Letters to the Editor: 7-23-2015


Extinction does suck [cover story, 7/16]. Editor Ted Taylor really nailed it! He presented a breadth of scientific research and opinion about the timeline/immediacy/certainty of climate collapse and left us with a “What Can We Do About It?” idea feast. What none of the evidence presented disputes is the end result of the trajectory of the course we are on now. We are living on a dying planet. The lack of constraints on corporate capitalism means they — these “corporate people” — will exploit our habitat until it collapses. The 200 species a day currently going extinct and the human suffering already occurring means nothing to these corporate capitalists. 

The biggest mystery of all is why the majority of Americans are sitting by, allowing our elected officials (or are they corporate employees?) to determine the collapse of our civilization. Bolstered by scientific predictions of “small numbers of humans surviving” perhaps we think “mass culling — guaranteed” is actually a good idea and we have some magical thinking that it won’t be me and my beloveds who are culled.

After three days of 90-degree weather the blossoms drop off the beans I planted. After six days of over 90 degrees my cherries, apples and pears stop growing and it takes another week of cooler weather for them to start again, but they never catch up. There will be smaller and smaller yields. Like Guy McPherson said, it isn’t that humans can’t survive the 5 to 6 degree heat increase, it’s that the plants can’t adapt quickly enough to the climate changes to grow. No plants, no life.

Personally, I think he is right. We have only a couple years to alter course. Just depends on what we are willing to let go of — and what we are willing to fight for to keep. It is in our hands. What are you doing that is more important than joining the climate movement?

Debby McGee, Eugene


Guy McPherson [cover story, July 16]joins the long list of doomsayers who manage to miss the cardinal realities of the impending eco-catastrophe: Civilization is based on domestication, aka domination of nature. This is the basic reason all civilizations self-destruct; their defining drive to control is the cause.

Global overheating is a function of global industrialization. Full stop. Technology is the problem, not the solution. Never neutral, it embodies the dominant civilizational value of domination. It promises to fix what it has itself caused.

Mass society has erased community, so that the door is ever more open to pathologies of all kinds. The individual has virtually no operable responsibility or accountability in mass society, where experts rule and isolation reigns.

None of these facts are part of the discourse of liberal superficiality that guarantees a worsening reality.

John Zerzan, Eugene


After months of waiting, we finally saw in The Register-Guard the rendering of the proposed new Eugene City Hall. The article had quotes from some of our city councilors who used the terms “elegant,” “clever” and “doesn’t look like Eugene and could be anywhere.”

I found the design very Eugene: mediocre, not creative, without energy and very unimaginative. It will be the “Capstone” of Eugene for ceremonial architecture. 

Mediocre and unimaginative might also describe the decision makers who will allow this to represent our city. 

Remove the trees, the people, the bicycle and the imaginary future buildings from the drawing, and this proposed design is as “elegant” as a box of Wheaties — or when tailored for Eugene, a tofu cereal box. An energy efficient building is expected today, but that doesn’t by itself equal great architecture.

With the talent or reputation of the architects assembled for this project, one would expect much more. I know that Miller and Hull, the architects who made the firm’s reputation, are no longer engaged, but the generation of architects who took over the firm should be able to do much better. 

If this is the best we can do under the circumstances, then the design and the resources to make it should be put into a drawer or on a shelf to wait until we can do much better. Embarrassed,

Otto P. Poticha, FAIA, Eugene


Regarding “Conifers are Better,” George R. Hermach’s unpersuasive letter July 9 opposing the logging of Douglas firs to restore oak savannas at Buford Park, I suggest we consider the benefits of this ecosystem within a more factual framework. Hermach apparently believes oak savannas have little value or history in western Oregon, that conifers are more naturally adapted to our environment and that Buford Park will become more wild and diverse if left unmanaged. His view is erroneous and shortsighted.

Oak savannas and oak woodlands have been a vital part of the Willamette Valley landscape for millennia, contributing to the diverse mosaic of vegetation that includes prairies and deciduous hardwood forests (maples, ash) as well as conifers. Most of our old-growth coniferous forests have been logged, as Hermach states, but oak savannas have also been reduced to less than 2 percent of the land area they historically inhabited in the Willamette Valley. 

These remnant oak savannas and grasslands support more than 150 species of plants and wildlife in decline, including Oregon’s state bird, the Western meadowlark. Hermach may see a barren environment when oaks shed their leaves, but he overlooks the lichens and mosses that grow thick and green on their host trees during the fall and winter.

Hermach considers the restoration of oak savanna “folly,” forcing nature to move backward, but it is naïve and regressive to think that Buford Park, situated less than 5 miles from Eugene-Springfield and visited by tens of thousands of park users each year, could be left undisturbed to evolve into the coniferous wilderness he seeks. The biodiversity we desire will require active management to suppress invasive weeds and encourage the growth of healthy forests, prairies, savannas and wetlands. Thinning Douglas firs and liberating the oaks is a better option.

Kurt S. Kamin, Eugene


Guy McPherson’s conclusion that humans should counsel themselves into an acceptance of impending extinction [cover story, 7/16] is not only irresponsible but also reeks of privilege and a profound lack of love for the living. Those of us who recognize that we are in the throes of a mass extinction caused by human activity should not be wringing our hands and attending support groups, we should be fighting for existence with all of the passion and dedication that the living world warrants. 

It is no secret that those contributing most to catastrophic climate change are not omnipresent forces but material institutions with names and addresses. Just as the material Earth is being destroyed, the infrastructure most responsible for planetary destruction can be dismantled. The time for asking nicely is long past. If everything is at stake then we should be resisting ongoing industrial processes like we have nothing left to lose. If you love something, you fight for it.

Sam Krop, Eugene


Many of us worry about the human future. We worry about climate change, natural disasters, war. What does the future hold for ourselves, our families, our cultures and our planet?

Our ways of birthing have a profound effect on our health and happiness and the nature of our communities and nations. Studies have shown that the level of militarism in a society is directly related to the extent to which mother and baby are separated after birth. Anthropologists have found that nearly all of the traditional cultures on the planet have the belief that the colostrum, a nourishing substance that comes before the breast milk when a baby is newly born, is bad for the baby, thus requiring separation of mom from baby for a couple days until her milk comes in. 

In another example of societal customs that separate mother and baby, for most of the 20th century in industrialized nations, babies were taken to nurseries immediately after birth to be cared for by nurses, and returned to their mothers a few times a day if that.

Recent scientific research shows that the newly born baby is conscious, alert and able to interact. The hours after birth are part of a “primal period” in which mom and baby are exquisitely sensitive to learning feelings and interactions that are imprinted for life. 

Another big event at the start of life is the seeding of the microbiome, the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in and on the human body. These bacteria are mostly protective to the human host and play a role in developing a strong immune system. The most beneficial bacteria for a newly born person are thought to be those associated with the mother. This new field of knowledge is influencing childbirth practices.

One additional new field of study is epigenetics. This refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes on or off. These modifications do not change the DNA sequence. Many factors in childbirth, such as medications given or method of delivery might cause epigenetic changes which would cause a gene to be expressed or not, for better or for worse.

Do you want your children and descendants to be alert, healthy and smart in our changing times, to have the best possible chance of surviving and thriving down to the seventh generation?

Then come to the “Birth and the Human Future Conference” and learn more. The conference will take place from 9 am to 5 pm Friday, July 31, at the Centro de Fe at 540 Adams in Eugene. Registration and the showing of the movie MicroBirth will start at 8 am. Lunch will be served. Go to birthandthehumanfuture.org for more information or to register, or email lisbebrown@msn.com

Marion Toepke McLean, Dexter


Those who suggest that all hope is lost [cover story, 7/16] are governed by the same blind faithfulness to science that brought on climate chaos. Just as we have no way of predicting the long-term waterfall effects of industrial activity, we also have no way of predicting the earth’s ability to regenerate and restore itself. 

There are now wolves in Chernobyl and thriving aquatic ecosystems in a former dead zone of the Black Sea that was healed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. If humans allow the earth room to breathe, it is capable of repair beyond what science could ever imagine. 

Resistance to powerful and destructive forces is not unprecedented. If we have learned anything from resistance movements throughout history, it is that with coordination and strategy even the most formidable oppressors can be toppled. What answer will suffice when our children ask why we didn’t physically halt the machines doing the destruction? A handful of key nodes of infrastructure are primarily responsible for catastrophic climate change. At this stage, sabotage is a more viable option than accepting defeat.

Dillon Thomson, Eugene


I am a regular reader of EW and value your coverage of important local issues that concern many of our citizens (Federal Courthouse, new Eugene City Hall, MUPTE, Civic Stadium, Capstone, etc.). I am surprised that I have not seen anything in your publication about the South Willamette Special Area Zone (S-SW), encompassing an area from 22nd to 33rd avenues and Lincoln Street to Amazon Parkway. This issue is not to be confused with the plan to change the number of lanes on Willamette Street.

Considering the number of people and properties that S-SW impacts in one of Eugene’s most pleasant neighborhoods (474 lots between 22nd and 33rd will be rezoned by the city), and the changes that lay in store, this should be a front page story. I’m talking about the rezoning of single-family R-1 properties on tiny Portland Street between 29th and 30th to allow for seven-story apartment buildings. What a surprise, many of them are owned by the neighboring Cascade Manor retirement complex! I’m talking about five-story buildings on both sides of Willamette from 24th to past 32nd avenues. Is this what Eugene wants? This story is waiting to be heard!

 Annette Gurdjian, Eugene


The Register-Guard ran a front page story Sunday, July 19, about Eugene proposals to bulk rezone for development a large swath of residential property off South Willamette. Nice to see the coverage, but from the neighbors I’ve talked to the point is not whether these neighborhoods should be demolished for five-story versus three- or four-story apartments and condos. And neighbors understand the benefit of growth within urban boundaries as opposed to encroaching on farmland or natural areas. 

Rather, by circumventing the R-1 zoning in the Rosewood and other established neighborhoods, the homes (including many smaller low-cost rental houses) could be bought up and demolished quickly without individual application for rezoning. And the expensive apartments and retirement condos that would go up where the houses, trees and lawns are removed would have lasting impact. The planners foresee bringing thousands of new residents to streets close to Willamette (streets already saturated with R-1 homes) to live in these “dense” large buildings.

If the current neighborhood character and abundant urban vegetation and wildlife don’t tabulate much to the planning commission, consider the infrastructure of this area. No new parks or public investment is envisioned. Large streets and major public transportation are found in other parts of the city. In West Eugene as the EMX rail line is completed, dense growth might be accommodated. But Willamette, Crest Drive and 29th Avenue are already bumper-to-bumper during busy times of day. 

These south Willamette neighborhoods are already “developed,” and zoning changes here should be looked at one by one, not with a bulk move that is a land speculator’s dream come true. 

 Ralph McDonald, Eugene


After at least a 30-year hiatus, I attended the Oregon Country Fair July 10 and enjoyed the still familiar assortment of clever costumes and acts, good food and smiling faces, many of them on friends I hadn’t seen for as long as the last time I had been to the Fair.

For me at least all of that was compromised by a venue that’s in the big business of attracting too many customers traveling too many miles to too much stuff. The freshness and innocence of the first Fairs have been trampled by the usual consequences of exponential growth. And the Fair keeps expanding — this year fairgoers squeezed into an additional 6.5 acres — even as the nearby Long Tom River keeps shrinking.

While the event’s recycle collection system is extensive and commendable, water use and wastewater disposal has become as challenging as finding breathing room. For all the wholesome fun it provides, sadly the Fair is a victim of its own lack of restraint.

 Robert Emmons, Fall Creek


It occurred to me that much can still be salvaged from the remains of our beloved Civic Stadium. This salvaging can be beneficial both as a physical remembrance of the ballpark and as a fundraiser for whatever will arise from its ashes. 

I think many people would love to have a charcoal drawing of Civic made with the actual charcoal of its burned old-growth timbers. If the owners of the site would commission 100 artists to create 10 drawings each and if they sold for $200 each that would be $200,000. Tweak the numbers higher and you could perhaps raise over $1 million. Create some that would appeal to the many now wealthy baseball players who have played there, and there is even more potential.

 Bryan Wilson, Eugene


I am writing to draw readers’ attention to the plight of SevaDog (sevadog.org), a Eugene rescue group that heals, rehabilitates and trains dogs that have suffered neglect, abuse and other traumatic experiences. Most of these dogs, primarily pitbulls and small dogs, are rescued from imminent euthanasia in out-of-state, high-kill shelters. Many have serious behavioral problems when they arrive, but after being at SevaDog, they are adopted into loving homes. 

 SevaDog is family-run, and the marital breakup of the husband-wife team that established this highly successful rescue operation now directly threatens its financial stability. 

To put it bluntly, unless SevaDog receives an infusion of donations to help cover its monthly expenses, owner Mandy Cracknell, now a single mother of four, will have to close the facility. 

Many of the dogs that are there are still in the process of rehabilitation, and, even if taken in by other shelters, they could well end up being euthanized. Mandy has established a Go Fund Me account at wkly.ws/21o where donations can be made. 

Please help save SevaDog and the sweet dogs they take in that few others are willing and able to help.

Ken Neubeck, Eugene


It is a vast relief for many of us who have been following the Iran nuclear negotiations for months that an agreement has at last been reached. This represents a triumph of diplomacy, and — who knows? — maybe a hope for increased reliance on diplomacy in the future. Will our Congress move us forward, or will this long-term amazing effort be undermined in favor of a dramatic rise in wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, generously funded by the U.S.?

But here is a question that I haven’t heard asked publicly: Why are we devoting so much attention to Iran’s possible future development of some nuclear weapons, when the U.S. has an arsenal of thousands? The U.S. government is currently in the process of modernizing our entire nuclear weapons arsenal, to the tune of billions of dollars. In addition Israel already has its own sophisticated nuclear weapons collection. Can we truly trust that our governments that devote huge time, money and other resources to nuclear weapons will never use them? In addition, of course, we must ask how might we better use these resources for peaceful purposes?

If we really wish to avoid the unthinkable possibility of nuclear war, we need to turn our devoted attention to the elimination of all nuclear weapons, worldwide.

Peg Morton, Eugene


Words we employ can sometimes employ us instead. Words are that powerful.

Often, out of sheer habit, we repeat words or phrases without thinking. Sometimes, we hear a word or phrase repeated so many times, we recite it as rote learning. Sometimes we unlearn a word in one association, and re-apply it in another, having not internalized the lesson as to why we first stopped.

And sometimes words are our key to being accepted. In repeating them we “belong.” “Stigma” is one of those words. If we repeat it in a currently unaccepted way, we do not belong, and the repercussions against us will be immediate. If we repeat it in a currently accepted way, there will be broad acceptance, a belonging. The disguise for prejudice has limited usage.

There is a term I am currently not allowed to place in print; it has the same hard “ig” sound as “stigma.” A professional ball player on a late night talk show one night spoke of hearing that term from his young son. He asked him where he had learned it. His son replied, “from you, Dad, you use it on the phone all the time.” He was only repeating what his father had said. One trusts one’s dad. One trusts whom one sees as authority.

An “authority” directing the disguise “stigma” is not an authority. It is a person holding a deep prejudice, a person to educate, not emulate.

Harold A. Maio,  Fort Myers, Florida

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter is in response to the phrase “Despite its prevalence, a stigma persists” in our story “Funny Medicine Helps Mental Health” July 16. Maio is a retired health publications editor.


Train horns. The city doesn’t have the money to pay for improvements to railroad crossings which would establish “quiet zones.” Under consideration is the possibility of adding that cost to future street repair bond measures. Bond measures, of course, are financed through property taxes.

Developers who want to put up housing downtown say that creating a downtown quiet zone is a crucial element to their plans.They also say it’s crucial that they get 10-year tax exemptions on these housing developments through the MUPTE program.

Anyone else see the irony here? We want a quiet zone, but everybody else has to pay for it.

I’ve had letters published stating my strong position for establishing railroad quiet zones, and I’m one of those living near the tracks who is adversely impacted by the horns. I will NOT, however, vote to raise my property taxes while the proposed downtown housing pays nothing.

I may actually start enjoying the horns, knowing those tax freeloaders are being blasted as well.

Ted Chudy, Eugene