Green a far better way to go for the West

With apologizes to Wallace Stegner, green looks good on this Valley. Tall swaying grass in June starts hay season. Large 14-foot wide swathers mow down fields of grass, laying it out in windrows to dry. Soon rakes, balers and harrow beds will roll across the Valley. It takes a lot of oil to harvest grass and it makes you see green.

On the kitchen refrigerator are news articles my children claim I'm collecting to build a case against the government. One on oil prices is by Terrance Hunt, AP White House correspondent, dated Thursday Feb. 2, 2006, "President Bush defended the huge profits of Exxon Mobil Corp. Wednesday saying they are simply the result of the marketplace and that consumers socked with soaring energy costs should not expect price breaks. Exxon had reported earlier in the week record profits of $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year - the largest of any U.S. company. ... I (President Bush) would very much hope that Exxon would participate in the development of a pipeline out of Alaska..."

The president hopes somebody will do something. OK, but let's step this up a bit. Let's believe. Believe that the cost of oil will not drop to pre-2006 prices. And that pleases me. Because people in this incredibly large, diverse and intellectually rich county are using their brains and talents to develop alternative energy sources and are seriously conserving energy instead of wasting it by not throwing everything away. There is no away, as the popular phrase goes.

Do I like this difficult and worrysome adjustment process? To tell the truth, yes, I do. It is exciting. We are researching and building again more than just entertainment industries to overcome this oil situation. A good leader could help by leading, encouraging and promoting new energy sources. To our credit in the absence of a good leader we have not all wandered off into a corner and stared into space. We are doing things, filling the void of leadership by examining our daily lives and making changes.

The Department of Transportation released figures that in March we drove 11 billion miles less than in '07. Public transportation use is increasing. People change the type of light bulbs they use. Some discovered hybrid cars, some take up bicycling, some walking. Good for their health, good for the planet.

We are fighting a war over control of oil reserves no matter the spin given for Iraq's occupation. If as a nation, we supported sending troops to Iraq then sacrifices concerning the use of oil, in solidarity with our troops, are appropriate. Another war we are engaged in is in a county in conflict for generations, on occasion on our behalf. The people of Afghanistan in large parts, if not most of the country now, live in pre-industrial conditions, bare subsistence living. Adjustments we are making compared to their struggles are insignificant. Our nation's energy consciousness is reawakening. We can empathize with the Afghan people, appreciate why it is important to help end their struggle.

People are only nine meals away from a revolution. When you are hungry, struggling it is comforting to know your leaders are actively trying to help you. Since ours admit to only hoping for help it is on us as individuals to create solutions. New small alternative energy businesses are popping up in the Valley. Clotheslines are regaining popularity. We are reducing our use of oil, and meaning to or not reducing pollution. With apologies to Wallace Stegner we in the West like the color green. Hay prices in the Valley will reflect that.

n Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher.


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