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Warren Martin, Executive Director Kansas Strong
2023 2nd Quarter Newsletter

Adventure is Calling: Exploring the Environment in Petroleum Products 


A bald eagle sits majestically on a rock outcrop along the Colorado River. It is a glorious reminder of freedom while immersed in God’s creation and what it takes to enjoy it. Then, BANG! No, the bird was not shot! The moment was as a 20-year-old river guide took the moment to berate the evils of fossil fuels and how that eagle won’t be there in the future if we don’t address the environmental crisis. The reality, we wouldn’t be there to experience the moment except for the benefits that come from petroleum. 


My wife and I took our vacation early this summer. We spent some time hiking up to waterfalls and enjoying the hot springs in Pagosa Springs, CO. We toured the Grand Canyon. We ended with a six-day stay on a houseboat at Lake Powell, UT. However, in the midst of our trip, we stopped for a couple of days in Moab, UT. We toured the landmarks and Arches National Park and took an all-day whitewater river rafting trip down the Colorado River. 


It was during this trip that we saw the bald eagle. On the way up the river in an old gasoline-powered van, our river guide, a 20-year-old woman living out of her car in the company’s parking lot, regaled us with stories of rock-climbing, rappelling, camping, and adventure opportunities she has taken advantage of in her “years” of experience (just over 1) in Moab. 


When someone in our raft noticed the eagle after coming out of a good run of rapids, our guide took the moment as a launching point to share for about 20 minutes on all the evils of fossil fuels and the need to put the environment first in order to be able to enjoy moments like these. 


There on vacation with my wife, who not so gently reminded me that I was on vacation, and just to let it go, I remained silent. Kind of. I was wearing a Kansas Strong shirt that says Kansas Strength Through Reliable Oil and Natural Gas. Yet, our guide couldn’t read that because I had a lifejacket on. Until lunch! 


Stopping on a beach for lunch, I removed my life jacket and began enjoying my sandwich. At which point, our guide read my shirt and came over and said, “I guess you probably didn’t enjoy my speech back there, did you?” 


With all the compassion I could muster, I replied, “It didn’t bother me. I just assumed that you are either ignorant or a hypocrite. And I’m not trying to be mean by saying that. I just intend it by the literal definition of the words.” 

She was shocked by my response, but I continued, “Either you just don’t know that your entire job depends on the oil and gas industry…the van you brought us up here in is powered by fossil fuels, the raft we are in, the life jackets we are wearing, the paddles we are using, the swimsuits we all have on, the phone and radio you are using, the cooler, the dry bags; they are all made from petroleum. On the way up here, you told us about your rock climbing. Everything you use in that, from the ropes, carabiners, harnesses, shoes, backpacks, and everything down to the cots you can hang on the side of a cliff, are made from petroleum. The equipment that protects us from the elements like heat, cold, and water and even provides hydration are all made from petroleum. Literally, almost everything utilized to enjoy adventures in the wild, including almost all the outdoor clothing and the equipment which creates this job, is dependent on petroleum. We wouldn’t have been able to experience that beautiful creature today without petroleum. So, you are either ignorant of that fact… meaning you just don’t know… or you are a hypocrite and just think the way you use petroleum is okay and the way everyone else uses it is evil. So, it really didn’t bother me.” 


To which she responded, “Oh! I didn’t know that.” And walked off. Neither she nor my wife were very happy with me for the rest of the trip for some reason, though. 


However, it is summer. Adventure is calling. I challenge you. Whatever adventure is calling your name, take a moment to consider how much petroleum has gone into making that adventure possible. When it comes to outdoor sports, petroleum has revolutionized and created that industry by providing gear that enables us to overcome the environment. So, go have a great adventure!

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