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The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day

Falcon Quill

The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day

Falcon Quill

The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day

Falcon Quill

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

Climate Change and Texas’ Hamartia
Marshall Lehman ’24
I propose that the museum establishes a hands-on program where their patron children voluntarily man an oil well during their summer off from school, such as this one in Coleman, Texas. The kids get an opportunity to contribute to the economy and consumers get cheaper gasoline. Who loses?

If Hell exists on Earth, most Texans would say that it’s California, but I say it’s Texas. The National Weather Service recorded 53 100℉ days this summer in the DFW area, with 21 of them being consecutive, and that number is only growing.

I am always sweating now. I sweat when I wake up in the morning. I sweat when I shower. I sweat when I walk the ten steps outside to my car. I sweat when I drive my black oven to the gym. By the time I start my run I’m already too dehydrated to sweat, but I do sweat when I return to my thermonuclear bomb of an automobile a few miles and more than a few liters of water later.

This summer, the air conditioning at my house broke. My bedroom was at a broiling 83℉ and the midnight temperature of 92℉ was not helping my cause. I packed a bag with my clothes for work in the morning and a toothbrush and fled to my grandparents’ home. I showed up on their doorstep haggard, shaking from what I claimed to be heat stroke, but when I cried “water” all they heard was “wolf.”

I often ask my father why we live in Texas. I already know the answer; I just don’t understand it.

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“Well, Marshall, all of your grandparents live here and I want my inheritance,” he may say. Or, “I don’t enjoy being cold.” Sometimes I’ll hear, “I live anywhere the government lets me keep my money and my guns.”

Even with more reasons than I can write, I still can’t seem to understand why anyone would choose to live in Texas. The overwhelming negatives outweigh the numbered positives. I don’t mean to be cynical, but when I’m faced with Texas’ Sahara summers, Alaskan winters, yearly hurricanes, Wizard-of-Oz-esque tornadoes, both poisonous and venomous snakes, Zika-carrying mosquitos, and Lubbock; I dream of leaving, fleeing to anywhere that’s not simultaneously experiencing floods and droughts. I mean, what could possibly make someone want to stay in Texas once they’ve come face-to-face with a native Lubbockite (Or is it Lubbockonian? I can never tell.)? I say these things and yet I don’t find myself running for the aptly named town of Texline.

Earlier this year, my family and I took a road trip to Arizona, a state which is only bearable in its coldest months when the desert air rests at a cool, but not chilled, 70℉. We had a refueling stop in Odessa and before that day, I had never experienced firsthand the true scale of Texas’ leading industry. It’s one thing to read in a book or an online article that Texas would be the world’s sixth-largest oil producer were it an independent nation or, in 2019, oil contributed $411.5 billion to Texas’ GDP, but it’s a whole other thing to see a barren field covered with pump jacks sucking petroleum from the Earth and pipes flaring gas because it’s cheaper and easier to burn it on site than it is to move it. It’s a stark sight until you open your car door. It’s then when the smell hits you and you forget everything except for the primal instinct to escape from whatever is causing you pain.

“Do you know what that smell is, Marshall?” my father asked me during our stop in Odessa. “It’s money, Marshall. Money.” My father laughed at his joke regularly for the rest of the trip, even when we were days outside of the Permian Basin. He would just keep muttering to himself, “Money. It smells like money.”

Oil grew DFW into a booming metropolis full of industry and culture, but when you grow faster than your hometown does, you’re bound to run out of things to do. I’ve been to coffee shops and skate shops, museums and boutiques; I’ve seen galleries and shoe stores; I’ve tried every donut shop this city has to offer. The next land for me to explore is a half-hour to the East, but gas is expensive and I fancy myself a frugal, thrifty man, and in that spirit I’ve turned to revisiting the Fort Worth classics of my childhood.

I recently visited the Museum of Science and History and was struck by how much has changed since my younger years, but I was even more surprised by what I remember as exactly the same. There are three permanent exhibits. Both the dinosaur and Cowboy exhibits have been recently renovated and bear little resemblance to my memories except for the Paluxysaurus jonesi skeleton, which is Texas’ state dinosaur, and the taxidermied cattle, but the third exhibit, which has not changed since its unveiling in 2010 and exists exactly as I remember it, captured my attention during my last visit to the museum. The curators call it Energy Blast, but it really should be named … And Now A Word From Our Sponsors.

The museum advertises the exhibit as telling “the dynamic story of energy resources in North Texas,” but the miniature models of nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams are overshadowed by the life-size oil derrick and accompanying seismic thumper truck. The curators acknowledge the presence and benefits of renewable energy, but they make sure to emphasize the notion that the technology isn’t yet advanced enough to support the needs of our great state with a massive quote on the wall behind the diorama. This can be cynically explained by the oil baron donors who paid for the museum, wishing to maintain their way of life and snuff out any whiff of a potential clean energy protest organized by their clientele of the museum, that being children who can’t count past ten.

The fracking exhibit begins with a 10-minute 4-D movie about the history of oil drilling in Texas. It does the due diligence of informing the young and impressionable about the science behind drilling, making sure to show the smiling workers in their colorful safety vests and hard hats, which is, in all honesty, fascinating, regardless of your position on the controversial matter of climate change. The film, however, never elaborates on the negative effects of the continued reliance on the fossil fuels which Texas derives from its supply of fossilized Paluxysaurus jonesi deep under the Barnett Shale. It all comes off a bit brainwashed.

Whose job is it to foster curiosity within the next generations, if not museums’? And if these museums are sharing one-dimensional stories about our world, will this shape the next generation into the informed, righteous citizens that the museums set out to make? I don’t mean to disparage the Museum of Science and History in any way, because I loved returning to their familiar halls. I even loved revisiting Energy Blast, but I appreciated it now more than I did when I was five years old because it made me think.

Texas summers have never been pleasant, but this one feels particularly cruel. The news has been dominated by stories about the devastating wildfires in Oregon and Maui and Canada, Hurricane Hilary as it dumps record-breaking amounts of rain onto southern California, and the heat dome that has blanketed Texas for weeks. These problems aren’t going away; it’s only going to get worse. Climate change will only magnify the devastation of natural disasters unless acted upon swiftly and significantly. We can gather donations for the survivors, but shouldn’t the real goal be to spare them from being survivors in the first place? 

We, in Fort Worth, are so extremely fortunate that we can save ourselves from our homefront effects of climate change with air conditioning, but the people of Lahaina, Yellowknife, Oak Glen and so many other towns and cities can’t say the same. If now is not a glaring sign of this world needing a change, then I don’t know what is.

When I stand in the sun and practically feel its rays giving me skin cancer, I know why I love Fort Worth, why I love Texas. I stay because I’ve learned how to think, not what to think. I stay because I want to leave this world better than it was when I came into it. I stay because it’s my home.

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About the Contributor
Marshall Lehman, Co-Editor in Chief
Ayo, I’m Marshall, and I’m a senior, therefore, this is my fourth year on the Quill Staff. I’m the Co-Editor in Chief, and I will remind you of my position every waking moment of your life. In my free time, you will typically find me bowling, but never ski balling. My favorite bowling ball is a pink 8 pounder because with it I can really knock down some pins. If you don’t find me there, then you will probably find me hanging out with my shoe collection which totals about 37 pairs (including boots). My favorite sneakies to look at are my UNC Air Jordan 3s, but my favorite pair to wear are my Cactus Jack Air Forces 1s. And if you absolutely cannot find me in either of those two places then I will be on the track (running or jumping) or potentially shooting some hoops (yes, I am an aspiring varsity player). Last, but certainly not least, I would like to make it known that I’m really funny; potentially a 7 on a 10-point scale, but I am slightly (only slightly) aware that not everyone will think that highly of me, but everyone would put me at a 10 out of 10. My motto? A big ego is a healthy ego. One should always remember that a long bio indicates an important person.
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  • L

    leonardOct 23, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    Bravo…well said!!!!!! Leonard #1 fan

  • K

    KendallSep 18, 2023 at 9:56 pm

    ok so you slayed this