Sunday, December 03, 2006


Firstly, I watched Al Gore's An Unconvenient Truth. I figured being that this dude has dedicated more than half his life to the gathering and presenting of the information in this film, it was worth a viewing. After viewing it, I'm convinced our world is in trouble. It really hit me. I like to consider myself someone who has enough defenses and wit to not be so damn impressionable, but in 96 minutes, I was changed. And I was changed in a positive way. I know it sounds cheesy. It sounds real cheesy to me because I watch movies, but rarely do I feel so compelled. No, it doesn't mean I'm necessarily voting Democratic in 2008. It doesn't mean I'm jumping off the deep end, climbing a tree armed with a sniper rifle and becoming one of those militant enviromentalists. I just think it's time for a change. I'm not saying it's more important than ending this horrible war we're in. I'm not saying it's more important than the thousands of diseases and catastrophes that are blasting out massive chunks of the world's population in swoops. But I am saying that people need to wake up.

I've been known to go off in rants about big, Earth-crushing, ego-feeding, gas-guzzling, single-occupant sports utility vehicles and how completely unnecessary they are. Much to my lovely wife's dismay, I'll never stop these rants until everyone in America drives a vehicle that gets at least 30 miles to the gallon both in city and on highway. If that means that I'll never stop complaining, then I'll never stop complaining. I understand school buses, large eighteen-wheelers and, even ambulances, probably don't get 30, but I'll make the exception because buses qualify as mass transit and they're necessary to keeping the number of vehicles on the road down, transport trucks are essential to this economy's supply chain (although their driving sucks) and ambulances don't really need justification. Until American automakers can make a reliable, affordable and fuel-efficient vehicle that can compete with the Honda Civic, I'm a Honda man. Let's say, just hypothetically really, that this war we're in is not all about terroristic threats or terror attacks, it's not about Bin Laden (again, just hypothetically for a moment), it's not about religion, it's not about Saddam. Let's say it's not even about politics! Let's just throw out the crazy notion that this way is about (hang with me, here) resources. Let's say it's about oil. Maybe it's not all about oil, but let's say oil or natural resources contributes to a mere 10-15% of the reasons, initiatives that are contributing to this long-winded and cost war (or "occupancy" as I'm beginning to call it). Would that small contribution to our conflict be enough to get Americans to maybe find more efficient means of transport? Let's, again, say that 50% of of the oil that Americans are reliant on everytime they fill up their g'zillion gallon tanks comes from outside the US (which, by the way, is true).

Anyone remember gas prices going off the charts topping out at levels that have never been seen after September 11th. Has anyone noticed that they have continued to escalate after our increased appearance in the Middle East. Certainly, ol' Katrina didn't help, but those oil refineries have certainly recovered by now. Katrina, moreso, served as an excuse for oil companies to ring more cash out of Americans each time they filled up. Coincidently, prices began to slide back to non-ludicrous heights around the mid-term elections.

There are economic, environmental and political reasons to drive more efficient vehicles. If you're driving one of these gigantasauruses, you better have a butt in every seat. If the scientists are correct in their predictions of the global landscape at our current rate of consumption, my kids may never get an opportunity to ski because the Rockies won't get but a foot of snow each winter to ski on.

Even in the last 15-20 years, I've noticed a drastic drop in the amount of snow that New Mexico receives. I wasn't for sure if it was warming reasons, just chance, gulf streams had redirected, but when I was a kid, Angel Fire, NM could easily accumulate a 100-inch base. Sometimes they'd creep up around 120 inches. I haven't seen then much higher than 45-50 inches in the last decade, for sure. Maybe further back than that. It was not abnormal for Taos, NM to creep up around a 120-inch base as well with a stated annual snowfall of 312 inches. Below is their snowfall totals by season beginning from when I graduated from high school. Not for any reason, except that's as far back as I can find online.

1995-1996: 195 inches
1996-1997: 371 inches
1997-1998: 311 inches
1998-1999: 215 inches
1999-2000: 153 inches
2000-2001: 312 inches
2001-2002: 147 inches
2002-2003: 255 inches
2003-2004: 249 inches
2004-2005: 295 inches
2005-2006: 152 inches (warmest year in America's history)

If you're doing the math at home, Taos' 11-year average is actually 241 inches and not 312 inches. Still pretty decent, but only 77% of what they post as their average. I'd rather they lower ticket prices than inflate their snow totals. And, that 152 inches from last year, 85 inches (55%) of it came in March which is a little too late.

Look, I'll just put it to rest. I'm not an expert and maybe Al Gore isn't either, but I'd rather err on the side of overly cautious than apathetic. I don't mind being the only cat at the ski resort in a Honda Civic.

Speaking of, we're continuing to monitor the progress at Wolf Creek ("The Best Snow in Colorado"). Currently, they're at a base of 48-50 inches. Not spectacular, but better than anywhere else within a car ride from the Yellow.

Mayhem and I got in an argument about "year to date" totals and I consulted the expertise of a man named Mike Doyle who is a member of the Eastern Ski Writers Association. I had argued that the "year to date" total includes January through May snow that had completely melted off during the summer months; meaning a resort could say in November they've received 140" of snow but there's only 12" on the mountain. As Mike explains, "Most records record YTD snowfall as that snow fallen since the resort last operated. For example, one resort has 19" YTD but you can't find a fresh flake anywhere. However, 1, 2, or 3 in squalls, since the resort ended 2005-2006 operations, all add up and that is what they record."

Mayhem, you would be right. I apologize trying to argue this silly point. I'm posting this as part of our agreement that I would throw up the results of my findings here at The Root Down.

Now that we got that outta the way, we're hosting a Christmas-Open House-Skier/Snowboarder Send-Off Party next weekend. Aside from Thanksgiving, it'll be our first big event in the new place. Should be a good time. And yes, folks, I inventory my CDs so don't get caught sneaking.


TX said...

Well put. I haven't gotten to see the film yet, but I intend to do so. They showed it for free here at Fuller. I don't really think it's offering anything new so much as bringing attention to the topic again. Gore is a goat and I'm not sure I can believe much of what comes out of his mouth...including that he's spent half his life compiling the data for this film. Remember...this is the same guy who "invented" the internet. All the same, it comes down to how you choose to treat the creation we've been given. The consumeristic mentality of the most powerful segment of humanity seems to be destroying what we have because it's all about consuming and not about nurturing or conserving. Nobody can really argue with the fact that once we've blown it...there's not really much else to draw from. We gots to get our act together.

j3 said...

I knew I could count on you to fill in with the "internet" mention. I forgot to type that.

I think the scary thing is that years of habitual consumption without interruption have accelerated the rate of deteriation and, still, not many people are willing to make any changes.

I can't fully commit to a life without electricity, but I gotta believe that if every American made two changes to their life as it relates to their surroundings, we could seriously impact the environment. I'd rather try and entertain the alternative.

TX said...

we're on the same page...definitely.