Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 14: Where oh where did Colorado Mountain High Go?

NOTE: We're talking about 4 million gallons of oil a day. BP is a culprit beyond culprits, and investigations on their leak on the North Slope were stopped. That's 120 thousand barrels a day of oil, so, what will USA do about it? What will Obama do? What can you do? For now, though, I continue this Dispatches from a Disaster series as Marc is in the Gulf Coast. This one is Day Two, as he made his way down, from Spokane.

Day of Cattle Trucks, Oil Derricks, Wind

by Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier

“What happened to all the talk about population? You know, as a kid growing up in the 80s, there were stories and debates about population, about over-farming the land. Where’s that talk now?” he asks while lifting out of the Colorado Rockies.

He ended up not finding that John Denver freedom in the mountains, having to spend the night in a big KOA campground. The soot and ground-level ozone lifted even 6,000 feet into the Rockies. Marc is thinking a lot about the trip’s impact on oil and greenhouse gasses.
He said while tuning into radio stations, he heard a report saying that just in the past five years, 12 percent of good farmland had been lost in the state of Colorado.

Seeing all the people in Denver, all the cars and trucks on the road, Marc let the trigger hit him – he just wants to hunt, fish and grow his own food soon. “Yeah, I think about how this trip impacts the world, and climate. At least I am doing good. The trip and the film will impact my life.”

He was shocked at how many oil derricks are pumping in Kansas, near Salinas. Saw a coal-fired electrical plant. Then went by a 400-turbine wind farm.

But it’s all those semis moving stuff, “addicted to all of this shit,” he said, that’s killing his spirit. The trip is making him think about how after just 100 years of using fossil fuel it’s half gone, plus all the pollution, after taking millions of years to make it.

He got to talking to four more people at gas stops: a cattleman from Round-up, Mont.; a nurse from Hayworth, Okla.; a landscape architect from Fort Collins; and a soon-to-be high school graduate from Montana.

What Marc is finding is that the news coverage people get is spotty and not very deep or contextualized. He also is enjoying just asking questions and filming responses without “getting into it with them.” He’s hearing from the high school student and on the radio the belief that as Christians, God gave the oil to us … it’s our earth … . I’m okay with spilling oil to get it.”

George Grieseman, the cattleman, said he follows the oil stories every day. Accidents, he said, are part of doing the business of energy drilling and mining. A price we have to pay. The 54-year-old Grieseman off-camera said that the drilling is too far offshore, as a way only to placate the people who don’t want the rigs close to shore.

Jeff Szymczak, 42, said the impact of the oil disaster makes him sad. “I wish there was something alternative we could develop to get off gas,” the landscape specialist said.

As Marc goes deeper into the heartland, and shifts south toward Mississippi, he’s realizing how different these ‘red’ states are in terms of politics and attitudes. He’s running into good people, the kind of people he would probably associate with in Spokane. More and more want to know about his trip, the film, the Down to Earth “Dispatches from a Disaster” site.

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