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Words from Winterbilt

A Time to be Thankful

Shannon Bohrer

(11/2013) Fall is a favorite season of mineó I really do enjoy the coolness in the air and the changing from summer to winter, and I look forward to cold days and a warm wood stove. The heat from a wood stove just seems more enjoyable than electric, oil or gas. Maybe itís a primitive instinct as our ancestors heated their dwellings with wood. Then of course in the fall you have Thanksgiving and Christmas to look forward to and with the holidays you have visits and company with friends and family. The holidays just seem to remind us of what is important and while thinking of whatís important itís always nice to have good food and spirits, as well as good desserts.

While I do look forward to fall, I also keep in my mind and heart the people that have encountered so many hardships and problems. In the western part of the country they started off the spring with wildfires and ended with flooding. Just when the problems of Hurricane Sandy seemed behind us, a boardwalk in New Jersey burned to the ground. We could go on and on about the tragedies not just here, but around the world. The war in Syria and millions of refugees are just a few examples. Being an optimist does not mean you donít have empathy for others, but it does mean that you are thankful for what you have. It can also mean that youíre thankful that you do not live in the locations with the natural disasters and or the wars.

I live in a good place and I do like it. For the last several years it almost seems that this part of Maryland is like an Island. We have had hurricanes and flooding north and south of us, but not here. There have been tornados, wild fires and droughts around the country, but not here. The recent flooding in Colorado was described as Biblical because it - never Ė happened before. I recently read in National Geographic about global warming and how it affects the weather patterns and also the rise in sea levels. A little shocking it was. I am glad I donít live in Florida or the Maryland Eastern Shore. According to the maps in the magazine, Florida will be under water and Baltimore City will be ocean front. Thatís of course many years away, so it wonít affect me since I am getting older. Then again, maybe the time estimates are wrong, in which case I could be here.

I like to think of Global Warming as it relates to the story of the frog in the hot water. As the fable goes, if you place a frog in a pan of water and then turn on the heat, very low, the frog will stay put. The frog does not notices the small changes in water temperature until itís too late Ė at which time the frog is boiled. For the record, I have never tried this and I really donít know if it works and I strongly recommend it not be done. I believe a strong case could be made that as the earth heats up we are somewhat like the frog in the pot of water. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just came out with a report that does not look good for us, confirming the belief that not only is the world warming, but man is 95 percent responsible. I am sure that there are people that still donít believe this. Then of course by the time they do believe it, they might be boiled.


While the world heats up and flooding and other disasters occur, there are other incidents that donít seem to make the news, but should have. In August 2012, the small town of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, experienced a sink hole that encompassed about one acre. The entire town of about 350 people was evacuated. As time continued some people moved back, but the sink hole grew and the town is almost empty. The sink hole now covers over 24 acres and is about 750 feet deep. The sink hole is very active, belching gas and crude oil. A potentially larger problem is that explosive gases have seeped into the aquifer affecting the drinking water and the odor of decaying and rotten debris, along with gases, is everywhere.

The cause of the sink hole is in dispute, but a drilling company was working on a deep mine called the Oxy3, when it collapsed. The mine was extracting minerals by pumping in water (fracking) and pushing the salt water to the surface. The mine is located in a salt dome (Napoleonville Dome) and with the materials extracted they are refined into sodium hydroxide and chlorine. Salt domes are used to store natural gas crude oil and even some radioactive materials. Our strategic oil reserves are stored in salt domes. After the collapse the mining company got a permit to do some relief drilling, but it was discovered that a wall of the salt dome was breached, meaning it canít be fixed. While the mining company has bought out many of the residents, some have stayed at are involved in a law suit.

Just before the sink hole happened the local residences said it felt like an earthquake. And recently, the increases in fracking have been as been linked to an increase in earthquakes. I donít think the residents (former residents) of Bayou Corne have had a good year and I can only hope that were they moved to will be safer.

I am very glad that I do not live where natural and/or manmade disasters are occurring. And at the same time I am very thankful for where I live, especially with the good neighbors, friends and family that my wife and I have. As I have heard said before, "No sense in being a pessimist, it doesnít work anyway." Another thing I have to be thankful for is my beautiful wife. She is a nurse and she is retiring soon. In addition, she likes taking care of old sick peopleó and that bodes well for me.

I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer