Trump’s cli­mate pol­icy puts spring ski­ing on en­dan­gered list

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - Diane Car­man is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant. By Diane Car­man

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.”

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