Professors And CCL Leaders Speak At Climate Change Panel Discussion

As we’ve reported the Wasatch Back chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosted a panel discussion on climate change Wednesday evening. In addition to local politicians, local university professors and a leader of Citizens’ Climate Lobby spoke.

In addition to Mayors of Midway, Heber and Park City, others on the panel weighed in on climate change. Among those weighing in was Dr. Christopher Oscarson. Dr. Oscarson is a professor of Comparative Arts and Letters at Brigham Young University he is also a member of LDS Earth Stewardship. Oscarson clarified that he does not speak for BYU or the LDS church, but he did explain some of the doctrinal basis for his work to fight climate change.

“The earth it is a gift,” Dr. Oscarson explained. “Like all gifts that come from God there are responsibilities that come with it. God is not going to keep us from abusing it, but it will be to our own condemnation, so to speak. That judgment, so to speak, comes not just in some distant afterlife, but now. If I take certain actions I might suffer, or my children might suffer, or my neighbor. Whether that neighbor is here or on the other side of the world. It’s not going to be people in Utah who are going to suffer the most. I mean there will be consequences here too, but the people that suffer the most are the people in Bangladesh, right? The people in Mozambique, the people in these places that are already living so much on the edge. As Christians we have a responsibility to them as well.”

Dr. Logan Mitchell of the University of Utah’s department of Atmospheric Sciences noted that economics are also driving the demand for renewable energy.

“Renewable energy is now cost effective,” Dr. Mitchell continued. “It’s cheaper in many cases than existing coal plants. There was just a study done that came out six months ago that looked at coal plants across the United States. Half of them it’s more expensive to keep operating that coal plant than it is to just wholesale just shut it down and install renewable energy in that same exact location. Coal is not getting any cheaper whereas renewable energy there’s continuing to be innovation. As these things get developed and come to market those costs are still coming down. So right now, renewable energies cost cheaper than coal and it’s cost competitive with gas. I expect that trend to continue.”

Park City resident and Rowland Hall Senior Mia Vinding has been involved with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby since she was 14. Vinding advocates for the Carbon Dividend Act, a bipartisan bill that puts a fee on fossil fuels, with the fee collected being redistributed as a dividend to the American people.

Vinding recognizes the role of youthful energy in addressing climate change.

“I do think the youth movement in climate change have a lot to offer in terms of excitement,” Vinding said. “I think if you make the discussion about solutions and if you make the discussion about what individuals can do, then I think it gives people a lot more hope. It allows for more mobilization.”

An audience of around 100 people were in attendance at the Jim Santy Auditorium on Wednesday evening. The panel spoke and addressed audience questions for an hour and a half.

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Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: