finding the solution to a problem can cause as much aggravation as not
being able to find the solution at all. At first this may sound absurd;
but think about the times that you have diligently searched for a
solution only to finally realize that the answer was right under your
nose all along. It happens all the time, or at least to me. It probably
happens more than I realize because I’m sure that there are times that
the answer is right under my nose and I never recognize it. If I
realized how many times that had happened, I would really be frustrated.
scenario may be playing out in America at this very moment. When a real
cure for cancer is found, it may be from something as common as dirt.
The solution to our energy crisis may be in as simple a substance as
water. While these may be real possibilities in the distant future, we
can only frustrate ourselves more by neglecting the present while
waiting on that future possibility.
am talking about our current energy crisis and what we are willing to do
about it. America has faced many crises in the past and has always
seemed to answer with a resolve that guaranteed success. Our forefathers
wanted liberty so badly that they were willing to pay the price,
whatever that was. You and I are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice
and the sacrifices of many such as them, both past and present. National
crises are not always won with bullets and bombs, but always with
resolve and willingness to sacrifice.
America won her freedom over two centuries ago, the war was caused by
unfair things imposed by England. These impositions were not things that
America could not pay but was simply unwilling to pay. The situation is
similar today. Oil rich countries are not threatening our freedom
(directly) but are holding us hostage by our own thirst for their oil.
We can’t blame them for gouging us if we are willing to pay. Rich
American oil companies quickly joined in on the profits, boasting
profits as large as thirty billion per quarter. They were willing to
charge and we were willing to pay.
consumers may have been caught in a bad situation where we had no
short-term choice. The real question is, are we willing to continue?
When a solution is found, don’t expect the oil companies to stand idly
by and let their profits dwindle for the good of America.
foreign policy and national security is also influenced by oil. Often
America is forced into bad situations of national security by the
necessity of keeping the oil flowing. If Sudan was a nation with rich
oil reserves, you can bet that America and the rest of the world would
take more of an interest in the events happening there. America is not
the only country whose national security and well being depends on
having an abundance of oil as a source of energy. It’s not a
Republican or Democrat thing. It is a statement of fact that America
runs on oil.
is a bad situation and will stay that way until we as citizens have the
resolve to do something about it. We can’t expect Uncle Sam to take us
by the nose and drag us into a state of energy independence. We won’t
get there until we have the resolve and willingness to make sacrifices
that our forefathers had over two hundred years ago.
may come in many forms. We might have to reconsider our choices in
automobiles, choosing fuel efficient instead of gas-guzzlers. Will we be
satisfied to vacation closer to home instead of far off destinations?
When faced with the choice of cleaner burning, home grown fuels, are we
willing to pay more or choose the cheaper fuel that promotes our
dependence on foreign oil?
is also the question of having the technology and resources to be energy
independent. A friend of mine recently returned from a hunting trip to
Iowa and told me of an ethanol plant there that used 1000 bushels of
corn every four minutes. To me, that is a mind-boggling amount of corn
that it takes to run that plant for continuous operation. That may be
great for the corn farmer, but do we have the resources to supply many
such ethanol plants?
partial solution may be growing right under our feet. Dr. David Bransby
of Auburn University and other energy pioneers are working on many
projects involving biomass and ethanol or bio-diesel from perennial
grasses such as switchgrass. Dr. Bransby’s studies have concluded that
switchgrass can be more efficient for ethanol production that corn. He
says that "emerging technologies" are continuing to make
switchgrass ethanol a cost efficient and viable solution for our energy
needs. Here again is the question of land. Where will the acres come
from to supply the enormous amount of switchgrass needed to make this
few years ago, a thirty-mile stretch of four-lane highway was completed
through Lawrence County. By my estimate, at least 1100 acres was taken
for right-of-way. I think it is safe to say that 700 to 800 of those
acres are growing grass and have to be mowed or otherwise maintained by
the state highway department. That is on just one thirty-mile stretch of
road. There are no doubt millions and millions of acres of grass that
the state is paying to maintain on Alabama roadsides. This could be that
enormous source previously mentioned.
sure there are several concerns about this. The main concern I can think
of is safety. Drivers are already used to being extra careful around
construction sites or "paying double." As a matter of
"national security," I’m sure this problem could be dealt
with. Whatever the cost, our grandchildren’s grandchildren may be
depending on us.
wonder if Dr. Bransby has done any research on sagegrass as a potential
alternative fuel source. I have let a sagegrass fire get out of hand a
time or two and have been really impressed with the amount of energy
that was released. And … if switchgrass bears any resemblance to a
switch, it could be handy growing on roadsides. I know my mom could have
thinned out a good stand of it on my brothers and sisters and me. Wild
plum bushes are now just beginning to get established again around where
Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.