Guest Column: A vote for whiter winters
Rain is pounding against my windows as I write this on an early March day in Colorado’s Elk Mountains. This is the third rain event of the winter, and up on the ski hills, weeks of sunny, often 50-degree weather — and 23 days in February above the historical average — gobbled up 25 percent of the mountain snowpack. Meanwhile, friends on the East Coast post Instagram shots of near-80-degree weather. The Roaring Fork Valley — and the world — is seeing the effects of climate change firsthand. This winter has been the warmest on record.
I was born and raised in Carbondale and still call it home. I have traveled the world with the U.S. Ski Team and have seen the most stunning views mountain towns have to offer. Still, nothing compares to waking up and seeing Mount Sopris out my bedroom window. Skiing has been my life since age 2, but the decreasing number of powder days has me and all snow-sport enthusiasts concerned about our future.
I’d say something needs to change, but really, it already has changed. We need to change it back. Excitingly, we now have that opportunity. In a world where solutions are often expensive, difficult and politically inexpedient, in April, the residents of Carbondale have a remarkable chance to stand up against climate change and invest in clean energy with our proposed Climate Action Tax.
By voting “yes” on 2A, the Climate Action Tax, and investing in clean energy, the average homeowner in Carbondale will pay an extra $5 to $7 per month, depending on their energy consumption. To put it into perspective, that is 20 cents a day, $1.40 per week or one fewer latte a month, and your climate action tax is paid. By committing to one fewer flat white, you are helping to contribute to a whiter winter and a greener summer for future generations. Your 20 cents a day will be used to create more renewable energy for Carbondale, including potentially doubling our solar-power generation or transforming 400 low-income houses into more efficient and affordable homes for the people who need it most.
I am a proud to call Carbondale my home and proud to be a part of a progressive community that is participating in the fight against climate change. I live in Carbondale for a reason: the mountains, the rivers, the people, the fresh air and the ability to step outside my back door and hop on miles of hiking and biking trails. What Carbondale is doing with the Climate Action Tax is visionary, and it will serve as a model for other communities like ours. We’ll need them to bring this change to scale.
Scientists tell us that if we don’t act now, by 2100 there will be skiing only on the top quarter of Aspen Mountain, and Colorado’s climate will be similar to what Texas’ is today. Today, every nation on Earth and every independent scientific body agree on the need for action. At the same time, we know that a climate fix is far cheaper than doing nothing and letting the planet slowly warm even more, that a carbon-free world is a safer, healthier, happier, more durably employed and more equitable place. The good news is that a key part of the fix is in reach for Carbondale. Please join me April 5 and vote “yes” on 2A. Our community, future generations and Mother Nature are depending on us.
Meg Olenick is a professional skier and member of the Protect Our Winters Rider’s Alliance.
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