Mountain Towns 2030 speaker: Climate change ‘frightening’ to the experts
Brian McInerney, a National Weather Service hydrologist and Snyderville Basin resident who closely tracks snowpack in the area, told a crowd in Park City on Thursday some federal government officials are prohibited from talking of the effects of a changing climate.
McInerney was one of the speakers during a Mountain Towns 2030 discussion at the Park City Library. The first-ever Mountain Towns 2030 drew a crowd of government officials, not-for-profit executives, businesspeople and others to Park City for wide-ranging talks about the impacts of a changing climate.
The Santy Auditorium at the library was not filled for McInerney’s remarks, but they were anticipated to be among the most important of the event as he brought the scientific underpinnings of climate change to Mountain Towns 2030. He said what is occurring is “frightening” to those who understand the science.
McInerney talked about the influence of high-pressure weather systems in the region between 2012 and 2016. He told the crowd the stagnant weather patterns brought by high pressure are becoming more prevalent as a result of a changing climate.
Snow coverage will drop dramatically over time, he said, describing that mountain resorts in the West will eventually no longer receive snow at the base-area elevations.
He also noted the 2012-2016 period of high pressure was followed by big winter storms. The heavy snows caused avalanches since the precipitation came in short periods, he said. McInerney noted the potential of terrible flash floods in an era of climate change, showing the crowd a video of deadly flooding.
McInerney took questions from the moderator and crowd, including one from someone interested in whether it is more difficult to forecast weather events. He answered affirmatively, saying a changing climate is “supercharging the atmosphere.”
The “atmosphere is different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago,” McInerney said, explaining there are more variables now and the science is struggling to keep up with the changes.
In response to another question — regarding successes in combating the global issue of climate change at a local level — McInerney said there is hope as he speaks to younger people and as he sees the technological possibilities.
Mountain Towns 2030 was held from Wednesday until Friday at the Santy Auditorium and elsewhere in Park City. It was designed to provide a forum for the attendees to learn about technologies, best practices and other opportunities to combat climate change. Field trips and a keynote address at the Eccles Center by Jane Goodall were other highlights of Mountain Towns 2030.
Mountain resorts like Park City are worried that climate change will someday threaten the ski industry that drives the local economies as well as creating other threats like the possibility of devastating wildfires and floods.
Park City leaders saw Mountain Towns 2030 as an opportunity to highlight the municipal government’s own efforts to fight climate change as well as for the attendees to learn from each other. City Hall has made environmentalism and the wider ideal of sustainability a priority for the community.
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Speakers holding diverse positions in the Park City area are scheduled to deliver remarks during an event designed to highlight government work plans, the business community and others with roles in the day-to-day functioning of the city.