Letter: Land is already developed

Regarding the plan for more houses in the hills:

I find the announcement (Herald Extra Jan. 24) of more hundreds of houses in the hills above the Campbell Mountain landfill (actually a dump; the land was already ‘filled’) profoundly depressing.

Sendero Canyon is also urban sprawl, but at least that land was already pretty much trashed before houses were built there. The land above the dump is still wild, and, contrary to the arrogant attitude of us humans, it is fully developed and occupied, by a huge variety of plants, mammals, invertebrates, soil organisms, lichens, mosses, and other living beings. Virtually all of these will be destroyed or displaced by housing and with nary a thought to what has been done.

I have news for the developers and the city; there is no such thing as an environmentally friendly road, especially one on which hundreds of vehicles will run 24/7. Roads are death for wild creatures, disrupt travel routes for many, and for some small creatures can completely stop their ability to move through the landscape. Pavement increases the temperature in summer and water flow spring-fall, especially in steep terrain. Roads allow even greater access to the remaining wild lands beyond them for ‘recreation’ including ATV and dirt bikes, which do enormous damage to the land and add to the disruption of wild creatures’ lives.

And in case anyone is inclined to trot out the old chestnut that ‘we have to balance the environment (i.e. everything but us} against human needs (mostly wants)’ here’s a statistic to mull over. 90 per cent of the Earth’s biomass is taken up by humans and our domesticated animals; that leaves 10 per cent for the billions of other species (Harari. Homo Deus, 2016). If this statistic were reversed, we might legitimately talk about balance; at present the argument is merely an excuse to get what we want.

Of course there are lots of human-centred reasons for avoiding this kind of urban sprawl, the main one being climate change. Here, as pretty much elsewhere, serious actions to avoid the worse aspects of climate change are, as the Bard so rightly said about other things, “more honoured in the breach than in the observance.” Allowing urban sprawl is one of the more egregious examples of active inaction. More cars driving up and down to town, more undoubtedly oversized houses requiring all the services along with more confrontations between humans and wild animals in which the latter almost always lose, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Oh, and a single road access to housing that will be in a fire interface zone. The insanity continues.

Eva Durance


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