A few weeks ago Jim and I, along with our kids and grandkids, spent a weekend at Black Butte. It was a gloriously beautiful weekend with seasonable temperatures and plenty of wildlife. On our way back to the Portland area, we enjoyed endless vistas of forested mountains, each turn in the road presenting unbroken views of evergreen forests. I remarked to Jim that, as far as I was concerned, I could spend forever looking at the trees unsullied by "progress."
Now I'm not so naive that I don't realize many of these forests have been logged again and again. Old growth is virtually nonexistent, even in this state that promotes protection of our forests and fights against stripping this beautiful land of its natural bounty. However, I think that we in Oregon - at least most of us - have come to the realization that our natural beauty is something to be preserved, not exploited.
And so I have a hard time with those folks who would penetrate virgin territory for the almighty oil dollar and ignore the damage that is a real possiblity. It is one of the many reasons I question Sarah Palin's call for drilling in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). This pristine area may or may not be one of beauty, which is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, but it is a virgin area. To insult the landscape with oil wells and other evidence of man's greed is a great sin against the land of which we are but stewards.
I know there are conflicting reports as to the possibility of damage, and I'm not well-versed enough to know whose opinion is correct. I am concerned enough, and mistrustful enough of oil interests, to question the advisability of drilling in ANWR. Our dependence upon oil has become a point of contention within our nation. We feel that we have a right, perhaps even an obligation, to ignore potential environmental impacts in order to feed our greed for oil.
Numerous reports have told us that drilling in ANWR would provide only limited relief, and that relief would come only after several years of drilling. Others have stated that today's technology would prevent any ecological "accidents" and that drilling in ANWR is safe and would have no environmental impact. I'm not buying it. Even if there were only one accident, only one spill, only one earthquake resulting in spillage, the cost to the flora and fauna of the area would be too great.
Our planet is precious and has finite resources. We have greedily used them to the detriment of our enjoyment. Let us find other methods of energy, methods that are sustainable and renewable. Wind, sun, water - all are available to us and are virtually limitless. Fossil fuels will be depleted and we will then have to turn to these renewable, sustainable resources. Why must we continue to seek new and riskier attempts to mine fossil fuel? Why do we allow the oil companies to neglect the drilling rights they currently own in order to plunder new areas of our planet? Why do we not call them on their refusal to build new refineries as a method of controlling the amount of fuel available in this nation?
For too many years we have kowtowed to Big Oil and its greed. Our planet is irreplacable. Our children deserve to explore lands that have remained untainted by the czars of greed. I grew up in a time when rivers and woods and arctic wastelands were unsullied. Do we want to deny future generations a view of our world that is pure and free from human influence? Or do we really want their legacy to be more and bigger buildings and oil derricks and McMansions? Do we want to be Dubai? Or do we want to celebrate the natural beauty of our nation and our planet?