Is Aspen Really Melting? The EPA Thinks So

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Gina McCarthy attended the Winter X-Games in Aspen, Colorado last week. No she wasn’t in the half pipe competition, but instead was in Aspen, “To meet with some of our country’s top pro snowboarders and the businesses that support them to hear how they are taking action on climate.” In a blog post on the EPA website this week, she wondered “if there’s going to be enough snow for some of their biggest competitions.”

Her conclusion was dismal. “If we fail to act, Aspen’s climate could be a lot like that of Amarillo, TX, by 2100. Amarillo is a great town, but it’s a lousy place to ski.” As a skier, I can’t argue with her last sentence.

Is Aspen really melting? Director McCarthy thinks so. During her visit, she concluded, “The past few warmer winters mean the snowpack in Aspen is getting smaller.” That would mean shorter seasons. Interesting that in 2013, not even two years ago, Aspen Mountain reopened for Memorial Day, “thanks to a very snowy late season.” Aspen typically closes in mid April. Were Memorial Day skiers water skiing? How do warmer winters and smaller snowpacks translate into so much snow that the resort would reopen six weeks after closing?

One of the snow report websites reports, “Current snowpack levels are at 165% of average” for Aspen. Could the EPA Director have been mistaken? Was she in Aspen Acres, Georgia rather than Aspen, Colorado?

Not far from Aspen is Vail, another famous resort. This year their famous back bowls opened Thanksgiving weekend. “It’s rare to have conditions this good, this early in the season,” said Chris Jarnot, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Vail. Again, how does this reconcile with warmer winters and dwindling snowpacks?

Maybe Colorado isn’t melting, but the rest of the country might be. Not quite. Blue Mountain, in Pennsylvania, had its earliest start in 38 years due to “unseasonably frigid weather to the area.” How does Director McCarthy explain that?

The EPA Director is not applying science in drawing her conclusions, but instead she is reaching a forgone conclusion. Warm temperatures mean global warming, but so does extremely cold and snowy winters. She is asking us to believe her agency and the Obama administration, rather than drawing reasoned conclusions based on observable facts. The latter is called the scientific method, a concept the EPA should embrace. The EPA would be applying the scientific method if they followed one of their stated missions of ensuring that, “National efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.”

Forgone conclusions are political, not scientific, like concluding that Darren Wilson intentionally killed Michael Brown, only to be contradicted by the grand jury decision. But those disseminating erroneous conclusions destroy their own credibility.

Look at the blizzard predictions for New York City last week. Words like “crippling” and “historic” were thrown around. Weatherman Al Roker predicted, “Over 60 million people will be devastated this storm.” Schools were closed, thousands of flights cancelled, subways shot down, all in “the city that never sleeps.” Yet the storm turned out to be a dud.

If weather forecasters can’t predict the weather 24 hours ahead, how can the EPA Director predict the climate in 85 years? Both predictions rely on models. As CBS news correctly acknowledged after the NYC storm misfire, “There still remains plenty of uncertainty especially with the models used to make these forecasts.”

No kidding. Instead of doubling down on the global warming doomsday predictions, how about reworking the models until they predict accurately? Or admitting that there are no models to accurately forecast weather or climate years away. Not everything can be modeled. Has anyone accurately modeled the stock market predicting future stock prices?

Yet global warming proponents, without being able to predict the climate or causes of climate change, are ready to advocate NYC preparations on a world level. The EPA has plenty of suggestions to “stop climate change”, some common sense and simple, others costly and impractical.

Will Aspen become Amarillo? Maybe. Colorado once lay near the equator and was covered by a tropical sea. 250 million years ago. Someday it might be tropical again. But despite EPA warnings, it’s not likely to happen in the next century.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician, is an advocate of smaller, more efficient government. Twitter @retinaldoctor.