City of Bozeman Takes Up Global Warming

By Pat Hill

The city of Bozeman is gearing up to keep global warming down, and a 15-member task force looking at ways the community can curb its contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere presents its recommendations to the Bozeman City Commission on Jan. 18.

Bozeman joined more than 1,000 other cities across the nation, including Billings, Helena, and Missoula, when Mayor Jeff Krauss signed on to the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement in 2006. The Mayor of Seattle started the move to have cities take action regarding global warming after the United States' unwillingness to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, whose aim is to reduce emissions worldwide to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The city set its sights on muni-cipal emissions first, adopting a Municipal Climate Action Plan in 2008 that calls for Bozeman to reduce its municipal emissions to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020. Bozeman hopes to have its Community Climate Action Plan in place later this year, and for the past several months the task force has been studying ways the community at large can reduce its carbon footprint. Members include three Bozeman citizens-at-large and representatives from NorthWestern Energy, the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, Bozeman Public Schools, Montana State University-Bozeman, and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

The Bozeman City Commission heard preliminary recommendations from the task force late last year. Those recommendations include more than 30 ways Bozeman can help reduce greenhouse emissions, such as building city facilities to produce electricity via wind, solar or biomass.
“The only way we're going to make big improvements is to produce our own power,” Anders Lewendal, task force member and chairman of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, told commissioners.

Task force recom-mendations also include more energy conservation from the Bozeman population in general. These moves can be as simple as turning lights off, keeping a tab on household temperatures, and recycling. The task force also recommends adopting an anti-idling ordinance similar to laws in other states restricting the time a vehicle can be left idling, and restricting the use of high-polluting fuel sources like wood-burning stoves (though both those moves could pose a problem during the winter months in Bozeman). Other recommendations include utilizing existing government and NorthWestern Energy conservation rebates, purchasing carbon offsets from alternative energy sources in locations away from Bozeman, and providing recycling bins in public places. The task force would also like to see the Montana Legislature approve a law that allows people to opt-out of having telephone books left on their doorsteps.
The task force would also like the city to appropriate over $1 million of property taxes annually to keep the Streamline public bus system free to the public. Commissioners said though they may be leery of mandatory regulations and prohibitive costs in the city's Community Climate Action Plan, and that they want the task force to keep their eyes on the big picture.

“[Climate change] is a very serious situation,” said Commissioner Carson Taylor. “We're not going to take it lightly.”

 Not everyone is in agreement regarding which approach, if any, should be taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Dr. John Baden, chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) in Bozeman, whose organization hosted a seminar on global warming in November of 2009, cautioned that, due to the likelihood of unintended consequen-ces, an “Ill-conceived [global warming] policy [is] a greater threat than global warming itself” in the title of an article he wrote following the seminar.

Baden wrote, “At our conference I learned that qualified scientists are 99 percent confident about several facts regarding global warming,” including the belief that the earth is indeed warming slightly, with carbon dioxide contributing to that warming in large part. Baden said the scientific community is in agreement that global greenhouse gases are increasing due to human activity. Baden also said scientists agree that “regardless of what America and other developed nations do in the next decade, there is no reason-able scenario in which atmospheric carbon dioxide will not double…in fact, it will probably quadruple.” But Baden said scientists believe the world’s oceans will help buffet the effects of increased carbon in earth's atmosphere for several decades.

Baden also asserts that people in the United States and other developed countries will probably weather any climate change brought on by global warming, or the effort to curb it, far better than populations in the third world.

“For people, the best defense against adverse consequences of warming is wealth,“ Baden wrote. “The great-grandchildren of the world's poor are those most likely to be affected by global warming. Their greatest danger is premature policies which stifle third world wealth creation. This great truth is often ignored in the debate over climate change. Advocates of any policy should consider it.”










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