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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

This headline was used for an editorial in the Denver Post a while back, and I clipped it to use as part of talk to some outraged SUV owners. They had purchased the new more powerful vehicles because of the amount of equipment needed for the tow-boat for the Sunrise Slalom, an event that in the past happened in the snowfield on the west slopes of Trail Ridge Road, followed by a brief water ski slalom event on Grand Lake after lunch.

This event was a Memorial Day weekend event. If the road had not been opened yet, it meant leaving Denver at 4 a.m., driving over Berthoud Pass, and then starting up Trail Ridge from the west. When the road had an early opening the big vehicles pulling large inboard motor boats crossed the Continental Divide in what I can best describe as a parade of snails. The most important was a construction vehicle with a 500 gallon tank gasoline.

Oh, but I digress. The following is the partial text of the editorial with a few inserts for clarity:

“Americans are advised not to feel too secure with the present “cheap’ gas price of gasoline, which ranges to more than 60 cents a gallon. It could go up again.”

(I forgot to mention the date of this editorial; September 1974.)

“That is the inescapable deduction after reading news reports from Vienna, where members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met last week. OPEC prices for crude oil will have to go up some more, the leader said.”

(I forgot to mention that a barrel of crude cost had risen 300 percent, from $3.25 per bbl. to $10. An oil barrel is 42 gallons. This means that about 25 cents is the value of the raw ingredient of gasoline. Everyone thought a future oil price of $40/bbl was a joke or an exaggeration too far fetched or a figment of a wild imagination – but now we are going to be living that joke.)

“These are the nations – led by the oil rich Arab states – which more than doubled the price of oil exported to the U.S. last winter. The Arab embargo, in retaliation for U.S. aid to Israel, started the escalation and other nations, including Venezuela, agreed to it. The U.S. is about one-third dependent on imports.”

(This is about two-thirds at the turn of the century. At this time, the U.S is the most highly industrialized nation, yet only a fraction of the total is used in actual manufacturing. Another large user is the plastic industry. But let’s face it, the bulk petroleum usage is pure excessive consumption. The last figures that I recall are that the U.S. has about 8 percent of the world’s population but consumes about 70 percent of the world’s fuels.)

“The OPEC countries evidently have concluded that the strategy worked and that it will work again. U.S. motorists have slowed up their purchases of gasoline and continue to switch to smaller cars. But they haven’t slowed their road speeds much (in defiance of the national 55 mph limit) and there isn’t a crash program of increased supply or forced conservation.”

As a resident of Eagle County, I find it very frustrating to find very many folk who ignore the written word evidencing the very obvious catastrophe impending on our society as a whole, and the “strip-city” we call “the Eagle Valley.” I was appalled to see that the national Weather Channel report the weather for the “Avon metro” area.

Those folk who ignore written warnings are ignoring reality. Those ignoring reality are proclaimed ignorant. I think it would be stupid of me if I were to tell the ignorant lady leaving her black SUV engine running with the AC running to keep it cool so the ice cream doesn’t melt on the way home, while she makes a few more shopping stops ignorantly (read stupidly) burning an extra gallon or two of gasoline to keep a quart of ice cream from softening.

Am I missing something in my upbringing that says that etiquette of serving dessert at the proper consistency is worth $4 of fuel to save $2 worth of ice cream? In my humble opinion, the lady should be given a “good dope slap,” to use the vernacular of Click and Clack, the tappet brothers from Sunday morning NPR. To see this in writing is a whole lot more harsh than hearing them jokingly saying it.

“Perhaps the danger was well expressed recently by The Wall Street Journal, which editorialized in favor of self-sufficiency by saying, “The oil crisis is not necessarily a thing of the past and … soft words and state visits are not likely to solve it unless the U.S. gets serious about reducing its dependence on imported oil.” Please remember that this Wall Street editorial was also written in 1974, before you criticize Bush calling for new oil exploration as he did this past week.

Possibly we should initiate an annual “dope slap day,” which would allow a person the legal right to administer a gentle “dope slap” to the energy wasting party.

Possibly the Daily could add “Energy Dope Slap” of the community to the “Hit-or-Miss” area in the commentary section of the Daily.

This might be a constructive venue for students of the energy conservation school to gently remonstrate the energy-ignorant.

Steven Zorichak

Vail


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