Green is good, cheap

ReAnne Utemark


While the economy has not gone into full-blown panic mode yet, Americans are standing on an economic precipice that can end well or poorly. I do not expect the entire country to go up in flames, civil war to break out and mass food shortages to occur. I hope for more wind power, more bike riding and more common sense from the American people in regard to their energy use, which is a major factor in the shaky economy.

Kansas is in the middle of a massive debate over the coal power plants in Holcomb, Kan. One side wants to make sure that people in western Kansas have jobs, and the other side wants to protect the environment of Kansas and the surrounding states. I do not think this should be the predominant debate in the Statehouse. What should be dominating debate is why Kansas does not offer tax breaks for individuals using wind power. Even the federal government has been skittish about offering tax breaks. Why?

Wind power is a viable way to gain energy and what we do not use can be transferred to other areas for use. Some opponents have complained about how ugly the turbines are and that they kill birds, among other concerns. While the impressive Kansas prairie should not be destroyed, in the long run the turbines will do more to save the Kansas landscape than a power plant. Also, the Netherlands and Germany, both of which have huge numbers of wind power turbines, have not reported a bird shortage.

As of press time oil was heading for a record price of $120 per barrel, with some gloomy economists predicting this is just a stop on the road to $200 per barrel. I am glad to see that Americans are turning toward smaller cars as a partial answer for high gas prices. A Volkswagen Golf is probably going to get the driver further on less money than a Chevy Trailblazer. Also, hybrids are finally being rolled out in massive numbers and people are snapping them up. Sure, it is mostly out of economic need, but the economy might be a catalyst for more people participating in the green movement.

As summer approaches, perhaps this is a beneficial time to hop on a bike or take advantage of Shunga Trail – using proper safety precautions, of course. Topeka’s public transportation leaves something to be desired, to say the least, but the warm weather and lack of school allows for more people to use alternate means of transportation that do not harm the environment. One might not want to ride a bike to meet a date, but it’s probably all right to ride to campus if you are taking summer classes or going to the library, or to work if it does not require anything more formal than business casual. This method of transportation only has the startup cost of a bike and the continuing cost of a cold Gatorade when you get to your destination.

“Going green” might be a fad. However, as fads go, it is probably the most beneficial. It is more flattering to everyone than skinny jeans and makes more sense than the pet rock.

The economy, the social aspect and the common sense aspect should dominate people’s decisions when it comes to energy use. As the weather gets warmer, it should get easier and easier. There is little more comforting than sheets dried on the line in the sunshine. Of course, this is not a viable option for everyone, but small choices can make a big difference both to your paycheck and your environment.