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In Response: Cheer viable, achievable policies, not Mayor Larson's politics

I have to say after reading the Nov. 29 “Local View” column, “With Larson's leadership, Duluth going greener,” first of all, what a sexist view. In the 21st century, gender does not determine leadership or problem-solving abilities.

The column read, "Climate instability is the largest challenge faced by our city and planet." The suggestion that climate change is our largest challenge is highly disputed.

Furthermore, if carbon dioxide is the cause of the problem, we do not have the resources and technology to, in any reasonable way, reverse the anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide increase.

We do, however, have the resources and technology to anticipate, plan for, prioritize strategies for, and deal with whatever the weather brings. More importantly, we have the resources to research and develop technologies that can effectively and economically deal with serious, long-term problems. An example is Bill Gates' "Breakthrough Energy Coalition" (b-t.energy/coalition).

The column stated that Duluth Mayor Emily Larson “seems to understand that more storm impacts will be caused by warming dynamics in the atmosphere, caused by our fossil-fuel use." Recent storms and flooding have proven expensive, and I've seen untested theories, but I haven’t seen any demonstrable scientific link between human fossil-fuel use and recent storms and flooding.

The Paris Climate Agreement was unreasonably expensive ($1 trillion to $2 trillion annually while the worldwide GDP is $78 trillion ) and ineffective (estimated to prevent about three-tenths of 1 degree in temperature rise this century, assuming all countries abide by the proposal for the next eight decades). Fortunately, President Donald Trump decided to abandon the accord. Mayor Larson's brand of leadership resulted in her joining with those who want to pursue the goals of a bad policy.

Mayor Larson's grand promise to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Duluth 80 percent by 2050 is good public relations and politics, but it is bad policy. It will not efficiently improve Duluth's economic development or help Duluthians thrive. It will not be effective. It is a cop out that focuses on the unachievable while ignoring the possible.

Things that make sense should be done. Things that don't make sense shouldn’t be. For example, upgrading Duluth's 85-year-old downtown heating system may be economically feasible (without even factoring in a small reduction in carbon dioxide), but investing $900,000 for community solar power is probably not.

The people and the community have possibilities that are boundless. The column was quite the cheerleading for the mayor. But let's cheer for our leaders when they do us right. And let’s challenge them to do what they can to improve the human condition with viable, achievable policies.

John Ockuly of Champlin, Minn., is a retired research and development engineer, an inventor, and the past president and board member for the nonprofit FON, which does education and outreach for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. He’s also a frequent visitor to Duluth. 

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