Letter: Ignoring climate crisis, is Salt Lake City going to be like Cape Town?

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune)The Salt Lake City skyline is obscured by dense fog as an inversion settles over the valley Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. Authorities say dense fog and air pollution are combining to create hazardous conditions in the Salt Lake City area.

Last month, I requested a three-day backcountry permit for Cedar Mesa’s popular Fish and Owl Canyon hike. “We’re discouraging backpacking,” warned the ranger. “The natural springs are dry. Without a heavy spring rain, one could find himself very thirsty.”

Next came EcoWatch’s March 8 article, “Three American cities that could be the next Cape Town.” Which three? L.A., Miami and Salt Lake City. EcoWatch’s warnings are based on a report by Western Water Assessment; its studies show that for every degree Fahrenheit of warming in the region, the flow of nearby streams — the ones that carry the snowmelt Salt Lake City depends upon — decreases by 3.8 percent. Combine that with the knowledge that 16 of our last 17 years have been the hottest on record, then toss in the projected doubling population by 2050, and you see the problem.

Cape Town, an international tourist destination with four million residents, may be completely without water in a few months. It didn’t have to be that way — planning, conservation, and measures to combat climate change could have averted the crisis. Will Salt Lake City heed the warnings? Or will we, like Cape Town, be reduced to one 90-second shower, one toilet flush, two hand washings and two teeth brushings a day? Ask your representatives that question. Then come November, vote.

Marjorie McCloy, Salt Lake City