Use of bags is our decision

Freedom-loving Americans should not tolerate this latest example of government run amok: a possible statewide ban on plastic bags.

Americans are smart enough to figure out which bags to use when, and consumers and businesses should be free to make that choice without the interference of politicians and environmental zealots.

Out of billions of bags, an insignificant number end up in the wrong place -- but so do newspapers, furniture, clothing, toys, cars, and lots of other things.

There is simply no compelling reason to outlaw bags. Nor is there any good reason to force stores to charge a per-bag price dictated by politicians, other than to punish people who don't happen to have their own bag.

If the bureaucrats think plastic bags are so bad, then let them make their case through an educational campaign. But the final choice must rest with individuals.

Bag laws are bad for people, bad for business, and bad for freedom.

Dick Patterson

El Cerrito

Climate change questions

Donald F. Anthrop, in his June 2 guest commentary in the Times, "Uncertainties about climate change many, varied," questions the notion that "average global temperatures should approximately track rising CO2 levels."

Does the word "levels" refer to emissions or to atmospheric concentrations? The distinction is important because high CO2 emissions cause a prolonged increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

Anthrop notes that annual CO2 emissions increased by 33 percent over the last 11 years. Those emissions, added to emissions from previous decades, caused an increase of 6 percent, not 33 percent, in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 over that time span (from 371 to 394 parts per million; Google "Mauna Loa CO2" for data).

A question for the reader: Should we expect a significant increase in global air temperature in 2013 due to a 6 percent increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 from 2001 to 2012? It's a difficult question due to other causes of temperature variations, and the possibility of a time lag between an increase in atmospheric concentration and an increase in temperature. Throwing on an extra blanket in the middle of the night does not immediately make you warm.

Mark J. Meldgin

Albany

Bisa French is commendable

I read the June 3 Times article about Richmond Police Capt. Bisa French with great interest. I had the pleasure of teaching her oldest son, Robert, at Ohlone School in Hercules.

I commend French on her promotion. Although I have no familiarity with her expertise at work, I can vouch for her as a parent. Her son was probably the top student I ever had in 26 years of teaching, and it was apparent French took Robert's schoolwork very seriously.

Robert excelled in all areas of the curriculum, but he was also a leader and a lad of high moral compass. He was president of the Student Council and the lead role in two of our annual dramatic productions. I expect Robert will continue his outstanding work at New York University.

Let's hope we continue to read about positive moves made by French. I know the Richmond Police Department has been made better with her presence.

Craig Hammack

Albany

Faith is basis of differing beliefs

In her May 24 letter, "Dissent from Darwin is bogus," Evie Groch referred to statements by Bob Humphrey, who apparently was commenting on the number of scientists who support the creationist point of view.

It was obvious in Groch's response negating some of Humphrey's scientist supporters, that she was firmly on the evolutionists' team. So, to add my thoughts to this subject, consider this a memo from me to Groch.

Those of us who believe in a supreme Creator, do so as a matter of faith. The non-creationists who believe in Charles Darwin's and his successors' concepts also do so as a matter of faith. Neither position can be positively proven by humans.

We base our belief on several factors. By far, the most important is that a man, born like every other human, turned out to be not like every other human. He claimed to be one with the Creator, supporting this claim by healing many with serious illness, and bringing those who had died back to life. He himself experienced resurrection from death to life, as he predicted.

These accomplishments were witnessed by many. As his followers, we accept the fact that, as fallible creations ourselves, we are incapable of explaining how it all happened.

Those folks who disagree rely on their computers, strained opinions of archeological digs and that first little creature that morphed into animals, then humans, nature, and everything else -- stretching events over millions of years to cover lots of uncertainties.

When we ask, "Where did that first little creature and its environment come from?" all we get is the Big Bang. Is it possible that with all the high intelligence of the Darwinists, they cannot, or will not concede existence of intelligence far superior to their own?

I have read that on his deathbed, Darwin did acknowledge a superior being, bringing to mind an incident in a long-ago movie. The actor, W.C. Fields, played the part of a very nonreligious man, also on his deathbed, nervously fumbling through a Bible. A friend, coming to visit him, was shocked and asked what Fields was doing. "Looking for loopholes, looking for loopholes," was his reply.

John Hattam

Berkeley

Chevron must be a partner

A recent letter to the editor about Chevron said "The Times seems to report happenings at Chevron with less-than-favorable-articles."

The letter went on to note that Chevron had provided some funding to the West Contra Costa School District for strategic planning.

In light of Chevron's profits, this is a ridiculously puny contribution to our local schools. I would set the bar a bit higher for the multibillion-dollar oil giant making record profits and living in our backyard.

When Richmond schools are ranked the best in the country and families move to Richmond because of our excellent public education system, Chevron will have given back enough to this community.

A proposal by Richmond council members Tom Butt and Jael Myrick, suggesting that Chevron pay full college tuition to anyone graduating from public schools in Richmond, is a step in the right direction.

If Chevron wants to change its image in Richmond, it must become a participating, concerned partner in the community and make financial investments in line with its enormous wealth.

Linda Schaefer

Richmond

Preventive care is essential

Half of the people infected with hepatitis C have not received proper follow-ups, so the patients are at risk for further complications, such as liver cancer, which are preventable.

Because the costs for health care are so high in the United States, several patients may not return for follow-ups, fearing expensive hospital bills.

The solution to reduce the instances of several preventable diseases should not be creating new drugs, but reforming the health care system.

The current health care system is based on the concept of free-market capitalism, where health services can be bought and sold as a commodity. The current system is driven largely by market forces. The theory is that private health insurance companies seeking to maximize profit will compete with each other, thus, driving down costs. However, costs have continued to rise steeply because the current free-market system is failing.

Therefore, an effective health care system that will drive down costs to promote patients to seek preventive care is needed.

Preventive care is an essential aspect of health care that prevents further complications from diseases like hepatitis C.

Kuntal Chowdhary

Berkeley