Earth Day discussion focuses on energy issues

Two dozen residents talk about alternative fuel sources

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— Jeff Troeger brought his 15-year-old son to Earth Day's community discussion in the hopes of broadening the teen's perspectives.

Troeger and his son, Chris, were among the two dozen residents who listened and talked about the heavy cost of an oil-dependent world, alternative fuels and what extracting fossil fuels from Colorado would mean to the environment.

Tuesday's discussion on energy, led by Colorado Mountain College professors, was one of a number of activities held in Steamboat in honor of Earth Day.

"I brought my son to introduce him to discussions he is not aware of," Troeger said. "Also, there is the feeling of trying to some way make a difference."

John Saunders, a wilderness studies professor, told the group Tuesday that moving away from oil and implementing alternative energy sources would be the wave of the future.

"Diversity is the power in any ecosystem," Saunders said. "A system that is based on one type of fossil fuel, it seems like we would be very susceptible to (problems)."

He pointed to solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and wind energy as possible alternatives to fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Saunders said there were other energy alternatives being researched, including fuel-cell and zero-point energy.

Professor Tom Delancey warned of the United States' high consumption of oil. If consumption continues to grow, the world's oil reserves will be depleted by 2040 and it will be unrealistic for the average consumer to buy gasoline in 20 years, he said.

The country goes through 19.4 million barrels of oil a day, he said.

"There is a lot of oil left in the world," Delancey said. "The problem is consumption. At 19.4 million barrels of oil a day, it is not going to last too long."

Tuesday's discussion was much different than the first Earth Day about 20 years ago. CMC ethics professor Bob Baker said that day was one of celebration, whereas Tuesday's discussion involved science and economics.

"It is like night and day," Baker said.

When the talk opened to the audience, Baker said the true concern should not be finding alternative energy sources but curbing the county's consumption.

"We should be talking about stopping our addictive culture of consumption," Baker said.

One problem is the price of oil at the gas pumps does not account for its true cost, Troeger said. The price per gallon does not factor in what it costs to the environment, the fact that oil is a nonrenewable resource or the country's cost for protecting its oil interests, he said.

Earlier Tuesday morning, rainy weather did not deter about 15 people from participating in the Community Spring Cleanup. The group picked up trash at Butcherknife Park, Mount Werner Circle, Emerald Mountain and along the Yampa River Core Trail.

In the afternoon, children celebrated Earth Day with Yampatika by planting seeds. Later Tuesday evening, a presentation was given by Joani Matranga, a community officer for resource efficiency, and a short feature film was shown about a car powered on grease left over from restaurants' deep fryers.

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