Roger Marolt: Technically, it will take a miracle to stop global warming
What if there was a way to cut your carbon tire track by 25% without reducing the miles you drive or switching cars? Well you can, and the way to do it is not too good to be true. It is only too unpalatable to be acceptable.
According to numerous studies, the optimal driving speed for maximum gas mileage is somewhere between 50 and 60 mph. It’s different for all vehicles, but the sweet spot for most is in this range. Most cars will burn about 25% more gas at 70 mph than they will putting along at a grandfatherly 50 mph.
And there you have it, driving at 50 mph on the highways would make a tremendous difference in slowing down global warming. The problem is, nobody is going to do it. So few drivers would do this that it would actually be dangerous to try it yourself.
The paradox is that by burning up more of our own travel time, we could give the planet more time to exist as we know it. For humanity, that trade is very good. For us individually, it is, well, a waste of time.
We can tweak the discussion a bit to make it more relevant to Aspenites, if we have the stomach for it. Let’s talk skiing. We love to ski. Even though this recreational activity is completely irrelevant to almost everyone else on this huge planet, it is our identity. It’s our economy. We will fight to save skiing, and even lobby to create more of it!
But, defending skiing to the bitter end leads down a slippery slope not found on Ajax. Once we stop dealing in absolutes for limiting greenhouse gases and allow picking and choosing solutions to address our changing climate, we must allow for everyone else to do the same. Carving turns on deforested mountains is off the table for us. Highly modified four-wheel drives grinding through the desert are non-negotiable for people in Moab. Power boating on the coasts anyone? Perhaps you would rather just build a giant house with all the amenities to relax in. We all have our things.
We want to halt global warming to save skiing, but we won’t give up skiing to halt global warming. The first part of the sentence is an expression of a passion. That’s easy. The second demands too much.
Of course we can debate which non-negotiable destructive passion is worse, but there are no winners in that. The best we can hope for is to “agree to disagree.” The saying makes skin crawl, but that’s about it.
We’re driving electric cars. We recycle bottles and cans. We compost. We don’t eat (much) meat anymore. Our houses are efficient. We are aware and so are the kids. The low hanging fruit is picked and stored in reusable bushel baskets. We have done the easy work, harvested the sweet things, the ones we didn’t have to climb up a ladder and lean out for. There’s no sense risking a fall. Yet, when we count the inventory, we’ll find its not enough to get us through the winter, even an unseasonably warm one.
There are only two choices left: We can endure some extreme pain and give up something like skiing, or depend on technology to save our soy-based bacon.
I vote for technology! A 10-pound electric car battery that provides a driving range of 500 miles that can be fully recharged in three minutes would be something, huh?
COVID may be the warm-up act. The problem is big. We’ve done the little things. After we gave up socializing completely for a time, we kept our distances to slow the spread. We wear masks. We wash our hands longer, with stronger soaps, doubling up with sanitizers. We avoid crowds. But, even while these individual acts indisputably help, with them alone COVID would enjoy a longer, more deadly existence. Vaccines and new medicines are the game-changers. It will be the same with global warming. Our small efforts alone will not save the planet. Global warming is an enormous problem that will take gigantic scientific breakthroughs to overcome.
In the meantime, instead of the small acts we skiers are performing toward a solution being a trigger for indignant righteousness against 4WD enthusiasts in Moab who are probably doing much of the same things we are doing when they are not burning fossil fuels, let’s let these acts be a sign of unity and caring for each other. We have to come together even though we recreate miles apart.
Roger Marolt does his part by skiing moguls more often than groomers. firstname.lastname@example.org