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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
July 31, 2000


Growing up in Vista, at a time when it was still evident we lived in an arid semi-desert, I remember summers being warm and dry. This is no longer the case. Speaking as someone who has enjoyed summer in Southern California for the past 36 years, I can safely say the heat has definitely been turned up. Twenty years of uncontrolled growth is now being felt. It is hot! Sticky hot.

With growth has come an alteration of the local environment. Far beyond the loss of native habitats, asphalt and cement are contributing to a rise in temperatures, by serving as heat sponges. The increase in humidity could be attributed to water used to support lawns and other non-native landscapes. Add to these the green house affect resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, and the fact it's getting a lot hotter around our collective collar is far from surprising.

As temperatures rise so too do home energy rates. Ironically, the air conditioning we use to escape the heat is partially responsible for the thinning of the ozone layer, which further turns up the heat. This equates with a need for even more electricity, to run even more air conditioners for those unable, or unwilling, to adapt to a warmer environment.

To makes matters worse, those responsible for providing home energy have decided now would be a good time to start price gouging. Claiming higher oil prices as the reason for rate increases, in reality these folks are just enjoying a freedom to pillage made possible by deregulation. Over a consumer barrel, the utilities have homeowners just where they want us. Because of this, turning out the lights when you leave the room has taken on a political context.

Many residents are threatening not to pay their electric bill, hardly an remedy to the larger problem. If residents want prices to go down they need to boycott the product for which they are being overcharged. Granted this is far from an easy sacrifice to make. The energy used by my computer is funding someone's vacation, and there is very little I can do about it. With every home appliance now a potential money drain, self sufficiency through solar energy is beginning to look very enticing.

There is no reason to be paying utility companies for what is easily available to us. The sun that is now burning it's way through the ozone layer could be tapped by every homeowner. Not only would this cripple the utilities who are making families choose between paying the mortgage or the electric bill, it would also go along way to help get the oil monkey off our backs. Harnessing the sun would also render the need for nuclear power obsolete.

If America is to be self sufficient we must stop depending on energy sources that threaten our future, not to mention our bank accounts. No longer afforded the luxury of believing the government will look out for our best interests, it is up to us to make sure our energy needs are met, while doing so in a way that doesn't cripple the environment. Going solar will not be easy, as big oil will oppose any efforts to do so. If we fail to meet this challenge we have no one to blame but ourselves.

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