Trump’s climate policy puts spring skiing on endangered list
The weather wasn’t perfect this week for the Trump family’s spring break in Aspen. With mud-season temperatures arriving early, the families of Don Jr. and Eric, and Ivanka and the kids likely faced some less-than-ideal ski conditions: ice before noon and slush after.
It wasn’t even cold enough to break out the furs.
Heck, the temperatures in Aspen during the World Cup earlier this month got into the 60s. Deny all you want — and the new Environmental Protection Agency director is famous for that — it doesn’t change the facts. The evidence of climate change is all around us here in Colorado. Even in Aspen.
A two-year-old study for the Colorado Energy Office reported that the average annual temperatures across Colorado increased 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, and snowpack was below average in the years since 2000 in all the major river basins.
Especially relevant to skiers, the researchers found that snowmelt and peak runoff have occurred one to four weeks earlier over the past 30 years. That means that not only is the ski season often cut short, the summer is longer and demand for the finite water supplies in the reservoirs once the snow has melted is increased.
We’re no longer talking about a problem that looms on the horizon. Just ask the more than 400 Boulder-area residents who were evacuated from their homes this month as a wildfire raced through the open space west of town.
In recent years, wildfires have been more frequent and more intense throughout the region due to climate change, risking lives and property, and driving up insurance costs. Emergency management personnel in Boulder County and other foothills communities are getting a little too much practice at this wildfire evacuation routine.
The state’s forests, wildlife and agricultural lands already have been dramatically affected and permanently altered by climate change.
So with all that in mind, the administration’s plans to savage the EPA’s budget and staff, trash the Clean Power Plan, change tailpipe emission standards so cars can pollute more, encourage expansion of coal-fired power plants and reject the Paris Agreement reached by 194 countries to address the increasingly devastating threat of climate change on the planet seem, well, insane.
Scott Pruitt, the EPA director brought to us by the oil and gas industry, said this month that despite a century of research and decades of overwhelming agreement by the international scientific community, he still refuses to accept that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact … ,” he told CNBC. Not true.
Mario J. Molina, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and expert on climate change, told The New York Times that the degree of ignorance displayed by the U.S. in this regard is “shocking.”
Equally shocking is the strategy for addressing what Pruitt considers a “very challenging” situation. He’s proposing eliminating funding for further research.
If he really believed what he’s saying, he’d be hellbent on getting answers and increase the funding to enable the country to take urgent, appropriate action.
Some of the scientists and activists working to address climate change are worrying aloud that with Trump’s actions to reverse course on climate, we lose any hope of being able to mitigate the impacts. It already was a long-shot, they say, but last fall carbon emissions around the world were beginning to stabilize as renewable energy projects expanded and coal power plants were being shut down across Asia, Europe and the U.S.
What happens if Trump and the Republican Congress succeed in firing up the smokestacks and the tailpipes and the fat cigars of their pals at Arch Coal and ExxonMobil?
What do we tell the children about why they thought quarterly dividends for their campaign contributors were more important than our future?
I for one am hoping the Trumps and their children have a great time in Aspen — all bluebird skies and starry nights and epic days on the slopes.
May they want to return to Colorado again and again, and even picture themselves someday bringing the next generation of Trumps here for spring break instead of having to try to explain to them about times gone by when people used to strap on skis and race downhill on something they called “snow.”