A ski coop model is being developed at the Mountain Rider’s Alliance. They are a values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-owned-and-operated group that encourage minimal carbon footprint business practices as well as alternative energy creation, while making a positive impact in the local community. The Alliance is currently exploring ski-energy center projects in Alaska, British Columbia, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. Check their website to subscribe to the Mountain Rider’s Alliance email list.
A study by two Colorado researchers says Aspen Mountain in Colorado and Park City in Utah will see dramatic changes even with a reduction in carbon emissions, which fuel climate change. University of Colorado-Boulder geography professor Mark Williams said that the resorts should be in fairly good shape the next 25 years, but after that there will be less snowpack–or no snow at all–at the base areas, and the season will be shorter because snow will accumulate later and melt earlier. Read the rest of this entry »
“Alpine skiing” and “living green” do not seem compatible. Flat land skiers jet across the country, rent SUVs, and drive a few more hours to mountain homes or condominiums. While they sleep, snow guns blast a fresh layer of snow and legions of snow cats prepare thousands of acres of groom slopes. That’s a lot of greenhouse gas just to escape New Jersey for a week.
So how can an individual skier reduce the carbon emissions of this sport? Read the rest of this entry »
If you have background and interest in environmental and resource policy issues, the Rocky Mountain Institute offers three-month to one-year internships at their offices in Boulder, Colorado and Snowmass, Colorado.
The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory finds that soot warms up the snow and the air above it by up to 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit, causing snow to melt. Soot from pollution causes winter snowpacks to warm, shrink and warm some more. The full report reveals regional changes to the snowpack caused by soot and finds doubling the dimming of the snow led to an approximate 50 percent increase in the snow surface temperature. The drop in snow accumulation, however, more than doubled in some areas.
Unfortunately for National Ski Areas Association members and service providers, the study did not address the measurement or impact of soot due to local vehicle traffic in mountain valley locations. Comparing cost impacts of local pollution levels on ski season length could help cost justify industry-wide transportation improvements.
If you talk about climate change, you will inevitably run into climate change skeptics. These are folks that deny warming exists (a dying breed), cite competing theories, or see climate change as a hoax driven by big government and/or a conspiracy of grant-hungry liberal scientists.
Ignoring skeptics is a lost opportunity. Not only do skeptics vote but they make choices everyday that impact the climate. Our collective action—in politics and lifestyle—over the next few decades will have a major influence on the magnitude and rate of future warming.
A greater engagement in this issue is clearly needed. According to a 2006 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, nearly half of Americans (47%) and somewhat fewer Chinese (37%) express little or no concern about the problem. As the top producers of greenhouse gases we need to educate ourselves and others in how to be responsible for our sport—and all the carbon that goes up into the atmosphere so we can slide down hills.
So how do you deal with a climate change skeptic? Read the rest of this entry »
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of an endangerment finding today states that “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” This EPA action was the result of a Supreme Court decision two years ago that ordered the agency to investigate the effects of carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. However, this EPA finding will not result in major regulation in the immediate future. Congress will likely enact their own green house gas (GHG) regulations that better reflects industry desires and politics of the day. Nevertheless, the EPA move does provide strong impetus to the ski industry—as well as other industries responsible for GHG emissions—to implement meaningful GHG emissions measures and controls.
Looking to learn more about climate change now that most of the lift-served terrain is closed for the season? A great place to start is this very readable report on climate change, “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change” by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. If you have a scientific background and want to read peer-reviewed work that is published in the scientific literature, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides in-depth reports that reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage. IPCC materials aim to be neutral with respect to policy. In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency has a State of Climate Change Knowledge web page and the US Global Change Research Program created by Congress in 1990 has an on-line climate change library.
In an effort to accurately and comprehensively manage its emissions, Grand Targhee Resort elected to voluntarily report its emissions inventory with The Climate Registry, a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program. According to a March 26 press release, Grand Targhee is very concerned about climate change and is “interested in opportunities to engage hundreds of thousands of winter sports enthusiasts each year through education and example.” Known for a reliable snow pack (500 inch annual snowfall), Grand Targhee certainly has a lot to protect.
The Climate Registry is a nonprofit collaboration among North American states, provinces, territories and Native Sovereign Nations that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry. Christina Thomure, Director of Sustainable Operations at Grand Targhee Resort reported that The Climate Registry’s protocol for measuring greenhouse gases “ensures a level of accuracy and transparency that far exceeds all other tools we evaluated.” Notably, the Registry requires annual third party verification and is widely viewed as the premier GHG registry in North America.
Be sure to check out the “other” skigreen website sponsored by CLIF® BAR and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). Along with your ideas on how to ski green, they are looking for your personal stories and photos. The skigreen.org site sponsors the Skigreen Carborn Offset Program. While this program does not help “green” the local ski area, it provides individual skiers an easy way to offset the pollution they create driving up to the ski area. Mini-Carbon Offsets are two dollars and can be purchased at the ticket window with daily lift passes or with season pass sales. Anyone else smell like greenwash here? I do. Read the rest of this entry »