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Who Will Save Skiing?

Who Will Save Skiing?

Proposed EPA regulations will limit carbon pollution, but can they save enough snow to ski?
By Michelle Fredrickson
posted: 06/16/2014
Cannons Blasting. Photo by Ruth Hartnup, Flickr https://creativecommons.org/lice
Cannons Blasting. Photo by Ruth Hartnup, Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode; https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/10895968285/in/photolist-hAQFLa-b6R33g-b7xhu2-b7xfHK-b7xgxg-hARmrA-7qTy7j-h6huAw-3p3zyy-imPB9J-imPytd-3CmtY7-z49HW-i8MVYE-cFkZD1-h6haWi-4gzpA7-kLf7sZ-kLf7kV-kLeoda-7GL8fH-33DVYY-BGwYV-byvHu-8C69Vv-4JKSBw-b9Twg4-7ecFr7-4JFAug-dRzHtq-339BHj-8tftLG-kLeo7Z-eP9jaD-DT28f-G12ZT-4tg7J1-eP9jF6-eZu3Ya-jX1taR-49E8dd-dsPUcf-dsPJ48-dsPUi1-dsPU71-dsPJ7V-dsPJ6Z-dsPJfk-dsPJ8K-dsPUbu

It’s no secret. Climate change is happening, and skiers are paying attention.

“I want my kids to be skiing. I want their kids to be skiing,” says pro skier Julian Carr. “It’s completely conceivable that within a few generations, they could not be [skiing], at the rate we’re at.”

The U.S. government is now taking aim at the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. In early June, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations to slash carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Produced mostly by fossil-fuel-fired plants, carbon pollution is the main source of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

"Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, said in a statement.

For the winter sports industry, climate change looks abysmal. In scientific research and on once glaciated peaks, the evidence seems to be clear: decreasing snowpack, shorter seasons, warming winter temperatures, and erratic weather patterns, including extreme storms, droughts and precipitation. “A way of life for millions of people is at risk of simply melting away,” says Phil Huffeldt, coordinator for Snowriders International, a Denver-based nonprofit group working to preserve winters from climate change.

The proposed EPA regulations are headed to a public comment period the week of July 28 in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., and will likely face challenges in court and Congress. The proposed rules also provide states with some flexibility on how they meet pollution-reduction numbers. Some states have already taken action by reducing coal plant emissions, installing energy efficient power plants, and taxing pollution producers.

Mountain Towns Threatened

These environmental changes affect the winter sports industry—and the economy. For example, the $12.2 billion winter tourism industry lost an estimated $1.07 billion since 1999, resulting in fewer hires and shorter operating seasons, according to a University of New Hampshire study commissioned by the NRDC and Protect Our Winters.

Chris Steinkamp, executive director of Protect Our Winters, the California-based nonprofit aimed at mobilizing the winter sports community against climate change, says low-elevation resorts, particularly in the Northeast, are suffering from climate change.

“It’s the inconsistency that’s really starting to hit these resort communities,” Steinkamp says. “They can’t plan on a really strong Christmas season; they certainly can’t plan on a strong Thanksgiving season. When you don’t have that kind of planning involved, it’s really hard to make money.”

To ultimately save mountain town economies, says POW’s Steinkamp, winter has to be stabilized. And he says the EPA’s proposed regulations are a big step forward.

In lieu of consistently snowy ski seasons, 88 percent of ski resorts use snowmaking machines—but that process accounts for as much as half a resort’s operating costs, according to the NRDC report. Daniel Scott, professor of geology and environmental management at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, points out that while more and more resorts are relying on snowmaking to keep their slopes viable, that solution may not last forever as temperatures increase. Optimal snowmaking requires a temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, Scott says, and resorts with warming winter temps may not consistently meet that threshold.

But he says climate change won’t cause the end of skiing—at least not yet.

“You’ll have a contraction of the ski industry in terms of number of ski areas that are sustainable,” Scott says.

Not just a local’s problem.

While the proposed regulations are a step in the right direction, Scott says, they will have a minimal impact on snow levels.

“That initiative on its own won’t matter much to the future of the ski industry,” Scott says. “It’s positive. It helps. It’s part of the solution, but it’s not the solution.”

Unless the issue is addressed on a global scale, climate change will continue. “The atmosphere doesn’t care where the emissions came from.”

Perhaps the U.S. will act as a trendsetter, suggests Mark Williams, University of Colorado geology professor who’s affectionately dubbed the Professor of Snow.

“The new EPA rules are a tipping point,” Williams says. “They show the world that the U.S. is serious about dealing with greenhouse gases and climate change. The rest of the world has already taken notice.”

In fact, China announced a cap on emissions shortly after the EPA proposal was announced.

“I'm much more positive that humans are starting to address climate change at a global level,” he says. “And that makes a difference to the future of snow, ice, and snow sports.”

reviews of Who Will Save Skiing?
The United States will not pose the major problems influencing climate change for very long. China and India are industrializing; the two will create greenhouse gas and other issues that'll make the U.S. look greener than green. Moreover, the chances of stopping climate change at this late stage in the game (especially with China and India coming on line) are almost zero. We need to focus on PREPARING for change and CHANGING to adapt to climate change.
You guys are running scared from a bunch of politicians for their weather predictions that you wouldn't give the time of day to for any other advice. Hang on to your ski equipment people, There will be snow long after you have hung it all up.
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The only problem with the EPA doing this is they have no moral right to do so. Our lives are our own, our cars are ours, and our factories are ours. We already have laws to handle damages: tort law. Anything more must be handled via education and non-violent protests, i.e. protests that do not aim at the government forcing people and violating their individual/property rights. PS - Life involves change.
If global warming is real how do you account for the fact that the past winter was one of the coldest on record. The Great Lakes, specifically Lake Superior and Lake Michigan completely froze and snow fall throughout the Midwest and East was at near record levels. NASA and NOAA have recently been exposed for manipulating data to overstate the extent of the 20th century "global warming". Steven Goddard’s Real Science blog shows that one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has shamelessly been manipulated Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data. Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century. http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/noaanasa-dramatically-altered-us-temperatures-after-the-year-2000/
The only people who don't believe in climate change are the ones labeling others as deniers. They believe they can and should keep the climate exactly as it was in 1970. Such folly. If you study what the real scientists are doing you will find that global cooling is what we really need to fear and it's coming.
What qualifications does Michelle have other than regurgitating propaganda. I would like to know what Michelle has read to convince her that Global Warming is the threat she says it is. By the way it is" climate change now" so all changes in typical weather can be included. That includes cooling. Perhaps one should research before potting out these blatant lies. Aside from the fact that there has been no warming for the last 18 years,( this proven by unaltered records) how about looking at the CO2 levels thousands of years ago which have been lower when temps were higher and higher when temps were lower. There is much more proof that the warming threat is bogus. How about reading a book by Ian Plimer to start. Might learn something. Seems the CO2 remains in a range just as temperatures do but this range is over millions of years. These activists refuse to recognize any of this as they only choose to look at our sadly inaccurate and manipulated records dating back less than 100 years. How ignorant and arrogant to assume that humans can affect the temperature of a planet. This is all about Progressives controlling us and making excuses to tax and spend more of our money. the real issue is that we will not be able to afford to ski or operate areas with the regulations placed upon us. We will stay in our homes while only able to heat a room or two.
Please get the politics out of skiing and out of your magazine. There is a theory on "climate change" and theory is not fact. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? Maybe. So far every prediction has been false. Yes we need to reduce our use of energy, but if we go the way of the EPA and eliminate the use of coal and put severely tight restrictions on CO2 emissions we will not have to worry about snow on the slopes because the U.S.A. will be bankrupt and no one but the Chinese will be able to afford to ski on our slopes. Please get out of the propaganda as I am real close to cancelling my subscription...
Please get the politics out of skiing and out of your magazine. There is a theory on "climate change" and theory is not fact. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? Maybe. So far every prediction has been false. Yes we need to reduce our use of energy, but if we go the way of the EPA and eliminate the use of coal and put severely tight restrictions on CO2 emissions we will not have to worry about snow on the slopes because the U.S.A. will be bankrupt and no one but the Chinese will be able to afford to ski on our slopes. Please get out of the propaganda as I am real close to cancelling my subscription...
I find it incredible and very sad and stupid that, when you dare at last to dip your toes into the global warming debate, with a very measured article your magazine only gets a barrage of opposition. In 10 years of instructing in Austria and living in Britain, it's plain that climate change is going on in Europe and I know from my times in the US before that, the "locals" were aware of changes. It'a been said before in different times but again it needs to be said: Wake Up America!
This article is just echoing more politically correct but scientifically unproven theories. I find this very biased article insulting. Yes, change is happening. It has been happening since earth began. We have had much warmer and much cooler periods than we are having now, before we were even here, and there will be more to come. Global "warming" has been replaced with climate "change" when previous predictions proved false. I was skiing at Arapahoe Basin exactly a week ago - a very late close historically! As weather patterns continue to change, some resorts will do better, others worse. Skiing won't end. The climate will continue to change as it always has. We will adapt, as we have for thousands of years. "Unless the issue is addressed on a global scale, climate change will continue. " Shame on SKI for regurgitating these politically correct but scientifically unproven theories pointing fingers at carbon emissions as the primary cause when climate change is naturally occurring and will continue whatever we do.
Good -- we should sell all our ski equipment to finance trips to China and India to just protest -- no impact -- their many new coal-fired electric plants! Horrible journalism but oh-so-PC! Nothing blinds like ideology. Read CFACT: no warming in over 17 years. This is a man made UP [as true] religion and form of ideological idolatry. http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/07/03/global-temperature-standstill-lengthens-no-global-warming-for-17-years-10-months-since-sept-1996-214-months/
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