Environment takes back seat to energy dependency

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cars and air-conditioners — summer culture for the country — have long consumed an ever growing portion of our income.  Prices at the pump still rise by the week, and the high price of cooling is this season’s corollary to the high cost of heating just a few weeks away. So, no season brings relief.

About 20 years ago, California had “rolling black-outs” — efforts to conserve energy by staggering its use so one neighborhood would have it while another one did not.

But that’s no solution, and we can only shudder at the prospect of energy doled out to the country sections — or regions — at a time.

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The political argument surrounding this issue is whether national policy should emphasize more energy production or conservation.

But the truth is that few of us are willing to sacrifice our cars, computers, and air conditioners to the realization that everybody else has them too, and runs them at the same time.

And we’re not even talking cars yet.

Today, 93 million acres throughout all 50 states are protected by the National Wildlife Refuge System, and Alaska contains the majority of wilderness within the Refuge System, more than 18 million acres.

Pools of oil are now thought to lie beneath this expanse that might hold billions of barrels, worth billions of dollars.

So should we go and get it?

This is an issue where black voter instinct may put them opposite the point-of-view of their traditional liberal supporters. Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and former president Jimmy Carter are all fervent environmentalists. So the political choices of blacks nationwide for the past four decades at least are firmly allied with environmentalists.

But when an everyday necessity is priced beyond peoples’ ability to pay for it (as gas prices are routinely now $2 a gallon), concern for the environment may take a back seat to just keeping the damn thing running.

Why not go and get that oil?

Restraint does not come easy to Americans, and even the realization that the purpose of pristine places “is not to produce benefits for our consumption” may not be enough to deter the primacy we have given to technology, mobility and convenience.

Demand is caused by growth.

But those are market terms. And those of us who descend from ancestors sold on the auction block have never had to wonder if the market, left to itself, can do no wrong (Cornel West).

But the point is this.  The longest and greatest economic expansion in the nation’s history is the creation of a technology that’s energy-driven and energy-dependent.

If we want the growth and the jobs that come with it — the wealth, the convenience, and access — then we have to discover new energy sources and the means to deliver it. But at what price?

Consider that just last week “American Duchess” came here.

It was a boon for the economy.  The restaurants, hotels, gas stations prospered. My friend’s cabs!

Then I saw the River.

“I am haunted by rivers.”


Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at yolanderobbins@fastmail.com.