather than the clean energy transition being talked about as a “problem” or a “challenge,” clean energy development is increasingly being recognized as an opportunity for innovation and economic growth that safeguards the things we all value — our health, our environment, and our unique climate with distinct biomes and seasons that Minnesotans call home.

When the largest utility in the state — which also happens to be the largest wind producer in the U.S. — recognizes the compelling economic, environmental and societal case for transitioning away from coal, it’s evident our clean energy future is here now, just as climate change is here now. I applaud Xcel Energy’s leadership in working toward affordable, reliable and clean energy sources for Minnesota, and am looking forward to seeing where our clean energy leadership takes us next.

Will Steger, Minneapolis

The writer is founder of Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy and a polar explorer.

GUNS AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Is it our violence-filled culture? Or is it the weapons themselves?

After reading Kent Nerburn’s commentary “It’s our gun culture that’s mentally ill,” some thoughts are in order (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 6). Once again, the object rather than the actor is blamed. When responsibly used, guns will not be the source of injury or death. Similarly, when used responsibly, neither will a case of beer. Since 1968, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Form 4473 was supposed to be the solution to illegal gun ownership. As accurate as it can be, the background check cannot know what is in the heart or the intent of the prospective owner. No crystal ball or truth serum will do it, either. A common thread through these mass casualty incidents is a mental health issue that manifests itself in gun-free zones. When will society understand that this phrase on a building is an attraction — not a deterrent? Nerburn opines that he realizes the Second Amendment “right,” but then launches into an agenda that would strip that away.

Do we have a mentally ill culture? To some degree, yes. Last night while watching TV, I saw no less than five trailers depicting graphic shooting scenes. Mentally ill? You be the judge. Do we now attack First Amendment rights, too? Until we address the mental health issues, additional laws will not be the answer. Until we can remove the agenda to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will not have a constructive conversation. The question is: Are we adult enough to meet that goal?

Joe Polunc, Cologne

• • •

Today I read the Nerburn commentary and a letter from the NRA asking for money to stop liberals from taking all our guns. One wants to prevent needless death from our basic gun worship, and the NRA is dancing on the graves of Oregon victims raising cash. Some politicians — mostly Republicans — use this opinion divide to gather support of people hoodwinked by the NRA and gun advocates. If you don’t mind 50 U.S. school shootings this year and the 150,000 or so murdered by guns since 2002, keep supporting the politicians and groups who profit from this insanity. Republican Jeb Bush explained this viewpoint: “Stuff happens.” Meaning that neither he nor other enabling politicians and gun parasites will lift a finger to put an end to this harebrained insanity. Also in the newspaper, we found that Republicans have made it illegal for health organizations in the government to even study the obvious dangers of keeping guns — especially loaded guns at home and also allow lies on gun toting benefits to stand. If you liked the mass shootings keep supporting these gun profiteers and if you don’t — stop their money and votes.

Mike Fedde, Eagan

• • •

If Nerburn is perplexed regarding “What is it about guns that so obsesses Americans,” he should consider and try to understand the adage, “God didn’t make all men equal; Sam Colt did that.” Referring, of course, to the Colt Manufacturing Co., which has made firearms since the mid-1850s.

Douglas Smith, Mound

• • •

You’re right, Kent. I don’t understand either.

Umpqua, Ore. — 9 dead; Roanoke, Va. — 2 dead; Lafayette, La. — 2 dead, 9 wounded; Charleston, S.C. — 9 dead; Marysville, Wash. — 4 dead; Fort Hood, Texas (No. 2) — 3 dead, 16 wounded; Washington, D.C. — 12 dead, 3 wounded; Newtown, Conn. — 26 dead, mostly children; Oak Creek, Wis. — 6 dead, 4 wounded; Aurora, Colo. — 12 people dead, 70 wounded; Oakland, Calif. — 7 dead; Tucson, Ariz. — 6 dead, 12 wounded; Fort Hood, TX (No. 1) — 13 dead, 43 wounded; Binghamton, N.Y. — 13 dead, 4 wounded; Red Lake, Minn. — 9 dead, 5 wounded; Columbine, Colo. — 13 dead, 21 wounded …

Sandy Wolfe Wood, Stillwater

• • •

Finally, someone is courageous enough to speak out about the problems with guns. Nerburn confronts us with the simple explanation that guns kill people. If we really want to protect our citizens from more mass shootings, we need to steadfastly ignore the excuses and the flawed reasoning of the NRA and gun manufacturers. One by one, we need to stand with Nerburn and demand legislation that will outlaw handguns and semiautomatics. It may not be simple, but it is doable.

Patricia Mulrooney Eldred, St. Paul

• • •

It is true, as the NRA suggests, that strict gun controls will do nothing to reduce the number of those poor souls in the country who are mentally disturbed. It is also true that you can slaughter a lot more people in a minute with an automatic rifle than you can with, say, a butcher knife.

Elizabeth Johnson, Columbia Heights

• • •

For all of you Democrats who think the recent Oregon incident is “gun violence,” did you think 9/11 was airplane violence?

Taylor Swanson, Eden Prairie

 

Restaurant WORKERS

Supply and demand? Shortage of cooks should yield higher pay

While the article “So many restaurants, not enough cooks” (Oct. 3) is interesting, it is not completely accurate. Moreover, it should provoke pertinent questions regarding our economic system, notions of supply and demand, and immigration. Is there really a shortage of restaurant workers or is there more specifically a shortage of restaurant workers who are willing to work under the prevailing conditions?

A few years ago, similar articles were written about shortages of nurses, yet you could walk around almost any block in any city and find skilled nurses who weren’t working as nurses because the prevailing employment conditions were not sufficiently attractive. At another time, articles were written about shortages of IT workers, but again there were skilled IT people who were not willing to work under the prevailing conditions.

If our economic system works in terms of supply and demand, as most people believe, then restaurants, hospitals and IT departments should improve the conditions (compensation, benefits, etc.) to attract the needed employees. Or perhaps we should relax our attitudes regarding immigration and let those foreigners who are more desperate than we are come in and do our work.

David Kaiser, Apple Valley