Just what is our priority?

I wish to address an action that has placed a precious 100-year-old magnolia tree on death row.

Global warming has recently become an incontestable reality. Finally we have had to acknowledge symptoms that were previously largely ignored. Coal-fired electric-generation plants and gasoline-powered vehicles produce carbon dioxide that negatively impacts our atmosphere. As responsible citizens, we recognize our need to make changes [in order] to reduce our energy dependence on fossil fuels, including the electricity we use. Residents have been encouraged to convert their home lighting from incandescent bulbs to low-impact energy-efficient bulbs, to walk, to turn off computers when not in use, to use energy-efficient appliances, to carpool etc.

I protest as irresponsible the thoughtless sale of the property in front of the county courthouse. I protest the complete ignoring of the value of the magnolia tree that for more than a hundred years has—without cost to us—been taking into itself annually 13 pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other carbons. A forested acre will annually take in six tons of atmospheric carbon, convert two tons to wood and release four tons of oxygen for us to breathe. All of us, including our public officials, must learn and [use] sound urban forestry practices.

We need to get our priorities straight. Just exactly what is our priority? Is our priority building rental apartments? Is our priority building rental offices? Is our priority raising tax revenues? Is our priority breathing?

Magnolia trees have been recognized for their effectiveness in taking in atmospheric carbons and giving off oxygen. Destroying this tree will eliminate the purification accomplished naturally by the tree, and worsen air pollution in our community. Construction on the site will compound the need for more electricity for air conditioning. In my judgment, the sale of this land represents a complete lack of responsible judgment.

— Ruth Clark
Asheville

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