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Letters to the Editor: 8-6-2015

THE NEW REALITY

The West Coast is experiencing extreme drought and heat this year. The question too few are asking: “Is this the new normal?” Politicians and planning bureaucrats in the service of construction companies and developers keep bleating the “growth is good” mantra with little thought of future generations and the planet. The destruction of the old City Hall and trees cut down for the new Hilton are but a few examples.

The old City Hall contained tons of perfectly good concrete, but the building, judged not good enough, was demolished. Then comes an odd declaration of a drought emergency on behalf of two concrete companies.

The concrete industry is one of two largest producers of carbon dioxide, creating up to 5 percent of worldwide manmade emissions. Cement manufacture contributes greenhouse gases both directly through the production of carbon dioxide, when calcium carbonate is thermally decomposed, and the use of energy, particularly through fossil fuel use.

Why couldn’t the Eugene Planning Commission include saving the oxygen-producing trees when permitting the new Hilton’s construction?

Both short-sighted politicians and planners need to take into consideration the new reality of climate chaos before any new construction or destruction takes place. With this year looking to be the hottest year on record and snow now falling as rain, society as well needs to realize that economic, population, consumption and urban growth cannot continue unabated.

As Ed Abbey stated, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Humanity itself may be this cancer’s victim.

Scott Fife, Eugene

 

GLASSES HALF FULL

In response to your July 16 cover story, “Radical Predictions,” we’re indeed facing challenging times, but let me suggest a strategy for overcoming the maelstrom of negativity and mass doom-saying. Here it is: Take a hike!

• To the mountains to collect blackberries, thereby reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Heck, dry ’em and reduce dependence on refrigeration.

• Along the river to harvest stinging nettles or wild mushrooms. Both are free and fun activities, and once dried or cooked, both are highly nutritious.

• With a fishing pole to catch yourself one of the many fish that populate our streams. You’ll procure a quality source of protein, hinder industrial agriculture and witness the majesty of our irreplaceable watersheds.

• To the Capitol to support a cause. This will put your “money where your mouth is,” while sparing the rest of us from defeatist malarkey.

• To a potluck, where sharing, cooperation and compassion are fostered. This’ll be a reminder not to rely on corporations or industries of consumption for survival and happiness.

It’s not revolutionary. It’s not radical activism. Just a way of altering our “hell-in-a-handbasket” trajectory. And, it may just reduce childhood obesity, diabetes and a slew of other social and environmental maladies in the process.

So, take a hike — not just in body, but in mind and soul. Hike up one of our vistas and from that vantage, contemplate the grandeur of creation that dwarfs our collective trials and tribulations. And then, although the drought-stricken lakes and reservoirs may appear half empty, our “glasses” will be half full.

Phillip Davey, Eugene

 

RESTORE OUR FORESTS

As I write this we are on day four of triple-digit temperatures outside, and multiple wildfires are burning in Oregon. The salmon are dying from low-flowing and warm waterways, and other wildlife are stressed from lack of water and food from the drought. This is a harbinger of future years with the global warming crisis intensifying and positive feedback loops increasing. 

At the same time there is a push by the logging industry and its paid-for legislators to weaken the Northwest Forest Plan by decreasing stream buffers and increasing clear-cut logging on our last and healthiest forests on federal lands. The private and state forests have been overcut and replanted with same age and same species trees, turning biodiverse forests into tree farms. 

Let’s transition to alternative and repurposed building materials and restore our forests. The greed and power of the corporatocracy must be stopped, and here in Oregon that is the logging industry.

Pamela Driscoll, Dexter

 

WEALTHY IN DENIAL

John Kenneth Galbraith writes in his historical account Economics in Perspective about France’s physiocrats believing in the 1700s that the primary economic engine of the world was agriculture which, of course, has turned out to be a primary driver of climate-change extinction.

Physiocrats were proponents of laissez faire economics and natural law taking precedence over governmental intervention, and Galbraith recounts how their efforts to avert the French Revolution through reforms was futile. In the chapter “The Merchant and the State,” government was there to do business’ bidding, not the reverse (sound familiar?). Paradoxically, a counter-revolutionary exiled to the U.S. in 1800, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, built a mill in Delaware and went on to create one of the largest, most toxic petro-chemical companies in the world. A proponent of nature from a land long sustained, and proudly, on organic farming, should become the planet’s toxic opponent.

It is in this context that Galbraith’s words become so prophetic and prescient:

The rich and privileged, when also corrupt and incompetent, do not accept rescue reform. Lack of intelligence is an undoubted bar; so are pride, righteous indignation and wounded dignity. How could anyone be led to believe that the wealthy are other than the most worthy? There is also the matter of time preference and psychological denial. Why diminish the joys, comforts and contentments of the short run by contemplations of the horrors and disasters of the even modestly longer run? The reforms ... were a slight puff of wind countering a developing hurricane.

Sean S. Doyle, Corvallis

 

DELIGHTFUL FRIVOLITY

I also thought the knitted monster feet were cute when I first noticed them [WTF?, 7/30]. But if you want to see “delightful frivolity,” the feet are only about a 10-minute walk away from the Autzen footbridge across the Willamette. Step out onto it and face west and you’ll be treated to a half-dozen beautiful, non-commercial specimens of rock-stacking art that are spontaneous, playful, intricate, impressive and downright beautiful. Some are amazingly tall, some have several branching pillars and some are tiny and adorable. It’s art for art’s sake, it changes from day to day and I love it. If you haven’t checked it out, stop squandering the opportunity.

Doyle Srader, Eugene

 

CECIL IS A DISTRACTION

There is enough punishment in this world. Animal extinction will not come from those who pay $50,000 for a safari and kill one lion. Extinction will come from those businesses that keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Selling fossil fuels makes billions of dollars while threatening every lion, penguin and human being with extinction. Cecil is just a distraction from that kind of real crime.

Justice will come when those who commit crimes stop doing so. One American “trophy hunter” will probably never do that again. 

So far, those who extract fossil fuel for burning have no apparent plans other than to keep looting the earth and killing our atmosphere while making the most dollars in the history of money.

Jerry Smith, Eugene

 

PICK A SIDE

Karl Stout (Letters, 7/30) would do well to think critically about the difference between ecological harm that would be caused by individuals and small groups as opposed to that caused by maintaining an interlocking, global, industrial civilization. Sure, humans will do what they need to in order to survive if the industrial economy disappears, but without a systematic industrial extraction system under their control, the level of damage that could be achieved would surely pale in comparison. 

The severe destruction of land that industrialism externalizes to so-called third world areas would no longer be there to bring us the comforts and conveniences that we are used to, so we would see more localized violence while humans attempt to figure out how to enter into a relationship with each other and with the land. I’m not saying it won’t be messy, but it would be better than maintaining industrial civilization and the extreme injustices perpetrated on people and the planet.

What it comes down to, for me, is loyalty. Which side are you on? The industrial economy is fundamentally opposed to ecological health. GDP goes up, ecological health goes down. More than 90 percent of large fish in the oceans are gone, salmon are collapsing, passenger pigeons are gone. Eskimo curlews are gone, 98 percent of native forests are gone, 99 percent of native wetlands, 99 percent of native grasslands. The list goes on. 

How much longer do we wait before resisting with everything we’ve got? If you love something, you fight for it. I support the disruption of capital using any means necessary.

Dillon Thomson, Eugene

 

FORCED STERILIZATION

Come on, Todd L. Bone [Letters, 7/30]! You’re really going to bring up mass, forced sterilization and ignore the “socioeconomic” questions it inspires?

Little things like, who gets to decide who’s targeted by this virus? Or, since we’re sterilizing people anyway, maybe we should just clean up the gene pool? (That’s not a far leap.)

Maybe we could design this “sterilization virus” to target people with low IQs, or Republicans. The homeless, people with psychiatric issues? While we’re at it, with all the racial tension right now, we might as well target minorities, too. I mean, one race is plenty. Think of all the possibilities! It’s almost like we’re practicing eugenics.

If Todd Bone thinks forced sterilization is a viable solution to the unhealthy effects human beings are having on the planet, let him be the first in line as a test subject. For me, if we have to mass sterilize the general populace in order for our species to survive, maybe it’s time we become extinct.

William McMahon, Eugene

 

CHERISH THE PAST

If the past is dead, then why respond, Patrick Burian [Letters, 7/16]? Unfortunately this is a farce told by pundits of new age, self-help philosophies. Remember that despicable book The Secret? Your support of individual agency seems a bit more kindred to autocracy.

I can only assume, so I choose to assume you wrote what you wrote with the best intentions (Pulp Fiction will educate you on what can happen with “best intentions”). However, to equate numbers, to years of racism paraded as a cheap caricature on a T-shirt, is a sign that you are an autocrat and need to come to terms with it. The idea that “what I think is all that matters” is what has gotten humanity into the predicament we are in now. “Know thyself” is not to be confused with “be a narcissist.” 

Stephina Brewer [Letters, 7/9], in your situation both your and their intentions were the “future,” the encounter was the “now” and everyone involved’s feelings are the “past.” As a Native American, I am honored to call you my friend! You are a true ally! Next time I urge you to say something back to that douche, especially after his snarky remark. Those who learn, must teach — just don’t expect ignorant people to learn the lesson!

You will be dead much longer than you will ever be alive. My advice: Cherish the past! In my experience, that’s all that lasts. 

Aaron J. Martin, Eugene

 

 

LEFTIST RANT

I found this old piece of writing that I hadn’t read in a while and thought I would share it, even though I’m sure that the Tea Party type right-wing conservatives will see it as a left-wing, liberal, socialist, humanist, anti-American piece of propaganda. Here it is:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Walker T. Ryan, Eugene

 

POLITICAL VANDALISM

My car was vandalized in Lowe’s parking lot in west Eugene July 20 between 10 and 10:30 am. Multiple deep scratches now mar the driver’s side. As other vehicles also in the lot were unmolested, it appears the motive for this violence is my bumper stickers, which promote my “liberal” or “leftist” values.

This kind of action underscores the reality that the biggest danger to civility and safety in our country lies not from fearful foreign “terrorists,” but from those within our own society, itself. To deface another’s property because you don’t agree with their politics is barbaric.

I ask that if someone noticed this abuse when occurring, contact Lowe’s, whom I notified following the incident. But more fundamentally, the responsibility we need for the preservation of freedom to express differing values without fear is for each person to practice “social stewardship,” reporting or directly confronting abusive behavior which the perpetrator attempts because he thinks no one is paying attention.

Questions have been brought to me if this is an isolated incident. As with rape, one never knows unless the victim speaks out. It would be valuable to know if other cars — with bumper stickers — have also been defaced as mine has. I can be contacted by email at: joesurfsand@yahoo.com.

This damage is beyond touch-up paint. As a 76-year-old senior on limited income, I’d be grateful for any “good Samaritan(s)” who might be generous enough to assist in either contributing towards my repainting expense and/or a body shop who values community and can help me out in restoring my car to its “normal” (the previous Sunday’s) appearance.

Joe Sanders, Eugene

 

A BIGGER QUESTION

Recent news item: Stephen Hawking is fronting a $100 million, 10-year program to search nearby stars for signs of “ETs”. Hawking is quoted as saying, “There is no bigger question” than “are we alone?”

I suggest that an even bigger question, “Will human civilization survive into the 22nd century?” Given current trends of overpopulation, hyper-consumerism and, most importantly, the resulting increase in greenhouse gas emissions, many scientists and other thoughtful observers are calculating a negative answer. And those are the optimists — some are reconciled to near-term human extinction.

The two questions are related. Enrico Fermi famously asked, “Where is everybody?” He calculated that, given the vast number of stars in the Milky Way, if even a tiny percent yielded civilizations as technologically advanced as ours, there has been ample time for the galaxy to have been colonized from one end to the other.

So why no contact? One plausible reason is that any and all alien civilizations have pursued the same dysfunctional course we seem bent on — exhausting and polluting vital resources, pursuing novelty at the expense of sustainability, resulting in irreparable collapse before attaining the capacity for interstellar communication.

It may be possible for humanity to avoid this fate. If we do, it will not be through technological miracles or finding “Earth 2.0.” It will be by heeding the advice of such leaders as Naomi Klein and Pope Francis.

Jere C. Rosemeyer, Eugene

 

MISGUIDED POLICY

The city parks department is planning to spend $500,000 to make changes to Charnel Mulligan Park for the purpose of discouraging homeless people from using it. A couple of years ago, the city spent roughly $3.5 million to build a skate park under the Washington-Jefferson Bridge for the same purpose.

 This is a lot of money to cover the expense of the city’s misguided policy of preventing homeless people from setting up camps on otherwise unused public property. In the last year, homeless people have been evicted from some pretty isolated plots of land because of the city’s anti-camping ordinance.

 Drinking, using drugs, having sex and masturbating are activities that are best done in the privacy of one’s own home, but people without homes do not have that choice. Since we can’t expect all homeless people to be celibate teetotalers, the city has to allow them to set up camps somewhere where they can have some sort of privacy for these activities.

Even the “rest stops” the city allows force the residents out on the street every day so they have to drink in public, especially if the rest stops prohibit on-site use of alcohol.

 Allowing them to set up camps where they could spend days and nights without the fear of being arrested would also lessen the probability that they will hide their camps along the river, which creates a public health hazard.

 Steve Hiatt, Eugene

 

BREAKING GRIDLOCK

Last week I listened in on a national conference call with U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland who discussed the Open Our Democracy Act, HR 2655, which he recently introduced. 

The call was convened and hosted by Jackie Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org, the largest association of independent voters in the country of which I’m a part. On the call, we got the inside scoop on this important legislation. 

The bill does three things: enacts top-two nonpartisan primaries for all congressional elections in the U.S., makes Election Day a national holiday, and creates a roadmap whereby the practice of gerrymandering could be replaced with an independent redistricting process. 

In other words, it’s a gridlock-fighting package of reform designed to empower voters and give our country some much needed breathing room from the partisanship that now over-determines every step of the political process. 

Delaney said, “Politicians always make the mistake of underestimating the American people; 300 million smart Americans are not going to let some 500 members of Congress stand in their way forever.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Given the vested interests of politicians in the status quo of the two-party system, it’s going to take a grassroots movement of voters to build the pressure to make these kinds of reform happen.

I’ve written to my Rep. Peter DeFazio and asked him to let all voters be heard in the election process. Keeping everyone included is the only way to have a government by the people and for the people. Please join me in writing your representatives. They need to hear from you.

 Kemberly Todd, Independent Voters of Oregon (IVOO), Roseburg