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River ecology is not indestructible

Earth Day is a celebration of the natural world and our recognition that nature is not indestructible. This is a great time to congratulate all of the environmental science students who have taken up the cause of clean air and clean water. They seem to understand how wild places and wildlife matter.

The Mississippi River has benefited from all of the environmental science that helped clean it up. In my lifetime it has gone from a sewer to a wildlife sanctuary. Of course, there is still much to be done to protect the whole river environment including Lake Pepin.

Right now, the greatest threat to “Old Muddy” is mud itself. Continuing erosion of its banks around here is mostly from boating. Pleasure-craft wake is removing shoreline and threatening to inundate the Wildlife League river bottoms. High water and irresponsible boating are robbing 82,600 cubic yards of sediment every year. That adds up to the 72 feet of shoreline lost in the last 25 years.

On Earth Day it is important to celebrate our ability to overcome pollution. It is also the time to set our sights on current pollution problems like erosion. This boating season, please join with me and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to “Own your own wake.” The river ecology is not indestructible.

Ken “Jug” Johnson

Red Wing

Now it’s our turn to help the earth

Fifty years ago, the world was waking up from the dream that mankind had landed on the moon. That contrast between “life” and “lifeless” helped define the first Earth Day. It’s hard to imagine, but in 1970, what Earth Day was about was ... now.

The “teach-in” called Earth Day had a simple lesson: The future was inevitable but pollution was not. There was no denying that air and water pollution was man made. Giant smokestacks were belching black clouds right next to factories spewing multi-colored poisons into rivers. Those days were long before global warming was on our radar. Pollution was something you could see, and therefore, it was something that you could do something about. I’m glad we did.

Today, on Earth Day, let us remember that now is our turn to improve the future. Fifty years from now, the coronavirus will be history; but nobody will be immune to global warming. When something as small as a virus gets out of control is one thing, but when something as big as the climate gets out of control is something else. “Sheltering in place,” may have a whole new meaning for our grandchildren.

And speaking of grandchildren, Earth Day is a day for optimism. In 50 years, we may be waking up from the dream of landing on Mars. The contrast between “life” and “lifeless” will be the same, but will there be optimism or despair? That is entirely up to us.

Paul Drotos

Earthling (Red Wing)

Care enough to keep air clean

Have you noticed how wonderful our air quality has become? It is lush and organic; it smells like the inside of a greenhouse!

Make no mistake; fossil fuel burning has a significant impact on the air we breathe. We only have to go outside to experience the proof; the before and after "sheltering-in-place" is the best air quality experiment our society has ever witnessed.

On this Earth Day, you can do something about air quality. You don't need to wait for "somebody else to do something." Don't wait for legislation to change. Stop worrying about who is "in" with the Paris Climate Accords. No, take action, NOW.

Buy an electric car. Buy an electric lawn mower and yard tools. Ride your bike for errands. Dust off that old manual reel-style lawn mower. Sign up for Xcel Energy's Windsource program and be 100% carbon free. Even without a Windsource subscription, Xcel Energy's carbon mix today is 58% carbon free in our five-state area.

Once this COVID-19 "sheltering-in-place" is over, we can help preserve this cleaner air, if we all make changes.

The question is, do you care enough to make a change?

Bill Gehn

Red Wing

Keep up the struggle to stop climate change

We are now in a struggle against an unseen foe that has killed many and has disrupted our lives in many ways. That struggle has been the fight against coronavirus pandemic, described by many as a “war.” We hear multiple times each day that we will survive this threat if we “stay together” and “we are all in this together.”

As hard as this fight is, we know this pandemic will end and over 90% of the people will come out alive to rebuild our nation.

However, we must not forget the other threat to human life and that is climate change. While coronavirus will kill millions worldwide, climate change will potentially kill all of mankind and creatures of this earth.

We have known about this threat for 50 years and have done little things to try to change the outcome, but lately have taken the threat more seriously. Our worldwide response has not been enough to change the course of climate catastrophe.

We cannot let the coronavirus pandemic overshadow the climate threat. We have a war with two fronts.

We cannot have a war with three fronts. This third front are the endless wars and militarism and the unfathomable amounts of money and resources needed. War and the preparation for war cause immense damage to our environment and are primary contributors to climate change. We must use these resources to invest in green energy projects because the innovations necessary for these changes and their widespread application are tremendously expensive at the scale needed.

If mankind can survive the pandemic by changing its habits, it can survive if we also put into effect ways and means to mitigate climate change. We must not delay, even for a year, efforts to change our way of life that will ensure the preservation of life on earth. Only governments can declare “war” and climate change needs to be treated as a war and a dire threat to everything on this planet. We urge all our political leaders to work hard for legislation that will help stop climate change. This cannot remain a partisan issue at our own peril. We must act now.

Bill Habedank

Red Wing

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