ASPEN, Colo. — Merchants in Aspen, and many other places, have a theory, and it's one supported by considerable evidence. Leave the doors open, they have found, and people more readily walk in.
That's well and good when the temperature outside is 22 Celcius, but what about when it's -3 outside? In effect, they're heating up the great outdoors.
And if you're burning fossil fuels to create heat that you release through the front door, you may be heating the great outdoors two-fold. Most scientists agree we're starting to warm the planet through our emissions of greenhouse gases, most of which are caused by burning of fossil fuels.
But just how much heat is lost? And how well can air curtains, such as are commonly employed at large grocery stores in the United States, stem that loss?
The answers aren't yet in, but the conversation — and research — has started in Aspen, where city officials are bent on making good on vows of reducing local impacts to atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse popularity rising
BANFF, Alberta — Greenhouses are going up in ski towns. In Banff, the municipal government has dedicated a portion of a roof-top parking garage for erection of a greenhouse. One already exists, and it has been such a hit that the Banff Greenhouse Gardening Society thought a second enclosure, which costs $35,000, would be good, explains the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
The society members justify the green house by explaining that it could "further enhance the opportunities for growing organic local produce, strengthen interaction amongst community members, and increase knowledge around food security and gardening."
In Jackson, Wyo., a greenhouse has been in the works. This one would also be in association with a parking garage, but it's still in the study stage. A local group wants to build a vertical greenhouse on the 28-foot-by-150-foot parcel immediately south of the parking garage. Again, local food production is a goal, as is education about sustainable food and renewable energy.
Paleoecologist charts climate change
JACKSON, Wyo. — If the 1930s were also hot, last year was one for the record books in large portions of the West. But more important is how this fits in with 30 years of steady heating, says Bryan Shuman, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Wyoming.
The current warming, he tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide, in advance of a lecture there, is comparable to that which occurred when the last ice age ended abruptly 11,000 years ago. But unlike that time, change in the sun's radiation and the Earth's orbit do not explain the current warming. The only probable explanation is the fossil fuels being burned, sending heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Much of that carbon comes from underground in Wyoming, particularly from coal.