Global warming: It’s not just for liberal tree-huggers anymore
When you think about all the carbon dioxide getting pumped into the atmosphere throughout the state, the nation and the world, it’s difficult to see how individual actions make a hoot of difference.Global warming is truly a problem of global proportions.”Because of the scale of it, denial makes sense in a way,” admitted Randy Udall, director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, a Pitkin County government agency that’s garnered national attention for innovative programs.”You can argue that no single action is sufficient. That’s true, but that’s a recipe for paralysis,” Udall quickly added.Udall and others who have targeted global warming as public enemy No.1 see encouraging signs that the problem is no longer viewed as overwhelming. An increasing number of major corporations, even some oil giants, have acknowledged that global warming is real and must be dealt with.USA Today, the newspaper of mainstream America, ran a front-page story in June that said the debate isn’t whether global warming is genuine, but how to ease it.Global warming isn’t just for liberals and tree huggers anymore.”It’s a wonderful shift because it’s gone from a science denial to ‘How are you going to deal with this?'” Udall said.A local nonprofit group called New Century Transportation Foundation is hosting a conference in Aspen on July 8 to show how the Roaring Fork Valley and other parts of the country are reducing emissions and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.The conference is at the Hotel Jerome. It costs $35. Information on the speakers and registration forms are available at http://www.newcenturytrans.org.Udall, who is among the conference speakers, makes a convincing argument for why individual action is important in the battle to ease global warming.The typical American family pumps 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air each year, according to Udall. That’s enough to fill two Goodyear blimps.Over a lifetime, the average Baby Boomer in America will produce 1 million pounds of greenhouse gases, Udall said. One-half of that amount will still be around 100 years from now.Each generation since the Industrial Revolution has dumped more emissions on top of the previous generation’s leftovers, exacerbating the problem.”Essentially we accumulate carbon in the atmosphere like money in the bank,” Udall said. But in this case, deposits are bad.The problem is so substantial, he said, that even if all 6 billion humans disappeared from the planet, temperatures would continue to rise for at least 50 years after our departure.Udall said parts of the upper Roaring Fork Valley have been working on carbon reductions for 10 years, much longer than many parts of the country. Actions taken so far by the city of Aspen, Holy Cross Energy and CORE will reduce emissions by 500,000 tons over the next 20 years, according to Udall.The city and Holy Cross have been leaders in finding alternative sources of energy and decreasing reliance on electricity generated by coal-fired power plants. CORE runs numerous programs designed to increase energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.Research indicates that about 40 percent of local carbon emissions are from production of electricity, 35 percent is from transportation and 25 percent is from heating buildings, Udall said.The conference will explore ways to reduce emissions in each of those areas. Udall sees the reductions as a moral obligation of each individual. Collectively, the generation of current decision-makers must make sure carbon emissions don’t rise and develop technology that future generations can use to reduce them.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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