Guest editorial: Addressing climate change starts locally
As I talk with the residents of Park City, it is clear that most of us came to this special town for the lofty mountain setting and the healthy outdoor lifestyle. The elevated landscape creates our sense of place, supplies our clean water, provides the recreation that fuels our economy and serves as the shared bedrock of our community. Yet, we seem to take our natural environment for granted. We are nearing the end of another campaign season and there’s been little conversation about sustainability, conservation, or the health of our environment. Council recently elevated ‘energy’ (including carbon reduction) to be our third critical priority, and it’s barely news.
Park City should be concerned about the effects we are all having on our air, water quality, and our natural environment as a whole. We alone cannot change global threats, but we can be an influencer, and more resilient for trying. We are fortunate to have a community with progressive thinkers, great wealth, in a snowy clime which drives both our lifestyle and economy. With so much to lose — and such capacity for change — if we won’t do it, who will?
Global climate, energy and pollution seem overwhelming, so where do we start? First we admit that we all leave impacts upon the planet, but we can strive to ‘live lighter.’ It begins with conserving our energy and investing in renewables. Small adjustments can make big impacts. Swap out your lightbulbs with LEDs and watch your power use drop by 30 percent. Switch to an intelligent thermostat, put timers/sensors on your lights, consider solar panels on your roof, insulate your house, eat less meat (or buy it locally), ride your bike more, and test drive an electric car. These little steps add up. They will save you money in the long run!
Park City is one of 50 cities competing for the Georgetown Energy Prize: a competition to tap the imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition between communities across the country to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations. Currently we are in first place, largely due to the great efforts of Summit Community Power Works (SCPW) and all of you. Let’s use this opportunity, to win a $5 million prize and to show our commitment to protecting this landscape.
On Oct. 29, City Council will be discussing our ‘energy policy’ as a new critical priority and determining the scope of our approach. Will we increase our internal focus on City facilities and services, or will we ask the community to aim higher? Should we require/incentivize our residents to build smaller and more energy efficient homes, invest in renewable energy, and change their driving habits? Are we ready to make a community-wide push toward 100 percent renewable energy as Bryn Carey suggested last week?
Please join our meeting and be part of the conversation. Also ask your candidates where they stand on this issue. Today we enjoy fresh water, clean air, and wonderfully moderate temperatures, but it will take work to keep it that way.
This November vote for the environment, and vote with your actions by doing something to reduce your impact upon this planet.