I love to read. Books, mostly, but also blogs, magazines, and the occasional newspaper. When I was younger, my parents fostered my love of reading by encouraging my brother and me to read a set number of books each summer, determined by how old we were. Some books we chose ourselves, and some were chosen for us in order to ensure we were reading from a more diverse selection. One summer when I was eleven, living in Bellevue, Nebraska, my mom chose a book called "Halfway to the Sky" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This is a coming-of-age story of a twelve-year-old girl whose world is crumbling down around her with the death of her brother and the divorce of her parents, so she does the only thing she can think to do: hike the Appalachian Trail where her parents met.
Now, at twenty-two years old, I live in sunny Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon. My dad and I were talking just the other day about how amazing it would be to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. All 2,190 miles of it. With all of that said, let me come to the moral of this story: the Appalachian Trail is a beautiful place, one that should be disturbed as little as possible by man. When hiking and camping, we are asked to "leave no trace", to take nothing except pictures and memories, and leave nothing but footprints.
Enter the fossil fuel companies who have decided that we just don't have enough gas or oil so we need another pipeline – which will go right through the Appalachian Trail, or at the very least, be visible for approximately 75 miles of the Trail (source). I thought our war on fossil fuels was coming to a close with the denial at Standing Rock, only to have that decision overturned by the new administration. I held out hope when the delays continued until finally being pushed through. Maybe that hope is just optimistic naivety, but I can't give it up.
The war on fossil fuels is just beginning. With funding to national parks being reduced, it is more important than ever for us to make a stand and make our voices heard. This pipeline has yet to be approved, as far as I know. Construction is projected to begin at the end of this year (source). We still have time to make a difference. Defiling the Appalachian Trail would be just as devastating as using the Grand Canyon as Ground Zero for a coal mining project. It's simply unacceptable.
I don't want to train and take off work for six months to hike through fourteen states only to have the crisp wilderness of the Trail decimated by the sticky fingers of dinosaur killing CEOs. According to Trump, investing in fossil fuels will result in permanent jobs for hard-working Americans. It's an excellent goal, don't get me wrong, but according to the official Appalachian Trail website, the Mountain Valley Pipeline will only bring in 34 permanent jobs while leaving significant waste to the Roanoke River as well as unstable mountain sides in an area already fraught with landslides and seismic activity (source).
Despite a more expensive upstart cost, and not completely without risk, solar and wind power are much better, safer options in the long run. The opportunities, permanent opportunities that can be gained from these options far outweigh whatever temporary positions are offered by the fossil fuel companies. There would be no oil rigs in the middle of the ocean or mass deforestation to reach the tar sands of Alberta country. We have options. For millions of years we lived by the power of the sun. Is it such an unreasonable option to make money off of an infinite source that happens naturally instead of relying on a finite resource that has killed thousands in the course of it's history?