Is It Getting Hot in Here?



In September 2007, Governor Jon Huntsman’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change (BRAC) expressed “very high confidence” that most global warming in the past half-century has been caused by human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. Yet, in October 2009, the Utah Legislature hosted a debate between Jim Steenburgh, the University of Utah Professor of Meteorology who led BRAC, and Roy Spencer, a scientist from the University of Alabama, Huntsville and well-known climate skeptic, citing open questions on the subject. When Dr. Robert Davies of Utah State University called Spencer’s work “completely fringe,” he was publicly chastised by a prominent Republican representative. This led Davies’ colleagues at Brigham Young University, whose jobs were not contingent on State funding, to urge Governor Herbert and the Legislature to “separate the science from the policy issues.”


Six years later, the science has largely been acknowledged, but questions on how to address climate change from a public policy perspective remain, both in Utah and beyond. These questions include: how much warming can we expect, what impacts will it have, and what are we willing to do about it? The answers will be particularly important to those of us who work and recreate on the snow.


The Science

Since 1880, the global average temperature has warmed .85°C (or 1.53°F). The last decade was the warmest on record and the three decades prior to that were each hotter than the last. According to Steenburgh, the ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, with 2014 being the warmest and 2015 running even warmer through September.

Last paragraph of the first section

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations that coordinates the efforts of more than 2,000 climate scientists from 154 countries, found that warming of our climate is “unequivocal.” BRAC also found “no scientific doubt” that the Earth’s average surface temperature is rising. This global warming is causing the oceans to warm, sea levels to rise, and mountain glaciers, seasonal snow cover, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to diminish.

The scientific community also agrees that anthropogenic—or human-generated—increases in greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for most of the observed warming since the mid-20th Century. In its 2014 Synthesis Report, the IPCC found that it is “extremely likely” (i.e., between 95-100% certain) that human activities have caused more than half of the observed temperature increase since 1950. Recent polls indicate that more than 97% of climate scientists agree. In reaching the same conclusion, BRAC specifically discounted natural climate variations as the possible, sole cause.

Greenhouse gases keep the Earth about 50°F warmer that it would be without them. This natural “greenhouse effect” has been amplified since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, agricultural practices, and deforestation, among other human activities, have released large amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. CO2 levels are now more than 35% higher than pre-industrial levels and half of that increase has occurred since the mid 1970s. According to BRAC, these concentrations very likely exceed the highest natural concentrations during the last several hundred thousand years.

And the climate is just beginning to respond to this rapid rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. Steenburgh explains it as a question of inertia. “It’s like turning up the thermostat. It takes some time to get warm. As we increase the carbons in the atmosphere, it takes time for the atmosphere to respond. Time to adjust to them.” As a result, Steenburgh said, we are “already committed to some climate warming, some continued warming in coming decades.”


Indeed, IPCC’s climate models predict additional warming of .3°C to .7°C (.54°F to 1.26°F) by 2035, regardless of what restrictions are placed on future emissions, because such warming will be the result of prior and current emissions. Beyond 2035, projections of additional warming vary, but essentially hinge on whether and to what extent additional greenhouse gas emissions are limited. In short, if emissions continue to increase, so will the temperature. Using four emissions scenarios, ranging from heavy mitigation to very high emissions, the IPCC predicts additional warming between .3°C and 4.8°C (.54°F to 8.64°F) by 2100.

Temperature changes vary regionally. With warming greater over land and over the interiors of continents, the western United States is warming faster than the global average. Salt Lake City data shows that Utah has been warming at twice the global average in recent decades (with a 2014 average of 56.5°F that is off the charts). A 2009 climate study (PC Study) commissioned by Park City Mountain Resort projected an average increase in temperature of 1.6°C (2.88°F) for Park City by just 2030—more than twice the global rate. Similarly, BRAC estimated that Utah’s projected warming under a middle-range emissions scenario would be about 8°F by 2100, equivalent to warming under the IPCC’s worst case scenario and “comparable to the present difference in annual mean temperature between Park City (44°F) and Salt Lake City (52°F).” And, in Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, Steenburgh projected that Northern Utah would experience a dizzying 5.5°C (10°F) increase in temperature by 2100 under a very high emissions scenario.


The Impact


One degree of Celsius may not seem like a lot. But, keep in mind that it took 135 years to warm just .85°C and scientists estimate that Utah may experience twice that in the next fifteen years. In his book Deep, Porter Fox explains that, with warming of just 1°C, substantial areas of the Northern Hemisphere will experience increasing occurrences of extremely low snow years, high winter runoff, and low spring/summer runoff. This will occur because, as Steenburgh explains in Secrets, “more precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow, the length of the snow accumulation season will decrease, and there will be more snowmelt events during the winter.”

According to Steenburgh, 1°C in warming will cause about 10% of the precipitation that currently falls as snow to fall as rain at 7,000 feet and 3% of such precipitation to fall as rain at 9,500 feet. With a 4°C jump, 40% of the precipitation that currently falls as snow will fall as rain at 7,000 feet and 20% at 9,500 feet. These numbers show that upper-elevation ski terrain has better insurance against the risks of warming. But, that may be little consolation to Park City, which has three ski resorts with base areas sitting at roughly 7,000 feet.


Park City Mountain Resort was likely aware of this vulnerability when it commissioned the 2009 PC Study to predict impacts of climate change on its snow and business. The PC Study makes predictions for the base and top of the mountain in 2030, 2050 and 2070, using different emissions scenarios. Though focused on Park City Mountain (6,800 ft.), the results can be useful for nearby resorts with similar or even lower base elevations such as Snowbasin (6,391 ft.), Sundance (6,100 ft.), Jackson Hole, WY (6,311 ft.) and Sun Valley, ID (5,920 ft.).

The PC Study predicts that, by 2030, under all emissions scenarios, Park City Mountain’s ski season will be shortened by later snowpack buildup and earlier snow melt. By 2050, all three scenarios project little or no snow at the base area for Thanksgiving or spring break. By 2075, results are even more emissions-dependent—and alarming. Under every scenario, no skiable snowpack will exist at the base of Park City Mountain for Thanksgiving or spring break. With low or moderate emissions, the PC Study predicts that snowpack will eventually develop at the base by mid-winter, but will be substantially reduced. Under a high emissions scenario, however, the snow line at Park City Mountain will move up to 8,000 feet—or roughly at the top of Payday Lift, the Red Pine Gondola, and Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge—and the base area will have no skiable snow for the entire ski season.

Credit- Rocky Mountain Power

Credit- Rocky Mountain Power

This confirms what Steenburgh explained: Utah resorts with high elevation ski terrain, such as Alta, will have a competitive advantage going forward. Where resorts like Park City Mountain and Deer Valley stand to lose much of their skiable terrain and may need to relocate their base areas upward, Alta’s base area is already at 8,530 feet. Further, Alta tops out at 10,550 feet, so it should maintain a seasonal snowpack even under a high emissions scenario.

This news is tough to take, but certainly easier to envision after last ski season. According to the National Ski Areas Association’s 2014-15 Kottke End of Season Survey (Kottke Survey), average snowfall declined 24% nationally last year when compared to the 2013-14 season. In the Rocky Mountain region, which includes Utah, snowfall decreased 25% to 204 inches. And the Rocky Mountain region was not even the hardest hit by low snow and unseasonably warm temperatures. Snowfall in the Pacific Northwest declined 46% and it declined 68% in the Pacific Southwest. Of course, these record low numbers must be taken in perspective. And, as Steenburgh cautions, there is still “a lot of variability in the climate system.” But a snapshot of one poor season does allow people to understand what impact the warming climate may soon have on snow and the sports that rely on them.


The Cost

In the United States, more than 23 million people participate in winter sports and more than 37 states add value to their economies through downhill ski resorts and/or snowmobiling. A 2012 study commissioned by Protect Our Winters (POW) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC/POW Study) found that, nationally, ski resorts support 76,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in salaries, wages, and benefits on an annual basis. When direct, indirect and induced effects are included, the ski and snowmobile industry supports 211,900 jobs and adds $12.2 billion to the United States economy. During low snowfall years, however, the ski resort industry loses 15.2 million skier visits, $1.07 billion in aggregated revenue, cuts nearly 13,000 jobs, and adds $810 million less value to the economy.

Percent of wintertime precipitation that currently falls as snow that would instead fall as rain for a temperature increase of !, 2,3 and 4 degrees C. Adapted from Jones 2010.

Percent of wintertime precipitation that currently falls as snow that would instead fall as rain for a temperature increase of !, 2,3 and 4 degrees C. Adapted from Jones 2010.

According to the NRDC/POW Report, Utah ski resorts enjoyed about 4 million skier visits in 2009-10, supporting 12,964 jobs, contributing $425.5 million in labor income, and adding $744 million in revenue to the local economy. The Report further estimated an annual loss to Utah of 14% of skier visits during low snow fall years. This results in a loss of 1,053,548 skier visits at $83 per skier visit in average revenue, $87 million in lost ski resort revenue, 1,055 fewer industry-related jobs, and $65.9 million less economic value added.

If the past two seasons are any indication, though, these estimates may be high. Ski Utah reports that Utah ski resorts enjoyed about 3.95 million skier visits in 2014-15, down from 4.15 million visits in 2013-14. The Kottke Survey similarly estimated that snow sports visits in Utah decreased by 4.2% from 2013-14 numbers to 3.9 million visits in 2014-15. So, at least in this case, Utah lost less than 5% of skier visits due to low snowfall. While preferable to the predicted 14%, it still represents about $30 million in lost revenue and 350 lost jobs extrapolating from the NRDC/POW estimates.

These numbers also do not seem to account for the fact that, if warming continues, low snow years will be more common and far lower. By considering the economic impacts of various emissions scenarios in the years 2030 and 2050, the PC Study measures the cost of less snow overall, rather than current climate variability. The Study’s findings indicate that the Park City ski industry could lose as much as $392.3 million in lost output, $66.6 million in lost earnings, and 3,717 jobs by 2050. These are large numbers and for Park City alone. The economic impact statewide could be far greater and would certainly take a large bite out of Utah’s estimated $1.2 billion snow sports industry.


The Response

Collectively, these studies show that the Earth is committed to a certain amount of warming, which will cause the snowpack to decrease, the ski industry to lose money, the State of Utah to lose jobs, and our grandkids to log fewer runs to the base of Park City. But, it’s not all bad news. The good news is that climate change is just kicking in. These worst case scenarios for 2050 and beyond will happen only if we do nothing—or worse, if carbon emissions continue to increase. In fact, important steps are being taken to reduce carbon, internationally and at home.

This month, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) will be held in Paris with a goal of achieving a universal, legally binding agreement on climate, from all of the nations of the world, which would become effective in 2020. According to the COP21 website, the agreement will focus on both mitigation, i.e., keeping global warming below 2°C, and adaptation to existing climate changes. A key part of that agreement will be each country’s national contribution.

By late February 2015, this is what a skin track at 7500 feet looked like in the Central Wasatch.

By late February 2015, this is what a skin track at 7500 feet looked like in the Central Wasatch.

In preparation for COP21, the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its Clean Power Plan (CPP) in June 2014 and its final rule on August 3, 2015. Under the Clean Air Act, the CPP establishes the first-ever national standards, called carbon dioxide emission performance rates, to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. States must develop and implement state plans to ensure that the power plants in their state meet these standards, either alone, together, or in combination with other measures like energy efficiency and improvements in renewable energy. States have until September 2016 to submit plans or request a two-year extension. A federal plan will be imposed on states that fail to comply. Reductions must be phased in from 2022 through 2030.

Many involved in the snow-saving effort view the CPP as a “game-changer” and have vocally backed the measure. “This is the most historic effort taken by the United States to address climate change,” said POW Executive Director Chris Steinkamp, adding that the plan is “realistic and achievable,” and very much in line with what other industrialized countries are bringing to COP21. POW, together with the NSAA and SnowSports Industries America, sent a letter to the White House in September, supporting the CPP and asking for strong leadership by the United States in Paris. The letter was signed by 92 global brands, 53 resorts, 50 professional athletes, and 13 trade groups and associations, and, thus, bore the weight of the snow sports industry.

More locally, Ski Utah CEO and President Nathan Rafferty wrote to Governor Herbert in August, expressing the ski resorts’ concern about climate impacts on Utah’s “$1.2 billion winter tourism industry and its 18,419 jobs,” and its much larger outdoor recreation industry, and asking him to support the CPP. This letter was sent shortly before Ski Utah announced a new partnership with POW. Rafferty said that, with POW, it’s “not doom and gloom,” but rather, “we’ve turned a corner on this, let’s now start pouring gas on that fire and see if we can make some impactful changes.” So far, that figurative gas has been advocacy, including a recent trip by Rafferty and Steinkamp to Washington, D.C. to meet with Utah’s senators and let them know that Utah’s lucrative ski industry backs the CPP.

Of course, the CPP has not met with praise from all quarters. Two days after the EPA issued its final rule, sixteen states, including Utah, asked the EPA for a stay. The stay request was denied and, on August 13, 2015, fifteen states, led by the attorney general of West Virginia, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the CPP. The next day, the attorneys general from sixteen states, including California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as New York City and the District of Columbia, announced their support for the CPP and intention to oppose the lawsuit.

Utah has not yet joined the lawsuit against the EPA, perhaps based in part on Ski Utah’s efforts. But, Alan Matheson, Director of Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality, stated that it “remains a possibility,” citing problems with EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act and the scope of the rule. This position may seem at odds with Governor Herbert’s recent announcement that he will direct the DEQ to submit a compliance plan under the CPP. However, with state plans due in 2016 and the threat of a federal plan if Utah does not comply, it is more likely that the State simply does not want to put all of its eggs in the litigation basket. Matheson confirmed as much, stating, “The federal plan is untenable for the State. We need to maintain maximum flexibility in Utah and make the decisions that make sense for our unique sources and conditions.”

SLC Public Safety Building Solar (2)[1]

Thus, whether Utah favors the CPP or not, it has begun the process of bringing stakeholders together to consider options. For Utah, the CPP calls for a 37% rate-based reduction or a 22% volume-based reduction in carbon emissions. According to Matheson, the State is considering a range of options, but its plan will likely include “integrated resource plans from utilities, less coal in the future, some closure of plants, certainly more renewables as a larger percentage of the energy portfolio, and converting coal units to natural gas.” Matheson identified the biggest challenges to such a plan as cost and reliability. The State does not want “to create stranded investments” made by utility companies, the cost of which would be passed on to ratepayers. As for reliability, the State understands that its actions may impact surrounding states and the broader power grid, so any plan will involve interstate collaboration.

It is understandable that the State is protective of its utilities. After all, in 2014, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) alone made capital investments worth $7.3 billion, employed 2,167 people with a payroll of $224 million, and paid $69.1 million in property taxes in Utah. And, according to RMP’s Paul Murphy, the State’s concerns about stranding investments and grid reliability are real.

But, RMP also realizes that tides are changing. It was the first energy company, along with its parent, Berkshire Hathaway, to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, adopting company-specific carbon goals as part of the Paris agreement. Murphy states that RMP is “transitioning away from coal,” intending to reduce its coal-based energy production from 61.1% of its current portfolio to 49.4% by 2025. The company also plans to add and/or purchase more renewable energy and recently announced a collaborative agreement with California Independent System Operator to share planning for and excess renewable energy. And it just obtained State regulatory approval for its widely anticipated subscriber solar program, which will allow customers to get power from the sun from as yet built RMP solar farms, even if they can’t afford or accommodate rooftop solar. Salt Lake City has already stated that it will subscribe to this program for its municipal operations and Park City is exploring the idea. Murphy indicated that, if the first 20-megawatt solar farm becomes over-subscribed, RMP will build more.


This shows that the energy mix is being successfully influenced by regulation and market forces. So, whether or not the CPP is held up in court, it is making states and utilities do the hard work of coming up with plans for how to cut carbon emissions. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently found that nearly all of the states who are suing the EPA have nonetheless made key clean energy decisions that put them on target to comply with the CPP’s 2020 benchmarks. Once the plans are penciled out, the parties may find changes are worth making, with or without the CPP, causing a much-needed shift in outlook. The climate problem is big and needs a big solution. As Steenburgh said, “whatever approach is taken to begin, it will be the first of many steps. More has to be done.” “More” meaning a migration away from fossil fuels. Whether we have the will to do what needs to be done, Steenburgh added, will be “based largely on values, not on science.”


The Local Effort

Large-scale, carbon-reduction agreements are needed, but the actual work of reducing carbon emissions is being done—and will be done—on the ground, in countries, states, communities and ski resorts themselves. And the solution will require more than one big change. It will require a million little changes across the board. As Park City Councilor Andy Beerman said when explaining his business’ early efforts to be environmentally sustainable, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Towns, associations and businesses have often been the incubators and proving grounds of new mitigation and adaptation strategies. And they will continue to play that role as the CPP, and subsequent steps, are rolled out. For communities that have done this effectively, the first step is to prioritize climate. One of the first ski towns to do this was Aspen and, through the leadership of Aspen Skiing Company, its municipal operations are on target to be 100% carbon neutral this year. Burlington, Vermont’s largest city with a population of 42,000, already runs entirely on renewable energy. Salt Lake City has been a climate leader as well.

In 2008-09, Salt Lake City set ambitious municipal and community-level goals of reducing their carbon footprints 80% below the 2005 level by 2050. And they have walked the walk. According to Tyler Poulson, SLC’s Sustainability Program Manager, the City has, among other things, required new municipal buildings to have net zero energy use (including the recently completed Public Safety Building), developed a solar power farm on a landfill, and replaced retiring diesel fleet with CNG fuel vehicles. Community measures include lower cost public transit passes, bicycle lanes, and helping citizens be more energy-conscious and efficient.


Because mitigation strategies alone will not help us operate in an already warming world, Salt Lake’s sustainability folks are also thinking about adaptation and, in particular, their water supply. Poulson explained that, “as temperatures warm along the Wasatch front, we are moving from snow to rain-based precipitation, and we need to consider how that will impact how we are getting water.”

Up at Alta Ski Area, adaptation efforts have been focused on water—and snow. Onno Wieringa, Alta’s General Manager, explained that, with increased warming, they “treat snow more as a precious commodity” and “plan for less snow and less time to make snow.” The resort uses wind fences and packing to make sure that the snow they get doesn’t blow away, utilizes winch cats so that they can groom steeper slopes and mows established runs to lessen the snow depth needed for cover. Snowmaking is also an adaptation. According to Maura Olivos, Sustainability Coordinator and Ecologist with the Alta Environmental Center, Alta is gradually moving its snowmaking capability uphill and utilizing more efficient guns, although they have so far been careful to limit their snowmaking to the same amount of time every year. This is because of their quantity of allotted water as well as quality of the resulting snow. In recognition of its efforts, NSAA recently awarded Alta a Climate Adaptation Grant to help it “assess and respond to potential vulnerabilities and risks due to a changing climate, with a specific focus on impacts to the ski area’s water supply.”

Fox chastised the ski industry for being slow to react to climate change, especially “given that it could put the industry out of business.” But, Alta was doing it before it became popular, with LEED-certified base facilities, on-site solar, and micro-hydro in the pipeline. And Alta is not alone. Three of eight founding members of NSAA’s Climate Challenge—Alta, Canyons and PCMR/Powdr Corp.—are from Utah. Wieringa will be the first to tell you, though, that recent sustainability efforts by ski resorts are not wholly altruistic. Skiing is, after all, a business. The people who run resorts may be “great good-hearted people,” Wieringa explained, but an effort to reduce carbon “doesn’t go if it doesn’t pay for itself or make money.” The ski industry has gotten behind carbon reduction because it means their livelihood. And, Wieringa added, it also happens to be “the right thing to do.”

With few exceptions, Fox’s criticism could apply equally to ski towns. In past years, Park City dabbled in carbon reduction, passing an anti-idling ordinance and installing LED bulbs around town and solar panels on its recreation center. But its climate efforts have only recently taken on an urgent tone. After taking Climate Reality Project’s “I Am Pro Snow” pledge in August, the City Council elevated carbon reduction to a critical priority on October 22nd. Park City’s best intentions regarding carbon reduction have sometimes been value-engineered out of projects, Beerman explained. That is harder to do when climate is a critical priority. “By making it a formal, critical priority, we have to look through that lens,” City Councilor Tim Henney said. “It becomes an organizing principle that helps us reach decisions.”

As Park City grows, those decisions will include transportation, housing, and water storage and delivery—and plenty of opportunities to save energy. Matt Abbott, Environmental Project Manager for Park City’s Office of Sustainability, said that the move will require City employees to consider “100s, 1000s of things that we could change.” And he counseled the City to focus on changes that will have the most impact. For example, as Beerman explained, Park City’s water management alone accounts for two-thirds of its energy use, which can through planning be offset through efficiency, on-site renewables such as micro-hydro, variable pumps, and storage in Park City. These options are being studied, along with other on-site renewables, smart meters, transportation alternatives, walkability, and energy efficiency. Beerman acknowledged that local efforts alone will “not save the world” but that ski towns such as Park City should “show leadership, show how it can be done.”

The move to make climate a critical priority in Park City may have been spearheaded by Beerman and Henney, but it was championed by the numerous young and vocal community members who turned out to support it. Beerman applauded this level of participation from an audience who was “young, articulate about the future, and tired of talking.”

One of those audience members was Bryn Carey, a ski town native who is President and Founder of Ski Butlers, a company that delivers ski and snowboard rentals to visitors in 11 resort towns in 4 different states and British Columbia. It was also Carey who instigated the Council’s “I Am Pro Snow” pledge and drove Ski Utah to partner with POW. Carey’s stated goal is to have Park City follow in Aspen’s and Burlington’s footsteps and be 100% renewable by 2030. And then to have all of the towns in which Ski Butlers operates do the same. When asked why he cares so much, Carey cited a ‘wake-up’ conversation he had with Myles Rademan. Rademan approached some Park City locals with the query: “Miners never thought about there never being mining. What if we don’t have snow?” Like many 30-somethings, Carey has a young kid and he wants her—and her kids—to be able to ski.

Conor Quinn, a recent transplant, started the Alpine Collective, which has quickly grown from a small alpine enthusiast network to a larger group of influential locals intent on climate education. And Abbott founded Summit Community Power Works, for which “the excuse was the Georgetown University Energy Prize, but the mission was energy efficiency.” In a two-year, energy efficiency race for a $5 million purse, against 50 small to mid-sized cities including Aspen and Jackson Hole, Summit County is currently in 1st place. So, these young ‘upstarts’ are not only showing up and speaking out, but they are moving the ball.


The Take-Away

Fox refers to those of us who live and recreate in the mountains as “the canaries in the coal mine,” because we will be “among the first to see climate change radically alter [our] world.” In fact, the snow sports community has seen first-hand some of the earliest impacts of climate change. That same community must speak out now. All human-caused warming cannot be stopped, but we still have an opportunity to stave off the worst-case scenarios. As Steenburgh explained, “There is little reason to think that—if we make changes, do something about it—Utah won’t have a viable ski industry for the long haul.” Saving the snow will take coordinated, national and international efforts, supported by motivated regional efforts, to mitigate and adapt. That is more likely to happen if we refuse to be the canaries.


What Can I Do?

If you are interested in getting involved, here is the long and short:

  1. Call your political representatives, tell them that you support the CPP, and ask them to sign climate legislation that comes across their desk.
  2. Vote for federal, state, and local leaders who prioritize carbon reduction. According to Steinkamp and the Environmental Voter Project, 15 million outdoor enthusiasts did not vote in 2014!
  3. Vote with your wallet, by supporting sustainable businesses and using renewable resources, like RMP’s subscriber solar, as they come on-line.
  4. Take a pledge, like the 10,000 who have taken POW’s PO7, or support local efforts, such as Summit County’s efforts to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize and Ski Utah’s POW day in Little Cottonwood Canyon on January 13th.
  5. Talk to your kids—our nation’s next generation of problem-solvers—about climate change. Or, better yet, just take them skiing! As Steenburgh explained, “I think it’s going to take something new. We can’t solve this with just windmills.” Your kid may be the one who comes up with that “something new.”

4 Responses to “Is It Getting Hot in Here?”

  1. Ms AbuHaidar,
    Excellent article, thank you. Liked the hopeful ending!

  2. The records of actual snowfall charted in Snowbirds Snow Safety office completely support this critical issue. Going back over 40 years what you see is that the yearly snowfall the last 10 years averages 75 inches less than the first 30.
    I have a somewhat unique perspective; I worked in the Wasatch for 17 years and then left for 15 with my last position in Mt Ops at a resort in Tahoe. I hate to say this but the weather here is tending towards Tahoe weather conditions. It could be worse though, I could still be in Tahoe. My friends there have suffered four really lousy or non existent winters running.

  3. Thank you Maggie for your excellent article. I think it is especially relevant because it focuses on the impacts that are local. You have documented these very well. I have two suggestions:
    1. Send the link to your article to Senators Hatch and Lee and to Representative Bishop. Ask them to support policy that addresses climate change, as you encouraged your readers to do in #1.
    2. Look into Citizens’ Climate Lobby and encourage readers to join and/or support this organization. It is a non-partisan grass roots organization that is building the political will for federal legislation to address climate change. We have chapters in SLC and Logan and hope to have one in Park City soon. One can sign up and or join an introductory call from the website (
    Again, thank you for your important work.

  4. Here’s what you can do to combat emissions and save on utility bills.
    1. Replace all your bulbs with LEDs – do it today – they are 80% more efficient – 80% less coal fired power
    2. Put in a smart thermostat by ecobee or Nest – up to 23% reduction in natural gas consumption, with a $100 rebate through
    3. Install solar
    4. Get a home energy audit through Questar – seal the leaks and insulate

    Put your love of snow into action – do it today.

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