Forget dreaming of a white Christmas and start worrying about a red one

Forget dreaming of a white Christmas and start worrying about a red one

Aspen : CO : USA | Dec 08, 2012 at 11:46 AM PST
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Cars and greenhouse gases may be dooming humans

Someone may have to write a carol about how they fear a wildfire Christmas in Colorado, the nation’s highest state.

Joni Mitchell already wrote one on how resort development turns beautiful areas into parking lots.

A paucity of snow and other precipitation led to an unheard-of wildfire in December. The 3,500-acre Fern Lake wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park forced hundreds of evacuations this week.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered in Doha, Qatar, to discuss what to do about climate change. As usual, the US, with the most to lose, was playing the role of outlier.

The American delegates are most opposed to the concept of rich nations paying poor, industrializing nations, to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

It has become a tradition in the US — push for things and then refuse to accept them. It started with the League of Nations, an idea by President Woodrow Wilson, and continued with the Kyoto Protocol.

The signs of climate change are on your streets and TV daily: tornados, huge hurricanes, warming temperatures, and the changing of the timing of precipitation.

Colorado can be a poster boy for what happens when rain and snow do not come at traditional times. The ski industry needs snow to start falling in October, not in December or later. Major resorts make huge profits from Thanksgiving visitors. Snowmaking is expensive, and if there is no water, where do they do get it?

The ski year will be a disaster if snow, and lots of it, doesn’t begin falling soon. A weekend prediction of a foot won’t solve the problem. Aspen and Vail have two feet or less. It would be the second year in a row of below average snowfall, and will likely mean more devastating wildfires next year.

Colorado agriculture depends on rain falling at the right time. Many crops cannot be supported by irrigation.

Cities depend on mountain snowpack for drinking water. Reservoirs are designed to receive the water from snowmelt by early spring, and gradually. If it all comes at once reservoirs cannot hold all of it, and much has to be allowed to run off.

Midwestern states had smaller crops than usual because of a lack of precipitation. Some cities have set records for low snowfall. The water wars have already begun.

California and Arizona, and even northern regions of Mexico, depend on water from the mountains of Colorado. Complicated pacts have been made. If the water comes at different times there could be intense water wars in the Southwest also.

Of course, looking at the bright side, there is more time to fix potholes if no snow plowing is needed.


It is no longer time to save the whales. It is time to save the humans. The earth will take care of itself.

James Lovelock described what has become known as the Gaia theory, which holds that the planet will do whatever is necessary to adjust.

While that sounds like we needn’t worry, here is the rest of the story. Earth will make changes likely to interfere with the lives of its human inhabitants.

Species like polar bears are the canary in the coal mine, foretelling a "Silent Spring."


Top causes of global warming

Interactive climate change map

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Joni Mitchell wrote this song in 1970, describing how taking beautiful things and making them popular can destroy them.
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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