FOR MY ICE ROAD BRETHREN
Being a truck driver provides me with a pretty solid paycheck, and limitless opportunities to learn something new every day. My chosen occupation also gives me the occasional chance to teach people about things they might never have noticed before. One such opportunity comes in the form of The History Channel's Ice Road Truckers.
Aside from showing some of the day to day dangers that we "big riggers" face on the road, Ice Road Truckers has been a pretty handy teaching aid as I try to explain to some of my more liberal associates the reality of oil exploration and drilling procedures in the northern-most territories of the globe.
You see, it is a popular misconception that drilling requires the mass murder of wildlife and leaves the land an un-inhabitable environmental disaster. For years, I have made the case that drilling requires little if any environmental sacrifice. Yet for some reason, there are still those who believe that drilling rigs are lubricated with the blood of baby seals.
Thankfully, this season's Ice Road Truckers finds the drivers hauling across the Arctic Ocean as they transport natural gas drilling equipment to exploration sites. What makes the show so great is the fact that it shows in living color the desolation of the northern territories while simultaneously demonstrating the great lengths and expense that energy companies go to in order to avoid harm to the environment. And it does this without even being the main point of the show. The show is about the dangers of driving massive trucks on frozen lakes and oceans, but does an even better job of proving that drilling is not the environmental sin that it's made out to be.
As I watched a recent episode with my wife, I pointed out to her the cap-valve that sticks out of the ground at the core of the drilling site. I explained to her how that little valve that could easily be mistaken for a fire hydrant is all that will be left after drilling has stopped. I also pointed out how every piece of equipment is modular and designed to be mobile and used over and over again at multiple sites. There are no permanent structures involved. They even go to the extreme of putting down mats to catch oil that might be leaking from idling truck engines.
During the show, I also like to try to calculate the amount of money being spent in trucks, equipment, man power, and maintenance. The cost of fuel alone must be staggering. Then factor in tires, brake pads, cable, insurance, etc. etc. and you start to see some of the reasons why fuel costs so much. You also start to get a taste of how much of a gamble it is for oil and gas companies to explore for new sources of energy.
So now when I get into a discussion with someone who thinks the oil companies are trying to destroy the Earth, I just tell them to watch this season's Ice Road Truckers and get back to me.
Side note: It's also cool to see something on TV for a change that shows men being masculine. Hard cussin', hard workin' guys who don't drink lattes, don't get manicures and aren't slaves to political correctness are a dying breed. As a member of their shrinking society, it's just nice to know that there will be at least some record of our existence.