As the Frederick County Council prepares to vote Tuesday on the latest changes to the proposed Livable Frederick master plan, the biggest disagreement may come down to one word: crisis.

County Councilman Kai Hagen (D) has amended a vision statement in the Environment section of the plan to include the phrase “climate change crisis.”

It’s unclear what the impact of including this mostly symbolic wording would have on the plan, which takes a holistic look at the county’s future, but the disagreement over the word crisis this past week has Hagen’s fellow council members wondering whether the language would result in positive or negative changes.

“Some people are [saying], ‘Why are you adding this element about climate change or our climate change crisis?’” Hagen said. “And the answer is those are good ideas, they are among the things we would want to do to address this problem in our community. ... But they do not come inherently with any sense of urgency.

“When you view these opportunities and initiatives and supporting initiatives through the lens of climate change, there is a greater chance of urgency of addressing them with greater commitment.”

Hagen’s amendment is the first of more than a dozen he has drafted and reads in part: “Our county has maintained the commitment to respond to our ongoing climate change crisis in a manner that reflects the magnitude of the threat to our community and our share of the responsibility for the problem.”

Hagen said Friday that despite debate at the July 9 council meeting with councilmen Steve McKay (R) and Phil Dacey (R), he wasn’t going to revise the amendment. Their concern was mostly with the word “crisis,” given the word appears nowhere else in Livable Frederick.

The amendment was a product of months of input from environmental groups countywide, and was “wordsmithed” extensively to try to illustrate climate change’s impact on the county, Hagen said.

Hagen added even though several initiatives in the plan concern climate change, including renewable energy and smart growth principles, it’s important to view those with the phrase “climate change crisis.”

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) is supportive of Hagen’s amendment, and said she was impressed with how succinctly written it was.

Climate change is having an impact on the planet, she added, and the word “crisis” is a fair assessment of how much.

“I don’t think the word crisis is an overstatement of how important climate change is, and having it as part of that opening vision statement for the Environment [section] of Livable Frederick is the right place to do it,” Fitzwater said.

The impact “climate change crisis” could have on Livable Frederick and the other corresponding planning documents may concern a variety of issues, Hagen said. Those could vary from reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles to expanding forests and protecting agriculture countywide, he said.

Still, some council members have pushed back on the use of “crisis,” including Dacey, who said he believed crisis was an alarmist word, and was concerned about the impact that word could have on county planning.

He said he understood the impact of climate change on the planet, but identified one issue he believes truly is a crisis in Frederick County.

“Crisis indicates to me imminent physical harm or imminent damage. ... I would say the opioid situation we’re facing is a crisis, where people are dying every day because of the abuse of opioids,” Dacey said.

McKay said if the word is removed, he likely will vote for the amendment. But since it’s the only use of it in the document, an already strong word carries even more weight, he added.

“It really singles it out there … if we were throwing ‘crisis’ around willy-nilly in the document, we could be having a different conversation. But we’re not,” McKay said.

Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) said she was concerned as well about putting the word “crisis” in the document, but would probably vote for the amendment if it remained, as Livable Frederick is a guide, not a legal document.

She said she’s talking to Hagen on Monday about removing the word, as doing so might lead to a 7-0 vote, which could send a stronger message to county planners and other officials about the council’s support for that part of the document.

Keegan-Ayer added that compromising with other council members might help him on future pieces of legislation, such as his proposed ban on single-use plastic.

“When you become too wedded to specific terminology and you’re not willing to give and take on specific terminology, you end up damaging some of those relationships you’re going to need to collaborate on the actual legislation that will enact some of those potential changes,” she said.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(65) comments

elymus43

Limit the number of vehicles per household, this would unclog our road system. Everyone thinks now days they have to have a car.

randallwgriffee

[crying]Just another democratic ploy to raise taxes!!!!!!!!!!!!

matts853

Climate change will raise your taxes. Disaster relief isn’t cheap. Not too mention the economic disruptions of growing food, travel delays, and other missed productivity. Landscaping companies have been struggling to keep pace with projects because of all the rain. I know because I just hired one and it took forever for them to start the job because they fell so far behind last year because of all the rain.

matts853

If crisis is too hard to swallow then call it an exigency instead. Most people won’t know what that means or bother to look it up anyway. But I do think crisis is an appropriate word to describe what’s clearly an existential problem affecting everyone on Earth. This IS happening people, and we’d better get a handle on it and soon. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

mrnatural1

On Jul 14, 2019 @ 4:36pm, shiftless88 asked:

"What is the inherent issue with a moratorium on growth?"

That is an *excellent* question and one I've never been able to get a straight answer to. What is so outrageous about the idea of the people of Frederick County controlling their own destiny?

I understand that everyone has certain rights and responsibilities, including developers; existing residents; taxpayers; would-be residents; landowners, etc. As with so many issues, managing growth (aka, "the wholesale destruction of our county") involves balancing those rights.

At the end of the day however, existing residents should be able to at least maintain -- if not improve -- their quality of life. That is a perfectly reasonable request. It is immoral to force us to accept ugly residential sprawl we do not want -- development that further erodes our quality of life and (in many cases) reduces the value of our homes while causing our taxes to increase.

I have no idea why we did not institute a moratorium on any further development years ago. Any possible good from more growth is far outweighed by the negative effects on existing residents and taxpayers.

jsklinelga

Mr. Natural Believe it or not I fought against growth vigorously a few years back. I would not say I was wrong but not realistic. I thought down zoning properties in the Northern part of the County was an excellent idea a few years back. Subsequently,there was an uproar of protests and a Republican/developer sweep in the next election. Blaine Young was the new Commissioner President. Not to dodge the question but there are many, many, many reasons a moratorium would never pass and survive. Many aspects of our economy and budgeting are founded on growth.

mrnatural1

jsklinelga, I'm afraid you're right. Most of the world economy is built on the completely insane idea that we can have unlimited, infinite growth on a planet with finite resources.

My sister and I were joking around a few years ago and came up with the idea of the "POD" -- the Prophecy of Doom. The prophecy states that "to a greater or lesser degree, most people are greedy; selfish; short-sighted; and/or stupid, and will therefore destroy the Earth". It started out as an inside joke but it is no longer funny because it is coming true.

Take residential development. There is a LOT of money to be made by turning prime farmland into ugly townhouse developments. It is only natural that people will do everything they can to get a piece of that action. The fact that we will need that farmland in the future does not concern them. Neither does the fact that FredCo is already way over capacity, with world-class traffic and overcrowded schools, with kids going to class in unsecured trailers. Those things are someone else's problem. All they know is they are making a mountain of money. They are greedy, selfish, and short-sighed.

We all are to some extent. It is hard for humans to think long-term -- really long term. Most people are focused on this week's paycheck, this month's bills. A project at work. A vacation they're planning. They aren't concerned with what happens after they're dead. They might worry about their kids and grandkids, but that's it.

Tying this back to the subject of the article, that is why so many people do not see Climate Change (CC) as a "crisis". Is CC preventing the Orioles from playing? Is it flooding *their* basement (other people don't count)? Causing extended power outages due to excessive demand for A/C? Do they own property on the shore? In short, right or wrong, unless something affects people seriously and directly, in their mind it's not a "crisis".

One definition of "crisis" is: "the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death". Using that definition CC is indeed a crisis.

jsklinelga

mrnatural We can sum it up. Climate change is caused by the expansion of the human population and the climate altering life styles of 21st century man. The primary road block in dealing with the problem is human nature. It is far easier to blame cow flatulence then our opulent large conditioned living spaces, our multiple cars,,extensive strips of asphalt, our enormous selection of restaurants and grocery stores etc.etc. Man is the roadblock but he is also the hope.

Thewheelone

"It is far easier to blame cow flatulence..." Good one, JSK! I also like the positive statement at the end of your post.

matts853

I completely agree with you, Natural. The Earth is sick and we’ve made it that way. Will we ever learn? I doubt it. This debate doesn’t give me much hope that we will. Climate change isn’t as tangible to most people as a stock market crash or other acute financial or illness event that might impact one’s life. But it’s a far more insidious threat to young people and of course to future generations.

shiftless88

Jim, the thing would be to start with moratorium and work to limit growth, not to allow others to start with unlimited growth and work backwards to reduce growth. As a person not from here and not wedded to the "history" of the area, I recognize that as long as people keep pumping out lots of kids this place is destined to become Montgomery County and most of MoCo is destined to become Bethesda. If one wants to prevent that then make it less attractive to have kids and recognize the benefits of reducing growth rates.

matts853

Growth also grows climate change. It ultimately becomes self defeating. That is unless we change our ways and learn to live in harmony with this beautiful planet. What we’re doing now isn’t working. It’s fundamentally hazardous to our long term prosperity.

hayduke2

Well, it seems that it is really a crisis for lots of folks. May take a little longer to get to the county, but it will.

awteam2000

I agree with ‘3 cents’. Semantics. Why "Cutting off your nose to spite your face"? , Gary4books.

threecents

Much ado about nothing which distracts from the issue at hand, which is... I forgot. This reminds me of AOC's use of the term "concentration camp" to describe the warehouses used to hold/house those applying for asylum. The only thing that accomplished was to divide people, rather than focus on solutions. So, Kai, I actually agree global warming is a crisis, and it is a much bigger crisis than the opioid crisis, but the word needs to go. By the way, MC looks like a great choice for our next CE...

shiftless88

The use of the word by AOC did not divide people, the reaction by people ignorant of what that word means divided people. Anyone with a tiny bit of intelligence knows that that word is not, nor has it ever been, exclusive to Nazi camps. Nor does it mean that everyone in the camp is killed. Those who did not know, if they had integrity, would have checked the dictionary first and realized that she was 100% objectively correct.

threecents

Dang, it sure as heck divided us.

threecents

Shiftless, Definitions and connotations can be different, but both are valid. For example the swastika has been around for centuries and is not a symbol of evil by definition, but it has evolved into that by connotation. Concentration Camps may not be defined as a place people are forcibly taken to from their homes to be imprisoned and intentionally starved and tortured, but that is the connotation - like it or not. I think you were for removing the Taney bust, so you must understand connotations. You should watch this Chuck Todd video to the end. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/06/20/chuck_todd_why_arent_democrats_calling_out_alexandria_ocasio-cortez_for_concentration_camp_comments.html

shiftless88

three, I get what you are saying but I disagree that "concentration camp" has taken on a singular meaning the way the swastika has. I have seen plenty of modern usage of that word regarding camps in other countries.

threecents

I have not seen modern use of that term except when people were forcibly taken from their homes to be imprisoned and intentionally starved and tortured, and always there was an implied comparison to what the Nazis did.

MD1756

Kia Hagen is quoted as saying " ...“Our county has maintained the commitment to respond to our ongoing climate change crisis in a manner that reflects the magnitude of the threat to our community and our share of the responsibility for the problem.”..." While I appreciate the added language, what is the real commitment the county, or even the state or federal government has made? All levels of government, through various policies (including income tax policies that reduce taxes for those who have children while adding a burden to the environment), continue to promote human population growth which is the largest cause of human induced climate change. The article further says "...Hagen added even though several initiatives in the plan concern climate change, including renewable energy and smart growth principles, it’s important to view those with the phrase “climate change crisis.”..." Smart Growth Principles? Smart Growth is like "Clean Coal." There is no such thing. Just as there is only dirty coal and somewhat less dirty coal, there is dumb/bad growth (when it comes to human population) and somewhat less dumb/bad growth. With roughly 7.8 billion people on this planet, how is adding more anything but dumb and short sighted? All levels of government need to shift more of their limited resources away from promoting population growth and put it towards reducing the problems we humans cause (climate change, environmental, beyond climate change, species extinction, etc.). Think global act local.

DickD

Did it ever occur to you, MD, that your parents did not think the way you think?

mrnatural1

Dick, that fact has been pointed out to me several times over the years by people who apparently supported the idea of every couple having as many kids as physically possible. I'm not sure what that observation is supposed to imply -- that because my parents had kids, I should have children too? That I should appreciate being alive? I do, but if I was never born I would not know what I was missing. The fact is, there are WAY too many people on the planet, and there were too many back when I was born. Perhaps my parents should have had 1-2 kids instead of 3. Maybe I would have been the one they did not have. Oh well. You can't miss what you never had. Almost all of our most serious issues -- including Climate Change -- are a result of overpopulation. The sooner our leaders acknowledge that and do something to gradually, voluntarily, slow, stop, and reverse population growth, the better. Without reducing the number of humans, no amount of renewable energy; "smart" (dumb) growth; composting; recycling; energy efficiency; car pooling; public transportation; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and electric vehicles will be enough to save America and the planet from destruction.

DickD

So, we need a Republican mandate of no more children? What will they think of next.

gabrielshorn2013

No Dick. However, we all have personal responsibility. Ignoring the inevitable effects of overpopulation is like the Titanic ignoring the iceberg.

“Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of the tunnel

was just a freight train coming your way, hey, yeah”

Metallica, No Leaf Clover

MD1756

Dick, as I've stated before (in this post and elsewhere), the first step is to eliminate income tax deductions and tax credits people get for having children. that is not a moratorium. it is not even unfair because it is only asking parents to pay the same amount in taxes as those who have no children. It is only equitable. Beyond that, government could actually increase taxes (reverse deduction) for those having more than a set number of children. An alternative would be to set up a program like the acid rain program only apply it to having children. Each person gets one allowance to have one child. A family unit has to hold a number of allowances equal to the number of children they have (each year). A couple who has more than two children must buy allowances on the open market from those who have a surplus of allowances. That model has worked well for the acid rain program and the price of electricity did not go through the roof as some in the power industry predicted.

MD1756

Dick, it is clear that I'm not talking about people in the past who didn't have information about climate change. Now, it is common knowledge that climate change is an issue. So, people should really think about their wants versus the planet's needs. People shouldn't keep having children like there is no problem and growing the human population from its roughly 7.8 billion to 8+ billion. One easy way to slow population growth is to end tax policies that favor having children. Think about it. If those here already produced fewer children, we could accept more immigrants. The only policy that should promote having children is for those who adopt (and I have no children, so I would not directly financially benefit from supporting that position).

gabrielshorn2013

Gotta agree with you md1756. As the world population increases, so will the demand for energy and resources. That's an indisputable fact. Where is that energy to come from? Solar and wind can alleviate some of the demand, but not all of it, not even most of it. We will continue to pollute our atmosphere until either the resources run out, or she demand drops significantly. No way around it. There is another potentially viable energy generation method based on offshore wave action, which never completely stops, unlike wind or solar. Where is that development? I posted about tha ogallala aquifer the other day, and it being quickly depleted,. This water source provides for growing approximately 37% of our current food production in the US. Once depleted, it will take 6000 years to replenish. What do we do when that happens? The current rate of human population growth is not sustainable. If not curtailed, will lead to the demise of homo sapiens as the dominant species on this planet. Cockroaches and horseshoe crabs will prevail. They were here long before the dinosaurs, and will be here long after us.

jsklinelga

gabrielhorn2013 Good comments by you, Mr. Natural and MD. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the cause for humans impact on the climate. And the unfortunate truth is we will not be able to check it. Could you imagine Frederick County inserting the word crisis, then declaring an emergency and having a complete moratorium on growth. Or taxing families who have more than 1 child? Ain't going to happen. Let us pray for innovation, common sense, practical science and continued freedom to produce the best world possible.

mrnatural1

Thanks jsklinelga. You wrote: "Could you imagine Frederick County inserting the word crisis, then declaring an emergency and having a complete moratorium on growth." Yes, yes I can. [cool] We FredCo residents have the right to protect what's left of our quality of life.

shiftless88

What is the inherent issue with a moratorium on growth?

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

The Chinese did exactly that, many years ago, Jim.

DickD

Jim. You think adding the word crisis is going to change what people do. Dream on.

shiftless88

gabriel; what evidence do you have that wind and solar cannot alleviate all of the demand in the foreseeable future? Realizing that hydropower is here to stay and nuclear still has a non-carbon future as well. I agree that water is the bigger issue.

gabrielshorn2013

Shiftless, do the math. What acreage is required for solar to provide a significant replacement of fossil fuels? Couple that with the irrational resistance of the technology by those that think "they are owed a view of farmland ". Ditto for wind. The resistance has been published in the FNP many, many times. Multiply that by the number of newspapers in this country. Such resistance will never be overcome, unless the objectors feel the pain of energy shortages. BTW shiftless, I am on record as being a strong proponent of both wind and solar energy. My own home has solar panels that provide enough electricity during the day to make the meter run backwards. Not everyone has such ability, especially in high density areas, such as cities.

shiftless88

Gabe: https://www.freeingenergy.com/how-much-solar-would-it-take-to-power-the-u-s/

threecents

Gabe, I want to get solar panels soon - when I get a new roof. Do you have any recommendations/suggestions?

gabrielshorn2013

Three, I got mine from TriState when I replaced our furnace. We got a Lennox SunSource system that includes heat (heat pump for mild weather, and gas furnace as a backup) and AC. You can add panels in banks of four. Our roof is Southern-facing, so we just covered it with panels.

gabrielshorn2013

Thanks for the information shiftless. Does this consider the losses due to transmission? There is a loss of about 15% due to transmission, dependent on the distance traveled. Your square would need to be divided up around the country to minimize those losses. Given the level of resistance, and subsequent disapproval of the solar array in Walkersville (a perfectly good use of that land), I could see this being an uphill fight against those that believe they are owed a view of someone else's land.

MD1756

three, If you want another company for comparison, I got my solar panels from solarenergyworld. They were selected by the MoCo coop at one time (although I didn't get my panels through any coop deal). They are located just south of Baltimore.

mrnatural1

Excellent post MD1756, well said. [thumbup][thumbup]

wran

It is laudable that Kai wants to state that the county will to take actions to help reduce adverse environmental impacts within our county. However, I believe this wording is just symbolic. There will likely be no net reduction in impacts due to the approved construction pipeline of thousands of new dwelling units with which will come more cars, more people commuting, more barbecue grills, more waste production, more farm and vacant land being developed, more asphalt construction and maintenance, and more of everything else detrimental to the environment. Also, we have no control of what goes on in neighboring states. We get air pollution from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. By the way, grasslands are important carbon storage sinks. Trees store carbon in their leaves. Grass stores it in roots. Three fourths of the worlds carbon sink is in grasslands.

mrnatural1

Good comment wran! [thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

I don't disagree with the word "crisis", but why argue about a word that will not change the document's meaning.

stevemckay

I hope you realize that arguing that the word will not change the meaning of the document is equally applicable for excluding it, as it is for including it.

jsklinelga

Mr. McKay, Please do not get dragged down into this comment section. It is easy to get caught up in. But it is filled with exaggerated opinions and hyperbole from both sides from anonymous sources with no skin in the game and nothing to lose. You are to valuable an asset to the county to get into the weeds and mud.

DickD

Yes, Steve, the word is irrelevant.

mrnatural1

Steve, I appreciate you reading the comments and contributing. I wish more public officials would do the same. Karl Bickel has posted here and I think it has been a net positive for him. Yes, many people who comment do so anonymously (including myself). That does not make our opinions any less valid. In my case, I bought my place here in FredCo in 1985. My wife and I know Kai Hagen, and live a few miles south of him on Catoctin Mountain. Anyone who has my old email address knows who "Mr. Natural" is. The reason I post anonymously is that years ago (pre-Internet) I used to have LTE's published in the FNP (under my real name of course) but I got tired of the harassing/threatening phone calls.

While I'm well aware of the issues with anonymity, one big positive is that we learn what people *really* think -- not what they think Steve McKay wants to hear; not what they think will put them in the best light; not what might get them some special treatment, etc. We get their honest opinion. Another huge benefit of anonymity is that we are much more likely to hear from "whistle blowers" in government and private industry. Finally, there are people who are understandably concerned with their personal safety -- including members of minority groups; battered spouses; LGBTQ people, etc. I believe strongly in the right of people to be anonymous online. It certainly is not a reason to ignore them.

In short, please post comments here, and encourage your colleagues to do so as well. Yes, there are some trolls, but they can be easily ignored. There are also a lot of engaged, intelligent people -- across the political spectrum.

stevemckay

No worries mrnatural. I’ve been posting on here for years and I read the comments. Granted, I don’t post as much as I used to but that’s because of my work situation, not my Council duties. I’ve seen many of your posts and I appreciate your work.

DickD

I really don't care either way, Steve. I know you think it makes a difference. I am more than willing to have it deleted. I just don't think it will make a difference.

Burgessdr

McKay and Dacey are willy-nilly creating a fake crisis in the Livable Frederick plan about the word "crisis" in the phrase climate change crisis. There is a global climate change crisis. Keep the word in the amendment. If Dacey and McKay vote against it, it will show how petty they really are.

Dwasserba

[thumbup]Burgessdr

DickD

McKay is usually okay. But he saw a crisis in Monrovia, over the mass building in Monrovia Now that it is not in his backyard he has become a NIMBY

stevemckay

Seriously Dick? Actually, I never "saw a crisis in Monrovia", in fact, I doubt I ever used the word at all. I reserve it for situations involving more imminent danger and potential for loss of life. That just happens to be my mindset.

DickD

You certainly worked hard at it, Steve.

threecents

Dick, In the end, he is still a Republican, so he cannot completely trust him.

stevemckay

No Burgess, we're not creating a "fake crisis" - we're having a discussion, and we're doing it with civility. You ought to try it sometimes.

threecents

They are creating a crisis by taking out the word "crisis"?

Obadiah Plainsmen

"Climate change crisis" It’s unclear what the impact of including this mostly symbolic wording would have on the plan. Even the FNP doesn't believe "climate change'" is a "crisis", now that folks is "breaking news".

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

KMRD1

OMG Kai, walk the dog and hug a tree

kaihagen

Okay. :-)

DickD

Change comes from those that think outside of the box. KMRD.

hayduke2

Good advice/ try it and appreciate all the wonders of the natural world!

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