Saturday, June 6, 2020

Green house gassing in traffic, CO2 ice rinks and borscht

It was somewhat amazing waiting in the Mt. Crested Butte traffic line Tuesday afternoon while some resurfacing of Gothic Road was taking place. It was late afternoon and I waited probably 15 minutes (with my engine off). Not horrible. What struck me were the number of cars passing me coming down the hill as I waited and the line of vehicles stacking up behind me. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cars were on that road at that moment.

Understand we are primarily a summer resort that depends on vehicles to ship in the product (tourists). In the winter we depend on jets and vehicles. As green as we like to believe we are, we choose to live in a harsh winter environment that depends primarily on fossil fuels to stay warm, run the ski lifts and get people and food here. None of that is helpful to the environment or the long-term future of the planet. But we are human and we all (myself included) want the freedom of our cars, warmth in the winter, food on the table, the lifts to run and the tourists to come and spend their money so we can live here.

In that vein there was the coincidence of the Crested Butte Town Council having two related items on their Monday work session. The first was the town’s baseline study of its “Energy, Materials and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.” It showed that Crested Butte’s environmental footprint is not small when taking into account the complex supply chains that feed the valley. It was a complicated look at our environmental impact and opportunities to reduce that impact.

That was followed by a general discussion of adding refrigeration to Big Mine Ice Arena. Like indoor swimming facilities, these have significant impacts on the environment. As a hockey parent, I like the idea of consistent ice, by the way. But to discuss ways to cut electricity use in Crested Butte and two minutes later talk about refrigeration without at least noting some of the irony was a missed opportunity. There are ways modern rinks can reduce their environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions. Things like CO2 refrigeration systems apparently help with efficiency but I’m not sure that is feasible in Crested Butte’s circumstances. But I’d say it is worth exploring if the refrigeration advocates haven’t already.

Look, a global report compiled a year ago showed that 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord. Crested Butte won’t save the world by banning cars or not allowing refrigerated ice. But every little bit helps. Whether it is the local electric company putting in new solar panels at the Crested Butte wastewater treatment plant, riding the bus instead of driving or choosing energy-efficient refrigeration rather than old school coolants, it can all help.

But maybe we can build an ice wall and have Russia pay for it. Oh, never mind. Heck, I thought after bashing his democratic friends and allies in Europe, the strong man who speaks only the best truth and makes only the biggest deals was going to convince Vladimir to buy a condo in Florida. But instead it appears Vlad got the whole country. Da. So for those who make the claim that Trump is just an alpha male unafraid to say what they feel—on Monday he looked more like an omega poodle to the “extremely strong and powerful” master. Donald may not understand he diminished himself and his country on Monday. Or he may, given the flatline teleprompter tap dancing he did on Tuesday. But Putin is sure to understand that Donald was too weak to pull the trigger and confront him mano-a-mano for attacking the USA in the 2016 election. My guess is the prepared, smart, manipulative, ruthless Russian leader will not forget that meeting and the price he paid for his electoral mischief (none) and he will use it to continue to “delegitimize democracy” as the Republicans are saying. I hope you like borscht.

And one last note…literally. A couple of upset people sent me a video of a recent local music event where a performer saws a violin in half on the Center stage. I’m not a musician but even I found the scene disturbing. If the purpose was an artistic performance to elicit a reaction – it worked. That is the power of art. But to destroy an instrument that can create artistic beauty in the name of art is a pretty harsh choice for an artist. (An explanation is printed on page 44.) For me, it would be like burning books to get people to appreciate reading.

—Mark Reaman

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