Anne-Flore Dwyer: Let’s work together to save our snow
Here we are, in the middle of what Tahoe locals call “a good winter.” This year the snow has fallen, providing us with a backdrop for all our winter activities and pumping up our local businesses.
Amidst the snow shoveling and play it is easy to let our worries over climate change slip out of mind. However, come spring a different story awaits us.
According to the “Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada” report completed by the UCLA Center for Climate Science, our snowpack is melting faster than ever before. The speed at which the snow melts during the spring is being affected by the overall change in global temperature. This, in turn, is exacerbated by what is called the Albedo effect.
This effect describes how certain types of surfaces, including snow, reflect the sun and its warmth more than bare ground does. This effectively snowballs the increase in global temperatures and increases the speed at which the snow melts.
The study predicts that if no global action is taken to mitigate the effects of climate change we will see a 64 percent drop of average springtime snowpack by the end of the century for areas between 5,000-8,000 feet above sea level. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the snowmelt would start 50 days sooner than the current average, leaving our mountains bare much earlier in the year. This not only impacts the duration and quality of our winters but the water supply for much of California and increases the risk for wildfire.
If we are proactive and reduce our carbon emissions, we could see a reduction in the anticipated loss of snowpack resulting in a 30 percent, rather than 64 percent, drop in average springtime Sierra snowpack by the end of the century.
There is some good news in the midst of the bad. A bipartisan bill has already been introduced in Congress to take the first steps towards reducing emissions. The Energy innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will put a price on carbon pollution at its source, where fossil fuels enter the economy, and return the proceeds to individuals in the form of a dividend check. Studies have shown that this bill would be highly effective, reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent in just 12 years. The bill would also stimulate the economy by providing dividends from the proceeds collected, help transition the energy industry to more renewable energy sources, and would create an estimated 2.1 million jobs. The bill has been endorsed by the National Ski Areas Association and Protect Our Winters, among many others.
So, what can you do? Take a minute to write or call your member of Congress and say you are concerned about climate change and support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. And, if you are a government leader, business owner, or a prominent member of the community (including world class athletes) please consider endorsing the bill here: energyinnovationact.org/endorse.
Let’s work together to reduce our impact and save our snow!
Anne-Flore Dwyer lives in Soda Springs.