Vail’s snows don’t mean global warming is gone |

Vail’s snows don’t mean global warming is gone

Tamara Miller
For the Editorial Board

We’ve seen plenty of white stuff this winter, which can make it easy to forget about the threat of global warming. But a look at the Vail Valley’s red hillsides should serve as a stark reminder.

A recent study shows the West is heating up faster than any other part of the country. Temperatures in the Colorado River basin ” that’s us ” have risen 2.2 degrees a year, or twice as fast as the global warming rate, according to the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

Almost simultaneously, Colorado has seen large swaths of lodgepole pine forests succumb to the bark beetle.

Scientists stop short of blaming the bark beetle epidemic on global warming, but there’s plenty of evidence that suggests the two are linked. Winter snows are melting earlier and certain types of plants are blooming earlier. In the meantime, nighttime temperatures haven’t been dropping low enough, often enough, to control the bark beetle population.

For those of us who have lived in the Vail Valley for awhile, reports like these simply confirm what we already know. And while a very small minority still doubts that climate change is a manmade phenomenon, most of us aren’t willing to take the chance that it isn’t.

Locally, government officials like those in the town of Avon are finding there are plenty of ways to reduce the town’s energy use, like planning to use excess heat created by the wastewater treatment plant to heat streets in Avon’s future downtown. Residents are demanding better, more accessible (and cleaner) recycling drop-off sites. And the Colorado Ski Museum is selling reusable cloth grocery bags. Proceeds from the $7 bags will go to the ski museum, but keeping more plastic bags out of local landfills benefits us all.

We all need to continue to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment, and to continue to press our leaders ” locally and nationally ” to enact policies and programs that ensure there will be record snowfalls in the years to come.

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