The Park Record editorial, April 18, 2009 |

The Park Record editorial, April 18, 2009

Park City's carbon footprint: first the bad news

The hardest part of starting a diet is getting on the scale on Day 1. If you are serious about losing weight you’ve got to face the facts.

Park City is going on a carbon diet and the first step has been just as painful. This winter, city staffers, a consultant and a committee of concerned citizens decided to take stock of the town’s carbon emissions. The results, especially for a populace that claims to be environmentally enlightened, aren’t pretty.

According to the results, presented to the Park City Council last week, the city added more than a million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2007. In fact, when broken down into the number of tons emitted per full-time resident, the amount is downright embarrassing.

OK, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that City Hall authorized the study, that the committee chose not to sweep some of the ancillary emissions (like the jet fuel used by tourists to visit Park City) under the rug, and that the mayor and city council are committed to reducing those emissions. Area ski resorts, transportation companies and utilities are also on board.

Some of the factors contributing to Park City’s relatively high per-capita carbon-emission rate come from living in a cold climate and the state’s dependence on coal-generated power.

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Parkites can’t do much about the climate, but they can reduce their power consumption and begin shifting toward cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.

And now that we know how much the city is emitting, we can celebrate each benchmark as those numbers are reduced. The effort begins next week as Parkites mark Earth Day with a week of sustainability events including a presentation of the Community Carbon Inventory on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Santy Auditorium

Coincidentally, the Environmental Protection Agency today confirmed that carbon dioxide is one of six greenhouse gases that pose health and environmental threats. According to the finding: "In both magnitude and probability climate change is an enormous problem." Among the detrimental effects of growing carbon emissions, the report lists drought, flooding, wildfires, and harm to water resources, agriculture and wildlife. Add to that list a diminishing snow pack that could put a serious damper on snow sports.

More good news: Park City is already ahead of the curve. We have a measurable starting point, a willing group of city, resort and utility officials, and an informed group of citizens who want to participate.

Later this year the city will launch a website to help individual citizens and businesses measure and reduce their carbon emissions. In the meantime, to view the Carbon inventory report log on to