We gnomes, guardians of Mother Earth and her secrets and treasures, didn't have to worry much about this thing called "energy" in the Olden Times. We never even heard of the word until about the 1600s, and then it just meant, uh, the inclination to get up and go.

Getting up and going in those days was a bigger deal than it is now, because you didn't "go" in your house. You went outdoors to the privy or into the bushes. On cold days we called it "breaking frost," and it wasn't a peasant way to start the day. But it was necessary.

Now "energy" has become a primary concern of us gnomes, because you folks discovered fossil fuels and the uses for it, and in a mere two or three centuries used up most of it, creating shortages, oil wars, global warming and the economic impact of $90-a-tank gasoline fill-ups -- none of which we gnomes had ever heard of or imagined in the thousands of years of our existence living under tree roots in the quiet woods.

Now we have to think about "energy" matters all the time, because you madly consuming humans have brought us close to the brink of extinction by your profligate squandering of fuel energy.

Sometimes we gnomes just want to shrug and say, "Let those human fools go ahead and wipe themselves out with their damn fuel crisis they created. Mother Earth would be better off without humans anyway."

Well, maybe so, but we gnomes are sort of humans (just wiser and more sensible), so we worry about you people.

Here are a few energy-related topics we gnomes recently discussed in our councils:

(1) You could alleviate your energy crisis by just cutting back by half. Try walking or biking instead of car travel. Drive 50 miles an hour instead of 70-plus. Turn off your advertising floodlights after midnight when no one's looking at them. Stop buying gas-guzzling machines like SUVs, ATVs, ski-mobiles, jet skis and riding mowers. Quit buying food that was grown a continent away and shipped by truck to you even though you could grow the same food right where you live. Stop buying crap that's made of or wrapped in plastic, which is mostly made of petroleum. Stop electing public leaders who are oilmen.

(2) You could start "thinking small" like us gnomes. We hate wastefulness. Our motto is "Enough is enough." We live in cozy little nooks that cost almost nothing to heat. Why must you build yourselves huge houses and heat their entire space to comfortable temperatures? Here's a gnome secret: We heat only the small area within our clothes. We eat roots and legumes and other gas-producing foods and keep a pilot light going from our farts, which keeps us warm within our garments. If you used fart suits like ours, you could cut your heating bills by 95 percent, and passing gas would become a virtue instead of a dirty joke. (This is much more efficient than the alternative of farting at windmills.)

(3) We gnomes have been discussing the huge petroleum problem created and perpetuated by the oilmen who are running your world. We've looked into the appalling mystery of your oilman-in-chief, George W. Bush. As you know, there is a question about his IQ score, which has disappeared like his National Guard service record. It is said to be 87, but that seems unrealistically high in the light of his career as a failed Texas oil executive and his idiotic performance in the Oval Office.

What we found is that the 87 is not his IQ, but the octane rating of what's between his ears, i.e. it's regular unleaded, not premium.

(4) We gnomes believe that one real solution to the energy/transportation problem would be the conversion of urine into automobile fuel. If you had a car that ran on pee, you'd never have to stop for anything until you got to your destination.

(5) The real key to living on the Earth without using it up is: Just stop breeding like rabbits or fruit flies. Every shortage caused by waste and overconsumption is magnified by the exponential growth of human population. Already there are three or four times as many human beings as the Earth can sustain, and soon there will be six to 10 times too many.

Take a lesson from us gnomes: There are very few of us, so there is always plenty of what we need.

Gnome de Plume can be reached at .