Letters to the editor

How green can you get?

I appreciated Rebecca Bowe’s “Green Scene[Dec. 13] about the proposed “peak-demand” plant in Woodfin. Just looking at the artist’s rendering before I read the article, I had two thoughts. The first was: Now that’s a visionary idea for solving our oil-dependency problems. The second thought was: Damn, that site looks like it could sure hold a lot of photovoltaic modules!

I was delighted to see that my latter thought came into play in the article and, indeed, was presented in a very positive and pragmatic light. Progress Energy’s spokesman Maxwell demonstrated his dinosaur logic by his statement about his concern for bringing on solar at night, yet earlier in the article he was unable to comment on how other hazardous emissions — your nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other volatile organic compounds — would compare using the “ultra-low sulfur oil.” Fortunately this nighttime remark was easily rebutted by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy’s policy director, Ivan Urlaub. How do the utilities continue to use half-baked logic, avoidance of hardball questions, and public-relations jive talk to push forth their tired old fossilized solutions to our energy situation? Sounds like the same old CON game to me (Coal-OIL-Nuclear).

Another thought crossed my mind as I read the article. Why not cut to the chase entirely and work on the demand side of the problem? We have CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards (such as they are!) for our cars. Why not set standards for commercial and electrical usage? We have heard how power plants would be rendered redundant if so-many million people would switch to energy-efficient lighting. What if we set standards for how many kilowatts would be granted to people at the “going rate,” and if this amount of electricity was exceeded, the rate per kilowatt hour would go up radically to encourage conservation and efficiency. If you want to stay in the realm of PR talk, we could increase the rate, say, seven times the base and call it the Seventh Generation Surcharge in honor of the Native American belief that our resources should be used in such a way that there would be plenty for seven generations!

— Tom Craig

Rare baubles from the past

Congratulations on a timely and informative guide to holiday events in the Dec. 6 issue. You included so much to help residents and visitors, but neglected to mention a unique exhibit that is a treat for all ages — a large display of over 300 authentic Victorian Christmas ornaments and cards at the Smith-McDowell House Museum.

Last year the museum featured the fanciful tinsel tree exhibits from Brevard. This year, collector Pamela Warfield of Asheville has loaned her extensive exhibit for public viewing, and it is a must see array of rare items. Ornaments of blown glass, feathers, wax, spun cotton and old postcards highlight the exhibit. There is even an artificial tree made of wood and dyed goose feathers from the era.

Ms. Warfield would like to have her collection [kept permanently] at the museum, but can’t afford to donate it. If there’s an angel out there who wants to help, he or she should contact the museum.

The Smith-McDowell House Museum is located at 283 Victoria Ave. on the [main] campus of A-B Tech. Hours are Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. The museum will be closed on Sunday and Monday, Dec. 24 and 25, and again Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

— Stephen Jones

Look more closely at Staples

As a resident of the “Five Points” neighborhood and a die-hard opponent of corporate nastiness, I feel the need to offer another view to the Staples building issue. While the building itself may be in violation of some technical “triangle of sight” ordinance, it seems that this is merely a reason to voice anger over a big corporation moving in downtown and building a big, tall, not particularly attractive structure.

When I saw Staples being built, I have to admit [that] I was thrilled. Just about every time a big-box store is built, you can bet it is in a strip mall or some faux community ([Fill-in-the-blank] Commons etc.). Finally, developers built up instead of out. I was stunned when I saw that local do-gooder types were planning on boycotting it. Maybe the boycotters will be happier driving (if it’s too scary to ride a bike) down Tunnel Road. I believe wholeheartedly in sustainability and I can’t see how building farther and farther out in the country is a better option than rebuilding in an already urban area.

Asheville is the largest metropolitan area in Western North Carolina, and its center is where we should hope for development to take place. Supporting and encouraging ventures such as Staples is how you put an end to urban sprawl.

— Duncan Lyon

South Slope has life aplenty

The Ravenscroft project article [“Saving Which Environment,” Dec. 6] got me wondering, what do developers really mean when they are quoted?

“People versus trees” really means “development versus trees.” I am not against development and would like to see more affordable housing downtown, but trees should not be needlessly sacrificed. There are plenty of empty lots and empty buildings downtown that could be used for affordable housing — without clear-cutting one of the few remaining groves of hardwoods.

Bringing “life” to the South Slope means bringing congestion to the South Slope. I live on the South Slope, and there is plenty of life already. Everything I need is already here: brewpub tasting rooms, sports bars, the Orange Peel. The good people of Asheville must keep on top of the developers; otherwise, they will cut down all the trees!

— Douglas Ewen

City planning, to what end?

I think the most curious and corrupting thing about the selection of city planners is that so many of them so often have direct ties to real estate development. Of course they are going to vote “yes” for any and every development — they are going to get rich with our vote. I think that, ideally, no member should be allowed who has such a conflict of interest. City Council members are also often real estate developers. Is it that hard to see that they are there merely to enrich themselves?

Another burning question in my mind is: Are these the same people who approved the “roadblocks” all over town, which are designed to clog traffic and use up parking spaces in front of businesses?

— Tom Coppola

It’s the gospel, all right

I have recently come across “The Gospel According to Jerry” as published in your newspaper and am curious as to how you relate your gospel to those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’m sure you must have some acquaintance with those other gospels, although it is not clearly evident in what I have read of yours.

I am not a resident of Asheville or of North Carolina, but Pastor Bryant Owen of Community Chapel Church of God, 107 State St. in your city, is a good friend of mine, and I have enjoyed visiting with him and members of his congregation on more than one occasion. I also have a very personal interest in “The Gospel According to Jerry,” as you can understand by visiting my Web site: www.afoolforChrist.com.

— Jerry Rodgers
University Park, Ill.

Editor’s note: As it turns out, this Jerry is the author of The Gospel According to Jerry: Confessions of a Fool for Christ, whereas our Jerry (Sternberg) applies his own gospel to local politics. Obviously, it’s still a small world.

Do you recall?

Talk about the fox in the hen house. Is it just me or is the fact that the [Buncombe County] Planning Board is made up of members all of whom one could say “might have a conflict of interest” about the use of land by residents versus developers. Are you kidding me? Who put this group together — Donald Trump? And their mantra [of] growth, growth, growth sounds like a phrase from a developers’ handbook.

Is there no one on any of these boards, councils, commissions who can process the concept of growth without development? [Of] growth based on maintaining a way of life and sustainability of resources? No one not completely mesmerized by the lucre the developers have strewn about? No one who is not willing to sell out future and present generations?

The makeup of these boards and commissions should obviously include members who have no conflict other than a desire to preserve this “Gift.” The haunting image of Mr. Jimmy Willet’s frantic attempt to dig through tons of earth and mud searching for his wife and three daughters, after a devastating California mudslide sent the side of one of those mountains that had been stripped of all its natural protection crashing down (Jan. 13, La Conchita, Calif.), was burned into my memory long before I became a resident of Asheville.

This image should be pasted on the e-mail and Web site of every politician, planning board, commissioner et al as a reminder that greed is not good and that there is a law of diminishing returns. Maybe it’s just me, but all these boards and commissions seem to have a striking similarity to a recent administration that was reminded of the arrogance of power and greed. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the idea of recall; it worked for Arnold.

— Jesse Junior

Not on view

In your article “The Planning Bunch” (Dec. 6), you stated: “Buncombe County Commissioner David Gantt admits that he’s watched only one episode of The Planning Bunch firsthand, getting most of his information from other viewers.”

I would also like to view an episode of the Planning Board. Can you tell me how to find these episodes on television?

— Tim Peck

Writer Kent Priestley replies: The mention of Commissioner David Gantt’s having only “watched one episode” of the Planning Board referred to his attending a meeting of the board in person. The meetings are not currently aired on the government channel nor available for viewing at the county’s Web site.

The early American diet

I read with interest Alex Lekas’ ad hominem attack of vegetarians [“Pass the Turkey, and the Ham,” Nov. 29]. Mr. Lekas would be well advised to visit www.ashevilleveg.com to see a picture of me, a “pale, skinny and not very happy” vegan, happily lifting my way to victory in a recent weightlifting contest. Self-aggrandizement aside, the truth is that a disproportionate percentage of the world’s elite athletes are vegetarian or vegan. Additionally, most of the vegetarians with whom I am acquainted seem happier than their nonvegetarian counterparts. One reason for this high degree of happiness may be found in the American Dietetic Association’s position statement on vegetarian diets (www.eatright.org/ada/files/veg.pdf), which clearly states that well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets confer health benefits.

I appreciate Mr. Lekas’ concession that accounts of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth make no mention of turkeys. However, the very first English Thanksgiving actually took place in Jamestown, Va. According to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, it is historical fact that the settlers there were so desperate for food that they cannibalized each other and also dug up sacred Native American burial grounds in search of human corpses to eat. This is hardly something to duplicate around holiday time.

People can, of course, choose to eat turkeys as part of a myth-based “tradition.” However, isn’t it responsible stewardship to consider the health, environmental and animal-welfare ramifications of one’s dietary choices?

For additional information, please visit www.factoryfarming.com or www.goveg.com.

— Joseph Walsh

Help cool things down

A four-year study by an international group of ecologists and economists published in the journal Science warns that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if declines in marine species continue at their current rates. The declines are due primarily to overfishing and to pollution of coastal areas by waste from factory farms.

The global economic impact is staggering. The fishing industry generates $80 billion a year; 200 million people depend on it for income, and a billion rely on it for protein. Decline in fish population is also associated with loss of marine biodiversity, blooms of potentially harmful algae, beach closures and coastal flooding.

As the world’s human population grows exponentially, the only viable long-term solution is to rely increasingly on grains, legumes and nuts as our sources of protein. Unlike fish and other marine organisms, these protein-rich foods do not mess up our fragile ecosystem, they are not laden with mercury, pesticides and nasty pathogens, they do not require refrigeration, and … they don’t smell to high heaven. Did I mention that this major global food-policy decision starts with our next trip to the supermarket?

— Alex Chilter

The human disposition

In reference to your [recent] pro [and] con letters on whether to eat a flesh-food or plan-based diet, I believe I can eliminate further discussion on this controversial subject, since for over 50 years I’ve been a strict vegetarian, adhering to the Natural Hygienic lifestyle, which encompasses veganism and organic foods.

The anatomical evidence is overwhelming, backed up by physiology, which indicates the stomach juices of the carnivorous animal are strong enough to digest bone, but man’s isn’t.

Scientific research reports that flesh-eating animals’ livers are relatively large because of the necessity for destroying large quantities of poisons contained in flesh, whereas if humans were carnivorous, our livers would of necessity be much larger.

The colon or large intestine of all vegetarian animals, including Homo sapiens, is much longer than those of carnivorous animals. A shorter colon facilitates the elimination of the toxic end products of flesh digestion, protecting the animal from the poisons. Uneliminated toxins can break down intestinal resistance and enter the blood stream, causing poisoning of the human body, eventually resulting in many chronic diseases. This poison can accumulate within the digestive tract and result in irritation, ulceration, appendicitis, constipation, hemorrhoids and colitis, etc.

In addition, I think it should be noted to your readers that diseases associated with consumption of animal fat and meat account for 1.37 million U.S. deaths annually.

According to biochemists, meat is injurious to the heart for two basic reasons. First, it contains cholesterol; and second, its fat is made up mostly of saturated fatty acids. Both [factors] encourage arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Meat also raises the blood pressure and is responsible for liver and kidney troubles, as well as rheumatism. All good reasons to abstain from flesh food and consider seriously adopting a plant-based diet.

— Fred R. Chaffee

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