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Letters: Howard County delegation should not make excessive alcohol regulation worse; and more from readers

What problem is alcohol license limit bill solving?

Howard County delegation Bill 38-20, introduced by state Sen. Guy Guzzone, would create a limit on the number of Class A alcoholic beverage licenses by election district, so there could be no more than one such license per 4,000 residents of each district. Excessive regulations of all types do not benefit the public, and this is definitely excessive regulation.

What problem are we trying to solve? I have never heard of Howard County having an unusually serious alcoholism problem caused by too-easy access to alcoholic beverages. The only reason I see for this regulation is to protect existing businesses. I sympathize with problems of small businesses, as apparently Sen. Guzzone does, but the answer should not be for the government to restrict competition, which is all that this bill will accomplish.

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If we pass such a bill for alcohol, why not for other businesses? I like beer, but I like books even better, and I did not see any legislative proposals to regulate the number of bookstores in the county when the large bookstores were putting the small independents out of business. Aren’t books at least as worthy of protection as alcohol?

This type of regulation can also produce land-use problems. I can easily imagine a property with commercial zoning being available and appropriate for a liquor store but prevented from having one because of the quota, causing the proposed store owner to have to seek a zoning change to place the establishment over the line into the next district.

I opposed the existing regulation passed only a year or so ago that limits the number of licenses in the county for the same reasons I oppose this bill. If any change is made, I would urge the legislators instead to repeal the regulation entirely. If a problem emerges, let us examine it and regulate it minimally but effectively. Maryland is known nationwide for its excessive regulation of alcohol. I hope my own Howard County delegation will not make it any worse.

Angie Boyter

Ellicott City

It’s time to stop arguing about climate change

I have been reading with interest but increasing frustration the back and forth over the past year or so on the letters pages of the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier on climate change and especially whether humans are responsible for it. Meanwhile, we are seeing all around us the extreme weather, flooding, fires and other consequences of global climate change that simply cannot be denied (most recently, the catastrophic bushfires in Australia), causing unthinkable misery and suffering to humans and animals.

The situation is so dire and out of control by now that we simply do not have the time to engage the kooks and deniers that seem to never run out of time or energy to write letters and keep bringing up debunked and half-baked arguments. Climate change opponents think scientists are being alarmist, whereas the reality is that scientists cannot keep up with how fast climate change is progressing, and are now terrified that positive feedback loops in some key processes (like the melting of ice in Greenland and the Antarctic) have already been put into motion, meaning that consequences like calamitous sea level rise are already baked in.

We are essentially rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic now (or perhaps a more apt metaphor: fiddling while our planet is burning), and our children and grandchildren will never forgive us for this criminal failure to act. Greta Thunberg was absolutely right with her devastating indictment of us “grown-ups” in her now famous “How dare you!” speech at the 2019 UN climate action summit in New York.

I am a scientist (although not a climate scientist) so I understand the scientific process quite well and have seen it up close. Readers who do not understand it may think that these letters and “furious debate” in the pages of the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier and on some TV channels constitute a real lack of consensus among scientists, but that is the opposite of the truth. A 97% consensus among scientists on any issue is a rare and extremely decisive statement of scientific agreement. It means that the science is settled, game over.

It is time for the pointless debate to end and for us to get to work as if our house is on fire, which it is. We are already at our “break the glass” moment on climate change. I suggest you stop entertaining further debate on this issue and instead focus on how we can galvanize the community and our political leaders to enact measures aimed at reversing what we still can about climate change. It is way past time.

Ani Thakar

Columbia

The writer is a principal research scientist at the Center for Astrophysical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

Greenhouse gases are ‘entirely natural’

As I read the Jan. 16 responses to my Jan. 9 letter, I had to shake my head. Did none of the respondents grasp that at least 99.75% of all atmospheric greenhouse gases are entirely natural and not man-made?

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Geophysicists estimate that only three volcanic eruptions — Krakatoa in Indonesia (Aug. 26-27, 1883), Novarupta in Alaska (June 6, 1912) and Mount Hekla in Iceland (March 29, 1947-April 21, 1948) — spewed more carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than did the sum total of all human activity throughout the entirety of history.

Millet, which only grows in tropical and subtropical climates, was grown in Scandinavia during the Minoan Warm Period (1500-1200 B.C.).

In the Roman Warm Period (250 B.C.-450 A.D.), olives were grown in the German Rhine Valley, and citrus trees grew as far north as Hadrian’s Wall in England.

Vikings settled Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250 A.D.). The climate there was warm enough to grow grapes.

Each of these periods was followed by a cold period, in which global temperatures dropped drastically. During each of these periods, worldwide temperatures were far hotter than today — yet there were no coal-fired plants, no airplanes, no automobiles and no internal combustion engines during any of them.

Thomas M. Crawford

Laurel

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