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Snow, climate & health

Alex Miller

So, what do health care reform, climate change policy, more good jobs and snow in Summit County have in common? This week, at least, they were desirable things being held out as possibilities that just never quite came through. Perhaps it’s a stretch to compare the meteorological concerns of skiers in our little neck of the woods to the hyper-partisan, super-annoying health care debate going on in Washington, but the frustration levels can seem to parallel one another.On the other hand, even though it looks like Senate Democrats caved on a public option, the likelihood that at least some type of reform bill will yet make it to the president’s desk appears to be growing. Folks on Medicare protesting this much-needed reform, you may sit down and hush up now. It’s time to address other age groups in our country besides yourselves …On the snow front, even if we didn’t get the big dumps of Tahoe or even some areas west of Vail, a few turns at Breckenridge on Wednesday convinced me that, as usual, Colorado skiing is still 100 times better in early season than some of the best days back East where I grew up. With more on the way, it seems safe to say that we’ll have pretty good conditions for Christmas – definitely a lot sooner than we’ll see universal health coverage.***I had occasion to visit two rather diametrically opposed Summit County institutions this week – both equally fascinating. The first was Monday night at St. Anthony Summit hospital, where they were cutting the ribbon on a new, 10-bed wing. Only four years after the new hospital opened, the need for more space became clear. Even in these lean times, the hospital brass came up with $4 million or so for the ultra-modern expansion – along with community contributions through the hospital foundation. It’s good to see St. Anthony’s commitment to their relatively tiny hospital here in the hills, and kudos go to the Frisco staff and the construction crews that brought the project in under budget and ahead of schedule.My other visit was to the Summit Historical Society’s Dillon Schoolhouse Museum, where the last thing you’ll hear is the whir of fancy machinery. Spence, one of only a handful of dedicated volunteers for the Society, showed us the amazing collection of photographs, books, letters, clothing and other artifacts they’ve been painstakingly organizing and cataloguing over the past few years. It’s not always easy to remember the history of a place that morphs so greatly from one decade to the next, but a big chunk of those memories is on repository in Dillon and the Society’s other 16 or so sites.The best part is the archiving crew is starting to create an online catalog of what they actually have. Right now it’s baby steps, but look on http://www.summithistorical.org and click on “archives” to see what they’ve done so far. Good stuff.***Looking back out on the greater world and the climate change conference going on in Copenhagen, Summit County residents who rely on cold and snow for their livelihood (meaning most of us) would be well advised to listen more to the science than the politics. Over the past year, the climate-change denier crowd has gained footing and slowed our future (yet inevitable) path to a clean energy economy. But can even those among the doubters refute the logic behind this paragraph in Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column this week?:”If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.”Not such a bad deal. And if it leads to snowier Decembers down the line, so much the better. Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at amiller@summitdaily.com or (970) 668-4618.


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