The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Virgil Vaupel
Thanks For Listening 

Living With Carbon And Verbal Pollution

 


With all the hoop-la about “carbon footprints” it's important for you to know some interesting facts. Well, maybe not facts but just stuff I think about in my spare time.

Environmentalist try to stymie and confuse us uneducated people by using words of more than two syllables along with some convoluted mathematical figures to show how much carbon we are spewing into the atmosphere every day.

First off, I guess the carbon they're talking about is the smoke emitted by everything that burns fossil fuel. It's said that those who burn coal are the worst offenders. That would be power plants that provide electricity for a whole lot of people including your local grocer, the bank, the hospital and even the friendly folks who operate Sheriff Meier's Gray Bar Hilton.

According to the treaty recently signed between several or more nations the United States, deemed a “fully developed” country was allowed the least amount of carbon emissions. China, being a developing country, can spew 30 times more carbon into the air than can the US. Some of the other nations around the world that are virtually exempt and can emit as much carbon into the atmosphere as they want are, Japan, Mexico and India.

How many of you tried to watch the Olympics from Beijing through the pall of pollution rampant in that country? And they're basically exempt from pollution regulations?? Yikes.

Here in America many states require automobile emissions inspections every two years and some require yearly inspections.

But here's the real deal. The “Save the Earth” people target cars, pickups and semi trucks for most of the pollution in this country. I kinda' have to agree with them, especially in areas such as Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philly and Saco. I've driven truck in most of the major cities in the United States and have seen the smog eye to eye.

Thousands of auto's can raise quite a cloud of carbon.

But listen here. Every 30 or so seconds a jetliner takes off or lands at Chicago's O'hare Airport. Have you ever seen the smoke just one of those behemoths vomits out is tail pipes? Sorta like ol' Grandpa after a can of Pork and Beans. Burns your eyes. And this is happening in every large city in the country, maybe to a lesser extent than Chicago or Atlanta but they're flying just the same.

Denver has a particular situation because with the prevailing winds coming from the west over the mountains the pollution is held closer to the ground than in most any other city. It's brutal on some winter mornings.

Our very own Warren Buffett-owned BNSF with 35 or so of his trains running through here every day is a big contributor to the pollution in Valley County. Granted, it's not near as severe as in a major city but just you take yourself to a hill top some lazy, hazy, crazy wind-less afternoon and you can follow the route of the trains just by the smoke trail hovering over the tracks.

And just so's you believe me go to a waiting train somewhere on a siding and watch the smoke billow out of those 4,500-horsepower engines when that engine starts to move those 106 cars behind them.

In defense of BNSF, however, can you imagine 11,130 semi-trucks rumbling through Glasgow daily? That's how many trucks it would take to haul the stuff that's conveyed by the 35 or so 106-car trains passing through.

Have you been in Billings on a day when the smog hurts your eyes? Airplanes are a major polluter but consider the 10,000 or so semis that zip through Billings or Butte or Missoula on the interstate every day.

Some of the most stunningly beautiful sunsets and sunrises we witness here are generated by pollution, mostly manmade but sometimes Mother Nature can throw us a curve with Her forest and prairie fires sending billowing clouds of smoke high into the sky.

In Japan, where the pollution is particularly obnoxious, many folks ride bicycles everywhere they go. Most of them don't have a two hour car ride to get to a Wal-Mart, however. Or in some cases here in Northeast Montana, it's a 100 mile (or more) round trip to get to Reynolds or Albertsons grocery stores.

If we want our present way of life, we will simply have to learn to live with pollution ... carbon or verbal. Think about that one.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.

 

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