How to combat climate change, improve public health and the economy
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on buses and lorries (MHDVs). We are part of a group calling on Governor Tim Walz to sign this MOU on behalf of the State of Minnesota. It is a non-binding decision in contrast to the Clean Cars initiative passed last year by the Minnesota Pollution Control Board. The states involved in MOU are a learning laboratory for how we can accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy with clean transport. By learning from each other, these states figure out how to do this.
Medical research has shown that we reduce the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease as well as cancer when we reduce our exposure to the known toxicities from diesel exhaust. By using electric vehicles (EVs) whenever possible and using cleaner engines (eg CNG compressed natural gas) when EVs are not possible, we reduce this risk. The most sensitive area for improvement is school buses as they transport school children [and bus drivers] In many hours. The riders on school buses are exposed to exhaust from the traffic as well as their own bus – up to 15 times the surrounding crowd outside.
Like the Clean Cars initiative, cleaner and more efficient trucks and buses will be cheaper over the life of the vehicles, taking into account the savings in healthcare, etc. In last year’s discussion of the Clean Cars rules, car dealers complained that they would be obliged to sell cars that no one wants to buy. This has not come true, as the waiting queues for electric cars show (as well as significant dealer remarks over MSRP).
Interested parties can see https://www.cctmn.org/mou for more information. Organizations and political leaders can also log on to this site.
– Jeff Nelson, MD and Bruce Parker, MD, Edina and Minneapolis
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Rights without responsibility harm the common good
Rejection of the common good is at the heart of the problem of people not being vaccinated for COVID-19. Some people claim the right to refuse this medically proven lifesaver so they can preserve life, freedom and a pursuit of happiness. Although this sentence suited the mood of the patriots who tried to throw colonialism off in our founding documents, it is very unfortunate that these documents did not equally emphasize the “common good” and what the citizens could do to promote it. .
There is a moral stance that suggests how to approach this dilemma. Gandhi and his son Arun spoke of moral duties to avoid “social sins.” One of them was “Rights without Liability.” For example, the right to produce and sell weapons, without any effort to lessen the horrific side effect of many thousands of gun killings each year by sociopaths; or the right to do business in America without paying a fair share of taxes that allow our country to have an economic environment that ensures profit; or in this case, the right to refuse nationally mandated behavior or vaccines simply because your freedom allows you.
Today, our collective common good requires that we pretty much all get a vaccination. Our hospitals are full; and wonderful health workers are mercilessly forced into slavery to save us – especially the 90% of the dying who refused vaccination. Insisting on a personal freedom not to care about others harms the common good.
I suggest, after a month of starting your vaccinations, if someone has refused without a valid medical exemption, that person should pay all hospital expenses if they need them. All! Now there is a responsibility that can capture your imagination and start financing your “Right” to refuse.
– Gary King, Fridley
Reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue
Our main thoroughfares are the lifeblood of this cold and scattered city. They must be free-flowing and have parking for businesses and residents. Currently, Hennepin Avenue South is a major thoroughfare for traffic to and from downtown and the freeway. The four lanes are filled with cars that would otherwise clog side streets, and the available parking serves many commercial purposes.
It seems that some want Hennepin to be a boutique street that locals can enjoy with walking and cycling. But residents will always have personal vehicles for viable transportation. The city’s transport plan says that 43% of the trips currently take place in a car and that they want to reduce it to 20%. This is unrealistic and not representative of what people want.
Hennepin south of the lake to 36th St. was reconstructed and is unattractive and dysfunctional. The loss of parking for the sake of a few summer cyclists is a real injury. The present construction of Hennepin north of the lake developed organically and should be preserved. Hopefully the new city council is more democratic than the last.
—Gary Farland, Minneapolis
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