As politicians gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a treaty to address critical issues in global climate change, we're dealing here with the local reality: another late-starting winter.
It's approaching mid-December with very little snow on the ground, and we drive 15 miles to the Christmas tree farm to cut-r-own.
Where the economy says we need snow, we make it. While the real world of forests and cross country trails waits for real snow, up at Spirit Mountain they're making their own. This weekend, the snowguns were out all over the hill throwing up huge mounds of the stuff. For skiers and for the big Snocross snowmobile event.
It's a huge global summit in Copenhagen...and it needs to be huge. There's only so much we can do locally
Concern over climate change used to paralyze me. Our 15 mile drive to the tree farm adds more CO2, and I feel a bit guilty. The snow guns at Spirit Mountain are a huge energy draw, burning more coal. Those snowmobiles for which we made the snow burn more fossil fuels, and those 10,000 spectators are driving long ways to watch the event. I should despise that.
I live in the north because I love snow and winter. If I lived in the Twin Cities, where snow is much less frequent and the ski trails far less wild, I would die each winter as the snowpack melts away. Here in Duluth, to reach a great ski trail from mid-December to early March, it's a ten-minute drive to three different city parks. But that's still a drive. I'm still the cause.
The climate change summit in Copenhagen has huge implications for our planet and also for ourselves. Cross country skiers and other winter enthusiasts should be all over the summit advocating for our snow and our cold. Yes, we should do all we can to reduce our own carbon footprint. Live near your trails, I say. But I can't keep the developing world from burning through their coal. I can't reverse America's century-long carbon binge. Only concerted global action will do that.