Speaking in Copenhagen during the United Nations climate talks last year, Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle described the chaos that paralyzed his government as wildfires licked the city's outskirts during the Southern Hemisphere's summer in January, 2009. "If those conditions are what my city is going to have to deal with (in a warmer world), my city is not ready," he said.
Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels got more than 1,000 U.S. mayors to commit to acting on climate change, a movement that has pushed governors and in turn federal lawmakers facilitate those local efforts. He was with Doyle in Copenhagen to lobby for a global accord. "We at the local level have too much to lose," he said then. "We will go further, and we will make it safe (for politicians) to go further."
Back outside Denver, Littleton Mayor Doug Clark didn't pay too much attention to Copenhagen. He's not a part of Nickels' coalition. Nor is he watching the Senate climate talks in D.C. But he sure is looking at his community's bottom-line energy costs.
Clark represents a conservative town of 41,000, mostly commuters, south of Denver. Like many of his voters, he is not so sure he believes this "climate warming stuff."
In March, the Littleton City Council voted against spending $107,807 to match a federal grant to put solar atop the town's nature center. "It didn't make economic sense," Clark said.
But Clark likes light-rail. And he's in favor of pushing forward on FasTracks, despite the ballooning costs.
"Some of this stuff makes sense to do just because it's the rational thing to do," he said. "Reducing fuel consumption, switching to cleaner fuels – all that stuff is common-sense smart stuff to do regardless of where you come down on global climate change."
"We don't want to wait for the feds."