News » Mountain News

Mountain News: McCain confers with Dalai Lama



ASPEN, Colo. – Even by standards of Aspen, where Nobel laureates, billionaires, and the nation’s highest officials are commonplace during high summer, it was an unusual afternoon. The Dalai Lama had long been scheduled for a public appearance, and presidential candidate John McCain decided to stop by for an hour-long, personal audience.

The Dalai Lama got a warmer public embrace than did McCain, whose plane was greeted by a small contingent of people protesting the war in Iraq and other national issues. After their private meeting, reports The Aspen Times, McCain told reporters that he was disappointed that the Dalai Lama was blamed by Chinese officials for the recent protests in Tibet. The charges, he said, are untrue.

“Such rhetoric doesn’t serve the cause of peaceful change and reconciliation,” he said. Tibetans, he added, “do have just grievances.”

Earlier in the week, the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, had caused a small stir when he decided to take his family, friends and security guards for a showing of the movie The Dark Knight. While they watched the movie in a roped-off section of the Isis Theater, a fleet of limousines was kept outside, double-parked, the engines idling. Mayor Mick Ireland was reportedly upset by the pollution and the gridlock created by the idling limos.


McKibben to speak in Banff

BANFF, Alberta – The author and crusading journalist Bill McKibben is scheduled to visit Banff in early August to talk about — what else — climate change. McKibben told the Rocky Mountain Outlook he gets about 10 invitations a day to speak, and he chose Banff because “every now and then I choose one based on my need to run up a mountain.”

But in going to Banff, McKibben will also be in Alberta, one of the world’s hot-spots for carbon extraction. Alberta is site of the tar sands, located north of Edmonton, some of which is piped to Colorado for refining.

McKibben’s current crusade is for a reduction in the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. They were 250 parts per million when the industrial revolution began, have now reached 386, but are accelerating rapidly.

Climate scientists have previously said C02 must be capped at 450 parts per million, possibly even 550 parts per million, before dangerous changes would begin.

Now, however, leading climate scientist James Hansen says global warming is happening sooner than expected, and so the conversion from carbon-based energy needs to happen much more rapidly. That is also the point of McKibben’s, who is calling for a return to 350 parts per million — a difficult task, given that C02 lingers in the atmosphere for up to a century.