Gondola of guilt

The melting gondola at the top of Aspen Mountain delivers a mixed message on climate change.

Is it a guilt trip for Aspen’s serial homeowners who fly private jets and lead extravagant, carbon-rich lifestyles? No, that would be biting the hand that feeds.

Is it meant to incite indignant protests over the conspicuous consumption that swells Aspen’s carbon footprint? No, that could instigate class warfare.

Is it to amuse the skiing public with a cartoonish image? No, that would be pandering to public ambivalence.

The melting gondola is a call to climate action, but for whom?

The Aspen Skiing Co.’s climate partner, Protect Our Winters, advocates education and action. Education should inform about the carbon output each of us incurs. Action should strive to reduce that collective output through individual responsibility.

Yet Skico’s climate philosophy disconnects individual action from the abstraction of systemic cultural change. We are supposed to believe that invisible forces are at work so that Aspen can party on in a fossil fool frenzy celebrated under the arc lights at the X Games.

Aspen’s per-capita contribution to climate change is considerable, so the gondola of guilt should be a prod for conscience over convenience. Otherwise, it’s just a huge hunk of non-biodegradable plastic to be recycled somehow.

Paul Andersen

Up the Fryingpan