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Op-ed: Ski industry bullies USFS on water rights

Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas

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Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.

Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.

That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading

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Opinion: Global warming comes out of the closet

The remnants of Sandy swirl over the Northeast in the NASA satellite image.

Hurricane Sandy spurs awareness of  links between climate change and extreme weather

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with devastating New Jersey’s shoreline and flooding big chunks of New York City, Hurricane Sandy also pushed the public dialogue about climate change out of the musty closet and right smack into the middle of polite dinner table conversation and, even more importantly, into the political arena, just days before the presidential election.

After a couple of days surveying the damage, both the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York directly addressed the issue in a social and political context. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, factored climate change into a political endorsement of Barack Obama as the candidate better equipped to tackle the issue.

“In In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods — something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable,” Bloomberg wrote in an editorial for the Bloomberg View. Continue reading

Opinion: Global warming takes toll on Colorado forests

Climate change outpacing most predictions

Dead lodgepole pine forests dominate many Summit County vistas. Bob Berwyn photo.

by Howard Hallman and Brad Piehl

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the connection between climate change and forest fires. Last spring was hot and dry, which resulted in a dry forest that easily burns. This should not surprise us. What is surprising is the pace of climate change and the damage it has already caused to our forests and communities.

A vast majority of American scientists now recognize climate change as a threat to our nation’s well-being. Their findings are supported by decades of top-notch research. The climate is changing at the pace of many of the worst-case predictions from five to 10 years ago. Last year there were thousands of new record high temperatures across America. Severe drought conditions devastated millions of acres of crop and grazing land. Acres burned by catastrophic wildfire have increased significantly over the last several decades. Continue reading

GOP message: ‘We’re more American than you’

Opinion: GOP offers flawed interpretation of ‘American exceptionalism’

Mitt Romney. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Barack Obama. Photo courtesy Daniel Borman via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

 By Bob Berwyn

Republicans are recycling the theme of American exceptionalism as part of their campaign to win the White House and take control of the U.S. Senate. I applaud the recycling as possibly the only part of the GOP platform that’s environmentally friendly, but take issue with their efforts to co-opt Americanism as political campaign weapon.

There’s a subtle but persistent message trying to convince voters that Republicans are somehow “more American” than Democrats. It’s an election tactic that may play well with part of the electorate, but it’s fundamentally divisive and destroys the consensus needed to govern, regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress.

It starts with the low-level background buzz questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate and peaks with a nationalistic war cry that seems to put us on a path toward yet another bloody Middle East confrontation with Iran, based on an antiquated and unrealistic interpretation of foreign relations, with the U.S. as a militaristic world policeman. The Republican vision of American exceptionalism is based on the myth of the lone gunman — that’s why Clint Eastwood was a speaker at the GOP convention. Continue reading

Romney’s lunar-landing reference beyond ironic

The 1969 moon landing was an example of American collectivism at its best, the antithesis of what the Republican Party stands for in 2012. Photo courtesy NASA.

Opinion: Space program driven by a vision for the common good of mankind

By Bob Berwyn

If I were to give Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt after his acceptance speech, I would say his reference to the moon landing was a plea for national unity on crucial issues, or an appeal to find common ground to move ahead toward goals all Americans can support.

But in reality, the lines were inserted by his committee of speech writers as a grasping reference to current events. And Romney managed to turn even this shining example of the American can-do spirit at its best into a shrill pitch for nationalism and American exceptionalism.

And it’s beyond ironic that he chose the space program, which illustrates American collectivism at its best — not to mention that it was initiated by a president who would repudiate nearly all of Romney’s notions of what it means to be American. Continue reading

Op-ed: Act now to end gun violence

Bob Berwyn.

In the wake of Aurora murders, Hickenlooper claims we live in a safe country, but outside a war zone, your best chance of being shot is in any major American city

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Waking to the news of the mass shooting in Aurora brought back haunting memories of 9/11, when the first few hours of the day also passed in a dizzying blur of glimpses at CNN, interspersed with caring for my lively four-year-old.

Friday morning, my thoughts again immediately turned to my son, who was not in the house as the news unfolded, but thankfully far away from Aurora, safely attending a camp at Copper Mountain.

We’ve been to a few midnight movie premieres here in Summit County in recent years, time that was always filled with pleasant anticipation, so I was able to imagine the vibe in the theater last night before the show started.

What I can’t even begin to imagine is the feeling of horror that must have prevailed in the moments when the shooting started, nor the indescribable grief that families of victims are feeling.

As I watched the first few hours of news coverage, I could see an all-too familiar pattern emerging, with initial details about the shooter, the victims, the police response, and finally, reaction and statements from elected officials.

What was missing was a sense of outrage that, in this day and age, an individual can amass that sort of arsenal and use it to do unspeakable harm in a public place. Some of that outrage surfaced here and there in a few sound bites and interviews, but the overall sense of the coverage was, here we go again, and when will it end? Continue reading

Op-ed: Clock is running out on Heartland Institute

Hateful billboard campaign and misleading conference talks a sign of desperation among global warming deniers

The residents of Tuvalu are very concerned about global warming and sea level rise, despite the best efforts of the Heartland Institute to convince them everything is going to be OK. PHOTO BY STEFAN LINS VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a bizarre convocation, oil-smeared pseudo-scientists mingled with right-wing think tankers at the Heartland Institute’s annual anti-science climate conference, an event that would be funny if there weren’t so much at stake.

The panel sessions focused on launching repeated ideological and political attacks against efforts to curb global warming. In one of the first sessions, meteorologist Joe Bastardi invoked bible verses to end his presentation, suggesting that God is in charge of the climate, and that human efforts to cut greenhouse gases are meaningless in the big picture.

The day ended with Czech President Václav Klaus charging that climate activists are “exactly like communists” in their efforts to arrange society according to their desires.

In between, speakers said not to worry about malaria because, hey, we can simply start using DDT again, and that a warming climate is good for forests and agriculture — notwithstanding clear evidence that forests around the world are under stress as temperatures rise, and that rice farmers in Asia are already seeing impacts of climate change. Continue reading

Opinion: The latest myth from global warming deniers

The latest claim is that global warming ‘ended’ in 1997

Notice how even the coolest years aren't quite as cool as they were even just 20 years ago? The latest myth of global cooling is a classic case of cherry picking a short segment of the climate record to try and confuse and mislead the public.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The latest climate-change rumor floating around the web is that global warming has ended, to which we could all say Hallelujah and Amen, were it only true.

Not only that, but the perpetrators of the myth have actually identified a specific date for the end of that pernicious warming trend that is already causing so many problems around the world. Hanging their hat on a data set recently released by the UK Met Office, they claim that global temperatures have been cooling since 1997. Continue reading

Op-Ed: So what’s up with the GOP?

Gary Lindstrom.

Change is what voters want

By Gary Lindstrom

Even though Colorado is considered to be a liberal and a progressive state, it has a history of leaning more toward the right.  Keep in mind that our largest industry remains agriculture. Most of the land in Colorado is either public lands or land devoted to farming. The people who till the soil are the backbone of Colorado society — and this includes politics.

When I was a State Representative from 2004 to 2007, I was amazed on a daily basis about how many Democrats would vote against liberal bills and support most right wing conservative bills.  They did this because that is what they believed and it was also what their constituents believed.  I was, and still am, very liberal, but at times I felt as though I was an outcast from my own party because of what I felt was right.  At times I would align myself with moderate Republicans because they were closer to my position than some of my fellow Democrats. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Wilderness needs bipartisan support

Timothy Wirth.

Wilderness designations offer long-lasting benefits

By Timothy Wirth

President Obama recently proclaimed September National Wilderness Month. His action could not be more appropriate and timely for Colorado.

While our state contains many magnificent wilderness areas, a significant backlog of proposed wilderness designations sit in Congress, and action is now needed to diversify our wilderness system, particularly to include more ecologically important, lower elevation lands. Like most everything else in the current Congress, gridlock in Washington has stalled these new wilderness designations. For almost three years, Congress has sat on its hands, despite very broad support for more wilderness in Colorado.

We should remember that there is a long and proud tradition of bi-partisan support for Colorado wilderness. Senators Bill Armstrong and Gary Hart worked closely together in the 1970’s on many early wilderness designations. The Colorado delegation unanimously sponsored the protection of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, a remarkable area just west of the Denver metro area.

Hank Brown and I spent hundreds of hours, hammering out complicated boundary and water issues in the far-reaching Wilderness Act of 1993, and Ben Campbell led efforts to protect areas in Southern Colorado. I know that all of us have fond and proud memories of both the substance and the process of our cooperative efforts. Continue reading

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