Letter: Illusions of sustainability

Graphic by Lori Deaton

It was heartening to see all the earnest and brilliant testimonies to sustainability from young readers in your Xpress Earth Day issue [April 19].

However, I didn’t see any of them talking about the elephant, the dinosaur and the blue whale in the room: economic development and growth. One need only look at the shattered stands of trees resulting from building motels, strip malls and big-box stores. Add to that housing, apartment and condo construction, plus Interstate 26 and other road widenings, to see that development isn’t sustainable — no matter how sustainably you do it.

Because of this, the word sustainable has become a front word disguising ever more development, ever more environmental atrocity. Until that fact is confronted, we will sustain ourselves right into an asphalt-covered, treeless future: an environmental injury and a vision of ugliness.

— Larry Abbott


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Illusions of sustainability

  1. gyp

    This is baby boomer nonsense.

    Those apartments, condos, multi family homes and mixed used neighborhoods that older, wealthier Ashevilleans seem to be so against—and oppose on supposed “environmental” grounds—are more sustainable than the single-family, large lot, single use neighborhoods that dominant places like Candler.


    I’d be curious if Larry bikes and/or walks to the grocery store?

    • DW

      Exactly. Fauxgressives like Larry offer no real solutions to the problems of the future, just the rants of their neo-malthusian fever dreams. He also never drives or flies, and he lives in the shire.

      News flash: true progressives look forward, not backward, for solutions to the problems of tomorrow – today!

      Do you believe in sea level rise due to global temperature change? I do. Do you know where 15 million Floridians living on the coasts are going to go when their homes are under water in 30 years? I do. Are you ready for that?

      So, with US population growth expected to add another 10% in the next 30 years, and Buncombe County another 20% in the same time frame…..where is everyone supposed to live? Are you volunteering to check out early to avoid more environmental “atrocities?”

      Like GYP said, every, every, every proposed redevelopment project in this city, even on previously developed land (SEARS, STEINMART, CHARLOTTE STREET) has stoked the same fear mongering (tree loss, environmental degradation, traffic, neighborhood integrity) and ire of these silver haired faux, accompanied by the same, tired, retrograde anti-development politics, and feeble, nativist rants to stop new people from moving here. As if.

    • Larry Abbott

      The letter I submitted was a committee effort. I support dense urban development and the end of sprawl. I am not one of the “wealthy” Asheville cohort living in a big house on Town Mountain. My effort is to push back against blind expansion, against the sophomore economic world view that we HAVE to have growth. I support ZPG (Zero Population Growth) and aggressive family planning. Short-sided developers and public officials are enthralled with the big $$ growth of Asheville. Quick solution to higher profits and a bigger tax base. And yes, in my 20 years in NYC, I surely walked to the grocery store, and everywhere else.

  2. Voirdire

    Eight plus billion people and counting on this planet… now that would be the biggest illusion of sustainability… cause it’s not… not even close.

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