The ‘terrified’ vs. the ‘sanguine’
Ryan Summerlin January 7, 2014
This is the final part in a three-part series about climate change as it relates to the ski industry.
Barbara Coddington is terrified of climate change. The Glenwood Springs woman applauds the ski resorts in the region for anything and everything they’re doing to help the environment, but she’s worried that global environmental damage is so bad that it will be impossible to reverse the consequences.
Coddington believes 100 percent in the science that proves climate change is human-caused. She points to the fact that more than 97 percent of the scientists in the field agree that it’s happening and doesn’t think the other 3 or so percent who argue different viewpoints are credible.
At 65 years old, she also attributes some of her confidence on climate change to her age.
“I guess you need some age, some years, to see the changes that are happening in the weather,” she said. “Things are changing and I think it’s obvious — it’s obvious to me.”
Coddington came to Colorado 38 years ago from Missouri and remembers all of the Monarch Butterflies she used to see in the mountains. But she doesn’t see them anymore.
She also thinks there are fewer bird species around, and when she’s back home in Missouri she has noticed less noise from the insects that used to sing throughout the night. She attributes all of it to a warming climate.
Coddington is passionate about the environment, so much so that she finds herself frustrated and angered when she sees others being inconsiderate of it. She said she got very heated just recently while at the bank because a truck driver had left his tractor-trailer idling outside.
She writes letter after letter to the newspaper on the subject because she thinks the media doesn’t cover the subject enough, therefore she fears people remain ignorant about environmental issues. She used to prod her daughter to have children because she wanted to be a grandmother, but now she’s not so sure.
“Now I don’t even mention it,” Coddington said. “I think it’s not a good world to bring children into. It’s very sad — it’s frightening.”
Howard C. Hayden is one of the climate change skeptics. Hayden is a former professor of physics at the University of Connecticut and is the editor of The Energy Advocate, a monthly newsletter about energy and technology. He recently retired and lives in Pueblo.
He talks about the climate’s ongoing changes throughout history and, unlike Coddington, doesn’t have a worry in the world that any of it will harm humanity.
The computer models that the mainstream scientists use to research and analyze climate change can’t be right, Hayden said, because there are so many models.
He points out that temperature is affected by many variables from sunshine to cloud cover to deforestation to how much snow is on the ground reflecting back into space. The mountain pine beetle, which has killed millions of acres of trees in the Rocky Mountains, has caused changes in reflectivity and the evaporation rate of water on the ground, too. Even the Earth’s orbit affects temperature.
All of those factors, plus countless others, are called positive and negative terms. The climate models just need to miss one single term to throw off the accuracy, Hayden said.
“Now you begin to see the absurdity of it all,” he said. “There’s something like 83 different models for climate — obviously at least 82 have to be wrong because they all disagree with one another.”
Hayden points to the billions of dollars that have been spent on climate research by people with vested interests in the outcome of that research.
“The people who are, let’s say, a little more sanguine about climate change have no such resources,” Hayden said. “People tend to trust things that come from the government, and very often that trust is quite a bit misplaced. … It’s a groupthink.”
Maybe so, said Coddington, but she remains absolutely certain that the consensus is accurate. She faces opposing views often, even in her own home.
“My husband works for the [Bureau of Land Management] and he does oil and gas, so there’s tension in this household,” she said.
While Vail Resorts as a company has hundreds of environmental projects and goals under way, company CEO Rob Katz’s view is that climate change is about something much larger — the earth. He has a bit of a different view on the subject and doesn’t view each and every weather event or seasonal weather pattern as evidence of something catastrophic.
Matt Hamilton and Aspen Skiing Co. do look at weather variances from year to year as concerning signs, but climate change is more about long-term impacts, he said.
“All of our sustainability work, it’s also about how we create vibrant communities,” he said. “It’s about creating a great work place.”