Earth to Aspen: Take the lead on global warming |

Earth to Aspen: Take the lead on global warming

Joel Stonington

About 100 valley residents attended two meetings Wednesday to offer Aspen feedback on what to do regarding global warming. The take-home message from the public was clear: Be very aggressive battling the roots of climate change on all fronts.John Katzenberger, director of the Aspen Global Change Institute, started off the meetings by presenting the basics of climate change and how it could affect Aspen. He showed multiple possibilities where Aspen could end up in terms of snowfall and temperatures depending on worldwide reduction of carbon emissions. “What kind of policy response should the city have?” Dan Richardson, the city’s global warming project manager, asked the audience. “Scientists are saying we need to be carbon neutral by 2040. That’s why we’re here today, to say, ‘Where should we be?'”The large group at each meeting then broke into smaller sessions focusing on such areas of interest as transportation and buildings. “Envision a time frame in which every business and residence has to be carbon neutral,” local Aron Ralston said. “It’s something I’ve voluntarily undertaken to do. Perhaps we can have it as a mandate by 2030.”Participants generally agreed that some amount of sacrifice will be necessary if Aspen is going to be carbon neutral. “To get to [zero emissions], does it need to hurt?” Richardson asked.The meeting also held some of the complexity inherent in any discussion regarding climate change. Solutions are varied, and even at the meeting opinions differed. Air travel in Aspen results in more than 40 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions, but many felt unsure about what to do.”We could increase landing fees … create a fund to offset emissions,” Shirley Tipton, a former commercial pilot, said at the meeting, though she added that there are many roadblocks to increasing airplane efficiency. “Priority needs to be on mobile sources of all kinds.”Some brought up the idea of having mansions subsidize efficient housing elsewhere in the city. Others in attendance held that policy needs to be unified, not compartmentalized.First and foremost, however, was a sense of urgency. “Does anyone think we don’t need to be aggressive?” Richardson asked. He was met with silence. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is