Union Democrat staff

Growth can be eco-friendly

To the Editor:

Our board of supervisors recently approved a subdivision allowing removal of 4,860 trees. That's right, four thousand eight hundred and sixty trees!

The Tuolumne Heritage Committee is disappointed our leaders have rung the death knell for such a big swath of our spectacular oak woodlands. Our velvety green hills define this region of California, give us a rural atmosphere, nurture wildlife and embrace our historic and new communities.

The new subdivision, Red Tail Ridge, sprawls over 542 acres of steep hillsides in 46 10-acre lots, but the general plan allows double that.

Open space zoning should protect the trees that remain, but a conservation easement would have provided the developer with a significant income tax deduction and guaranteed protection.

Our committee asked that this beautiful land in the Greenley Basin not succumb to the slice and dice approach to development. We suggested clustering homesites, thus saving money and oak trees.

We remember the public's outrage over similar projects: the hillside rearrangement at Soulsbyville Junction, the slaughter of oak trees on Camp Seco Road, and the granddaddy of them all, Sonora's eastern hills where earth movers and huge bonfires cleared this irreplaceable viewshed of over 1,000 oaks. Red Tail Ridge's stump count is almost five times as great!

Now is an excellent time for politics and preservation to come together while the county's Biological Resources Review Guide (BRRG) is under revision. The new BRRG needs incentives for clustering homes, conservation easements, trails and lower fees for using other 21st century planning principles.

Our landscape is poised to lose 4,860 more oak trees to development. Let's encourage our leaders to rethink how growth can be eco-friendly.

Sharon Marovich, Chair

Tuolumne Heritage Committee

'Deniers' of climate change

To the Editor:

I study Global Warming because I'm a grandfather. To express love for my grandchildren but ignore climate change is irresponsible, since their future is in our hands.

My criteria for getting information is simple: I use major educational institutions like universities and scientists who are actively doing research on global warming and are publishing peer-reviewed studies in major scientific journals. Earth scientists meeting these criteria were asked "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" 97.5 percent of climatologists responded, "Yes."

"Deniers" attempt to discredit climate science. One such effort was "The Oregon Petition," which was counterfeited as a National Academy of Science publication. The petition disavows climate science and invited "scientists" to sign - but anyone could sign. Thirty-one thousand people did, including characters from the movie "Star Wars." There is no way to determine if any signatories were scientists, let alone climate scientists. Trusting this petition is like asking 31,000 dentists their opinions on brain surgery. The petitions lump all "scientists" together to dilute climate science, not to clarify it.

Jan Higgin's approach in her letter on Sept. 21 is to name climate scientists who disagree with prevailing climate science and, by association, their organizations such as NASA, National Climate Data Center, University of Virginia, National Center for Atmospheric Research, MIT, and National Academy of Science. Go to these organizations' web sites - search "global warming." The flood of research supporting climate science is overwhelming. Read the National Academy of Sciences Position Statement on Global Warming - it doesn't support Jan Higgins - none of these organizations do.

If Consumer Reports Magazine gave 97.5 percent approval rating on one car, would you buy the one rated at 2.5 percent?

Robert Carabas