March 28, 2001
By Maren L. Hickton
It is a certainty that as economies and populations grow
proportionately, so does the use of energy. But the fact is
we would have been in an energy crisis since the beginning
of time if primates had the ability to do the required calculations
to live like we do.
This country has gone from lit campfires to gaslights to
the Edison light bulb to nuclear power through the efforts
of great men and women who took the time to think beyond the
obvious and seek to find new sources and ways to use energy.
It's too easy to decide that we will just drill away to find
oil or strip mine for coal and fossil fuels at the expense
of our environment, in both the short and long-term. Having
had the opportunity to live in a city which has been stripped
of many resources, I have seen the consequences of mine subsidence.
In the former smoky city of steel, you'd have to hold your
breath to drive past the blast furnaces or hold your breath
in fear that you didn't take out a tire darting around potholes,
W. C. Fields once said, "I wanna see Pittsburgh before I
die." I don't know if he ever made it here, but if he did
back then, he wouldn't have seen much beyond the pollution.
Since the closure of the steel mills, we have turned the gray
skies blue at tremendous expense and still have a way to go
with our polluted waterways.
Ask Bruce Willis, who had to swim in the rivers here while
making a movie. Governor Ridge touted Pennsylvania recently
as a model state for deregulation. He obviously didn't get
our recent utility bills, but I am not really complaining.
My gas bill alone was $790.00 for one month's service for
a two and a half-story house. This was one of the coldest
winters in many years which to me, at least, seemed the reason
for the bill -- which amounted to three times what I would
have paid in the same month in previous years. So I bought
a few rolls of plastic for about $25.00, gathered up a stack
of newspapers and got some tape, and spent one day to winterize
a house where my student-tenants for the past many years would
typically lounge around in boxer shorts and T-shirts.
We all took the old and dusty storm windows out of the basement
and put them in, covered the inside of the windows with the
plastic and used gooey rolls of modeling clay to block small
drafts. The next bill was cut in more than half.
Myself and most of the population don't want the Bush administration
to wreck pristine federal lands with drilling whether new
mining technology is only now the size of a baseball field
or not. I don't want my land, my neighbors land, to be stripped
of natural resources to the point where buildings sink or
the only land where the earth is green is bought-up to be
used for power or refinery plants, however the facades are
The last thing I want is choking skies just because we are
a bunch of dumb clucks who don't understand how to conserve
or regenerate energy. The best part is no one is even talking
about the cleanup costs related to further energy exploration
and waste, which are phenomenal.
Just for starters, ask Governor Ridge about Penn DOT's road
repair budget. Under Governor Ridge's stewardship, Penn DOT
has become one of the leading public works organizations,
but the Governor's administration continues to be faced with
financial and other hurdles, due to overcoming tremendous
and unparalleled damage not just from the weather, but from
the mining industries.
It is important that we use the energy of our own brains,
cultivate a new group of pioneers, educate a new generation
of consumers and pay for the error of our ways until we find
new technologies -- which just might inspire us all not to
be so wasteful.