Monday, December 7, 2009

elbow room

Despite the very important conference this week in Copenhagen and the hopes for some agreement about the management of greenhouse gases, America still possesses a great deal of elbow room. We know this even if we’re living in a city.

This past week, I drove to a farm north of Kansas City to visit some people who operate a sheep farm without herbicides, striving to manage their business in harmony with the land. Forty minutes (we don’t measure distances in miles here) and I was deep in the country. Driving off the paved road to their Mt. Bethel dirt road, climbing the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River and the power plant, I felt very far away from the urban even reminded me of Wales with its rolling hills and deep steep valleys.

I stopped at the Weston Café for lunch and the atmosphere was a frozen-in-time relaxed setting from the 70s…a smoking section, people at the counter drinking coffee and talking about the daily local news. Despite Weston’s antique store theme park setting and upscale shops, this diner was where the locals dined and chatted. The news clatter this week talks about climate change and managing greenhouse gases, debating the science of it, with a perceived struggle between the Third World (a useless term now) and the developed nations.

Here we get about 80% of our power from coal. That will not change for a long time. I realize this is a very important world conference, but here in the Midwest people are keenly aware of the elbow room and because of that there’s no sense of urgency to change…after all, people in this present economic setting feel a bit helpless to move forward much less change.

I heard this discussion in the Weston Café and it made sense there, as I sat in the smoking section, near the counter and inhaled a bit of cigarette haze while I ate my Philly Cheesesteak special which was very good…I quit smoking in February 2008 but the familiar aroma was nice. My small way of contributing to the decrease of greenhouse gases.

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