Park City dwellers: Climate change, disappearing snow pack serious
A changing climate is the environmental issue that is most serious in Park City, a recent City Hall survey found, indicating Parkites, by a wide margin, are more concerned about that than any other green topic.
The municipal government released the results of the survey in December as part of a wider discussion about City Hall’s environmental goals. The survey was not scientific, but the results provide at least some evidence of Parkites’ interest in environmentalism and the broader ideal of sustainability. The results are based on 126 respondents. City Hall posted the survey on the municipal website in November.
One of the key questions dealt with the environmental issue seen as most serious in the community. The results showed 34.1 percent of the respondents saw climate change as the most serious. Another 21.4 percent indicated a disappearing snow pack is the most serious.
Climate change and a disappearing snow pack are closely related issues, and many in Park City fear a changing climate will eventually impact the snow pack. It is an ideal that has long underpinned the environmental efforts at City Hall. Any effect on the snow pack could then impact the ski industry that drives the Park City-area economy, the thinking holds. The answers regarding climate change and a disappearing snow pack, taken together, account for nearly 56 percent of the overall responses to the question.
Other responses included the long-term water supply in the region, garnering 11.9 percent, and air pollution, at 10.3 percent. Answers that did not draw at least 10 percent included fire danger and energy waste in buildings and homes.
City Hall staffers forwarded the survey results to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council as part of the elected officials’ ongoing efforts. The City Council shortly before the release of the results added urgency to the environmental efforts through the approval of an accelerated timeline for the citywide goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions. The elected officials moved the timeline up two years, to 2030. The elected officials, though, did not discuss the survey results in any depth during a December meeting.
The City Hall net-zero goal does not require the elimination of emissions altogether. The municipal government instead intends to reduce emissions through a variety of environmental programs and offset the remaining ones via alternatives like a sequestration program. City Hall sees the goals as the most ambitious in North America.
Celia Peterson, the environmental sustainability project manager at City Hall, said the results will be used as part of the upcoming “My Sustainable Year” campaign, which is scheduled to launch in January and last a year.
“We want to make sure our goals resonate with people” during upcoming outreach efforts, she said.
Some of the other results included:
• 80.2 percent saying they are very concerned with environmental issues with another 9.5 percent saying they are somewhat concerned.
• 56.4 percent saying local government has the most potential to improve the Park City environment with “people like me/ordinary residents” garnering 54.8 percent. The state government drew 35.7 percent while Washington, D.C., received 33.3 percent. The percentages topped 100 percent since respondents could select more than one answer.
• 78.6 percent saying academics or scientists have the strongest influence on someone’s views of the environment, followed by the media at 50 percent. Peterson noted the responses to the question as especially encouraging.
• 32.5 percent indicating they are “doing enough in your own life to address climate change” by making choices that are energy efficient, pollute less and produce less waste. Another 25.8 percent said they feel like they are “doing all I can, but don’t know if it is having any impact.” Approximately 4.2 percent said “climate change is a hoax, and I’m not falling for it.”
• 76.9 percent saying they adjust their residence’s thermostat to 69 degrees or lower in the winter as well as adjusting air conditioning in the summer in response to a question about the steps someone takes to curb the amount of energy consumption. The results showed 54.6 percent use smart controls for temperature settings while 51.2 percent indicated they bought appliances that are energy efficient.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.