Friday, April 20, 2007

Save skiing: stop global warming

Some politicians with a Flat Earth mentality may believe global warming and climate change are hoaxes. But incontestable evidence continues to pile up that paints a bleak picture of the impact of nature's fickle ways and humankind's destructive habits on the environment.

Among the most worrisome scenarios involves the Rocky Mountain states—Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming—all experiencing an explosive brew of climate change and rapid population growth.

Scientists and other experts participating in the 2007 Colorado College "State of the Rockies Project" conclude that these states face perilous shortages of water. These would create lifestyle discomforts, pose fire threats in dry, insect-infested forests, and raise questions about the future of the region's ski resorts—including our favorite, Sun Valley.

A 2007 National Academy of Sciences report concludes that droughts of the 1990s and 2000s are now the norm. Worse, the National Wildlife Foundation finds that winter snowpacks, which provide 75 percent of the region's water supply, have shrunk by 33 percent since 1950 and continue to worsen. In ski-speak, good powder days are getting harder to find.

From megalopolises to small towns, this litany of consequences should sound an alarm and call people to action.

The region's political, business and civic leaders must harness their muscle and exert maximum pressure on the federal government to end its frivolous indifference to climate change and the enormous economic and social impacts on Americans. It must look to implement remedies on a crash basis, not the least of which must be crackdowns on industrial and vehicle emissions that lead to greenhouse gases and higher temperatures.

As California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has repeatedly reminded his colleagues, there is no Democrat or Republican environment. He has boldly marshaled and coalesced California's diverse political interests into a remarkable unified war on greenhouse gases.

Republican Idaho's state government should learn from California's forward-thinking Republican chief executive by taking a decisive lead in mustering statewide activities to protect and preserve vital water resources.

Communities can devise regulations to protect vital forest and watershed areas. Water conservation measures can be implemented or, in the case of rationing, be put on a stand-by basis. Such simple anti-greenhouse gas measures as prohibiting parked car engines from idling can add up.

Every day of indecision and inaction simply increases the magnitude of the perils in the future and the risk to Sun Valley's lifeblood: skiing and recreation.

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