Fueling the future

So winter’s lingering and I’m still grumpy.  I was going to write a post today about my seed starting and garden plans.  But that will have to wait, mostly because I didn’t start any seeds.  And I’m probably running out of time, but it just seems to cold to worry about acclimating tomato plants to the great outdoors.  I do plan on starting my seeds over the next few days, so maybe the next post will be a bit more cheery and Spring like.

I recently posted in my Facebook status something about how sad the many new drilling sites on my commute make me.  This upset my father.  He seems to think that continually reminding me that my great grandfather worked for the gas company will change my opinion about the way today’s gas companies are run.  And lets be clear here,  I see a big difference between the gas companies delivering the goods to our homes and offices and the drilling companies obtaining the goods.  Sure they work together, but like any supply chain, there are many steps along the way and many different companies that need to be held accountable.

On my daily commute, depending on which route I take and how you count the sites, I pass something between  3 and 10 well pads, pipe line accesses,or processing plants (maybe more, I’ve started loosing count.).  My commute is only about 17 miles.  That’s quite a lot.  Even at the low end, that’s 1 site every 6 miles.  The photo below is from the sierraclub.org.  I wanted an image of what the countryside I drive through is starting to look like.  It’s even more impressive when the wells are flaring or lit.  And while this photo’s not that unattractive, imagine it during construction: the destruction to the roads from the heavy equipment, the Pennsylvania clay turning to mud, the displaced wildlife, the timbering of forests, the danger and caution signs…

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For the record, I’m not opposed to natural gas or energy independence.  Quite the contrary.  What I’m against is untested, controversially unsound methods of extraction and the fact that much of the energy we “harness” here often gets shipped elsewhere (which just leads to more pipelines and issues).  True energy independence would be using the fuel, whatever it is, where is is harvested.  West Virginia would run on coal, PA on all this natural gas that is supposedly under our soil, Nevada would be solar, the Niagara Falls area would be fueled by hydro-energy, etc.  Sure there would be some sharing and cross over – I mean who can’t use some form of solar energy, but wouldn’t it just add an extra layer of interest to the different regions of our vast country?

What also annoys me about the current race for energy independence is that instead of putting all our great scientific minds toward conservation methods – really high fuel efficiency, super efficient heating and cooling systems, battery life, renewable resources, etc. we simply drill, baby drill, and it doesn’t matter if it’s coal, petroleum or the natural gas in the tundra and the shale.  With the current world’s population growth and our consumption, we will run out of resources.  There are debates as to when and how dramatically, but the underlying fact is, we will run out of fossil fuels.  It’s pretty basic science, fossil fuels are made from fossils, and fossils take eons to make.  It’s like trying to fill a sink while the drain is open.  We are using up the fossil fuels faster than new fossils can be made.

This is a daily struggle for me.  I like energy.  I like listening to the radio, watching TV and movies, having heat, cooking.  I may not be alive when we run out of fossil fuels, but what right do I have to use up the stores of those who come after me?  I’d like to think I’m doing my best at leaving them some means of survival.  Every post-apocalyptic and dystopian story I’ve ever seen or heard revolves around the lack of energy and/or water.  I’d like to try and live in a manner that doesn’t bring those images to reality because quite honestly, they scare me to death.  I loose sleep over those images.

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