If you don’t believe in climate change, know now that it is not a leap of faith but clearly a leap of fact. Truly the time has come to jump on board.
Our globe is warming in palpable ways. Our wonderful southwest homeland, once summered in thermometer readings rarely above 105 degrees, now regularly sees heat upward of 110, 112 and 117. Our capitol city baked to 107degrees in what we often consider a fall month, September. In climate related disasters, cars are turned away from the road home, cars are melted in fires that currently rage in our near neighbor state of California and are drowned in floods in the South. And of course, more disturbing, and much sadder, it’s not just cars, people too are meeting their fates in the ravages of climate change both nearby, such as the recent death in our beloved Zion National Park and around the world.
Looking a bit further away, yet still here in the southwest, a drying up Lake Mead, the world’s largest reservoir, and a less than a 90-minute drive from St. George, has grimly revealed the human remains of individuals who have lost their lives recreating in this popular recreation site. Climate change and our historic drought have also impacted Lake Powell. Spanning areas in both Utah and Arizona, it has touched the lives of so many in southwest Utah. Now having reached its lowest level since its initial filling, it’s receding to reveal buried arches and the full magnitude of the iconic Lone Rock. Many who fondly remember boating and fishing around this iconic landmark will now find it’s open again to hikers.
While the damning of the Colorado River remains controversial, a significant takeaway from its receding shorelines must be its very real and serious signal of climate change in our own backyard. And if you’re wondering about climate change beyond our area, simple attention to national and world news communicating such noteworthy physical and biological identifiers as the rate of retreat in glaciers, timing of the leafing out of plants and the arrival of spring migrant birds will bring you up to speed.
With the leap of factual climate change must come human change. We must begin learning and practicing new everyday habits, implementing modifications, and acknowledging limitations to demonstrate a new understanding and alertness to our climate. Furthermore, we must begin advocating for these modifications.
So, what can we do? The ideas and steps are not new. Humanity must work toward the reduction of climate warming gases, like carbon dioxide and at the same time remove excess carbon from our atmosphere. We must commit to the reality that water in the southwest and elsewhere is a resource to be protected and stewarded in a manner that preserves it for clearly necessary use and the preservation of all life. Unwarranted, recreational, and ornamental uses must be carefully weighed against the heavy risks and toll they may very well inflict upon the dangerously uncertain supply.
Of course, it’s not just large-scale runaway residential or commercial developments that threaten our water resources here in Washington County, it’s also small-scale individual disregard for or disengagement from simple conservation measures. Utah has the highest per-capital water usage in the country, a distinction in which none of us can take pride. Here in our area, we use more than 285 gallons of water per person each day, an amount twice that of those in Las Vegas. Really? Surely we can’t be that much more thirsty!! Surely we can do better. Decisions such as landscaping with grass, overfilling tubs, driving to a nearby neighborhood home or store when walking or biking is possible, printing double sided to save paper, turning off lights, and adjusting thermostats are actions that all of us can implement.
Let’s acknowledge the leap of facts and make conservation a priority.
Kerry Kastler Burt is a long time St. George resident. She is the Retired Chief Development Officer of Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region, Current Development Coordinator of Conserve Southwest Utah. Previous member of “The Spectrum Writers Group, and former chairman of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce and St. George City Planning Commission.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Climate change: Not a leap of faith but fact