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Jack McCall: Energy use much less in Brim Hollow

Jack McCall • Updated Jul 28, 2018 at 5:00 PM

I was speaking before a steel industry group in Charleston, South Carolina a while back. The speaker on the program just before me shared some interesting statistics with his audience. 

According to his sources, each person on our planet consumes, on average, 200 kilowatt hours of produced energy per year. In Europe, consumption averages 8,000 kwh per person per year. In the United States, we consume 20,000 kwh per person.

The world is waking up to this disparity, and we are already seeing increased demand for a larger share of the energy pie from other parts of the world, especially China, in which its demand for energy resources is literally exploding.

We are quickly finding our way to the end of another summer – a hot one I might add.

It has come to my attention over the years that members of my family have become accustomed to sleeping in cool temperatures in their bedrooms, even in the summer. That has been true this summer. I have electric bills, which bears that out. Now, I’m not faulting the electric company. As a matter of fact, we had new energy-efficient unit installed in recent years, and my electric bills are significantly lower. But I still walk into my house sometimes in the evening and say, “Are we getting ready to kill hogs in here?” or “Are ya’ll fixin’ to hang meat in here tonight?”

The other night, I stepped outside just to “warm up.”       

As I took a seat on my patio at the coming of dusk, my thoughts were quiet enough for me to hear the sounds around me. The night began to come alive with the noises of a summer night in the country. I was taken away to the Brim Hollow. 

The Brim Hollow has never seen an air conditioner. I can remember lying in a feather bed on summer nights when I was a boy and listening through open windows to a chorus of God’s creatures, playing a symphony fit for the angels.  Crickets, cicada and heaven knows what all else joined in to make music, which would rise to a fevered pitch and then fade softly, as if directed by a concert master, only to rise to a crescendo once again and repeat itself. And underneath it all bullfrogs in distant ponds would bellow in resonating tones, “Belly deep, belly deep.”

But the most intriguing sound was uttered by a creature that I never could lay my eyes on – a tree frog. Just after dark, he would begin a song that fell somewhere on the scale between a screech and a chatter. High in a tree just off the back porch, he would set up shop for the night. He gave the nighttime a feeling of mystery. 

The heat of the summer night was broken by a Westinghouse electric fan that spread cool streams of air around the bedroom. Back and forth it blew, rotating on its base from side to side. The house’s tin roof cooled quickly with the coming of darkness as the shade trees in the yard stirred the night air.

Somehow the roar of an air conditioner would have messed all that up. The room might have been cooler, but it would not have made life better.

Back to the tin roof – I suppose I have never experienced a more pleasant sound than rain falling gently on a tin roof on a summer night. Between that roof and me, lay only an attic floor covered with ceiling paper on the bottom side. Not being insulated from the sound, I could hear the steady falling of the rain. Sometimes the rain fell so hard that it swelled into a deafening roar. Then the sound would fall away and murmur softly. I have been sung to sleep on many a night by the rhythm of the rain playing on a tin roof. 

I would not consider myself an “environmentalist,” although I believe any child of God should be committed to good stewardship of His creation. I do believe we are consuming too many of our energy resources in the name of improved quality of life. 

We are becoming a soft people. I’m not sure that will bode well for our children and grandchildren.   

Jack McCall is an author and also writes a weekly column for The Democrat.

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