In an Oct. 11 opinion piece on the MPR News website, Annette Meeks, CEO of a conservative nonprofit, declared that the Metro Transit system should answer for its decision to donate free rides to citizens advocating a move away from fossil fuels. I am one of the citizens she refers to, a member of the planning team for the MN350 event, Moving Planet.
This event was part of a worldwide movement, campaigning to reduce the amount of carbon in the air to 350 parts per million. (The current level is 392.) In Minnesota it was organized by a diverse group of individuals and organizations who presented a wide range of solutions to the climate crisis.
Meeks' point seemed to be that it was a contradiction for Metro Transit to provide free rides for an event focused on climate change because buses use fossil fuels. She also implied that the deepest concerns of these citizens -- the "life and death" nature of climate change -- were not valid.
So I have a question for Meeks. Suppose for a minute that she has a sick child. A doctor tells her that her child is dying and needs surgery. Meeks seeks a second opinion, and then another, and finally gets the opinions of 100 doctors. Ninety-seven of them agree that her child is dying, two say there should be more tests, and one says the child is fine and no action is required.
What would Meeks decide to do? What would any of us decide to do?
Ninety-seven percent of climate change scientists agree that human-caused climate change is already promoting widespread human suffering, and that unless we work to stop it, it will become more and more deadly. Even Minnesotans are affected by the increased severity of storms and higher levels of ozone and particulates in the air.
What can we do? Mass transit is one of the mosaic of answers that the climate change movement advocates. How disingenuous of Meeks to ignore this fact.
Technology is already in use to transform our buses into green vehicles that drastically reduce their carbon emissions. The work of this transformation will provide many more jobs, and job security.
Rather than criticizing the Metro Transit system for its decision, I commend the visionary leadership that not only affirms the importance of mass transit, but supports the work of reducing human suffering and death. It is these types of decisions by businesses that are part of our greatest hope for the future.
Author Terry Tempest Williams wrote: "The eyes of the future are looking back at us... and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come."
I'd like to ask Annette Meeks to imagine that her grandchildren are looking back at her from the future. What answer does she have for them? Is it really to unleash more carbon into the air with the likes of the Alberta tar sands operation? Or is it to act with restraint, and imagination, like the Metro Transit system has done?
Gwin Pratt is the pastor of St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Minnetonka and is an active member of MN350, which describes itself as a "volunteer-driven coalition that seeks to inspire Minnesotans to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis."