What’s The Future Of Skiing? | A Later Start To Winter & An Early Start To Spring?

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Lack of snow in Tahoe a few years ago. Image: BI

What’s The Future of Skiing?

By: Tom Mavilla

When Is the snow coming?  Skiing in my home state, New Mexico, seems to be coming later each year.  As the days get shorter and autumn rolls around I’m constantly staring at the mountains of Taos waiting for the first snowfall. As I write this we have had only a dusting. I wonder when our season will begin.

Climate Change. Global Warming. Call it what you want but it is a fact that the earth is getting warmer.

“In January 2017, several scientific agencies around the world, including NASA and  NOAA in the United States and the Met Office in the United Kingdom, named 2016 the warmest year recorded. This marked the third consecutive year reaching a new record temperature, the first time since the current warming trend began in the 1970s that three years in a row were record highs. 2016’s record meant that 16 of the 17 warmest years have occurred since 2000.”

“The commitment to the Paris Agreement withdrawn. The Clean Power Plan dissolved. Science and facts discarded. The will of the people ignored for the sake of big polluters. There has never been a more important time to stand up for climate change. We gather strength in the mountains, so we can be a voice for climate change solutions. Please join us.”  stated Kevin Luby on the POW website on November 7, 2017.

Taos Ski Valley, NM making snow in late October. Image: Taos Facebook Page

While the current U.S. government administration refuses to see this because it might cut into corporate profits, the rest of the world is taking notice as is evidenced by the Paris Accord and the Bonn Climate Change Conference. Meanwhile, ocean levels are rising. ski seasons are getting shorter.

Buttermilk at Aspen. Image: Anna Stonehouse, Aspen Times

Skiers and boarders no longer have the luxury of ignoring what is happening. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand, dreaming of some hut, high in the mountains.  We are all seeing winter come later and spring arrive earlier, with diminishing snowpack and less water as a result. It is time for every skier and boarder to coalesce into a united front. Being a bystander means you are a part of the problem.

Could you imagine life without POW? Image: Mountain Collective

What can you do?  Get involved. Organizations like  POW(Protect Our Winters.org) and the Winter Wildland Alliance.org, both represented by pro skiers and boarders such as, Jeremy Jones, Caroline Gleich, Brody Levin, Ralph and Ingred Backstroke, Angel Collinson, and Chris Davenport, is a good place to start.  These sites will give you the knowledge and information to get started. POW’s Climate Activist Road Map will guide you on how to write an op ed or a letter to a government official. If that seems like too much spread the word on your FaceBook page. These organizations will tell you what the most important issues are and how to get involved. The Wildland Alliance newsletter, “Trail Break”, will keep you up on current happenings that concern us boarders. Find out what your local ski area is doing to mitigate climate change. If it is doing nothing, find out why. While you are at it, donate a few bucks, send three dollars or four, it is only the price of a beer. Who knows, could save you a DWI on the way home. While you are at it see what your local Sierra club, 350.org. is doing.

Breckenridge, CO. Image: Colorado.com

At this point, towns and cities are turning their backs on the U.S. federal governments approach and dedicating themselves to 100% renewable energy to combat climate change. Breckenridge, Colorado just became the 49th town to dedicate itself to this cause. On Facebook, Council member Erin Gigliello echoed this sentiment, saying “So proud to work on a Council that came together to vote 7-0 on a resolution for 100% renewable energy by 2035. Also, it’s so cool that in Breck, pro athletes come to Council meetings! Thank you to all the citizens and staff that helped make this possible!”

Park City, UT. Image: Wasatch-Uinta Field Camp

Park City, also on the list is not giving up easily. This town, is on the front line and knows change has to come now if we are to protect what we cherish so much. This month, Powder magazine devoted an entire 8 page spread to the changes that are taking place in Park City, Utah. This town is confronting climate change head on. The plan involves electric bus fleets, solar and wind farms and a rethinking of the way we get to the ski area. Perhaps a long line of cars with one person in each vehicle has to change. Is a little inconvenience worth putting up with? I think so. In her article, in Powder, author Julie Brown points out that “ Since 1955, the Western U.S. has lost 23 percent of its snowpack. Not only is more precipitation falling as rain, but snow is covering less ground, too”. All of this in 62 years.

US Climate Alliance. Image: Blue Delware

U.S. Climate Alliance has also turned its back on the federal governments irrational thought patterns and unending greed. This organization of states is dedicated to lowering greenhouse gases in line with the Paris Climate Accord. At present, 14 U.S. states and 1 U.S. territory are members. This includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. This makes up about 36% of the countries population and collectively is the third largest economy in the world. This will send a clear message to the rest of the nation that we are unwilling to accept the words of the climate change deniers in Washington D.C.

Paris Agreement Stand. Image: InsideClimate News

Well, now the ball is in your court. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Spread the word. Demand change from your leaders or become one of the leaders. And stop driving up alone to the ski area.