Our View: Life as we know it
Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Hannah Hoffman, community representative
• Bob Schneider, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.
We were impressed after this week’s Steamboat Springs City Council meeting to learn of how highly ranked our community is in terms of its ongoing efforts to take measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.
On a global level, the significant warming of the earth’s atmosphere has sobering implications for agriculture, coastal cities that are vulnerable to sea-rise, healthy forests and really, every aspect of our lives.
In Steamboat Springs, we have some serious concerns that are peculiar to mountain resort towns. Our economy depends heavily on a 144-day ski season that is dependent on an abundance of snow and water with which to make snow when the Park Range experiences sub-par snowpack.
So, it was rewarding to learn at this week’s council meeting that the city of Steamboat Springs is among 28 cities, virtually all of them larger than Steamboat, that have been given four stars for its range of sustainable practices by the STAR Community Rating System.
STAR is a national framework created by communities, not the federal government, to provide a framework for evaluating local sustainability, economic, environmental and social measures.
Other four-star cities include Washington, DC; Tucson, Arizona; and Portland, Oregon. Las Vegas, Nevada is also on the list.
After learning that remarkable piece of news, it didn’t come as a surprise that City Council agreed this week to commit to do more. That pledge is implicit in council’s unanimous vote to join the Compact of Colorado Communities, which is working to raise Colorado’s game when it comes to mitigating climate change. The vote effectively recognizes that climate change, left unchecked, threatens to erode the quality of the waterways, high mountain meadows and forests that put a visit to our state on the bucket lists of many millions of people.
Just as impressive as Steamboat’s STAR ranking was Yampa Valley Sustainability Executive Director Sarah Jones’ report that more than 102 local businesses and organizations and more than 650 community members have pledged to do more to reduce the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
As one fifth-grader who spoke to City Council on Tuesday put it, reducing carbon emissions can be as simple as leaving your car at home a couple of days per week and riding your bike to school (or work). But we believe it’s incumbent on all of us to do more.
No local organization has done as much as YVSC has done to to make our community greener.
YVSC has a long track record of enlisting community members to sharpen their shovels and sequester carbon by planting trees. It sponsors programs to help households to install energy efficient lightbulbs in their homes and test their homes for energy efficiency.
Significant energy inputs are required to raise food in America’s large-scale agricultural production model, and in 2018 YVSC is urging the residents of the Yampa Valley to reduce wasting that energy be reducing their food waste and diverting the food waste they create away from landfills where it contributes to the green house gas, methane.
Steamboat Springs alone cannot save the planet from the indisputable climate change that threatens to change the quality of life on our planet. But this year represents an opportunity to up our game.
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