Utah exhibits warming trend

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Global warming has become a forefront issue in politics and in government policy recently, and Utah is trying to take action against the growing problem.

A report released Oct. 9 projects that Utah is warming faster than any other place in the entire world, besides the arctic.
This statement was released in the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council’s report on climate change, a report commissioned by Governor Huntsman in August 2006.

The report notes the major causes in Utah’s global warming situation.

Main causes for the dramatic results of the report include statistics on why Utah is warming the fastest. Greenhouse gases from electricity, transportation, and all fossil fuel uses combined create the widest range of the greenhouse effect in the state, with electricity producing 37 percent of the total, transportation 25 percent and fossil fuels 18 percent.

The greenhouse gas emissions ultimately cause a decline in the snowpack totals, causing a serous threat to the state’s water supply. Low snowpack numbers can indicate upcoming threats of extreme drought.

Other effects of greenhouse gas emissions that hit close to home are fewer frosts, which mean longer growing seasons and long-lasting heat waves.

Utahns produced nearly 80 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2005, and they typically average 29 tons per person annually. That number exceeds the national average of only 27.5 tons per person.

The carbon dioxide emissions in the state show a staggering difference in comparison to the national numbers. Utah’s carbon dioxide emissions increased 40 percent from 1990-2005, compared to the rest of the nation, which had only a 16 percent increase.

Utah also showed that during the last 10-year period, the average temperature was higher than any other decade during the past 100 years.

The alarmingly high numbers show that there is a need for change. The governor’s advisory council now considers energy development and energy use to be top priorities for the state.

Authors of the report include researchers from universities within the state, as well as members of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The report’s findings also include ideas for improving the situation.

Dianne Nielson, Governor Huntsman’s energy policy adviser, told the Salt Lake Tribune, "Obviously, we can’t go out and do 70 things at once." Neilson’s statement reflects the pressure the government is facing with the responsibility to fix an already out-of-hand problem.

The report contains 70 options for legislators to consider for addressing the energy problem. Some recommendations from the report to fight the negative effects of Utah’s global warming problem include improving power plant efficiency; developing programs for renewable energy by using incentives, such as tax breaks; preserving open spaces and agriculture; and developing mass transit plans.

The full climate change report is available online at www.deq.utah.gov