Is It Just Me, Or Is It Getting Hot In Here?

Originally appeared in Fort Collins Weekly

6 April 2007
Eric Fried

Two significant votes in March and April – one local, one national – have given new momentum to the fight against global warming.

On March 6, the City Council unanimously voted to convene a task force of citizens and staff to update our Climate Protection Plan and figure out why we are falling short of our original goals (hint: federal inaction on gas-guzzling cars and trucks, regional sprawl, and our auto addiction in general). Congratulations to the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, which conceived the idea and patiently cultivated council consensus. The City Manager is putting together the task force right now, and an agenda for action is due back late this year or early 2008.

Then on April 2, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the federal government ALREADY has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. In other words, the Environmental Protection Agency has the right to protect the environment and clean the air under the Clean Air Act. This was one of those “Well, duh” decisions that make you wonder what planet the four naysayers hail from.

Fort Collins should be proud of its leadership on this issue. Our Climate Wise program offers technical assistance and community recognition to dozens of local companies and institutions that voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save themselves piles of money in the process. Fort Collins Utilities is a national leader in wind power, city facilities are increasingly being “built green,” and city fleet managers are purchasing hybrid cars whenever possible. Poudre School District is building the greenest schools in the country, Larimer County has recently started its own “Green Team” to look at energy efficiency, resource conservation and saving taxpayer dollars, and the State of Colorado is galloping headlong towards clean energy and the vast economic opportunities it presents. Northern Colorado entrepreneurs have realized green is not only the color of a healthy planet, but also the color of money to be made in renewable energy. Much of the local business community has now swung around to support the Mason Street Corridor and transit-oriented infill development, thanks in large part to the unflagging efforts of councilman David Roy. Thanks, David, and enjoy your 70% re-election vote.

We now have action on the city, county, state, and business levels, and the only thing missing is action from Washington DC, where it really counts.

Sorry dittoheads, but the actual scientific debate is over. Even President Bush admits it. Global warming deniers can trash Al Gore all they want, but it won’t change the facts any more than calling Paul Revere a Frenchie would prove the British weren’t coming. If Al Gore disappeared tomorrow, Antarctica would continue to calve icebergs bigger than Larimer County, glaciers would continue to disappear in Glacier National Park, and Colorado ski operators would continue to worry they will suffer the same fate as the European Alps, which saw almost no snow this winter.

Back to the Supreme Court: the good news is the EPA can take action. The bad news is, it won’t. Unless, of course, we the people make them. Here’s where you come in.

Step It Up 2007 is a national campaign to make global warming THE civil rights issue of our time. Without a stable and accommodating climate, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a moot point. On Saturday, April 14, there will be over 1000 rallies in all 50 states, calling on Congress to take bold and immediate action on global climate change. The Fort Collins rally will take place in Old Town Square from 1-3 pm, and will feature speeches by CSU Professor of Mechanical Engineering Bryan Willson and State Rep. John Kefalas, followed by live music. Please come stand and be counted on the most important challenge we humans have ever faced as a species…unless of course you have something more important to do.

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