Day after the ‘Day After’ |

Day after the ‘Day After’

Paul Andersen

“Paul, you’ve got to see ‘Day After Tomorrow,'” urged a friend. “Watching L.A. being wiped out by tornadoes is worth the price of admission!”My 11-year-old son saw the “Day After” and said the special effects were “cool.”When I was young, we watched Godzilla do a lap dance on Tokyo and cringed as the Creature from the Black Lagoon emerged from his swamp. Now the specter of global climate change bursts out of the mists with Armageddon fury and it’s all the rage.Coming to ecosystems near you, the “Day After” raises the intensity a notch from “Twister” by ushering in a new ice age. It’s time somebody rewrote “Singin’ In the Rain” as a monsoon disaster flick with Gene Kelly up to his derby in coastal flooding.Maybe drama and mass destruction are what it takes to get an American audience to grasp climate change. Even though the science was exaggerated, the fast freeze of New York might awaken some to the very real trends of global warming and cooling.Meanwhile, there are plenty of people doing good things for the environment, things that Hollywood doesn’t highlight because they are on a small scale. And they are on a small scale because there is no national environmental movement today because nobody cares unless a tidal wave inundates Wall Street or tornadoes erase Disneyland.But the good things that are being done have a cumulative effect and also reflect a local, grassroots kind of caring about the impact of America’s ecological footprint, which today is akin to Godzilla stomping out species and habitats with a vengeance.We only need to look locally to see a ray of sun beaming through the clouds of gloom and doom, and it begins with one person making a difference, a person like Will Otte of Aspen.Will is a high school senior who evaluated his home energy use through his environmental education class at Aspen High School. The Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE) challenged Will and his classmates to propose cost-effective, energy-saving solutions. Students with the most energy savings per dollar invested won grants from CORE. As a result, Otte installed insulation to reduce his family’s heating and cooling needs, and cut their energy bills.CORE is on the forefront of energy efficiency by promoting wind, solar and hydroelectric power. The city of Aspen is also an alternative-energy leader, making Aspen one of the biggest per capita consumers of wind power in the United States for a city its size.CORE distributes grants for home solar systems, works with local architects and builders to make structures more efficient, and consults on energy-saving technologies for municipal structures like the Aspen Recreation Center.Holy Cross Energy, the valley’s largest utility, was recognized in February for its successful Green Power Program and won the Wind Cooperative of the Year 2003 Award from the Department of Energy. Holy Cross advocates solar, wind and hydroelectric power, partnering with CORE and the city of Aspen to reduce CO2 emissions and ease global warming.The Aspen Skiing Co. continues to lead, not only as a top environmental ski company, but as a green leader across all industries. The Skico won top honors last month for environmental excellence from Mountain Sports Media for its myriad programs and strident self-evaluation.These efforts may not stop the next special-effects ice age or calm the killer tornadoes ripping out of Hollywood, but they make a difference in the world, and that’s good for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the days after that.Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays.

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