Roger Marolt: Green Acres: Are we there?
I was leafing through an in-flight magazine the other day when a picture caught my eye. It was a summertime mountain scene. It featured the side of a mountain with cascading strips of green, grassy swaths cut out between thick stands of evergreens. Nice, I thought. I wonder what ski area that is?
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the article was actually about the clear-cut logging industry and the appalling legislation the Bush Administration has passed that allows large lumber companies to tear up and destroy our forests as proved by the accompanying photograph.
Sheesh, I thought, just what I need to enhance my economy-class flying experience: a fine piece of Green Peace. I rolled up the magazine and shoved it in the seat pocket next to the barf bag so the next unwary reader would at least be prepared.
I picked up another magazine and stumbled across an article that promised to show me how to dine in Aspen for less than $40 a day. Now, I thought, we’re getting somewhere. The main picture in this article featured a pretty woman standing in front of some restaurant that’s since gone out of business. Hah, this is going to be good.
About the time my caustic grin reached both ears, I noticed Aspen Mountain in the background of this picture. The irony was as thick as the crust this woman was going to get on her Spam sandwich. Our beloved ski area looked just like the clear-cut forests of Washington. Whoa, I thought.
Just for fun, after attempting the Mensa puzzle in the back of the in-flight magazine and deciding that I wouldn’t be a good fit in that club, I began comparing the two mountain pictures I had fixed in my mind. Both, ski area operators and logging companies, cut down large numbers of trees in huge paths across majestic mountainous landscapes. There is no difference there.
So what do the two companies do after they cut the trees down?
Let’s see, the logging companies cut down trees to make lumber that we all use for the buildings we live, work and shop in. Then they plant some new trees where they cut down the other ones, so that they will grow up and they can cut them down all over again. Hmmm ” not sure what I think. Doesn’t sound great, but we gotta have some place to call home. I guess I can live with that.
So then, what do the ski companies do after they cut down the trees on their mountains? They burn them.
Burn them? Great balls of fire and holy smokes, that’s even worse! And they never replace them! And then they cut down even more trees at the base of the mountain so they can truck in the trees that the lumber companies cut down to make more buildings! And then they build private, exclusive clubs on the tops of the ski areas to attract people who fly to the ski areas in fume-spewing Lear Jets! And then they hire a whole bunch of people who drive hundreds of cars, hundreds of miles every day to operate the ski area! And they run snowcats up and down almost every square inch of the mountain every single night, spewing hundreds of pounds of diesel fumes into the air in the process!
Well, enough of that. I needed some light reading at this point so I opened the copy of The Aspen Times I had brought along. The first thing I noticed was that someone had drawn a beard and mustache on my face above my column. Thanks, honey.
I didn’t bother reading my piece since what I have to say usually irritates me. I flipped to the front page and read the headline: Ski Co. Goes Green.
My, my, my, if this keeps up I’m going to take up reading for pleasure again.
The article talked about how the Aspen Skiing Co. was going to build a completely green Base Village at Snowmass. I couldn’t help laughing at the absurdity that installing a few highly efficient florescent light bulbs was somehow going to alleviate all of the environmental damage inherit in operating a ski area.
Now, just so you know, I wasn’t laughing at the Skico here. I was laughing with them. This is the most disingenuous pile of bull since “Uncrowded by Design,” and they’re dancing in it!
As they say, it takes one to know one. That’s why I find this so funny. I may not have actually paved paradise, but I enjoy pedaling my bicycle around this parking lot as much as anyone.
I don’t want the Skico to let the slopes go fallow and revert back to the original forests that once stood there. I don’t want to ban Lear Jets from the airport or cars from the streets either. I’m happy here. The formula works for me.
Maybe I really just admire the Skico, not for what they do, but for how they do it. I understand that simply by virtue of living here I am not the most environmentally friendly person on this planet. None of us in this town is. My feeling of guilt over this is a price I pay for refusing to give up my love of skiing and life here. The best I can muster is to accept this fact and humbly do my best to try mitigating some of the damage that I am partially responsible for.
I just don’t have the nerve to imply that I’m green.
[Roger Marolt knows that no good deed goes unadvertised in this town. Contact him at email@example.com]