Saturday, June 04, 2005


Considering that I'm from Utah, I spent very little time in the desert. My parents took us to the Grand Canyon and to Zion, but even that may have been a combined trip. We went to Lake Powell twice, but that's the desert-undeserted.

Now, because Erik and his mom are desert-lovers, I get to go to the Red Rocks almost every season. Although I love it best in winter, I'm lucky to have met it in all its seasons.
I'm reading Ed Abbey's Desert Solitaire for the first time. I had avoided it for a long time--primarily because I thought, how much description of red and rock can I take. But I should have had more faith in Abbey as a writer and a storyteller. He's a master.

So, when I read in the Tribune earlier this week-June 2nd, that oil developers want to start drilling the shale in the desert again, I mentally screamed a loud no. In the late 70's and early 80's my dad's job was to research the viability of squeezing oil from a stone. Some progress was made--the engineers and their big land movers and stone-squeezers moved into Vernal-- but then the price of regular gas went back to normal and the boom went bust. My dad went back to researching other kinds and ways to drill for oil.

Now they've got new technology. Now, with the price of oil high again and the bottom of the big reserves almost visible, they're going back in. New and improved ways to heat the rock so hot that it practically just pumps itself into your gas tank.
Besides the lunatic amount of energy it takes to heat the shale to give up its oil, the fact that they're spending money to find more fossil fuels so we can burn more carbon and make more greenhouse gases makes me crazed. Why can't they spend that money and brainpower and energy to make a energy resource that doesn't promise to end the planet, let alone destroy the desert from which it comes?
Oh, I'm going to go buy a Hummer and hurry this whole climactic apocalypse up. Plus, think of all the desert I could visit cool air-conditioned comfort.


Paulk said...

Marcia forwarded me this little discussion about the kind of oil-poor future we can look forward to. I think it's a little pessimistic, but all of carries grains of truth for sure.

As for Abbey, I began to distrust his narrator in Desert Solitaire almost immediately. In part, I'm sure that had to do with Francois' anecdotes about him in our narrative theory class. I'll have to go back and re-read it to remember exactly what it was—but I seem to remember him proclaiming that his book would be the "unvarnished" truth, followed shortly thereafter by over-the-top varnishing and rhetorical flourishes that would make an MFA blush.

Not that that is inherently bad—the book could be playing against it's own stated intentions. But my sense is that Abbey generally cultivated one persona that often ran against his actual tendencies. He's a fine writer, but in that instance, he just really turned me against his narrator, his story, and him (if not his stated objectives).

Sacrilege, I know.

Paulk said...

Remind me to proofread my own posts before publishing. Sheesh. I found at least two.