I recently returned from a hiking trip to England and Scotland.

I recently returned from a hiking trip to England and Scotland.
We spent half the time in the English “Lakes District,” named because of the abundance of lakes and their inclusion in a national trust, an area designated by the English government to retain as much of its original heritage and appearance as possible. Almost all of the land is privately owned, but land owners are under some restrictions as to what they can build on their property.
Many of the building structures in England and Scotland date back to the 15th century and a few back into the 10th and almost all are constructed of stone. Consequently you don't see unsightly modern prefab buildings, sheds and barns. The steeply rolling countryside is green with iconic pastures and grazing sheep, separated by a maze of ancient stone walls, some dating back to Roman times and remarkably still standing and in use. There are many old ruins of castles, abbeys and churches, although most church buildings have been restored and are still used. Trekking along the fields, we occasionally flushed ring neck pheasants, no doubt imported from China for hunting. In the national trust area the stone buildings covered with an external covering of “lime” which appears to be a type of cement that withstands the thermal cycling of normal weather without cracking. The outsides are then “whitewashed.” Roofs are slate shingles from the local slate quarries scattered about the steep hills. Slate roofs last indefinitely, therefore most buildings are white with gray roofs. Roads throughout the lakes area are narrow and often bounded by the ancient walls on both sides, requiring drivers to stop often and back up to find a wide spot to pass oncoming traffic, which is minimal.
But the English are also highly conscious of energy costs and sources. Their petrol cost is nearly seven times what ours is. Most cars are small diesel engines and all are standard transmissions, even our Mercedes bus including the more upscale models from BMW and Mercedes.
This squeeze on resources has given inspiration to conservation of energy. Those ancient slate roofs almost all have skylights now to conserve light energy. Abundant solar panels are an allowed deviation from the primitive character of the national trust. Outside of the area stand wind turbines taking power from ocean breezes. 70% of the fuel, mostly petrol and natural gas, comes from Norway and they are reducing that percentage every year with innovations and research.
Much of land is devoid of trees except for patches of old forest growth protected from sheep grazing. But the forests have been recognized for their importance and are being replanted. Funding for the reforestation comes from money earned by a carbon recovery        gram that taxes industry for excessive carbon fuel use to encourage alternative energy sources and research, and from profits from the national lottery, along with donations from the public.
We could learn a few things from the U.K. about conservation of energy that our current administration now ignores. In a demonstration of progress, the entire U.K. provided all their electrical power for one day on April 21, 2017, by taking all coal-fired plants offline and using nuclear, wind, solar and natural gas. They are working on shutting down all coal-fired plants in the very near future. They understand that they must invest in renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprint. In the U.S., the emphasis has shifted to quick profits, coal mining, oil drilling and fracking, at the expense of future renewable energy research. We are no longer a leader in much of anything compared to the leaders of the G7 Summit and the rest of the world at the Paris Climate Conference.

Mike Davis writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.