Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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When is a candlelight dinner unromantic? When global warming and the collapse of society necessitate it. OK, maybe I'm being a little melodramatic. But in Steamboat Springs, the only thing more scary than impending plagues of grasshoppers and the unraveling of civilization is the prospect of a bad snow winter followed by dry paddling and angling seasons.
Got your attention yet? Good. You're invited to a candlelight dinner to talk it over on Saturday night. More about that later.
Ours being a hedonistic community, many of us in Ski Town USA will be digging our kayaking and fishing equipment out of the gear closet this week even as we scrub the hydraulic fluid and oil off the bottoms of our skis in preparation for one last run.
Don't panic - I'm talking about the last ski run of the season - not the last run in the history of the world. Climatic Armageddon isn't here yet.
But just in case, you might want to coordinate this Saturday's outdoor frolic with a local climate change rally that is tied into a national effort: "Step it Up on Global Warming."
Thousands of participants all over America, many wearing green armbands, will gather at "iconic locations" to take part in their favorite outdoor sports - iconic locations such as Storm Peak, the Yampa River and some of the valley's most scenic cycling routes.
Local organizer Diane Brower said most of these green activists would be driving and flying to Washington, D.C., for a giant rally except that would increase their carbon footprint - kind of self-defeating when you think about it.
They could choose to walk, paddle or ski all the way to Washington, D.C., to make their point, but there's an easier way.
At 10 a.m. in Steamboat, skiers and snowboarders will meet at the bottom of the gondola. At the same time, hikers will gather at the Stock Bridge Transit Center to walk the Yampa River Core Trail.
At 3 p.m., kayakers will meet at Backdoor Sports and cyclists will gather at Orange Peel Bike Shop.
Later, the entire group will gather for a candlelight potluck dinner. The sentiment behind the candlelight isn't romance - it's a symbolic offering to the urgent need to cut down on CO2 emissions.
"The underlying idea," Brower said, "is that government officials are not picking up on a message from the people. They want to bring government's attention to citizens' support for government intervention in global warming. Even the conservative Supreme Court voted 4-3 last week and agreed that carbon dioxide is a pollutant."
How much would a 2- or 3-degree increase in the average annual temperature of the Yampa Valley affect our lifestyle and economy? More and more, the evidence suggests that winter would arrive later and depart sooner. For the short time that winter occupied the valley, it would yield sticky snow on our ski trails instead of the famed Champagne. With a milder winter, the pine beetles would denude our forests, and the Rainbow Family Gathering would be replaced by the annual Grasshopper Festival. And that's the good news.
There's nothing funny about global climate change. It threatens our children's future. If we have a 10-year window in which to reverse the trend, we need to begin this weekend.
Step it Up 2007 was envisioned by author Bill McKibben, who has grown frustrated with a top-down approach to slowing global climate change, Brower said. Interested people can learn more at stepitup2007.org. For more information about activities in Steamboat on Saturday, including the location of an unromantic potluck dinner, call 879-8691.