SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Earth Day,The Great Power Has Gifted, Can We Save Our Mountains?

EARTH DAY 2023 - There have been major roll-back of protections for the mountains, the water and the air, including our national parks and lands, widely supported by political partisans, extractive corporations and citizens.

It should not be surprising that a 2022 WalletHub study that examines each state's environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors and climate change contributions found that West Virginia is the least green state in the country. The Mountain State ranks last in the water quality and LEED-certified buildings per capita.

West Virginia ranks low in percent of renewable energy consumption and energy consumption per capita. It ranks average in air quality, soil quality, and gasoline consumption per capita. In general categories, the state ranks 48th in Environmental Quality, 48th in Eco-Friendly Behaviors, and last in Climate Change Contributions.

However, according to a recent Yale Survey, more than half of West Virginians have been moved to believing that climate change is not a hoax.

Mountains "The palaces of nature" - Lord Byron

(Hur Herald Photo)

By Bob Weaver 2010

It has always been a defining moment, reclining on my sleeping bag and staring at the night sky on Spruce Knob Mountain.

It's an awesome, undisturbed view from our state's highest summit at 4861'.

The ever whispering wind across the stone tower's 360 degree view allows for contemplation about this dot on earth and our relationship to the vast, unexplained universe.

I have been coming to this mountain and the Mon Forest for 60 over years, since my dad and mom brought me along on a camping trip when I was in the seventh grade.

I have gone to the taller mountains with groups of folks, some being newcomers. The last visit we had two nights of crystal clarity, the midnight sky during the early morning hours before daybreak, never better.

Those having never been to the West Virginia mountains, growing up in the luminescence of city lights, gasped at the dozens of shooting stars, marveled at the milky way and reveled at the vastness of our universe.

Our mountains have been called the meeting place of the winds by Native Americans, and on Spruce the weather churns from misty rain to dense fog, winds whipping to 100 miles per hour, pounding rain to deep snow drifts, bone chilling temperatures or brilliant sun-lit views of distant landscapes.

The huckleberry vines and mountain laurel grow beneath the one-sided spruce trees that have been shaped by the winds. Beyond the daunting universal sky at night, the quilt-work view of pastures, forested ridges, farms and meadows - it all brings a sense of peace and order to the mind.

Thousands of streams, trickling and cascading, their crystal-clear water to be taken by mouth for those who can flatten themselves for supping.

A short distance from the knob you can find adventuresome caves like Sinks of Gandy, through which I have traveled several times. Most of our group trekked through the raw cavern last week, cut through the mountain by Gandy Creek.

Shoulder-high water, sandy beaches, small lakes, rock climbs and slippery mud slides provided challenges, but the sunlight on the reflecting pool at the end of the tunnel was worth the trip.

The mountains, a place to feel the power of nature in all the seasons.

We mere humans, who on most days march around and pretend to be the highest authority, can quickly be put in our place by such visits.

Surely we are disturbed when our pristine peaks are scrapped away by mountaintop removal for coal and our clear streams are filled with debris and pollution, but our leaders long ago sold their souls to King Coal.

There are those who are committing crimes against our people and crimes against nature, but most of us stand silent.

Mortals less than King Coal would be held accountable for such action.

If we turn our heads on such ventures and decline to find better sources of energy, we have surely lost the stewardship cast upon us by the Creator.

Some have conflicts with environmentalists, a name that has been demonetized, but I have always thought of myself as a conservationist, having had a spiritual change in the 1960s after reviewing what out-of-state extractors did, they came, they took and here we are, one America's poorest states.

We might give a moment of thanks to those who fight to protect the balance of nature and all creation.

It belongs to that Great Power from the beginning, who has gifted it to us.

Without care, it quickly sours and could even end.