Who cut the cheese? It was Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Who cut the cheese? It was Aspen

Janet Urquhart

When Aspen farts, the world listens.So, instead of blaming our flatulence on the dog, we’re owning up to it and trying to do something about it.We’ve actually churned out a report documenting our gaseous emissions. It turns out we produce greenhouse gas with the same gusto that keeps us well above the national average when it comes to everything from the price of real estate to alcohol consumption.Aspen, its residents and visitors, emit roughly twice the greenhouse gases on a per capital basis as does the average U.S. citizen.Thanks to a comprehensive study of the situation, we know who’s to blame, which is a lot easier than trying to fix it.It’s sort of like sitting in a roomful of people when somebody cuts the cheese – one of those SBDs (silent, but deadly) that has everybody sniffing the air cautiously and eyeing their companions suspiciously. Only this time, the obvious recourse – blame the dog – hardly seems the adequate response.The equivalent culprit to the perpetrating pooch, of course, is the tourist – a segment of the community into which I lump all visitors, including those who are visiting their Aspen home when they’re not visiting their other home.You know who you are: Your home is heated, as is your driveway, and your pool, but you’re not in it. You’re warming more than the hearts of natural gas investors; you’re warming the globe.And what about the jet-setters?According to the Aspen Emissions Inventory 2004, released this week, a Challenger 604 jet boasts a fuel economy of 1.7 miles to the gallon and belches 12.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.Remember that private jet that crash landed here last week? That was a Challenger. According to my scant and unreliable research, that aircraft can carry up to 19 passengers, depending on its seating configuration. This one was reportedly carrying three people, and two of them were flying it. I guess it wasn’t allowed in the high-occupancy airplane lane.The Gulfstream G-III emits about 10 tons of carbon dioxide over a 1,000-mile trip, according to the report, but presumably, that’s not all Aspen flatulence. Some of it lingers over Cleveland, or Dallas, or someplace else equally deserving.On the other hand, put eight people in that Gulfstream and you’re talking 2.45 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger-mile – about equal to driving alone in a Hummer, according to the report.Tempting as it is to blame extravagant lifestyles – the beans in our midst, as it were – I suspect Dan Richardson, Aspen’s global warming project manager, is right: We’re all at fault. Well, not me so much. I live in Blue Lake now, where global warming will not be a problem because we’re blocking the sun’s rays with the particulate matter we dump on the streets with abandon at each hint of snow. When the wind blows in Blue Lake, we get a brown cloud that would make Denver envious. We’ve got sand that exceeds the per capita average in Saudi Arabia.But just as I feel helpless to do anything about Blue Lake grit, I don’t know what I can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Saying I already do my part because I commute on the bus is like saying I’ve done my part to further world peace by not killing anybody.It’s easier to blame the dog.Janet Urquhart lets her car idle when it’s cold. Her e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com