This past week (or more...I've lost track by now) has been COLD! We're talking, night temps in the teens, days edging just past freezing kind of cold.
The deer nibbled off most of my crocuses, and everything else went dormant again. The only color these days (I'm not counting grey as a color) is from the many colored flags tied on bushes and stakes which make trails snaking all over these hills.
I am not privy to the meaning of the color coded flags. I simply know that they are related to the imminent drilling for natural gas hiding in the Marcellus shale beneath the ground here. I get to feeling a bit queasy every time I drive past a new area that has been cleared of forest to make room for vents or wells or who-knows-what. I also get irritated every time one of the convoys of tank trucks coming out of one of these new, secret roads pulls out in front of me. Twice in the past 6 months, trucks containing gas well drilling equipment have attempted to drive under overpasses or bridges that were not tall enough, causing damage to the structures.
I am beginning to feel personally violated. Unknown people hike through our property, leaving behind the colored flags. Helicopters drop packages in our yard during hunting season. There are bulldozers crawling all over these hills, knocking down trees and pushing great piles of earth around. Tank trucks carrying mysterious liquids swarm the roads. The local hotel parking lots are filled with out of state trucks, all with drilling logos on their sides. This area is changing because of the discovery of natural gas here, and not necessarily for the better. We were informed by gas companies seeking to lease our gas rights that even if we did not do so, they would get "our" gas any way.
A few weeks ago, we received a map from one of the coal mining operations, which highlighted our property as part of an area they are planning to mine under in the near future. The coal mines have destroyed water wells and houses of several of my friends and acquaintances around here...but that is just the immediate result. What will be the long term consequences of this manic drilling and digging?
I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to nonrenewable energy. We try to be environmentally conscious in many areas. Living in the country, however, means that I have to drive to do anything. Although I try to limit my trips in the van, and combine errands when ever possible, I could not do without my mode of transportation. My efforts feel futile many days, when I feel like we are headed for a human made disaster of our own. It may not be of the severity of the nuclear disaster in Japan right now, but I can't begin to imagine that the end results will be good.
I realize this rant sounds overly pessimistic. I'm simply...well...scared. I'll close with this bit from an article in Time magazine, Fear Goes Nuclear, by Jeffrey Kluger:
"One answer, of course, is to tax carbon, raising its cost to make alternatives such as wind and solar power competitive with fossil fuels, thus obviating the need for so much nuclear power.
But that possibility brings the discussion full circle to an argument that seems to flare up every time there's a Three Mile Island or a blown BP oil well or a group of 33 Chilean miners who get trapped under ground. And it's an argument we'll keep having until the species that was clever enough to tame fire, harness steam and pry unthinkable power from a lump of uranium ore become smart enough to take the next step forward."
7 months ago