Renewable energy is on everyone’s mind these months, what with fossil fuels contributing to continuously higher temperatures around the globe. Disappearing glaciers, reduced crop yields, a shortage of drinking water and fires indicate a planet which is being challenged by rising temperatures. And the victims often are the poor in crowded locations in the world.
Two weeks ago, advocates for Durango becoming a renewable energy-only city by 2050 filled City Council chambers. They were drawn from a breadth of numerous local environmental and advocacy organizations, which have accomplished records. Underlying their concern is that the Four Corners is particularly susceptible to climate change, with the area’s already arid climate, warmer temperatures to the south and west, marginal growing seasons and the easy possibility of limited snowfall and rain (as with the summer conditions that occurred just a year ago).
The area’s population may not be large, but even for the few people here, the line between a workable climate and an unworkable one is narrow.
Global warming is proving it will bring extremes.
The impassioned turnout was not a rowdy ambush; participants alerted the City Council to what was coming that evening.
Formulas were used to quantify the city’s carbon levels and provide context, with the resulting numbers so large as to require some thought.
Drawing on college and university resources, the study claimed that the city, in 2016, produced about 350,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Considering that number in equivalent amounts of other fuels, that was equal to the burning of 40 million gallons of gasoline or some 2,000 railroad cars of coal.
Big numbers, very big numbers.
Renewable advocates are on the right track, and 2050 – 30 years – ought to be a reachable goal; other governments and large institutions are using about the same time frame. Easy is to predict that the applicable technology will no doubt improve ten-fold during that time. And, that there will be significant capital expenditures, perhaps with imaginative funding arrangements.
The challenge, of course, will be to change behaviors. More dense housing, shared transportation and synchronized schedules are obvious focuses. And, smaller vehicles, and bicycles.
We look forward to seeing how the components of life in Durango divide themselves into measurable categories of current carbon production, and the slope of the graph that shows the reduction of that carbon.
Not all will or can drop to zero. Adding other carbon-eliminating components – trees, everyone points to – will contribute to the aggregate result.
Let’s quantify the starting points, as in underway, and determine where progress can be made.
Durangoans should sport a bumper sticker with a red slash over the word carbon.