The welcome Star Tribune editorial on the climate crisis (“Climate Crusaders,” Sept. 20) stopped short of focusing on the real problem: Republican Party intransigence in the face of overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change. The editorial seemed to endorse Gov. Tim Walz’s bill to make the state free of carbon-polluting electricity by 2050, then didn’t note why the bill failed: Republican Senate leaders refused even to hold a hearing.
The editorial’s exhortation that “both sides” commit to setting aside “ideology” is absurd. One side is responding to the facts of an unfolding catastrophe, while the other refuses even to hear those facts, never mind act on them. The top 10 Democrat candidates for president have agreed the climate crisis is an existential threat to life on earth. Until the Republican Party also understands and responds to that stark reality, Minnesota will fail to protect its children who bravely marched and called out loudly for action now.
James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis
Lenfestey is a former editorial writer for the Star Tribune who covered energy and the environment, among other topics.
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How to explain the stance of the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts regarding students’ participation in the Minnesota Youth Climate Strike last Friday (“ ‘Kids have every right to do this,’ ” front page, Sept. 21)? It was as if the districts said, “You won’t be able to attend after-school and homecoming activities if you choose to stand up for your future and the future of your home, your family, your school.” Seriously? And Anoka-Hennepin actually sounded proud that not a single student from the largest district in the state chose to participate in the march. What are these institutions teaching these students — that it’s better to be silent than stand up, better to attend the pep rally and homecoming events than witness and demand action for a healthy planet? The administrations of these schools are as complicit in our lack of action on climate change as any ill-informed and arrogant politician.
These students are the voters of tomorrow. Hopefully, since they can’t express themselves during a school day, they will make it to the polls next Election Day. Before or after class, of course.
Cynthia Wetzell, Columbia Heights
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To all of the students who chose to skip school and march in protest of the lack of action on climate change, I’m sure you all had a really fun day. I was sorry to hear that the participation rate was less than 100%, because then all of you could have avoided another full day of indoctrination. I will be back at the Capitol in 12 years (that seems to be the magic number for our demise) to personally greet any of you not too embarrassed to show up. If you should choose to return, I hope that you are angry. Angry about how you have been lied to — lied to by the media, by the schools and by your parents.
To all of the parents who have chosen to frighten their children with this folly that the earth is going to end in 12 years, shame on you. Shame on you! Yes, the climate is changing, just as it always has, and always will.
S.C. Bartlett, St. Paul
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When I was the same age as many of today’s protesters against climate change inaction, the world was divided into two camps: kids and grown-ups. The world of kids was complex and rife with alliances, hatreds and jealousies. The world of adults was opaque, monolithic and all-powerful. As I grew up, the adult world revealed itself to be equally complex and contradictory.
The protesters are honestly baffled by the seeming inability of all-powerful adults to prevent the obvious. They don’t see the power struggles or the fact that the good guys are losing — hence the continued increase in carbon emissions despite four decades of warnings, the cyclical repeal of environmental protections, and American affection for gas-guzzling SUVs. The reasons for losing the battle include, at best, a limitless hunger for power and money, and at worst, complacency — attitudes like “my SUV won’t tip the balance.”
I was moved by the stories and pictures of young people around the world protesting climate change. May they be enough to tip the balance.
Sheila Kelleher, St. Paul
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I admire the climate activism of our youth. It moves me to consider how I, too, can fight against global warming. Like many, I tend to think globally and become disheartened; my individual efforts seem inconsequential. Yet, I remind myself that large change often comes from many small changes, that a movement arises from individuals choosing to act. Witness the multitudes on the street Friday striking against government inaction.
We can write our politicians; we can march; we can recycle; we can drive more fuel-efficient cars; we can bike.
We can also vote with our dollars. Carbon offsets are a real thing. We do not have to wait for politicians to impose some kind of cost on the production of carbon to recognize and take responsibility for our own carbon footprint. Carbon offsets can be purchased, and I encourage people to do so.
Craig Peterson, Minneapolis
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Instead of punishing students for taking an interest in world and national events that affect them, school districts could have made student climate strikes an educational moment by having students submit papers about the protests, the science behind the concern or other topics that relate directly to these protests. Our young people know that the lack of response worldwide will affect them far more than it will affect those of us who are old. They are right when they say we have failed them. Nothing could be more urgent than to save our planet. It’s the only one we have.
AnnLiv Bacon, Edina
MPLS. 2040 PLAN
Well-calculated rezoning can work. But the sweeping 2040 Plan won’t
A Prospect Park community leader wrote on Saturday about how his community has evolved over time to accept a mixture of single-family homes with multiunit dwellings (“Increase density, built community,” Readers Write, Sept. 21). He did not mention that it was all done under current residential zoning laws, which will be totally obliterated under the Minneapolis 2040 Plan.
There’s night-and-day difference between the well-calculated property-by-property rezonings that Prospect Park experienced vs. the 2040 Plan, which upzones every home and duplex in Minneapolis in every neighborhood in one fell swoop.
Under the plan, all single-family homes and duplexes everywhere will be upzoned to at least triplex status. Zoning on busy streets will be boosted to allow apartment buildings at least three stories high. Residential properties across the alleys of busy streets will be upzoned to at least 2.5-story apartment buildings. Residences in more congested area will be upzoned to allow four- to 10-story buildings.
One more thing: Off-street parking will not be required.
Minneapolis is the best big city in America. Its strength is based on the hardworking people who tend their modest-but-charming homes typically situated on narrow lots that are a fraction of the size of most of their suburban neighbors. We are second only to Salt Lake City in millennial homeownership. I’m aghast that the mayor and City Council want to make it so simple and easy for speculators to “flip” our neighborhoods but so difficult for the highly taxed and deeply rooted homeowners who have made Minneapolis the envy of the country.
Say “no” to risky citywide upzoning and keep our current zoning laws. They worked in Prospect Park.
Wes Skoglund, Minneapolis
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