In our little neck of the woods — in which “woods” consists of thousands of acres of almond, pistachio, walnut, orange varieties, all sorts of pit fruit and apple trees and so on — Paco (son-in-law) and I yesterday took a trip to the vet to refill Elf the Corgi’s pain medication. I was fuming because my driver’s side window had made a weird cracking noise when I rolled it up, and when I tried to roll it down there came resistance followed by a horrible crunching. Followed by the “window doesn’t exist any more” sorts of thoughts. Just what I don’t need, I was thinking, another big repair bill on top of the large hospital bill I anticipate following the recent six day stay in that facility with my worn out gall bladder problem.
Paco began observing prices at gas stations as we cruised through a business section of town. His voice grew a bit more staccato with each pronouncement — ranging from $5.29 a gallon to something over $6. That put an end to my sense of financial bad luck at the strictly personal level. I am not the sole ingredient in this soup.
One of the privileges of being seventy four years of age is that I well remember when gas was way below $1 a gallon, and was pumped for us by the owner of a little service station down the road apiece from home. He also washed the windshield and checked tire pressure all around — then paused for a gossipy chat if there were no more waiting customers.
So yeah, prices in the $5-$6 range are sticker shock with a vengeance. I see me cancelling upcoming medical appointments down in Fresno for a while. Whizzing up and down the 99 with no driver window alongside all those scores of stinky semis is unacceptable. So is leaving it like that for several hours in those busy medical parking lots. Waiting for an appointment to get the thing fixed at the dealer place will take a while. Plus my wheelchair van is an unabashed gas guzzler, and that is about to become a big pain in the tail.
People in other parts of the U.S. are justafiably horrified at the thought of $4.50 a gallon for gas. Think of us over here and be glad to be where you are, for that much, anyway…
So …. This terrible situation in Ukraine leads the western world by the heart into a series of actions which are the most potent tools available in attempting to squeeze the life out of the war machine storming unfairly through that county. That country where some of my late husband’s family once lived. The US is in the process of banning Russian oil in this country, which imports only a couple of percentage points of Russian petroleum in general — except that tiny fragment of total petroleum U.S. imports is chiefly used by western U.S. refineries for sale in California, Washington and Hawaii.
We live in the middle of California, which is an oil producer with a shaky view of how to become less of one. But now is not the time to speak about that.
Russian petroleum has got California right where it hurts. Further complicating issues now facing the government of this famously liberal region is the fact that the state also gets plenty of oil from Ecuador — which has been felling large swaths of the Amazon rainforest to get at oil deposited deep below its roots. And this week forestry scientists released a study showing that the “lungs of the planet,” as the Amazon forest is frequently referred to as it supplied some 40% of the world’s oxygen before many financial interests began ripping it apart to raise more beef, etc. — is about at a tipping point. It may never be able to regenerate, instead turning into more permanent savannah. Savannahs can contribute to rising temperatures and more carbon ascending into Earth’s thin layer of atmosphere. Which has done a fine job for millennia beyond count of sparing the planet from the harsh realities of space. The beef industry’s footprint on that savannah will add much carbon, too.
Important stuff, all this. Which kind of shrinks down one’s personal sense of being whomped hard by economic realities of living in an unbalanced economy in an unjust world all around us. All of us riding the planet.
“The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Going to be a bumpy ride for us out here for a while, looks like. Buckle up, Buttercup!*
*Thanks, demi god Maui