Sunday, February 24, 2008

Smells Like Money

The part of the exhibit that struck me most was a detail regarding the way in which oil fields were discovered. Supposedly, the smell of sulfur, or rotten eggs, would permeate the air surrounding an oil reserve, pinpointing the spot at which drilling should ensue.

When reading about the smell of sulfur, my mind immediately drew back to childhood road trips with my family. On these trips, I would always mention the awful smell that resulted from passing an oil pump in the Texas countryside. In response to my complaints, my mother, mimicking my deceased grandfather, would say that "it smells like money!"

Instead of sticking his nose up at the smell of sulfur, my grandfather considered it a blessing. It might be unpleasant in the short-run, but when realizing its long-term connotations, the smell brought golden eggs rather than rotten eggs to my grandfather’s mind.

Just as my grandfather spun the smell of sulfur positively, could people realize that converting waste to biofuel is a dirty, but overall beneficial, process? Austin has foregone this practice because of complaints regarding the smell it entails. I wonder if I will ever hear people say that the stench "smells like savings?" If personal preference was replaced with a focus on conserving resources, I might get that chance.

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