Steve Mendell, in his March 13 letter, proves himself to be particularly clueless about what sustainability means, and how the consequences of not operating under a model of sustainable economic development negatively affects us all. Mr. Mendell started out by taking issue with what I thought was a sound commentary about our city’s sustainability policies written by Sarah Jones, the executive director of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Then his letter flew off into some Ayn Rand-Fox News fantasy world in which all of us are saved by what purports to be free market capitalism.
Free markets aren’t free if they are ignoring or obfuscating the externalities, the effects of overuse of critical resources and degradation of the environment. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s talk more about environmental degradation, specifically directed at your global warming hysteria clap-trap.
The mechanisms and the effects of global climate change have been studied and assessed by the best and most credible scientific and engineering organizations in the world. Their shared conclusion is that climate change is happening, it is predominantly human caused, and if not halted, will have devastating effects on society in the next 40 to 50 years. These organizations include the U.S. National Academies, the institution set up by Congress to advise the nation on scientific and technical matters of national importance. Now you can cherry-pick the data all you want, but I know for a fact that industries and governments both here and abroad understand that the climate is changing, believe that it’s human caused and are actively preparing for a warmer world along with a much harsher set of environmental operating conditions.
As Sarah pointed out, Steamboat Springs seems to be decidedly unprepared for a changing climate. For me, one particularly glaring example is the effort to develop additional buildings and infrastructure assets along Yampa Street in the name of economic vitality. This effort appears to be predicated on the illusion that Steamboat Springs and the Yampa River have somehow gotten divine dispensation from the devastating flooding, property damage and loss of life that occurred last summer in Colorado towns like Manitou Springs, Glen Haven, Drake, Estes Park and more. Good luck with that.