A Note to My Readers: It has not been easy to write this essay and I am scared to see my name displayed publicly next to what follows. I am sure these ideas will win me few friends in Park City and the broader ski community. Nevertheless, what follows is the truth as it has been shown to me. My allegiance belongs, first and foremost, to life, to the land, to both the human and non-human victims of the insanity of the dominant system. I love to ski. I love to walk the aspen groves in the Wasatch Mountains above Park City. I love seeing moose cross Park Avenue almost weekly. In short, I love living here. But my desire to live here should not trump the land’s ability to survive.
By Will Falk
At the south end of Brown’s Canyon, about 6 miles northeast of Park City, Utah, there’s always an engine running. Usually, there are more than I can count.
If it’s not commuting car engines coughing to life in cold, winter air, it’s snowblowers blasting snow from driveways. If it’s not cars or snowblowers, its excavators flattening the next hill over, clawing out one bucketful of earth at a time. If it’s none of these, it’s diesel generators compressing air for nail guns popping boards together.
Standing on my small deck, sipping my morning coffee, I try to focus on the winds’ words. The winds speak a harsh tongue, full of curses. They are busy rattling aluminum drains on the roof’s edge, dragging loose gravel across a construction road, and navigating concrete right angles forming condominium building walls.
To the east, a red-tailed hawk is pinned against the wind above a snow-muddied expanse littered with cinder blocks, discarded hand tools, and a brown skid-steer ran off its rubber track. The sight of the crippled skid-steer brings half a wry smile to my face: a small if only momentary delay in the destruction.
Just a few months ago, this expanse was a ridge line washed in the bright turquoise light of morning sunshine seeping through sagebrush. There were a few healthy stands of pinyon pine and juniper trees. You’d see their branches jostle, first. Then, mule deer or elk would step into sunlight, grazing with blind confidence in the immortality of their basin home.
The hawk seeks the valley on the far side of the destruction where she might spot a mouse or vole. I often seek that valley, too. I love visiting late at night when rabbits with white winter coats wait for clouds to cross the moon so they may risk sprints across open spaces to the safety of shadows under gnarled rabbitbrush roots.
The sigh of a dump truck’s exhaust and the squeal of its brakes brings me back to the present. The engines resume each morning. This is daily life in Park City, a town expanding at a dizzying pace.
Eight new condo buildings have been built in my neighborhood in the last eighteen months. Just a few weeks ago, a large commercial and housing project proposal – part of the Promontory Development – was publicly unveiled. The proposal would destroy 666 acres with 190,000 square feet of commercial space, 350 hotel rooms, and 1,020 residential units. The proposal also includes plans to build yet another dam for yet another reservoir.
Over in Old Town, a group called the “Treasure Partnership” intends to force the Park City Planning Commission to vote on a project that would cut 1 million square feet out of the foothills above Park City to allow another 2000 people to stay in town. The project would involve parking space larger than a Super Wal-Mart, towers as much as 10 stories high, and the travel of 300 heavy trucks in and out of downtown Park City each day.
Park City is a damned town. Voices on the wind blowing in from the canyons whisper that this has always been true. Hollows groan with miners crushed in shafts long since collapsed, aspens still quake with memories of dynamite, and streams spit with tastes of mining waste.
Mountains say nothing. They simply rise to the sky displaying their wounds. With shoulders flayed by roads and ski runs, their scars are reopened whenever forests threaten encroachment on skiers’ paths. First, these mountains had their guts ripped out by silver miners. Then, they had their skin peeled off by resorts. And, now they’re baking with climate change.
What is happening to Park City is what is happening to the planet and what is happening is civilization. Derrick Jensen’s definition for civilization is best because it is defensible both linguistically and historically while accounting for physical reality.
Jensen explains in his work, Endgame, the root word in “civilization” is “civil.” “Civil” derives from “civis” which comes from the Latin “civitatis” meaning “city-state.” From there, Jensen defines civilization as a “culture – that is a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts – that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities, with cities being defined – so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on – as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life.”
When people live in populations that exceed the carrying capacity of their land base, they strip their land of the necessities of life and must look to other lands for what they need. Many scholars date the beginning of civilization with the birth of agriculture close to 12,000 years ago. Despite agriculture’s favorable connotations in most circles, Lierre Keith describes what agriculture actually is: “In very brute terms, you take a piece of land, you clear every living thing off it, and then you plant it to human use. Instead of sharing that land with the other million creatures who need to live there, you’re only growing humans on it. It’s biotic cleansing.”
With its roots in agriculture, civilization has been destroying the planet from its beginning. Over thousands of years, civilized humans – with their native lands destroyed – sought out new lands to exploit. Park City was born from this process. The first European settlers to come to Park City en masse braved the harsh mountain environment for the silver that was discovered here.
When silver prices dropped, the mountains sighed with relief as mining significantly slowed. Park City’s human community would have deserted the area if the few remaining miners hadn’t come up with the idea to open the Treasure Mountain ski resort in 1963.
Park City miners traded one boom-or-bust industry for another.
Park City has no future. Either the snow or the industrial system allowing Park City’s human population to live here will fail.
Park City’s human community relies on snow for its survival. First, snow is water. Park City sits on the eastern edge of the Great Basin with a permanent human population of about 8,000. The operation of the tourism industry means there are more than 8,000 humans in Park City at any given time – especially during the peak winter season.
These humans require water and the Great Basin is a desert. Snowpack is the area’s water source and serves as a natural reservoir collecting snow in winter and slowly releasing it to streams, soil, and plants as temperatures warm in spring and summer.
Snow doesn’t just provide life-giving water, it gives tourists a reason to visit – and to spend money. While there are more humans in the area than the land can support the necessities of life must be imported. Importing these necessities costs money and the resort industry provides this money.
The snow that falls every winter on Park City is critically endangered by climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that Utah has warmed by two degrees (F) over the last century causing snowpack in Utah to be steadily decreasing since the 1950s. A 2009 report commissioned by Park City Municipal Corporation and The Park City Foundation predicts another two degrees average temperature rise in Park City by 2030, four degrees by 2050, and almost seven degrees by 2075. Porter Fox, author of Deep: The Story of Skiing and The Future of Snow cites studies that show this seven degrees (F) warming will leave Park City with no snow by 2100.
Physically speaking, climate change is caused by global greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gasses trap the sun’s heat on the Earth’s surface causing the planet to warm. These greenhouse gasses include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor.
Greenhouse gas emissions are integral to the basic functioning of civilized life. Carbon dioxide is released through deforestation, biomass burning, conversion of land to agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels. Methane is produced by waste decomposition, agriculture (especially rice production), and by the digestive systems of domestic livestock.
Nitrous oxide is produced through soil cultivation practices including the use of both organic and commercial fertilizers, nitric acid production, fossil fuel combustion, and biomass burning. Chlorofluorocarbons are inorganic, synthetic compounds entirely produced by industrial activities. Chlorofluorocarbons not only act as greenhouse gasses, they weaken the Earth’s ozone layer.
The EPA regularly publishes reports on total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector. Their latest report, based on emissions in 2014, attributes 30% of American greenhouse gas emissions to electricity generation, 26% to transportation which includes burning fossil fuel for trucks, ships, planes, trains, and personal automobiles, 21% to industry burning fossil fuel for energy and from chemical reactions involved in manufacturing, 12% to commercial and residential processes like burning fossil fuels for heat and the handling of waste, and, finally, 9% from agriculture including soil maintenance, fertilizer use, and livestock production. The EPA does not account for the other 2%.
If we look at the EPA’s numbers critically, we see that the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions result from the same economic sectors supporting humans in Park City – electricity generation, transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture. If these sectors keep operating, the snow will fail. If the snow fails, Park City fails. For the snow to survive, these sectors must fail. If these sectors fail, Park City is left without the necessities of life. There’s no way out.
Let’s take a closer look: Humans could not survive snowy and cold Park City winters at 7,000 feet above sea level without shelter and warmth.These shelters require wood. Harvesting wood requires deforestation and deforestation emits greenhouse gasses. The wood must be brought here. Transporting this wood requires ships, planes, and trucks. Ships, planes, and trucks burn fossil fuels. They also are manufactured. The manufacturing process requires a whole different list of building materials with their own associated extraction and transportation emissions.
Park City’s shelters must be heated, too. Most of these shelters are heated by electricity. In the United States, electricity generation emits the most greenhouse gasses. And again, the electricity must be transported. Electrical transportation requires the operation and maintenance of a power grid which, like we saw with ships, planes, and trucks, requires manufacturing processes with their own building materials, extraction, and transportation emissions.
The land surrounding Park City does not offer enough food to support 8,000 human residents plus thousands of visitors. Food, like building materials and energy, must be imported. Park City relies on the same greenhouse gas emitting transportation infrastructure that brings building materials to bring food. This food is produced through agriculture and industrial livestock. Agriculture requires deforestation and other land clearances that emit carbon dioxide and methane. It also requires soil cultivation and fertilization which emit nitrous oxide. And, the cows and sheep raised in industrial livestock operations emit significant amounts of methane.
Meanwhile, the general consensus amongst climate scientists is that developed nations must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid runaway climate change. Based on the EPA’s numbers, even if every small-business and home in America reduced its emissions to zero (12% of total US emissions) and each American drove cars that emitted no greenhouse gas (much less than 26% of total US emissions), the United States wouldn’t even come close to the 80% goal.
It’s at this point that most commentators invoke so-called alternative energies as the solution to climate change. These people insist that we can maintain our lifestyles if we just switch to solar or build enough wind farms. In Park City, these people tell us that we can have a thriving tourist economy with visitors transported from all over the world AND a livable planet. We can do this, they claim if we just switch city buses to electric and install solar panels on city buildings. Unfortunately, these “green technologies” are neither green nor solutions.
I’ll start with the most popular: Solar power.
While it is true that the sun offers near-infinite energy, the problem is harnessing that energy. Harnessing this energy requires solar cells and solar cell production emits greenhouse gasses that are worse than carbon dioxide. Alternative energy scholar Ozzie Zehner explains that the solar cell manufacturing process is one of the largest emitters of hexafluoroethane, nitrogen trifluoride, and sulfur hexafluoride. Zehner writes, “As a greenhouse gas hexafluoroethane is twelve thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide … nitrogen trifluoride is seventeen thousand times more virulent than carbon dioxide, and sulfur hexafluoride, the most treacherous greenhouse gas…is twenty-five thousand times more threatening (than carbon dioxide).”
The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition points out that as the solar industry expands, “The most widely used solar photovoltaic panels have the potential to create a huge new wave of electronic waste at the end of their useful lives, which is estimated to be 20 to 25 years.” And, many new solar photovoltaic technologies “use extremely toxic materials or materials with unknown health and environmental risks…”
Right now, the solar power industry is tiny. Zehner notes it supplies less than a hundredth of 1 percent of America’s electricity. As this industry grows, solar cell production will emit more of the most dangerous greenhouse gasses and create more toxic waste. Zehner says it best: “Considering the extreme risks and limitations of today’s solar technologies, the notion that they could create any sort of challenge to the fossil-fuel establishment starts to appear not merely optimistic, but delusional.”
Wind power is another alternative energy darling. Like the energy offered by the sun, wind is a renewable, abundant energy. Turbines used to harvest wind energy, however, require the entire fossil fuel infrastructure to manufacture them. When considering the ability of wind turbines to replace greenhouse gas emissions, we must account for mining, manufacturing, transporting, constructing, land-clearances, maintaining, decommissioning, and waste supporting wind turbines.
To harvest wind turbines must be placed where wind blows. The best places for wind turbines are often in remote and fragile natural communities. To build wind farms, land must be cleared. This involves deforestation. To transport energy harnessed by turbines from wind farms requires roads, power lines, and transformers. The greenhouse gasses emitted by deforestation, alone, may cancel benefits wind farms provide.
Zehner makes a very interesting case against wind power – and all alternative energies for that matter – while examining the popularly recited possibility that the US could attain 20% wind energy by 2030. He says this achievement might not remove a single fossil-fuel plant from the grid and explains, “There is a common misconception that building additional alternative-energy capacity will displace fossil-fuel use; however…producing more energy simply increases supply, lowers cost, and stimulates additional energy consumption.” To support his claim, Zehner cites analysts who argue that wind turbines in Europe “have not reduced the region’s carbon footprint by a single gram.” The classic example is Spain “which prided itself on being a solar and wind power leader over the last two decades only to see its greenhouse gas emission rise 40% over the same period.”
So, alternative energies aren’t really alternative energies, they’re additional energies.
I could go on with the other alternative energies, but they share the same problems. Namely, manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning of the means for harvesting a renewable energy emit green house gases and involve their own deadly pollutions.
At day’s end, even if these so-called “green” technologies were employed, they would only add to this culture’s capacity to consume.
Local scientist, Dr. Tim Garrett, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah studies the amount of energy required to sustain civilization. Garrett concludes that civilization must collapse if the planet is to have any chance of survival. Garrett states the obvious. Civilizations always collapse. They must because they are based on hyper-exploitation of the land.
Park City is a microcosm for the problems facing the planet. It is a product of civilization. Like civilization, Park City has no future.
With a human population exceeding the land’s carrying capacity, Park City is wholly dependent on the industrial system to bring the necessities of life. To access this system, Park City relies on a constant flow of money brought by tourists who come for the snow. Sadly, the very process that brings the tourists and their money – the industrial system – is the process emitting greenhouse gases that are warming the world, destroying the snow, and destroying the planet. There are no alternatives within this system. It must be dismantled.
Back on my deck with my coffee, I watch the lifts carrying people up Park City Mountain Resort. I contemplate what I should do today. Should I sit down to write what I know is true? Or, should I head up those lifts to ski? The decision isn’t too different than the decision facing the whole community.
Park City has a choice. We can face the truth that our town has no future and work to remove humans, humanely as possible, from the area. Or, we can try to keep this insane party going for a little longer as we put on our ski goggles to blur reality, shed our jackets with the warming climate, and take one last suicidal run on disappearing snow.
Anne falk says
Sad to see our world being destroyed by its own civilization.
Jan Primous says
I am speechless as usual when faced with the obvious and inevitable.
I couldn’t enjoy the content but your use of language has a beauty that takes me above our normal human poverty, thank you.
Maybe the best we can do is to hold hands,pay our respects and honor all that we have and are killing,own our ignorance,express our regret, breathe our grief and bow our heads in acceptance and finally surrender.
Wishing you love and strength.
What is city leadership thinking? Town is already failing! The bubble is bursting.
“When people live in populations that exceed the carrying capacity of their land base, they strip their land of the necessities of life and must look to other lands for what they need. ”
1 million sq feet in Treasure Development
.5 million in Bonanza Park
1 million sq ft in DV Snow Park
17 “thousand” homes approved around Jordanelle
…and a hundred more projects already online.
Will please run for Mayor !
Bill Freeman says
Not only Park City is dammed. Enjoy your life while it is still possible. No human is likely to survive global warming for much longer. We are already past the tipping point of methane release from frozen deposits.
Bob Berwyn says
Do you have a link to a study that proves that?
Land does not need to be deforested and cleared to erect wind turbines. It has already been cleared by farmers. The best wind farming areas are in the Midwest, which is mostly vast expanses of treeless land where corn and soybeans are grown.
Will Falk says
Yes, it has been deforested, but instead of building wind farms we should work to return those lands to forests. Many of those lands were prairies and grasslands which are also very effective carbon sinks. Even if some wind farms don’t involve new deforestation on the sites they’re established on, their manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning involve extensive greenhouse gas emissions.
Vernon Brechin says
Thank you for your fine essay. Many of those who understand the problem never consider that there might be too many of us on this planet and that human reproduction might have something to do with the ruin that we always seem to believe we can overcome. If we fail to set things right then we often put our faith in our offspring to provide us hope that they can do better than we could. Perhaps it’s time to look into the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEM) as the final solution instead of always coming up with excuses for why humans are so essential for this planet’s health.
For those who want to learn more about the externalities of urban living I suggest the book “Imperial San Francisco.”
Jane Riley says
VHEM sounds very logical. I’ll investigate. It’s always been taboo to discuss births per couple. I was at least glad to hear the Catholic church, the pope, came out to say three children per couple is plenty but we can do better than that.
Will Falk says
For the record, I don’t think all humans need to go to extinct. There are and have always been human cultures that lived sustainably with their land bases. It’s a mistake to think that all human cultures have been inherently destructive. Many hunter-gatherer societies contributed to the health of their land bases.
Ed Lewis says
Just read your piece on Park City. I agree with most of what you said and know you are more well studied in this than I. So I have a few questions for you, what are your thoughts on Tesla’s new solar shingles? Do you think those cause as much damage as the solar panels?
Also, what if we were able to build a indoor urban farm to provide produce to the local community? That would eliminate the transportation and if we tried to produce electricity using solar shingles for the building that too would eliminate greenhouse gas.
I understand you think the only thing we can do for PC is eliminate people, I’m trying to think of alternatives. Are there no alternatives?
Luke Lopez says
You neglected to mention one big problem for Utah. The Salt Lake Valley will have 5 million people by 2025, less than 10% of that boom will come from outsiders moving into the area. The elephant in the room for Utah is the outrageously large families they all have. The LDS church is totally dependent on oil for their lifestyle choices (mission work overseas, mini vans, Chuck-o-rama). You want people out of Park City, Moab, St George or anywhere else in Utah, one will need the church to adopt a one child policy.
Jane Riley says
Yes. One child policy!
Brent Lee says
There needs to be low cost or free birth control & vasectomies for all.
Cara O'Sullivan says
Thank you for this extremely enlightening article. I live in Provo and am watching similar developments here in Utah County. Build, build, build like there is no tomorrow and no global warming. It is distressing to watch.
Aunt Clare says
Thanks for the article, Will. Your words are filled with truth.
JoAnne Van Datta says
Escruciatingly honest observations. Well done.
You’ve been lined from the /r/Collapse subforum on Reddit.
Thank you for saying what others are either afraid or too ignorant to acknowledge. I’d vote for you for mayor.
Kevin Hester says
Spot on article going where few are prepared to go but I do notice more and more of these articles every day.
Collapse can’t be far away!
Rob Hill says
“Don’t worry … everything little thing … is going to be alright” Most of the slopes that are covered with trees and wildlife around P.C. today were stripped bare only 100 years ago … the only constant in nature is change and nature always wins … just give it time… there is always another asteroid or massive volcanic eruption on the horizon ;-) we are not in charge, just along for the ride … go skiing and be happy
Shabba Rules says
It is clear you understand very little about ecological processes or the impact of industrialization.
Mr Rodgers says
Why do people worry about this stuff, Jesus will take care of it all. :)
Mary Maddox says
Excellent essay. Its focus on Park City leaves a larger truth unexplored: there are more and more human beings on the planet, and they have to live somewhere. We’ll continue to pollute the ecosystem and consume resources until the planet can no longer sustain us, then large numbers of us will die.
You only touched on *one* of the reasons Park City’s damned. Among many others: clearly simmering class issues as a part of everyday life, the fact that many locals treat each other like shit and the tourists treat us worse, the mediocre skiing from a “world class ski town,” the fact that no one has a place to live but 75% of the town building stock is vacant nearly all year, the cost of living, the inauthenticity of the place, global warming, overcrowded bike trails and trail heads, lack of economic development past catering to tourists, massive workforce shortages, lack of through streets and looming future gridlock, the list goes on.
Sadly a scary truth…uncontrolled development allows for the influx of humans…this is a result of greed of the developers and the city’s lack of limits on permits etc…all circles back to greed. Open lands need to be preserved..construction halted..the city does not have the water supply, roads, or infrastructure to support this. Time to wake up!
This article is a great illustration of the fact that not only are we unsustainable in our current iteration but we have been for millennia and increasingly so. The small town example here reminds me of Al Bartlett talking a few years ago of Boulder Colorado growing at a an unsustainable pace. It’s really sad when we would have some choices remaining if those in authority and power could face reality and plan judiciously.
Jan Michael Sauer says
The major problem on our planet is over population. It is not the major danger (that would be all things nuclear), but it is the major problem and is the root cause of many of our other problems. We humans have a serious leadership vacuum when it comes to the problem of over population. Until we pressure our world leaders to address this issue we will have to rely on war and individual responsibility ( birth control) to alleviate the population explosion. Thank you once again Will for another superb article.
John Lawrence says
“we will have to rely on war and individual responsibility ( birth control) to alleviate the population explosion.” You forgot disease. Huge epidemics could return now that antibiotics are no longer effective against some germs.
Peter Garrett said it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBXQdHBLOCs
todd cory says
the limits to growth are a cruel master… particularly for humans who somehow think techno-cornucopianism can mitigate our finite planet realities.
“degrowth” is not political… this is math and science knocking at our door.
Heyzeus Christos says
A well researched and written article. Agree with the notion that green energy is not.
Many seem surprised yet forget the downfall of the human species itself of course will be the human species.
Humans are extremely proficient at two things, procreation and killing each other, and for centuries this has been happening at exponential rates.
For as much as some of us try to be better beings, our species as a whole has not evolved.
Our lives are infintessimal compared to the scope of time of the creation of the universe. The planet will take care of itself when we have finally depleted, toxified and destroyed conditions that make life sustainable on this planet.
Grim thought yes, but in the bigger picture, humans and all of our materialism will eventually become the next sort of carbon layer on the planet.
Best advice, be grateful for what we do have that is good, food, shelter, mountains, cleanish air and water, our health and well being.
Keep fighting the good fight but dont ever let it ruin our lives. Life is amazing and precious, enjoy every moment and be beyond grateful.
Thanks for the well written, thought provoking article.
Chloe Jeffreys says
Thank you for your courage. Ultimately, the entire planet is damned. There aren’t just too many people in Park City; there are just too many people, period. Large swathes of Africa, and something like half a BILLION people, will die of thirst film lack of waterin the next few years. Large parts of the Middle East will be uninhabitable as average temperatures rise.
The current refugee crisis is only the tip of the iceberg of what the northern hemisphere will face in the future. Resources are dwindling. War, famine, and more refugees fighting over the remaining resources is inevitable.
I’ve been so upset about Donald Trump but impeachment isn’t going to solve anything because winter is coming. There’s just too many of us.
And as long as the Abrahamic-based religions, including Mormonism, continue emphasizing reproduction as a path to salvation we’re screwed.
Go skiing. You’ll miss it when is gone.
Please submit this to the Park Record as a Guest Editorial. Nicely done.
Rob Hill says
… radiometric dating of volcanic ashbeds in Montana and Haiti located near geological evidence of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period suggests that mass extinction only took about 32,000 years …
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-long-mass-extinction-180949711/#xqbVKXBXFoFVts3B.99
Actually the first ski area in the Park city area was Snow Park where Deer Valley currently sits. I believe it was started in the late 30s by Otto Carpenter & Mel Fletcher. There still remains a couple of the wooden towers left.
What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down
Brent Lee says
When I first moved to Salt Lake in 1970 you could still buy property on old Park City main street for a relative pittance. Even though the ski resort had been open 7 years at that time, P.C. still had the appearance of a ghost town. The population in 1970 was only 1,193. After watching the Wasatch Front continue to grow & expand without any apparent controls, I left & moved west to another state with very strict land use laws that protected farm & forest lands. It seems that Utah has No, or very little land use restriction. That coupled with uncontrolled birth rates, it will only get worse. There needs to be low cost or free birth control & vasectomies for all.
The high birthrates in that neck of the country are not due to lack of birth control but intentional.
Brent Lee says
Understood… It’s because that’s what God wants..(facetious)
Joking aside that is what they actually believe. Interestingly enough, even though Utah still have the highest birthrate of any state, birthrates have been in decline.
Robb Gaffney says
You were effective in helping us look past all of our own personal greenwashing – which serves to make us feel better about ourselves – and forced us to search for the hidden variables which have yet to be identified. Thanks for elevating the conversation.
Michael Russell says
All chemicals used in the production of Solar-PV can be captured and recycled. China has reduced the embedded energy in Solar-cells down to just 6-months of the energy production of those same cells in electricity production (about 5% of their minimum expected lifetime production). Wind, Hydro, and Geo-Thermal power have similar pay-back for energy investment, but ALL these GREEN technologies can be made with 100% Renewable Energy, if we choose. The total renewable energy potential of the USA alone is >100,000 times the WORLD energy consumption.
Anyone who has spent the summer in Las Vegas knows it is hot in the sun so you move to the shade where it feels much cooler.
The solution to global warming is a metaphorical “sun umbrella” which will reduce solar energy gain and hence cool the planet. Imagine a giant parasol in space.
OK, that isn’t feasible, but something else is.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted back in 1991, nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were injected into the stratosphere, and dispersal of this gas cloud around the world caused global temperatures to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F.
Why? The sulfur dioxide “reflected” about 1% of the sun’s light back into outer space.
So, to stop global warming in its tracks without the horrible economic implications of restricting carbon-based energy, we need a fleet of metaphorical “weather balloons” stringing metaphorical “garden hoses” to the ground where they are connected to sulfur dioxide generators. We then pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, targeting a reduction in light of about 1%, thereby cooling the planet to account for human-based global warming.
Heyzeus Christos says
The so called conspiracy theory, “chem-trails” that commercial jetliners spew at 25k + feet are just that, an attempt to cover the stratosphere in minute particles of barium salts and other light blocking particles to reflect sunlight.
Only problem is that ultra-violet radiation is still able to penetrate and heat the planet. Think about not wearing sunscreen lotion on a cloudy day, you still will get sunburned.
The other problem in your concept is the so called “umbrella” traps the heat generated by ultraviolet radiation and does not allow the heat to escape. If you live in the mountains you can witness this phenomena as well on nights when its cloudy, especially during warmer spring days, thatvheat gets trapped and overnight temps stay much warmer.
Think chemtrails are not purposely created? Go to USPTO.gov
and do a search for the welsbach patent.
Your idea is very flawed and only proposes to further warm the planet.
Heyzeus Frikken Christos
You might enjoy reading
This is a very complex issue. You seemed to write for a while about the concept of embodied energy. This is only one small part of a very complex and multi-faceted system and series of systems. I find it is ironic that you live in new housing being built at the mouth of Brown’s canyon and are a recent transplant to Park City.
The root of the issue is obviously population, but more so personal responsibility and knowing and accepting that we, the Human race, are the only chance of moving in the right direction, and this will not be done for us by blind faith and at the hands of a higher power/being.
Please do some more research about the human system(s) and possible futures that exist for the human race. Suggested reading Edward O Wilson books, “Plan B” by Lester Brown, “Limits to Growth” by Meadows, Randers, & Meadows. Explaining the idea of embodied energy for paragraphs seems trivial compared to the systems that exist in our world.
Also, the Earth will survive and prevail in some way, it is the Human race and the ecosystems as we know them that will suffer and disappear/change/evolve.
Not that I disagree with you, but just to be clear there is more than one Chris.
Andrea Himoff says
This article relies heavily on the work of Zehner, but without giving some of the context or critique of Zehner’s work. Beware of scare tactics to push ideas where there is no science to back it up. Zehner makes some good points, but perspective on his work is important — where it is credible and where it is not, and also that it is now 4 years old, which is a lifetime in renewable energies. People who read this article only to support what they believe to be true will be satisfied with it as is. People who truly seek to understand this issue should do some research on these arguments. Here is a different perspective you can start with: http://www.ecoshock.org/2015/01/green-reality-vs-ozzie-zehner.html
Doug Tulloch says
I’m no writer. Your essay was so spot on! I left a few years ago having arrived in a tiny close knit town in 1977. My essay would have been shorter. “We’re screwed! The End. Literally.” Too much of a good thing has been a bad thing. The madness may as well continue, because it’s already too late. Onward and downward.
orlie ann bush says
Well said!!!!!I have been in PC for over 20 years. At all hours of the day, the noise levels from traffic and construction are disruptive and deafening . There is little nature left in PC. It has transformed into rich suburbia. When will the humans realize that the problem is not overpopulation of deer, elephants , moose..? The overpopulation of the human species and their destruction of natural habitat is the problem. Even if we all drive Teslas and install solar power , it will not save us. Humans just consume and destroy everything around them.
Mr. Falk: you should be proud , not scared , to print what is true. Park City residents need to stop pretending they are environmentalists living in 10,000 square foot “sustainable” homes. Thank you for your insight!!!
Orlie Ann Bush — Given that you identify the problem as “overpopulation of the human species,” please propose your preferred solution.
brent lee says
I already did in an earlier comment: Low cost, or free birth control & vasectomies easily available to everyone.
Thom Wentlandt says
I too am from Milwaukee , but have lived in Utah , ( West Jordan , a suburb of Salt Lake City ), Alabama , Missouri , and since 1980, Texas . Texas is a big state, but not big enough, if you live in San Antonio like I do. Until I moved here I had never experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on an interstate highway 100 miles from a big city like I have on I-10, on the way to Houston. There is no place where you can go to be alone within 150 miles from here. Little towns and state parks are overrun with traffic and people . If we hadn’t moved here to help care for our little grand kids I’d leave this human ant colony in a heart beat. They’re projecting growth of a million more people within ten years here in San Antonio, and some fools are excited about it. With any luck I’ll be dead…
Lisa Bower says
Nicely put. I lived in Park City from 1980 to 1999, then bought a place in Kansas It because we couldn’t afford Park City.
The changes the town and surrounding communities have undergone is astronomical. I don’t think it is all for the best by any means.
Yes you can make a living year round now, instead of half the town shutting down when the ski area closes. At what cost though, I must ask the question is it really worth it. My lovely little town is now a compete nightmare !
I can liken the changes I have seen to the amazing history my Grandmother saw during her lifetime, 1896 to 1995.
I know that everything must change, but enough is enough, I say STOP !
Desde la Logan says
Will followed up this piece with:
Park City is Still Damned: What Needs to Be Done?