At night, in our bedroom, before we installed curtains, the room would throb with the pulse of the lurid gas flares across the way on the lower reaches of Sulphur Mountain. Sexy? Not so much.

One foggy night last summer Lorrie, who follows the ancient sleep patterns of the pre-industrialized world where it was usual to split the night's work into two shifts with a couple of hours break in the middle (how else to fill the time between sunset and sun-up?) was certain that our neighbor's house was on fire -a ruddy glow was diffused in the mist and smeared across the middle distance. Alerted from my industrial-age slumbers (where the tyranny of the alarm clock prescribes one's arising well in advance of cock's crow) I was persuaded of the urgency of the occasion and threw on some clothes and with my wide-awake wife careened down the driveway in the SUV. Continuing down Koenigstein, the source of the red-tide crystallizing before us, we were eventually persuaded that it was a damn gas flare that had erupted and bedazzled the night. The take-away? Somewhere between mildly entertaining and profoundly annoying. That flare is associated with wells below Verner Farm Road.

The fact is we live with the daily pollution caused by non-stop gas flaring – where the gas associated with oil extraction is burnt off into the atmosphere. In western Europe 99 per cent of associated gas is used or re-injected into the ground. But in Upper Ojai, despite regulations, licensing and fines, most associated gas is flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change. Four solutions present themselves: develop a gas-gathering pipeline and processing plant infrastructure to condition the natural gas for retail use; install a gas fired reciprocating engine to be used for on-site electric generation; develop an on-site small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) liquefaction processor or re-inject the gas into the ground. Clearly none of these solutions are currently economically viable, equally clearly one or more could be made so with the appropriate incentive structure.

I am not looking for a cause, but many are. And many of those many are coalescing around such umbrella organizations as the Ojai Green Coalition and, more recently, Transition Ojai. This latter collective follows the principles of Rob Hopkins who has outlined his ideas in The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) by Rob Hopkins and Richard Heinberg, Green Books, Totnes, 2008, a work that attempts to answer how a community can respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change.

We live on the energy frontier, where oil still oozes from the ground and natural gas burns, deep in the bush and exuberantly into the night; and where the sun shines perhaps 3,000 hours a year - more than twice as long, for instance, as in the occluded Totnes, England's first 'Transition Town'.

We live in a profoundly benign climate where a simple passive solar strategy of protecting the north and west of the house from the summer sun and opening the southern facade to the low rays of the winter sun can take care of most of a building's energy needs. When soft breezes and mellow temperatures prevail our houses can be opened up to luxuriate in the scents of orange blossom or of chaparral. And, with a handful of chia seeds in our pocket we can run...pretty much anywhere.

But if there must be revolution, let the Transitioners rid us of those gas flares. They're disturbing my sleep damn it!

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