RE Global Warming – Cognative Dissonance in the Ski Industry

Post by blogger | December 8, 2012      

Global warming exists. You can debate 24/7 about what percentage is caused by us instead of natural climate cycles, but it exists. What is more, I’ve not read one convincing report or study that says GW can be reversed by humans in any practical sense (theoretically, yes, practically, no). Even slowing it down may be impossible due to politics and the overarching needs of humanity for things like food (modern farming is petrochemical).

What’s weird to me is the cognitive dissonance regarding global warming and the ski industry.

First, we get these breathless panting articles such as a recent one in Bloomberg that shouts “Declines in snowfall because of global warming are shortening the winter ski season in the U.S. and harming the economy, according to a report from two environmental groups.”

Is that stating the obvious, or what? The authors of that stuff need to put a paper bag over their heads, and breath deeply — first-aid for hyperventilation.

Then, regarding the same studies referenced above, we get this strange article in the Aspen Times.

On the surface, the Aspen article might not appear weird. It’s just the usual rant about the ski industry and whether they’re reducing greenhouse gasses and doing “enough.”

But look at it this way. Take Aspen Skiing Company. They’re going to be 100% sustainable sooner than later. But is that going to reduce global warming one millionth of a degree? Sorry. I wish our beloved sport could be so powerful. But no.

That’s where the cognitive dissonance comes in.

If ski resorts want to deal with global warming and continue skiing as we know it, they need to figure out where we can ski as the climate warms, and build or extend ski areas into those zones. Sure, if they want to play around with being “green,” more (or less) power to them. But really, when they’re all “green,” then what? Green grass instead of white snow will still be staring them in the face.

Sorry, but reality bites.

It’s just plain weird that we don’t see this being discussed more often. Really, reading this stuff for the past few years has been like listening to some kindergarten kids arguing about who stole the graham crackers — rather than which kid to get more from.

Your comments, Wildsnowers? Global warming exists, what are resorts supposed to do about it that’ll actually have an effect on keeping skiing alive?


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103 Responses to “RE Global Warming – Cognative Dissonance in the Ski Industry”

  1. Eric Steig December 8th, 2012 11:22 am

    Lou: Overall I agree with your viewpoint here.

    Two comments:

    1) It’s not entirely true that “declines in snowfall because of global warming are shortening the winter ski season in the U.S.” Recent bad years — like Sandy — are impossible to attribute to global warming, though the chances of a bad year has gone up. Bad years (if there is no adjustment e.g. by building higher) WILL happen in the long term, but its a signal to noise thing, and the signal (snowfall decline) is much less than the noise (year to year variability). I estimate that the average skier won’t notice the difference for about 50 years. If you keep close tabs on number of days of rain at Whistler (for example), you will probably see the effect sooner, but if you just ski at Whistler 10 days/year, you’ll still get 9.8 days of rain-free skiing. If you normally ski 100 days, you might notice, hey, “I only got 98 good days this year!” This kind of thing could definitely translate to lost revenue for ski areas, so it does make sense for them to think about this. But for most of us, it’s actually going to be ok. [Note that everything I’m saying here does NOT apply to Australia, where ski areas are already in trouble and where I’d actually be worried if I were invested in the ski area there. Europe may be similarly in some short-term trouble, though I’ve not looked at this as closely.]

    2) I totally agree that the actions of ski areas aren’t going to “solve” global warming. Very little that individuals or corporations do will make much difference. But in aggregate, we (as a society) actually do have the ability to influence trajectory. The question is not about “stopping” global warming. It’s about whether we burn 5000 billion tons of carbon in the next 50 years, or only 2500. That makes a difference between something like 50 cm of sea level rise for our great grandchildren, or 200 cm. The more quickly we transition off fossil fuels and into smart energy grids, etc., the more likely it’ll be 50 and not 200. I don’t think we can prevent ourselves from burning the next 1000 billions tons of carbon. But after that the economy of getting at those fossil fuels may actually make them less interesting, especially if we’ve figured out alternatives in advance.

  2. Lou Dawson December 8th, 2012 11:42 am

    Eric, thanks for the well thought out comment.

    Regarding our “ability,” why if we can’t have world peace is there any reason under creation why they whole world can come together and “influence trajectory.” Further, would any such change actually reverse GW, or just slow it down?

    This discussion is about skiing, and the .8 degree or whatever GW we’ve already had is having an effect. Reverse that? I highly doubt it.

    Again, can’t we shift this discussion to how we can keep the resorts alive? One contributor to GW is all the hot air that’s been expended in debating it. How about we expend some CO2 on what to do about it since it’s already happening!

    Again, cognitive dissonance. The climate has already warmed! And will do so for the foreseeable future since any changes we make as humans are going to take _years_ if they ever happen. Can’t resorts figure that out? It’s amazing. Like their boards of directors are morons or something.

  3. Sb December 8th, 2012 11:44 am

    We can’t tell what is signal and what is noise. I am worried that the warming is going faster than expected.

    Either way Colorado looks to be a fairly warm desert. Plus it will be on fire the majority of the time for the foreseeable future. I hate the smoke so much, I am thinking of moving.

    Montana, bc? Will Canada even let me move there?

  4. Lou Dawson December 8th, 2012 11:52 am

    Good question about Canada (grin). They may be enlightened when it comes to health care, but when it comes to immigration they’re still in the dark ages compared to us (grin).

    Seriously, if the GW is happening faster, my point is stronger. The resorts can play around all they want with buying wind power and installing solar panels, but many are going to need to move their operations or quit.

  5. Glenn Sliva December 8th, 2012 11:57 am

    I could write a book on this subject but a little lesson In what’s going on. Since Al Gore published his first “I gonna make myself a millionaire Earth in the Balance” the world has not warmed at all. Just search for 2 meter GISTEMP or look at the sattellite data from the last uh err 32 years.

    That being said I’m for clean green renewables and natural gas but against the ridicule of those that burn fossil fuels to keep warm and prosper. I’m a burner.

    Lastly just two years ago and ten year before that we were skin’n up and drop’n in in May and June. It’s amazing how this topic has become an indicator of your status.

    Thanks for the guts and brains to post this topic. Here here.

  6. Steve Howe December 8th, 2012 12:36 pm

    You can’t necessarily blame bad snow years on global warming, but our increasingly fragmented snowfall rates (October dumps, then nothing until February-thru-May), along with the continual and obvious altitudinal rise in snowline throughout the southern Rockies (and Alps), are very clear markers indeed. In 1910-20’s Salt Lake, they used to hold ski jumping competitions in the Avenues district near downtown. Now the rain line regularly reaches Big Cottonwood Canyon mere feet below the base of Solitude. The massive forest fires, widespread beetle kills, and aspen die-offs occurring in Colorado are a sign of things to come on the southern margins of our boreal forest. And that sucks, because natural ecosystems can adapt, but not rapidly. Applying the brakes will be a gradual process regardless of how fast we change behaviors, but it’s doable.

    International arguing, entrenched industries, and growing human population will make significant changes difficult. It’s going to take a lot of mirror gazing -on an individual level- to change that…although Germany already generates 30% of its electricity using solar panels within its borders, so behaviors can change rapidly, especially if government quits pandering to contrarian libertarianism and gets moving on investment as well as carrot -and stick- regulation.

    The big problem I see relating to skiing per se? While skiing businesses might be working hard to reduce their footprint, I don’t think the same can be said of skier and ski town culture….at all. Look at Pitkin County, the I-70 corridor from Glenwood Springs to Beaver Creek and Vail, or Park City/Summit County, Utah. Energy efficiency? Har har!

    Same with the bro brah scene. Lots of pronouncements and bitching round the campfire, but modern powder hounds and ski media alike glorify snowmobiles, cats, helos, and gas hog trips to Antarctica, Alaska and Greenland – where glacier masses are vanishing at unbelievable and clearly unnatural rates. Way lame.

    We don’t need more carbon-intensive expeditions to ‘highlight global warming.’ We all just have to start thinking more along the lines of J.P. Auclair in that All.I.Am street-ski segment. Live smaller. Insulate better. Ski locally. Quit traveling to trade shows and PR junkets. Do business on conference calls. And cough up for solar panels on cabin and camper instead of buying the Unimog or building up reverse-camber fattie quivers.

    It ain’t that hard, and it ain’t that painful.

  7. Trevor K December 8th, 2012 12:38 pm

    I often wonder if the effect of global warming on snowfall will be less about reduction and more about year to year volatility. I doubt that last season and the start of this season in Colorado is a trend that’s going to hold for the long haul. I think we’ll see more bad seasons than we have in the past, but I think we’ll see normal seasons again and a few 2010-2011 seasons in the future.

    With that in mind; if I ran a ski resort I would be worried about how to survive the bad seasons between the good ones. For a company like Vail resorts, they can buy more areas and hope that poor snowfall will only be regional. It’s like an investor diversifying their portfolio.

    For an independent area it gets a little more risky in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more independent areas get bought up, merge, or partner with other areas. Also, I think we’ll see more efforts to generate off-season revenue through activities like lift-serviced mountain biking, golf, etc.

    The sustainability stuff is great. I like the wind power, the recycling, and the low-flow urinals as much as anybody, but I agree that it isn’t going to make GW go away. I doubt anyone paying for these upgrades thinks so either. If anything it’s an opportunity to generate some good press, hopefully coaxing a few more skiers on the lift and a few more bucks in the bank… with a nice little bonus of demonstrating to others that such a large operation can approach and eventually reach sustainability.

  8. Brian December 8th, 2012 1:12 pm

    When discussing GW, outdoorsmen and ski areas should shift their rhetoric to one of individual and corporate responsibility to the environment. Save the discussions for “solving” GW for the national and international scale. And let’s make sure we do have those discussions.

  9. Tay December 8th, 2012 2:47 pm

    The ski industry justs needs to employ the services of self proclaimed high priest of the “sky is falling” cult for the irrefutable phenomenon call the “Al Gore effect” . If history is anything to go by great skiing and record low temperatures will be assured to any place he starts preaching.

  10. Lou Dawson December 8th, 2012 3:38 pm


  11. Mark December 8th, 2012 6:06 pm

    They’ll blow more man-made snow, shorten their seasons, and the ones that are too low elevation will close. What else?

  12. Lou Dawson December 8th, 2012 6:12 pm

    You can’t blow snow when it’s too warm. Elevation is the key, as well as northern latitudes…

  13. Mark December 8th, 2012 6:18 pm

    Yeah, but you can add snowmaking equipment to more runs, prepping more runs for later starting, lower snowfalls. They’re already on it.

  14. Shawn December 8th, 2012 6:27 pm

    Might be a bit ot but I’ll pipe in with my thoughts on ski resort sustainability. Before they have to be worried about operations being affected by “global warming”…they need to address what I think is the major problem lowering skier visits…$$$. How many people have a hundo to drop on a day of skiing. They keep trying to one up their competition with more lifts, more terrain, bigger/faster lifts, etc instead of offering quality skiing at a reasonable price. Heck…gone are the days when if you wanted a parking spot close to the lodge you showed up early. Now you pay for the right to show up at 10 in your lexus suv and park second row. Rant done. 🙂 Looking at this issue in the shorter term might allow them to survive until they have to worry about global warming closing down the resort.

  15. Peter R December 8th, 2012 7:23 pm

    Ski resorts can be compaired to golf resorts in that they are both sports venues that likely wouldn’t survive on just lift fees and green fees alone. The big economic driver for these areas is real estate. Once the area is built out, they go into decline, unless they are spectacular from the sports side of the equation and then real estate becomes ongoing, in these cases.
    So, if some resorts are finding poor snow conditions they (the land/ money people) will just head off to the next higher ground and new lots to sell. Why care about global warming and it’s effects, when you can move to a new bonanza?
    Google search “Jumbo Glacier” and see what the British Columbia government is planning, against most of the area population’s and general BC public opinion.

  16. Chris December 8th, 2012 8:05 pm

    I generally agree with the well thought out comments above by Eric and Steve. I do think that the main challenge to ski resorts will be variability and expanding into higher elevation areas. Most expansions, for a variety of reasons, but mostly water and wildlife issue, have failed or have been compromised.

    That said, I personally don’t care if all the resorts closed tomorrow. I really don’t use them much and I’m much more concerned about dwindling revenues to keep our local mountain roads plowed and back country access available. Hey, isn’t this site about back country skiing??

    I agree that on a personal level it’s not that painful. We need to reduce our travels and expeditions to all corners of the earth that burn fossil fuel and recreate locally as much as possible. Reducing our personal miles traveled will be a big part of our futures until we find non-contributors to global warming and I’m not thinking about corn source ethanol gasoline or other such ridiculous ideas. And, at the same time, we need to be pressing hard for much lower reduction targets for CO2 and methane on a national and international level. The political challenges we face with China and India will be even more daunting than our own.

  17. Crazy Horse December 8th, 2012 8:20 pm

    Many well thought out comments, everyone:

    Here is my personal cynical world view.

    Socially humans are tribal animals with raging hormones that influence and control their behavior. (LOL)

    There is no evidence that humans are capable of achieving the social maturity necessary to make decisions that require foresight and shared sacrifice for the benefit of future generations and other tribes.

    There will be no effective collective action to save the planet from the effects of global climate change. We will behave just like any other species—- expand our exploitation of the resource ecosystem and increase our population until a collapse to a much lower and perhaps sustainable level occurs.

    The purpose of corporate greenwashing and “responsible” ski area practice is to make people feel better about themselves and continue to spend money into the corporate black hole, while doing nothing to address the root cause of the problem.

    Technological societies can halve their per-capita energy use while increasing real standards of living. The result would be population increase, little change in total greenhouse gas emissions and no reversal of the direction of climate change.

    Renewable energy in all its forms is incapable of sustaining a society that continues to grow in population and looks anything at all like our current society. It simply lacks the concentrated energy density and EROI (energy return on energy invested) that the brief fossil fuel era has provided. A renewable energy based society could indeed be sustainable, but with perhaps two billion people rather than eight or ten.

    The difference between humans and lemmings is that while we are hardly more socially developed, individually we are capable of fantastic brilliance. We can read the material composition of a star that has been dead for millions of years and is hundreds of light years distant. We can build new materials with revolutionary properties atom by atom. And we can harness the energy at the core of the earth or within the forces that hold atoms together to provide energy that doesn’t require burning dead carbon. And we can do so without leaving a 10,000 year trail of plutonium poisoning.

    Will we behave like lemmings or evolve into mature citizens of the ecosphere that is the heritage of the fossil fuel age? And to bring it home, will that ecosphere have any remaining snow for our offspring to ski on?

  18. Omr December 8th, 2012 9:01 pm

    In the foothills just above the University of Utah, at approximately 5,500 feet in elevation, there is a steep hillside dotted with very old, weathered tree stumps. Based upon thier cracking and deterioration I’m guessing they were harvested by the early settlers of the Salt Lake Valley, 100+ years ago. They are big, approxiamtley 10, 15 even 20 feet in circumference, which is much larger than the gamble oak, juniper and mountian mahogany now covering the hillsides. There are currently no trees anywhere on the exposed, SLC desert foothills (not counting streams bottom) even close to this size, yet not too long ago there was a Forrest of large trees (Douglas Fir?) just outside of town. You now have to ascend 1,500-2,000 to find such trees. What happened? Why no re-growth? Did the SLC settlers harvest the last ‘foothill’ forest in SLC? Climate change, ultimately, seems to be the obvious answer for the disappearance. Human or natural occurrence? Who knows.

  19. Steve December 8th, 2012 9:31 pm

    The base of our local ski hill sits at ~5,500 feet and tops out at ~6,600. Put simply, they’re (and we’re) screwed. This winter the snow line has occasionally dropped down that low, but pretty quickly raised several hundred feet higher, and the ski area is barren mud right now. There’s no option, they’ll just have to shut down unless they want to operate for the few coldest weeks of the season as a charity.

    I think Teton Pass right now is a good example of what we have to look forward to. There’s not much snow down low, which concentrates all the use at the higher elevations. Which are accessed by the one lot at the top, which has been full all day with a cue for any spot that becomes available. Unfortunately, I think that’s where we’re headed, more backcountry users pushed into an ever-diminishing supply of adequate terrain during shorter seasons.

  20. Jasper December 8th, 2012 10:04 pm

    I would like to state that ‘climate change’ is a more applicable term. The Earth does not simply warm, or cool, but oscillates between trends in weather. The warming of the arctic will cause an increase of cold water in the northern atlantic, which will in turn, cause a drop in temperatures across Europe. Although humanity is a major driving force in climate, it is insignificant compared to what happens on an astronomic level. Astronomical forcing is major factor to consider for Earth’s climate. The planet’s orbit around the sun and the planet’s axis of rotation are not constant. Shifts in these geometries will change our climate profoundly. These cycles occur on 20,000 to 200,000 year timeframes; which may cause these shifts to seem irrelevant. However the fact that our species has existed for 200,000 years shows that we have endured these changes before, and most likely we will endure them again.

    I am by no means trying to brush off anthropogenic climate change, but think that it is worthwhile to mention that it is an anthropocentric concern, and ultimately beyond our control. If you want to make a difference, you should consume less, be conscious of your actions, and become informed to make educated decisions. Most importantly, remember: “Life is a geological force and a cosmic phenomenon!”

  21. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 5:40 am

    Semantics? Jasper, ‘climate change’ can indeed be an appropriate term in in some discussions, though it’s sometimes a bit annoying since as you say the climate has always changed so what exactly does it mean? In fact, sometimes when the radical “warmists” use that term it sounds pseudo intellectual pseudo scientific since it’s so ambiguous. In the case of my blog post, I’m directly addressing climate warmth increases that affect the snow level and glacier behavior. So “global warming” is probably the correct term. Or perhaps “regional warming due to climate change?”

    As for what _causes_ the obvious warming that’s melting glaciers in the Alps as well as giving us obviously warm winter’s here in Colorado, that seems to be a debate but the _cause_ is not what we’re discussing here. What I’m questioning is how the ski industry is dealing with it, and the weirdness of them not seeming to do anything that actually has an effect on keeping their business successful (except in isolated cases).

    So everyone, if we can possibly avoid it can we leave off any debate about the _cause_ of global warming, and just move along to discussing solutions to problems created by it?

  22. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 5:43 am

    Steve, excellent example about your situation in Jackson, Wyoming.

    So, as Rome burns, Snow King is mud and people discuss global warming and climate change, the Teton Pass trailhed remains too small and crowded. I mean, how fricking hard is it to build a bigger parking lot ?!

  23. Mark December 9th, 2012 5:51 am

    “There is no evidence that humans are capable of achieving the social maturity necessary to make decisions that require foresight and shared sacrifice for the benefit of future generations and other tribes.”

    There’s thousands of years of evidence of exactly this. There are so many cases that fit into the broad category of requiring “foresight and shared sacrifice for the benefit of future generations”, it’s hard to even begin. But as a fairly straightforward example that is relevant to this very discussion, 655 million acres of land in the U.S., or 29% of the total 2.3 billion American acres, has been set aside as National Parks, Forests, Range, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and other designations, with a wide range of restricted purposes and uses. Regardless of whether you agree with every use of these lands, it is a pretty enormous resource to pass to future generations, and US public lands are in great shape (again, despite many problems that we can all point to).

    Now, the pace of climate change and the diverse effects represent a HUGE challenge to policymakers, and there will be some unavoidable changes. But I think we will resolve our energy-climate relationship with a combination of emerging technologies and economic-environmental policy.

  24. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 6:53 am

    I’m kind of halfway between Mark’s optimism and Crazy Horse’s trogloditic (grin) take. We most certainly would not have the health and opportunities (and lands stewardship) we have today if it no for people and societies working together. To deny this is to deny reality. On the other hand, even the scientists say that global warming is here to stay, as even if we made some sort of drastic reduction in carbon output, the extra CO2 is still in the atmosphere and will continue to trap heat until it is gradually sequestered again. This could take decades — even centuries.

    Another inconvenient truth is that while our industrial society in particular produces a bunch of CO2, in doing so we also feed much of the world. So for example we could cease all industrial agriculture and associated food exports, then enjoy the warm glow of being “green” while watching famines on CNN. In other words, this stuff is pretty danged complex. The problem of how to keep the ski industry alive seems easier to solve.

    As for how this backcountry skiing website is related with the resort skiing industry, if you don’t get that just think it through. Here is some help: Lots of resorts provide backcountry access, and going beyond that, another portion of the ski industry I didn’t include but should have is the backcountry hut and lodge industry. Those guys as well will have to be thinking of hut locations, available terrain, etc.

  25. Jasper December 9th, 2012 10:11 am

    The statements I made consist of important information. Information that people concerned with climate change should be aware of. I apologize for drifting from your intended conversation, but simply wanted to express my opinion as a passionate skier and global resident.

    Concerning energy; chairlifts could serve as storage of kinetic energy, generated from inconsistent resources such as solar or wind. I believe there is currently research being done on this front. Obviously, ski areas could play a huge role in this endeavor.

  26. Steve December 9th, 2012 10:20 am

    Actually, I was talking about Kelly Canyon, near Idaho Falls, but yeah, Snow King is in the same boat. And so is Pebble Creek south of us near Pocatello. And so are all the other low-elevation resorts. The big name, big elevation, big real estate resorts are probably what we’ve been talking about most, but the vast majority of ski areas in the U.S. are relatively low with no place to move up to. And when you talk about where people learn to ski, where they learn the basic skills that you really can’t learn with a couple backcountry runs a day, those are the resorts that are probably not going to make it.

    So it seems like yet another pressure. Small, low-elevation resorts simply close up shop, driving more crowds to the higher resorts. Or driving them out of skiing altogether because people can’t afford the outrageous lift prices. Or driving them to the backcountry, and those tiny trailheads.

  27. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 10:33 am

    And, due to restrictive land use policies as well as public sentiment against “development,” those tiny resorts are not going to be allowed to relocate, and we won’t get any new resorts. Good news for some conservationists, but personally I think we’ve got enough public land to accommodate both more and higher elevation resorts, as well as areas for muscle powered recreation…

  28. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 10:46 am

    Jasper, as anyone with a bent towards engineering instead of fantasy knows, the HUGE problem with renewables is indeed storage of energy. The sun goes down, the wind doesn’t always blow, etc. Conventional power grids are run on storage such as reservoirs that store hydro water and fossil fuels that essentially store Pleistocene firewood for present day use. As far as I know, the only viable method of storing extra energy is pumping water back uphill with excess electricity, for later use to generate electric using hydro. Doing this requires dams and reservoirs. Not exactly low impact and renewable, though it might look that way to the uneducated or fans of daming rivers and going boating on the resulting reservoirs, uncaring of the irreplaceable wilds that the reservoir erased from the planet.

    One has to wonder, if Germany is bragging on having 30% of their power from renewables, where exactly are they storing all that energy for use at night? Or are they just quoting stats for peak demand periods?

    Using ski lifts to store energy sounds a bit on the fantasy side of things, I have to say.

    The thing to remember is that getting power from coal has killed way more people than getting power from nuke. Food for thought regarding all this sometimes endless renewables talk, when you consider France for example is powered at 75% from nuke.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the elegant concept of renewable energy with no environmental cost and hopefully low wallet cost. But like I said in post, reality bites.

  29. Chris December 9th, 2012 11:08 am

    I think the connection is obvious and goes without stating. My point being that I personally don’t rely on or need those facilities or industries; just look at our history prior to ski resorts. They’re primarily about real estate development in any case. I imagine that that you have many readers of this site in the same situation. Certainly that will vary with individuals and locations around the country. Sorry to get off topic a bit but I really think the total demise of ski resorts, due to climate change, is insignificant in comparison to the other disruptions to our planet and it’s inhabitants. When will our leaders have a serious discussion about population, the root cause of almost all our problems. Yes, pretty complex for sure.

    Jasper, good point on “change” vs “warming”. Maybe semantics to some but the modeling and some recent patterns suggest that some locations might be in for real variability in weather and that will include some very “arctic” like weather in places.

    I agree that there’s many examples in our history of shared responsibility for common benefit; Tragedy of the Commons is not just a lesson of economics. IMO the global challenges, both political and scientific, won’t be the hard part,the social ones will be. I’m still optimistic though.

  30. Sb December 9th, 2012 11:29 am

    Use collocated aquifers instead of reservoirs. Pump compressed air into oil wells (before the storage space is compromised by fracking)

    Electrolyze water and store the energy as hydrogen as a compressed gas in said oil well (two methods in one application).

    I’m pretty sure engineers can figure out and build the systems required. Energy storage is really simple. Doing it on a massive scale will just require some investment.

  31. Tim December 9th, 2012 2:13 pm

    I’m sorry but your suggestion that skiers, and ski areas build or extend to areas unaffected by global warming is just about as cognitively dissonant as any perspective in the ski industry. i agree there is a lack of attention, but in a way, hasn’t it been an over abundance of building that got us here now? What good will it do if the ski industry moves to the northern yukon or alaska, along with all of it’s infrastructure, only to have the snowpack disappear there too? My partner and I have gotten rid of our automobile for environmental reasons, will it make a difference? nope, but i don’t feel like such a hypocrite anymore for driving hundreds of miles to ski on a glacier that is rapidly shrinking. I’m happy you’re writing about this Lou, more people need to be talking, need to be yelling, need to be making sacrifices. i wish i could answer your question about what ski resorts should do to stay alive but i can’t. i work at one and understand my job security is threatened by global warming. your point about ski areas switching to renewable energy also seems to be off the mark. like my choice to get rid of my automobile, it’s not so much about making a difference as it is about taking the lead and sending a message. as outdoor enthusiasts, we should be showing people the way, letting them know it’s possible to live an active and adventurous lifestyle without the use of an automobile. as a group of people who hold snow and the mountains to be sacred, the fact that we drive constantly to recreate in them is pure blasphemy. any time we drive to do anything outside, we are the problem. and unfortunately until we, as a society, voluntarily make sacrifices to our fossil fueled mobility, and food production, there will be no stopping or slowing global warming. but the kicker is that it’s not about saving skiing, it’s about saving humanity. yes, if we as a society move to regulate, or eradicate the use of fossil fuels for our mobility and food production there will be sacrifices and loss of life. but if we do not the loss will be greater, and to put it existentially, if we loose skiing, lose winter, aren’t we already loosing our lives? sorry for the rant but this is so near and dear to me and i thank you for bringing it up. i agree that it’s weird we’re not talking about it more but i think the truth is that we’re all really scared of the inevitable. unfortunately i’m a pessimist of late and believe that if humanity doesn’t act NOW, there will be no turning back, meaning no more drilling, no more burning, severe sacrifices and a paradigm shift in our ways of life. something like this may bring civilization back to the stone age so to speak but when it’s at the cost of the earth, and our own survival, isn’t it worth it?i didn’t write this intending to spray but check out our blog if you can, i hope that more folks will commit to recreating in a sustainable manner.

  32. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 4:49 pm

    Hi Tim, a bit of spray is ok, done it myself on occasion (grin).

    You make good points.

    About ski resorts taking the lead and sending a message, at this point I feel that’s total BS. The average factory worker in China does not care about Aspen Skiing Company buying wind power, and anyone in western Europe or North America has been so bombarded with climate change ranting that if they haven’t gotten “led” by now, it aint gonna happen.

    How do measure the results of this theoretical leadership? We’ll, it would seem to be wise to simply measure how much skiers drive and fly, and if that transport has been reduced since resorts started doing “leadership” in sustainability. I can guarantee that if there has been any reduction in driven or flown miles, it’s been insignificant. On the other hand, what if Aspen Ski Company said “we’re closing all our resorts in Aspen (enjoy the condos, locals, though you probably won’t have a job) and we’re building new ones at higher elevation, in another state, due to global warming.” ? Now that might actually lead people to some new thought processes!

  33. David B December 9th, 2012 5:42 pm

    You are correct Lou but every little bit helps.

    It’s about changing minds or redirecting focus and if the consuming nations drive this, then the producing nations will follow suit or they will lose customers to competitors who have made the change to sustainable processes. Money is the driver at this end.

    Whilst resorts may be outwardly trying to do the right thing, I believe there is a bit of greenwashing going on. But I’m OK with that because I don’t care what the motivation is, the end result is the goal.

    What we should be doing is looking at real world solutions which can be implemented today and which are affordable. Point in case, I invested in a company which goes under the acronym STWA, they have produced, in conjunction with Temple University an elctromagnetic pulse product for oil pipelines, which could reduce the energy used to move oil coniserably. It will save oil companies a lot of money and save a lot of emmissions.

    I looked at this investment as a bridge to the future. We need to ensure there is value and an end gain to move people. How can the ski industry deliver something llike this.

    (FYI stock code is ZERO) do yourselves a favour, it’s going to go off soon.

  34. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 6:43 pm

    Are you sure that every little bit helps? I really doubt that. It’s like the difference between fiddle playing and fire burning, as in, fiddling while Rome burns. Or, what’s that have to do with the price of tea in China?

    As for the stock tips, bring ’em on!

  35. oc ender December 9th, 2012 7:01 pm

    Excellent subject Lou.Here in Canada,I’m not aware if any such “global warming” trends,coldand deep year after year.After llast years epic season we’re shaping up to normal or near normal temps and volumes. However,to your point.I would have to say the Jumbo Resort is ahead of the curve.For years I wondered why another resort up that valley, well perhaps we have the answer.
    As far as saving the planet with green energy ski lifts,all I can say is”climb what you ski”…

  36. See December 9th, 2012 7:12 pm

    On a website where the subject of titanium binding screws is serious business, I’m surprised you fail to appreciate the notion that “every little bit helps.”

  37. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2012 7:47 pm

    Hmmmm, my brain is about ready to explode.

  38. Patrick December 9th, 2012 8:19 pm

    here’s a front-country way to adapt to lack of snow — provide more opportunities for keeners who like riding stair-side hand rails (wink). Condo developers could easily put in more rails.

  39. ty gittins December 9th, 2012 8:21 pm

    “I’m pretty sure engineers can figure out and build the systems required. Energy storage is really simple. Doing it on a massive scale will just require some investment.”

    seriously? some big time simplifications going on here….i would just go back to bashing hydraulic fracturing without even knowing whats going on in that industry, much like every other liberal slanted internet poster. oh, wait, thats already in there.

  40. Andy December 9th, 2012 10:13 pm

    I’m with Lou’s original question here. It doesn’t matter what’s causing GW (its us btw) or what the merits or otherwise of green washing are, I’d love to know what the big ski areas are planning to compensate for say a 2oC warming. Just what is the impact of a six week reduction in ski season length on the value a $900,000 condo in Vail? What is the cost of a adding 4 miles of trails with snow making at Breckenridge? How do they calculate if this will pay for itself in sales revenue? To the skier in Chicago, what’s the difference in cost to skiing in MT vs CO? Do they ski before Christmas and after March anyway?
    Of course, the fate of a few CO ski areas is very insignificant compared to half of Manhattan disappearing under a storm surge every few years, but we’re skiers so it right we should be worrying about these trivial things (along with the weight of titanium screws…). i don’t doubt for a second that they are thinking very hard about this down in Brroomfield but its also pretty interesting that they don’t talk about it….

  41. Patrick December 9th, 2012 11:56 pm

    It’s more than just semantics gang.
    (Here area few definitions/descriptions from Grinning Planet 2007.)

    Climate change implies way more than just temperature increases.

    Global warming: An overall warming of the planet, based on average temperature over the entire surface.

    Climate change: Changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events. Climate is defined by a number of factors, including:
    ~ Average regional temperature, day/night and seasonal temperature patterns.
    ~ Humidity.
    ~ Precipitation (average amounts and seasonal patterns).
    ~ Average amount of sunshine and level of cloudiness.
    ~ Air pressure and winds.
    ~ Storm events (type, average number per year, and seasonal patterns).

    Ski areas in the US and Canadian interior may have to cope with warmer temps, less precip, and perhaps more limited access to water for snow making.

    Sheesh, oc ender in Canada. Sounds like you’re not aware of the mountain pine beetle killing lodgepole pine and whitebark pine. True, in B.C. we’ve had some good (or great) snow years; of course, we are a substantially north of CO and also a lot closer to the Pacific (our main source of snow storms). However, if you’ve not seen evidence of climate change in Canada, well maybe you have a few things to learn and could look a little more closely.

    ender, Jumbo Pass B.C. is just a bit north of the US Glacier National Park. Big-time glacier melt back in that Park. Perhaps you could think a little more broadly. Check out

  42. Wookie1974 December 10th, 2012 4:02 am

    I’ll leave off the debate about global warming, its causes and all that. I doubt I could change anyone’s mind anyway.

    Your question is a good one Lou. While I don’t entirely agree with the “build baby build” kind of thinking, it does make sense that if global warming is going on, then we should see ski resorts opening higher and more northerly destinations as it occurs – but we’re not.
    I think this is because investors in these businesses aren’t about selling lift tickets. They make money on the real estate, the shopping, all that. We all know that, and have complained about it for a while now.
    If you only ski 4 days out of a week long trip, once or twice a year – you probably know very little about snow, skiing, the mountain environment. The amount of daily variability in snowfalls, temperatures etc. would overshadow any long-term changes, and if you only spend maybe 10 days in the area each year, you probably wouldn’t have a large enough sample size to even notice any changes. You just wouldn’t see it in the 10 to 15 years you would typically spend visiting your condo in Aspen or somewhere like that.
    I think the resorts are counting on that. They know that a cheap marketing campaign can erase any bad news in the minds of their paying customers, so that’s how they are handling it. Building expensive amenities to take up the slack are an added strategy / benefit.
    Short story – the industry doesn’t NEED to build new resorts to make money. The most profitable route is to squeeze more out of the ones we’ve already got. That may change as population centers inch north and things reach a tipping point for skiing in places too far south to hold on, but for now….all is well in rustic-elegance-land.
    An anecdote to show the point: My home hill here in Europe announced last year that the November opening was the earliest ever recorded! I have old lift tickets from 2000, 2003, 2004 and more showing the date Oct. 18 and somewhat later. It seems they have a short memory in the marketing department. This year – we are STILL not open. I have never seen an opening this late in over 15 years. The latest press release: “We expect to open, as usual, in the middle of December…..”

  43. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 5:37 am

    Thanks Andy!

    I’m wondering if we all get sucked into these debates because we really can’t do anything to stop and especially to reverse global warming, so we substitute talk for action.

    Me included.

    And some of the self righteous lectures about climate change you see on the web are getting rather old.

    Our planet is warming. Consequences of that are happening. Are coastal areas hit by high tide storms going to just rebuild the same, and get hit the same, over and over again? Are ski resorts just going to sit there and talk about how much biodiesel they burn, as grass grows during winter on their ski runs?

    All I’m asking in my blog post is that we get real.

  44. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 6:16 am

    Wookie, good words on basic economics. I’d agree with the jist of what you’re saying, but I question the conventional (and sometimes downright cynical) wisdom that nearly all ski resort make their profits from real estate. That seems like a gross generalization.

    In some cases resorts do make money from real estate (or are built simply as an amenity for property owners). And in many cases people do profit from real estate appreciation based on nearby resorts. But is it always the resort that makes those profits, or just the general public doing real estate deals? What is more, I can easily think of a few resorts that don’t appear to have any significant real estate business, or for that matter none at all. Hence my statement that this is a generalization.

    Also, I’d disagree about how far resorts can go in marketing themselves if they have worse and worse skiing or fail to open whatsoever. Sure, a sucker is born every minute and shopping can be more attractive than skiing to a certain demographic, but eventually something has to break if the lifts just sit there not running and those apre ski boots get muddy.

  45. Bill H December 10th, 2012 7:09 am

    For a review of current ski area business models:

    Powder Burn: Arson, Money, and Mystery On Vail Mountain
    Author: Daniel Glick

    Resorting to Madness. A film by Coldstream Collective

    Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment
    Author: Hal Clifford

    The first is the most read-able. The third covers all the basics but in redundant and somewhat patronizing reading style.
    I agree with Lou that the real-estate model isn’t the only one out there, but it is pretty damn rare to see someone making it work. Bridger Bowl comes to mind (non-profit co-op, slow-growing and financing all improvements without taking on debt i.e. Slaschman’s Lift in 2010). The various resorts connected to the Pitcher Family might make the list (Wolf Ck, Santa Fe, Disco Basin in MT).

    For the most part though, it looks like anyone with the necessary capital to put in a lift and cut new runs from scratch is doing it on home sales (a la Bachelor Gulch/Beaver Creek, all the crap at the Canyons etc.) When Intrawest moved into Tahoe back in the 90’s, the wouldn’t even buy the ski area itself at Squaw, they only purchased the parking lot so they could build the high-rise base village and not deal with the financial suck of running actual ski lifts.

    For some more bedtime tales of ski-area development based on home-ownership gone bad, read about Moonlight Basin, Yellowstone Club, and the flop of a private-resort they are still trying to build above Gilman over here above my house in Minturn.

    In my ever-so-humble opinion, the only place in NA where the legal/enviro/development climate my still cough up a new higher elevation resort is in AK or the Land of Canadia. Anyone out there ready to move up to Revy or Jumbo?

  46. Wookie1974 December 10th, 2012 7:15 am

    That’s a good reality check, Lou. I’ll admit I have thought of ski resorts as real-estate ponzi schemes for a while now – but you got me thinking, and I do think you’re right, at least in some places, some of the time.
    I do know that my home hill does not have any real estate offerings. This is common in Europe – but we face many of the same challenges as in the North American market, perhaps on a smaller scale.
    I do know that the ski hill has not turned a profit in about 10 years. It keeps running because the local government subsidies it pretty heavily. The economy is heavily tourism-based, and getting more so as time goes by. Somebody is making money off of it….thats for sure, but maybe not in the ways we typically imagine.
    Thinking hard about it, just now, I’m struck by what keeps me and my family from seeking greener pastures – accessibility. We can’t go higher, and other resorts are just too far away for our weekends. I think the same general principles may be at work with new resorts on a grander scale. It makes sense to put a new resort somewhere in Alaska or Northern BC – maybe even developing a spot in Northern Norway or the Urals for Europe – but who is going to go there? Even in this age of jet travel and with my Euro vacation times, I still wince when I think about how hard it is to get to these places, and there are no local population centers to support them at all. Heck – some of these places are so far away its tough to get an apple, much less a turbo-encabulator for a busted snowcat.
    In addition – at least amoung dedicated skiers – there seems to be a lack of interest in resort skiing. I’m going to Japan in February – but I don’t really care to see a resort. I’ve got pistes, snowcats, lifts and Italian-Themed restaurants right here – I don’t need to go to the other side of the world to see them. A lot of my friends feel the same way. Perhaps the ski resorts of the future are already being made – by people just like us – all over the world – but since nobody is selling tickets, we just don’t see it. Yet.

  47. Tim December 10th, 2012 8:44 am

    Lou, It’s too bad you don’t see the merit that “every little bit helps” perhaps you should just give up and stay in bed all day, after all, how will you ever get out the door? One foot in front of the other is a good way to start…. It’s called aggregate, a collection of items that together form a total. I agree that shutting down and moving a resort would send a message, but questioning how many people are flying or driving to get to a “green” resort is again missing the point. people who frequent those resorts will be local, because they understand the benefits of sustainability and a local economy. do you really think if the front range resorts, or any for that matter, up and move, that their customers will follow them? meaning either totally relocate their homes or add hours of driving to their recreational commute, likely meaning A LOT OF MONEY in todays mpg’s. like some other’s said, who’s ready to move to canada or alaska for skiing, a lot of us probably, but will that change anything? we’ll still have to drive to those resorts and people from the lower 48 will still fly their families up for vacation. but whatever, we’ll be up there skiing powder. yes, the average chinese factory worker isn’t concerned with climate change, nor should he be, he’s concerned with feeding his family, living in his society, and having a job. but he’s not the problem, western civilization is for setting the stage for all of china to want to follow suit, but what if we were setting sustainable examples? would other countries follow then? a lot of this climate change talk is about helping developing countries make the switch to developed in a sustainable manner, but what does that matter if we don’t stop the warming trend that’s taking place now, do we just move the industry 2000 miles north to squeeze out a few more years of skiing. i realize that climbing and skiing are ego-driven sports, but you do realize that the questions of climate change and global warming have much farther reaching consequences than skiing. sliding around on snow. if you think it’s possible, as in a solution, to see a resort “move” to a higher elevation/latitude, do you not also see the possibility of government, or simply society (voluntarily) pulling the plug on fossil fuels until we find non-combustion methods for transportation, recreation, and food production. the great depression did happen, and we are catapulting ourselves toward a similar future either from our ignorance and inaction towards the environment and economy, which are related, or as a willing choice to make sacrifices to our consumerist and materialist way of lives to get back on track towards a more sustainable future. and yes, by consumerism i don’t mean buying toys, but burning fossil fuel. change fuels progress, as they say. but does moving the problem, or avoiding it really count as progress. your original post spoke of cognitive dissonance, and i’m sure you’re hearing from some very intelligent and informed readers, as well as super left-wing enviro-nut jobs, like myself. but come on, changes need to be made in the ways and methods we live and move, not in the way or where we ski. p.s. how many miles did you drive or fly to recreate this year?

  48. Jack December 10th, 2012 8:58 am

    Apologies in advance, as I haven’t read all the comments. My thoughts are:

    a. the ski industry is in a double bind: if they tout the urgency of global warming, they will scare some potential skiers/boarders away, but they are at real risk of
    shortened seasons in just a decade or two.

    b. “greening” the industry does raise awareness and does serve as a laboratory and source of $$ for green housing, transport, etc.

    c. many skiers are politically convinced that GW doesn’t exist, contributing to the double bind.

    d. ski trains! bring ’em back! trains rock and are *amazingly* efficient.

    e. the article itself is a form of “greening” as it exaggerates the industries political power and strikes a pose of outrage.

    f. large systemic problems like this are very frustrating (especially when the
    political process just turns its back).

    g. its amazingly sad that skiing as a major sport could be dead within my sons lifetimes.

  49. Tim December 10th, 2012 9:04 am

    an addendum…

    sorry for the rant but one last point, you’re really just setting me up here but…about your comment that all you want from this blog post is to “get real” well, that’s pretty much what i’m implying, get real, get rid of your car, stop relying on the illusions of personal, fossil-fueled mobility, and start using sustainable means of transportation, meaning walking, biking, or..yes, BUS, mass transit=more sustainable then everyone driving. the solutions are here, they are real, and if you say i can’t, i won’t, how would i get groceries, get to work…you’re just leaving the door wide open for you being, not real. quit being a fake, and join the global community, we don’t rely on fossil fuels being sucked out of the earth for our transportaion or entertainment, we don’t fly unless there’s a paraglider wing involved, and we support local economies, meaning we eat local, sustainable, and seasonal food. time to get real Lou, and no, colorado resorts will not ever be moving to canada like some sort of climate-refugees, they will be victims, like those in manhattan, haiti, and new orleans. it might be hard to swallow but if this is the direction things are headed maybe it’s time to shut ‘er down and retire up in AK. again, thanks for bringing this up, but for your “what are we gonna do…replacing talk for action” viewpoint, put your money where your mouth is and act. i did and while i’m still a hypocrite for being a member of western civilization, i feel a whole lot more free to voice my opinion on environmental advocacy and action when i never go to a gas pump.

  50. Dimi December 10th, 2012 9:05 am

    I agree Tim, indeed, if every resort worldwide were carbon neutral, that would be a substantial contribution!

  51. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 9:19 am

    Actually, bus travel is sometimes a myth in terms of sustainability. It’s a great entitlement for folks with less income and a boon to business that needs cheap labor that’s not local (as happens here, in a huge way), but sustainable in comparison to driving? Not as obvious as one would think:

    And sure, little bits add up — when they add up.

    Tim, suggestion, if you used paragraphs your writing would be much more effective.

  52. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 9:27 am

    Tim, one of the tragedies of post-modern pop philosophy is the obsession with hypocrisy. Reality is that if we humans are to have standards and ideals, we will experience hypocrisy. Frequently, perhaps numerous times a day. If I were you I wouldn’t be too concerned about your being a hypocrite for being part of western civilization. On the other hand, you might consider alternatives to western living because living in a state of constant guilt and negativity is a recipe for a very unhappy life.

  53. brian h December 10th, 2012 9:47 am

    Perhaps this has been mentioned in a previous comment (there’s a lot of ’em). It seems to me this is about “our” own little world of skiing. What about the billions of people in the third world? Countries that in some very fundamental ways are just now coming into the modern age. The use of fossil fuels is not a “choice” to them. HOW??? can we expect that these independent nations are not going to utilize the resources they possess? There is the tipping point people. It will have very little to do with a million American skiers deciding how “green” their local hill is…

  54. cory December 10th, 2012 9:49 am

    “I’m wondering if we all get sucked into these debates because we really can’t do anything to stop and especially to reverse global warming, so we substitute talk for action.”‘

    Lou- let’s be honest. You really can’t take the position that we can make a personal change and keep your current lifestyle. You have a personal carbon foot print larger than an overweight sasquatch. Rumble bee, full-sized trucks, snowmobiles, a job that has you driving all over the west, yearly airline trips to europe, sponsors who belch out their own fair-share of fun stuff for the enviro.

    I get a kick out of folks whose point of view just happens to align with their lifestyle. I am not surprised about your take on this. We all trend towards the path of least resistence. You got a sweet life that lots of folks dream about. It’d take a person with huge b***s to toss easy living into the air because they care about something outside themselves

  55. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 10:19 am

    Cory, so I guess what you’re saying is my point of view aligns with my lifestyle, Tim’s does not (as he admits, when saying he’s a hypocrite). Does yours? Glad to be able to give you a “kick,” but you might actually be surprised at our carbon footprint. No dogs for Lisa and I, ever, one kid, working at home, small super efficient house. I have no wish to play the “I’m greener than you” game as doing so is a joke, but on the other hand I resent your accusation that’s only informed by my public image and your imagination. Just the simple act of neither Lisa and I not commuting to work 7 days a week is huge. And sorry to pop your truck fantasy, but our other car is a Nissan Versa, which in my view is actually more efficient than a Prius. Ha. And snowmobiles? I wish I drove that thing enough to actually cause a carbon production issue, but I don’t.

    Beyond the weirdness of “how green thou art?” What bothers me about your take is that what you’re really doing is just attacking a messenger. Oldest and least effective communication tactic in the book. Just because Tim chooses to let someone else pump his petroleum doesn’t make his take any more or less important then mine, even though I choose to pump my own.

  56. Matt Kinney December 10th, 2012 10:44 am

    Sorry, you’re gonna lose your ski areas sooner than later. By the time you think about moving a bunch of ski towers to Alaska, that may not be good enough, soon enough. Skiing is directly in the eyes of GW and we can kiss it goodbye. I was hoping to retire to Pagosa Springs someday and “sit my turns” in my twilight years!

    GW is occurring faster than out ability to “engineer” our way out of the mess we have created. Gore was right….it is inconvenient for the ski areas and the Republicans that own them. They will soon be asking for govt subsidies and bail-outs to assist in the transition from a ski resort surrounded by empty mini-mansions to no resort surrounded by empty mini-mansions and third growth forest.

    How can the ski industry (you) respond in the BC? You can do nothing, or you can be “self-rightious” and do something. As a skier, you can choose cheap skins over expensive sleds more often than not. One can choose fresh water over noxious avgas fumes and noise on that next trip to Alaska. Of course, the big sponsors out there can do the most by supporting the greener segments of the ski industry. This can be done by marketing and staging events to highlight human powered skiing.

    Matt’s rant?….. (grin).

  57. Chris December 10th, 2012 10:57 am

    A minor point- I’m not quite buying the comment above about mass transit and bus transportation. As an early participant and follower of ITDP (see ) and other international organizations that influence mass transit policy around the world, it is well known that this is very dependent on how the transportation hubs are designed, used, implemented, which areas they serve, which economic groups they serve, etc. I don’t think anyone ever said bus travel is sustainable, just much more efficient than private autos powered by fossil fuel and in most situations around the world much more affordable to the lower and mid income earners. And, in many cities around the world, the only real way to move people around efficiently due to congestion, pollution, parking, and overall cost.

    All the back and forth about “every little bit” makes me reflect on the old and true quote, often mistakenly attributed to anthropologist Margret Mead- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ” What, are we going to wait for our Congress to take meaningful action? The global impacts due to climate change will be so significant who really care what it does to the lift and amenity served ski industry? I’ll put my recreation time and money in to someone else s pocket.

    Good comments all around.

  58. Lou Dawson December 10th, 2012 11:19 am

    If they took every penny they spent on the bus system around here and just gave everyone cash to buy small efficient cars, we’d be doing a lot better in my opinion. But hey, that’s just me (grin).

  59. Ronald Cassiani December 10th, 2012 11:35 am

    GW is on the rise due to the global population increasing, burning fossil fuels and cutting down rain forests. The demand for lumber cuts down the plant population which reduces the uptake of CO2. More CO2warms the atmosphere and climate is effected producing warmer global temps. But don’t say this too loudly because Fox News will insist that we are headed for a mini Ice Age. If you want some views of warmingnistas just follow Joe Bastardi or Ryan Maue on twitter

  60. Chris December 10th, 2012 11:51 am


    I’m not familiar with the bus system in your area. I was referring to the overall picture; ie- the areas the impact of climate change/warming will have.

  61. Kane December 10th, 2012 2:31 pm

    Global warming is a funny topic. Many people feel incredibly passionate about it but few have actually studied raw climate data and made their own conclusions. Many world leaders in scientific fields are, to quote a friend of mine who is a glaciologist, “sat on the fence” on the issue. It’s a possibility and in my opinion one that is worth assuming it is happening as a precaution. The problem is this: is it possible to reduce carbon production without promoting a recession? Not sure. Will it have an effect on ski resorts? sure, whether the current observations are caused by global warming or another climate phenomenon it will have an effect on the snow and maybe some ski resorts will become less popular. They can build higher and higher resorts but it will reach a point where the altitude will be too high for fast acclimatisation and then I guess people will need to find a new way to spend their recreational time. Maybe ski lifts will still be used but they’ll be called bike lifts? I doubt snow will disappear from the planet so people who really want to ski will find a way (probably at an increased carbon cost). I guess I’m not too worried about ski resorts. I think they’ll change for sure but skiing is a luxury and not a necessity. People whose livelihood depends on skiing may suffer a blow and I hope that they can find a way to make an income out of what is there.

  62. Ronald Cassiani December 10th, 2012 3:19 pm

    Key excerpts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory news release…..

    In both satellite observations and the computer model simulations of historical climate change, the lower stratosphere cools markedly over the past 33 years. This cooling is primarily a response to the human-caused depletion of stratospheric ozone. The observations and model simulations also show a common pattern of large-scale warming of the lower troposphere, with largest warming over the Arctic, and muted warming (or even cooling) over Antarctica. Tropospheric warming is mainly driven by human-caused increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases.

    FYI : Stratospheric cooling promotes warming in the lower(troposphere) atmosphere where we live

  63. cory December 10th, 2012 3:35 pm

    Sorry Lou. I wasn’t meaning it as an attack on you. I too question the cause of climate change (human or part of a natural cycle). It was more to point out that we all frequently make our philosophy align to our lifestyle and not the other way around. It is WAY easier for me to be unsure that it is human caused than it is to have to make dramatic changes in my life.

    …case in point….if we agree that the climate is changing….and we agree it is inevitable…wouldn’t it make more sense to be looking at changing sports (mtn. biking?) instead of where to move too? Heck no! We want to maintain our lifestyle!

  64. Kane December 10th, 2012 4:11 pm

    Hi Ronald,

    Your post highlights one of the main problems with climate prediction. Data only exists for the recent past, time scales which are tiny in terms of the world’s climate. Global warming, caused by humans, is definitely a possibility, one which has a serious amount of risk associated with it if it is true but it is not a fact, it is a theory. Saying this I believe people should be trying to cut down on their waste and energy consumption – mainly for reasons of cleaner air and limited resources. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is it possible to reduce energy consumption without affecting people’s quality of life? I don’t think so as a healthy economy requires industry and industry requires power. What is needed is a change in attitude that makes people waste less and accept that their lifestyle will need to change. The common thinking that anything we do is offset by a new coal plant in Asia holds no ground. A large number of those plants exist to provide us with toys. And besides the plants in China are actually quite efficient as they use very modern technology.

    I haven’t mentioned skiing yet, so here’s some ski related questions. Do you need to replace your skis with a new model? will a rocker make skiing more enjoyable? What will happen to your old skis? I saw a man skiing with sticks older than I am. From his expression they look like a lot of fun. Is the environmental cost of new skis worth the gains?

  65. Florian December 10th, 2012 4:40 pm

    Don’t know about the situation in the US, but in Europe this is being debated quite a bit. In Switzerland the snowfall or lack thereof makes headlines in the newspapers regularly. Areas are either trying to expand their high elevation part or building big lifts from places that are actually not really supposed to have any snow at all, just to get people quicker up the mountain. Or they cover part of a glacier in summer to protect the ice from the sun (no kidding).

    But (getting off-topic, sorry) isn’t one of the great things about wildsnow, that we can just go where is the snow? Or if there is no snow at all, we take our hiking boots or rope and have a great day in the mountains too. Just enjoying what is there instead of mourning about what is not there.

  66. Florian December 10th, 2012 5:00 pm

    In German, but the rather surrealistic pictures speak for themselves. How to build a glacier:

    Scroll down the page to see the latest results. One of the topics discussed is that they may be saving money by covering the glacier/snow field, because they will need less artificial snow to have an early start of the season.

  67. Tim December 10th, 2012 6:05 pm

    well thanks for critiquing my writing, if I were trying to put my thoughts and actions into an essay or something I might be motivated to take some time to proofread and organize my words. as it is I don’t really see the need to, in the context of a blog post comment section that is. but if it makes it easier for you to read, and somehow makes my comment more thoughtful and dignified, by all means.

    wow! you’re right, really brakes things up and hammers home my point.

    sorry if you misunderstood my mention of bus travel as sustainable, chis put it much better by mentioning that bus, and train as well, are more efficient, thus sustainable. in no way should i need to explain how a group of people riding a bus to the ski hill is more efficient, and sustainable then each of them driving. but it seems you don’t understand the impact of building and driving 60 cars, versus building and driving 1 bus, even if that bus gets 5 miles a gallon compared to a car getting 30, do the math, it’s about passenger miles per gallon, and the bus wins, always.

    your comment about using money spent on a bus system to buy “efficient” cars is funny(hence the grin?), just makes me think of that south park episode where san fran is overrun by a cloud of “smug” generated by everyone’s warm and fuzzy feeling over driving a prius. i agree american’s don’t need to be driving suburbans but take a look around next time you’re in a ski area parking lot. trucks, 4wd, lots of outdoorsy folks who really associate with their vehicles, and will be hard pressed to spend a serious chunk of change on a rig they can’t fit their bike’s/boards and gear in. and again, the impact of building and driving all of these modern and “efficient” cars will grossly outweigh sharing a ride on the bus. there is simply no need for us each to have our own vehicle except to satisfy our egos. with the mass migration towards city living we’re seeing, living a car-free lifestyle is more of a reality then ever, there are buses from SLC to the cottonwoods, Seattle to stevens, why can’t this be part of the solution? well, because if we’re riding the bus it’ll be much harder to go off on our own far-flung weekend adventures and spray at the bar later.

    i really don’t want this to be a tit-for tat kind of commenting going on but again i feel the need to explain myself. my comment about being a hypocrite in western society was simply a nod to the fact that as an american it is relatively impossible to escape the use of the fossil fueled and industrialized infrastructure that provides me food, warmth, shelter, and all myriad of amenities and luxuries that I enjoy every day. including skiing, and yes, having this conversation with you. thanks for looking out for my outlook on life, but since i’ve given up the ownership and use of an automobile in the name of the environment the happiness and satisfaction in my every-day life has only increased. to pigeon-hole my consciousness of being a hypocrite along with feeling guilty and unhappy is to completely undermine and ignore any sense of satisfaction well being i find from creating solutions in response to my awareness of these interrelations. i understand and embrace my hypocrisy, and for the most part that keeps me humble, and keeps me thinking progressively. i would love to eat 100% local and seasonal food but the truth is in our society that’s impossible, and as an athlete unreasonable. some of my food will most likely always come from 1000’s of miles away. but i can make strides. to insinuate that hypocrisy means depression and inaction is simply taking the easy way out. “i’m happy about my life so it must be right” i’m just keeping an open mind, admitting when i’m wrong, when i could be better, and for the most part, this keeps me motivated to make positive changes, for my life and for the environment.

    you’re right, i should be less hypocritical and thinking of alternatives to western society, such as living under a rock and eating dirt. i enjoy my lifestyle, that of a climber, a skier, a cyclist, and an adventurer, but i don’t believe that means i must consume on the same level, or more, then my fellow americans. you’re right that the oil i’ve given up will just be consumed by another but my intention is not driving isn’t to save x barrels of oil a year, but to have a little more conviction and purpose in my life. to make an ironic analogy, it’s something like those of us who’ve forsaken the chairlift for human powered recreation, the chair is still spinning even though no one may be riding.

    i can’t help but ask, what do you think are the most relevant sacrifices americans can make towards a healthier society? obviously the most dramatic changes will include a reduction of carbon consumption. my answer would be, not flying, not driving, not having a kid, and eating locally produced, seasonal food.

    to say that my point of view does not align with a my lifestyle is taking A LOT of liberties. to say yours does may be taking more. sure, i admit to being a hypocrite, but it’s not like i’m torn about being an environmentalist whilst running around in a hummer eating out every meal and buying lots of stuff. i’d prefer to think it’s a little more nuanced then that, and truth be told, you have no idea how i think or how i live, thank you. just because you feel super satisfied that you’re raising an intelligent kid, in an efficient house with a smart little car doesn’t mean you’re welcome to ignore the impacts of being alive in todays world. your attitude towards hypocrisy suggests that i’m so depressed about the state of affairs i’d sooner kill myself to save the impact of one human on the environment then enjoy my day skiing. in reality it’s people like myself who are aware of their personal interaction and impact on the environment who will be making personal changes, influencing others, and creating the catalyst and momentum for positive change. on the other hand, there are other, more stagnant people, who maybe think that the best possible solution to climate change and skiing is to move resorts to historically colder environments. btw, who said that climate change will not be effecting canada or alaska, it is after all, GLOBAL warming and there won’t be some arctic haven spared from the changes. no, the best possible to solution to climate change is to STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, and while someone else might “pump for us”, no one will make this choice for us. we just need to stop, in any way we can.

    conversations like these often degenerate to who is holier-than-thou and other personal assaults. and when we’re dealing with some closely held, deep seated beliefs, it’s very easy to offend and so far, i applaud your effort to keep things from going that way. additionally i apologize for anything you might take personally but if we were to have this conversation face to face, you might realize my light heartedness and immense respect for even bringing up such a subject. i don’t harbor resentment to anyone driving to recreate, indeed i’m a little jealous since i’ve chosen to make my adventures more difficult and thus less often or far-reaching. we’re all in the same boat, spaceship earth so to speak, and none of us chose to be born into this human world of consumption and materialism, but we may wake up to the fact that it’s all an illusion and we are free to live any way we please, all we have to do is get our feet, and heads, unstuck from the mud. to be mad at china for polluting or angry about america’s past would be a pointless waste of energy. life should be fun, it should be an adventure, and i simply have found more satisfaction, and more adventure in my life of adventuring, as well as a human in this modern society, by giving up my car. personal beliefs aside, what does it matter, after all, if we’re all headed for the great powder field in the sky. right? well, somehow, that nagging question about the point of life, why were here and all that keeps us motivated to live a passionate and purposeful life, after all that’s why we’re in the mountains and why you’ve created this site. cheers.

    i have to ask, after being a part of the discussion thus far do you still really think ski resorts moving is in any way a reality of the future? has your view changed at all? i know i may be making things personal but, well, lou, you’re getting old, and frankly that means you’re less willing to change, losing your capacities for physical mobility and will be relying more and more on labor saving devices like cars and chairlifts. one of the saddest parts about our society is that we have completely erased the care and respect of our older generations, creating a situation where they are more of a drain our energy and resources then they need to be. the truth is that the burden of saving the environment (in reality, it’s saving humanity and our lifestyles from the destruction of the environment we all rely upon) will be on our youngest generations, on that front, the jury is still out, but i’ll bet as one of my elders, you’re skeptical.

    thanks for keeping these comments open so long and absorbing all of this subtle abuse, i must have told you you missed the point at least a dozen times, but i’m sure you didn’t.

    as citizens of a global society, perhaps we should shut off our ski lifts. that would probably be more of a positive message for our commitment to a sustainable future then moving them somewhere snowier. but until we do that, or make the choice to give up fossil fueled transportation, we will continue our silent acceptance of the inevitable destruction of our passion for seasons and the natural world in all it’s wonderful diversity. go see those glaciers while you can, they’re on their way out.

  68. Mark W December 10th, 2012 6:40 pm

    Matt, do you think the top brass at solar energy company Solyndra, whose business foundered even after an infusion of around 500 million taxpayer-funded stimulus dollars, are Republicans as well? Just curious.

    That’s my mini-rant. Hope you’re doing well in AK Matt.

  69. Chris December 10th, 2012 7:27 pm


    My comment about bus transportation was actually in response to Lou’s earlier comment and the link he posted- . From my perspective he seemed to have some doubts about bus efficiency, at least in reference to the report from “freakonomics” as well as in his local area (his next comment down from that one). If you re-read my post you will see that I am making a case in support of bus travel.

  70. Chris December 10th, 2012 7:31 pm

    Tim, sorry I incorrectly read your post when I saw my name. Now I realize your comment was directed to Lou. Maybe he had a point about spelling, punctuation, spacing, etc (partial grin)

  71. paul December 10th, 2012 8:19 pm

    One big factor here is that ski resorts to a large degree cannot do anything to deal with what is coming their way, so they have few options other than talking a good game. Here in California, very few ski areas have the ability to open higher elevation terrain, for the simple reason that they already reach the highest elevations on the property on which they are situated (primarily leased forest service land. Some few can add snowmaking capability, but that requires water and most resorts cannot get that much water from the sources available to them. Moving north is obviously not much of an option. so they put out press releases instead.

  72. See December 10th, 2012 9:43 pm

    Now that I’ve read the comments, I would like to suggest that any one interested in the climate angle on the stock market research “green” stocks regarding their performance as investments. But I’m convinced that there is a signal in all that noise.

    One of the more interesting comments was probably the one in which Lou states “if we can’t have world peace is there any reason under creation why they whole world can come together and “influence trajectory.(?)”

    1) As I see it, we aren’t “under creation,” we’re smack dab in the middle of it and it’s stewardship is our responsibility, And

    2) the reason is that if we don’t work together, we’re all screwed.

  73. JQ December 10th, 2012 11:00 pm

    Does anyone who has commented above wish they owned a ski area?
    I’m going to hitch-hike up Teton Pass tomorrow and ski some good new snow.

  74. john nobil December 11th, 2012 12:45 am

    Wish i had caught this great conversation earlier, but was skiing perfect packed powder on Mammoth’s 6-10ft base last Saturday…

    Lou, i will go ahead and propose that you are incorrect about the future trajectory of global warming, by using the unexpectedly rapid recent improvement of safety technology of cars as an example:
    Back in the 70’s seatbelt usage was still in the minority and airbags were not even remotely known of outside automotive think tanks. Nobody saw that coming… but by the mid 90’s-merely 25 years of technological improvement later, seatbelt use was up over 80% AND these newfangled airbags were rapidly becoming commonplace. Therefore by the late 90’s death rates had declined to unprecedented low numbers, which simply NEVER could have been predicted by even the most informed experts of the historical era. So… rate of technological improvement in modern society always outpaces what society expects.

    Same goes for global warming, (which is based on my person to person discussions with some of the leading scientific and tech innovators in my area). Human society has always found unexpected and ingenious ways to innovate out of problems using methods we can only hazily dream of 10 years in advance. Global warming is real, but the noise coming out of society is mostly political rhetoric, from both sides. Fact of the matter is It’s only a matter of time before China starts mass producing solar paneling at unprecedented low price points, allowing modern societies to rapidly adapt, which when combined with electric/hybrid cars will pretty much eliminate the need for fossil fuels for the vast majority of city commuters. It is only a matter of time. This tech solution is already in use today, with solar powered homeowners using Nissan Leafs to go completely fossil fuel free, except the manufacturing footprint, which will soon be greening up as well. Now try to imagine how much cheaper and accessible this solution will be in 10 years, using recent smartphone propagation as a scenario.

    Now of course you could argue that the 3rd world is rapidly spiking use of automotive transportation and fossil fuel demand, but its just that, a temporary spike. Total replacement bio based fuels are only 10 years away using CURRENT technology, not counting any unexpected breakthroughs, which have a habit of occurring just when they are the most needed. Some of the most brilliant minds on earth are working day and night on improving energy and transportation tech from every possible angle… so we can keep sliding down icy slopes.

    Besides, could anybody have imagined sub 4lb carbon ski boots that ski like alpine boots 10 yrs ago, or even 5 yrs ago? Did anyone anticipate that? Even you, Lou?

  75. David B December 11th, 2012 2:58 am

    Lou, I hope you jumped on that stock tip, up 10%. More to come.

    Only gamble with what you can afford.

    Keep it green or hang on white or…

  76. oc ender December 11th, 2012 5:45 am

    Patrick,you take yourself far to serious.I defy you to take an Ice Cube out of a freezer,put it on the counter and not have it melt.Glaciers are receding because, in case you’re not aware,we’re coming out of an ice age.In fact many reputable scientists claim we’re actually entering back into one.By the way,the pine beetle is also dying off.We in Alberta have done well at battling the beetle,something BC should have done years ago instead of burying their heads and ignoring the problem.I suppose the bunnies over running Canmore is another sign the world Is about to end.

  77. Lou Dawson December 11th, 2012 6:19 am

    John, the “technology will save us” take has been going on since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it will. But the law of unintended consequences is a huge factor, as is human nature. So I appreciate your optimism and tend to agree, but, let’s not get too starry eyed. Technology also brought us Hiroshima and enabled the Holocaust.

    As for glaciers, they build by two means, not one. From what I understand It takes 300 feet or more of snow thickness to compress, make glacier ice, and start flowing. Such accumulation is a result of some portion of the snow not melting each year. This is caused by either the temperature averaging low enough so a bit (or a lot) of snow remains from year-to-year, and gradually accumulates. Or, the same process can happen from massive amounts of snow that simply don’t have time to completely melt each summer. (Both processes combine to some degree in many cases, of course). From what I understand, glaciers on peaks such as Mount Baker or caused mostly by the latter process, while those in places such as the Alaska Range are caused by the former, or up high on Denali, 100% by the former process..

    Point being that yes, melting glaciers are caused by (duhhh) temperatures warm enough to melt them, but the receding of a glacier can just as easily be caused by drought as by warmth. In other words, one can point at the disappearance of glaciers in the Alps, for example, and say that proves something about climate change. Yes, it does, but what it proves is not as simple as it looks.

    Also, regarding above, a common misperception of the general public is that glaciers are simply created by cold temperatures. As mentioned above, that’s not necessarily so. I mention that because the all to common media take of “global warming melted the glacier” may be wrong. Climate change of some sort obviously changed or eliminated the glacier, but instead of GW the cause could have easily been drought.

  78. Mark W December 11th, 2012 9:39 am

    John N,
    Don’t electric and hybrid cars generally need to be recharged occasionally, which requires electricity–electricity which is primarily produced by burning fossil fuels?

  79. xander December 11th, 2012 9:51 am

    wow…the tarnished and poorly wrought screeds above support the notion that global warming/climate change is a top-heavy scam long on funding- and attention-seeking talk and short on action (unless your name is Al and you’re gettin’ fiesty with the masseuse). “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” should’ve been enough: live it, breath it and do it. If you’re part of the mouth-breathing 99% that pollutes, upgrades gear with glee and happily uses all manner of Chinese-made skis and clothing…well, you are getting the lemming-sprint to the cliff you deserve and no amount of pompous pontificating is going to change it.
    “But what about me? I’ve gotta ski in Chile this year, 365 days of powpow and stokie-stoke……..”
    of course you do, so quit complaining.

  80. john nobil December 11th, 2012 10:28 am

    Don’t worry Lou, i’m not a starry eyed fanatic of new technology, i can just see the rate of improvement on the horizon. the point was that leaps in affordable technology are always in the works that can’t possibly be anticipated right now (like your smartphone in the palm of your hand being more powerful than your 10yr old desktop) and RIGHT NOW, Mark W, you can charge your electric car or retrofit your prius to be 100% solar powered. today.

    Its actually kind of tragic that the environmentally aware majority has chosen to pontificate over something that has so little effect on the big picture. My point: when technology is ready and affordable(toyota prius, nissan leaf, solar panels) people will and do buy them. It doesn’t really matter how much people shout and complain, thats just how it works out. the bottom line.

    What we all should be doing is calling for the immediate and unconditional shut down of all nuke power plants. period. ticking time bombs all of them, mismanaged and vulnerable to the extent that almost every single one of them could be the next fukushima. Look at the San Onofre plant in my backyard as an example, it has 10x the safety problems as the industry average, it sits in earthquake country, right on the ocean, and if it goes, everyone is downwind, esp colorado. Are we paying attention, fellow skiers? THATS the enviro issue we should all be concerned about. big time.

  81. Kelly December 11th, 2012 1:01 pm

    Lou – many agree with the notion that there is ‘climate change’ as climate is always changing, but according to recent data from the Met Office, scientists are now telling us that there has been no statistical global warming in the last 16 years and that this is largely due to natural variability.

    Not to say that anthropogenic CO2 is not a factor in causing past or future warming – but it may well be that it is not as big a factor as alarmists would have us believe. The bottom line is that the computer models that are currently in use that have predicted catastrophic global warming may be deeply flawed.

    If that’s true, ski area planning for future warming might be unnecessary, and I’m of the ‘wait and see’ approach.

    If anyone is interested here is a 16 minute video presentation by Professor Don Easterbrook at Western Washington University that gets into this in more detail (and is very interesting IMHO).

    (audio is out of sync but still worth viewing!)

  82. Peter December 11th, 2012 1:16 pm


    You keep trying to steer the discussion away from the causes of climate change and back towards the issue of adaptation to climate change. But the question of how much to invest in mitigation (prevent climate change) vs. adaptation (deal with the consequences) depends very much on the causes. If greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change, then investing in mitigation makes sense; if human emissions are not involved, then investing in mitigation doesn’t make sense.

    Your fall-back argument seems to be that even if GHG emissions are driving climate change (and the evidence is pretty overwhelming), mitigation still doesn’t make sense because of the political obstacles in reducing emissions. If skiing were the only thing at stake, I might go along with you. But the stakes are a lot higher, as the fatalities from Sandy or from drought and famine in the developing world demonstrate. From this broader perspective, it’s hard to argue against mitigation efforts: even if they won’t “save” skiing they may save lives.

  83. Lou Dawson December 11th, 2012 1:39 pm

    Peter, your take on my take is pretty good (grin).

    Mainly, what I’m interested in is rationality, not hate, not preaching and most certainly not using climate change as an excuse for any sort of fascism, and that sort of stuff.

    If GW is inevitable, then someone better think about mitigating for the effects! And calling GW optional is irrational, since it’s already happening!

    And it’s not true that mitigation has to be tied to blame. Even if the GW is entirely natural, we could still slow it down or even reverse it by changing the gas percentages in the atmosphere.


  84. Peter December 11th, 2012 2:02 pm

    Yes, you’re right about mitigation not depending on human-caused climate change. The geo-engineering approaches would still work…but they would be even harder to sell to the public.

  85. Lou Dawson December 11th, 2012 2:19 pm

    As for the public, I’m not sold on how much mitigation should be done, and I only want to see it if it’s actually mitigation, not fantasy and green washing. I’d also offer that folks around the world need to keep in mind where their food comes from. Lou

  86. aemono December 11th, 2012 3:40 pm

    Shock horror..wassappend?? wildsnow suddenly worrying about klimate change?? ..amazing what a couple of dry winters do for perceptions (grin!) And yeah low snow so whaddya do for a blogpost..but really moving ski areas higher/further north?? ..way lame, really REALly missing the point i think..nevertheless some really thoughtFULL and funny kommenting ..the image of the overweight sasquatch quibbling about titanium screws will live with me

    Tim, don’t take Lou’s returns too personally, he tends to confuse other people’s concerns about RESPONSIBILITY with “guilt”.. (which doesn’t at all mean that some of us aren’t guilty..) but good on you Lou for posting anyway, better late than never i suppose

  87. Kelly December 11th, 2012 4:51 pm

    I agree with aemono – no warming for 16 years, cold PDO for at least another 15-20 years….sun sound asleep and potentially entering a grand solar minimum that could last decades (they’ve even pre-named it the ‘Eddy Minimum’), AMO going negative, climate models getting it all wrong, and everyone is worried about global warming…. How about global cooling?

    If you get your infomation from the MSM you are getting mostly political hyperbole. Look at the data for yourself….read up folks!

  88. Kelly December 11th, 2012 6:20 pm

    We are lucky we have it so good. In the UK they are suffering from fuel poverty as a result of ‘green energy’ legislation and plummeting winter temperatures.

    “The Government unveiled its long-awaited Energy Bill on Thursday. It’s the Coalition’s blueprint for turning Britain’s energy green.

    But the biggest revelation of Thursday’s news was that households will be forced to subsidise the planned, new, low-carbon electricity generators by paying an extra £95 a year on their energy bill by 2020.

    Bills are already set to soar in coming years, forcing even more vulnerable people than ever into fuel poverty when they can’t afford to heat their homes.”

    Excess Winter Deaths Fall, But Over 24,000 Still Die
    Source : Rob Mansfield
    Published on 29 November 2012 11:30 AM

    New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today show that 21,700 older people died last winter from cold-related illnesses – a 3% drop on the previous year.

    While the drop is clearly good news, there was an increase of 1% in the 75-84 age bracket (up from 19,400 to 19,500), and a much steeper 7% increase in number of deaths among the over 85s (up from 12,040 to 12,900).

    Overall, 24,000 people died needlessly last winter, more than 90% of whom are aged over 65.

    Age UK response
    In response to the figures, Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, said: ‘It’s good news that the number of excess winter deaths fell last year, but it remains a national tragedy that 21,700 older people’s lives were claimed by cold weather and many millions more endured cold-related illness.

    ‘Every single excess winter death is preventable and represents our failure to meet the challenge of plummeting temperatures in Britain. Even in very cold countries such as Finland, excess winter deaths are much lower because they take staying warm seriously and prepare for cold weather.’

    It’s important to note that only 1 in 100 cold winter deaths is as a result of hypothermia. The majority are as a result of underlying cardiovascular problems (35%) or respiratory problems (35%) and exacerbated by cold homes.

    ‘Cold homes – caused by a number of factors including high energy costs and poor insulation – not only have a devastating impact on older people’s health, but are a major cause of excess winter deaths,’ says Michelle Mitchell. ‘Those living in the coldest homes are three 3 more likely to die a preventable death than those living in warmer ones.’

    Campaigning to end winter deaths
    As part of our Spread the Warmth campaign, Age UK is trying to put an end to these thousands of needless winter deaths.

    Not only is the human cost high, but the charity also estimates cold homes cost the NHS around £1.36bn each year.

    ‘We are calling on all local authorities to recognise the issue as a major health priority and make sure they are doing everything within their power to keep older people warm,’ says Michelle Mitchell.

    ‘But the only way to make a sustained and long term impact on excess winter deaths is by investing in making Britain’s homes more energy efficient.’

  89. See December 11th, 2012 8:50 pm

    I was listening to the MSM TOD when they were interviewing a (F415M) celebrity. She said GW was a BFD but I had read the DSM and suspected a BD. I decided that TBOV was to STFU.

  90. Kelly December 11th, 2012 9:39 pm

    See – phunny!

    PDO = Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    AMO = Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
    Both are ocean temperature related and affect the climate of the northern hemisphere – Negative phase = colder temps.

    FWIW – I’m done….

  91. Peter B December 11th, 2012 9:48 pm

    Global warming, then global cooling ( for the back country skiers in ya, think, first you go up, then you go down) think:’ cycles’ I personally think the global warming thing is a scam -think “climate gate”… I’m all for green and clean, but the rest is pure politically based. The global climate hasn’t warmed in over a decade…Where does your power come from to charge your electric car? Coal?
    More fear mongering so we need more government!

  92. Tim December 11th, 2012 9:57 pm

    Well thanks Peter for that. Pretty well sums it up. Some things seem obvious but it’s helpful to spell it out, what’s the point of adaptation if we’re not changing the causes? Delay, ignore, repeat.

    It’s funny to keep thinking back to the basis for all of this discussion, that being, what will the ski industry do to have an effect on climate change and keep skiing alive? Well all of these comments seem to make it pretty obvious that everyone is aware that climate change has much larger ramifications than skiing, even if they are not effecting our lives personally, maybe, yet. Much discussion about that.

    What’s unfortunate to see is how we revert to the media’s discussion about weather or not anything is really happening, how fast it’s happening, where it’s having an effect, blah, blah, blah. It’s unfortunate because it’s a waste of time but mainly because it undermines the biggest issue that we’re all aware of, but don’t mention, the reason the whole world is gaining awareness in respect to our relationship with the environment. We are (slowly) waking up to the reality that we rely on, and consume, way too much fossil fuel. Our common sense tells us that this must not be right and GW, or Climate Change makes for some sort of tangible result of our unrelenting addiction that we can focus on. So then we all start the discussion of what is climate change, how fast is it happening, is it really happening, when all along we just go on and continue on burning, and consuming at the same rate.

    The reason we’re having this discussion isn’t because maybe we’re being affected by climate change in some subtle way, but because we as a civilization are awakening to the realities of our reliance upon industrialization and fossil fuels. The subtlety of common sense telling us that consuming (mainly burning) around THREE AND A HALF BILLION GALLONS OF OIL A DAY is somehow not the most balanced relationship we could have with earth.

    Burning=smoke, and smoke=unhealthy, hard to breathe. This is what is all about. No bullshit, no dickering over who’s doing what, when will it happen, how’s it gonna turn out, what do we really need to do… we know we’re flooding the atmosphere with a bunch of toxic shit and that’s bad, we know we should stop but we’re too wrapped up in our ways of life to really do anything. We’re taking an obvious issue and turning it into some sort of intellectual, philosophical discussion, when the practicality of the matter is that we need to act now. Go to, go to a “do the math” event, that’s some data we can choke on!

    Lou, you’re interested in being rational, I understand that. You think that the dismantling and relocation of a bunch of ski lifts is a reasonable solution to dealing with a variable winter? You live in Colorado, it doesn’t snow much there, get over it.

    You’re not interested in hate? I can dig that, but our subscription to the use and dependency on oil, weather it be for warmth, transportation, or techy fabrics and plastics is a silent acceptance of America’s violent foreign policy to secure foreign oil resources, not to mention the utter destruction we unleash on the environment here in the good old U.S. in the name of domestic oil production. Drill, Frack, Spill, move on. You don’t drill you’re own oil, do you?

    If I’ve been preaching, I apologize, but perhaps you should reassess what you consider to be a sermon the next time you’re influenced to buy a new “efficient” car, or why you’re life would be easier with an iphone. If me suggesting we get rid of our cars or try and use less oil is preaching, then the creation of a system that allows you no alternative to an automobile is slavery. And on that note maybe some sort of Eco-facism isn’t all that bad, a general sacrifice of human interests for the greater good of the Earth’s ecosystem? Probably more than our ego’s are willing to succeed, but somehow the Bee’s seem to be able to do it. And before you go to crazy, facism does not equal nazism, does not equal racism. Just like democracy does not equal progress and equality, at least in terms of the two narrow examples our society has created(facist germany, capitalist democratic america).

    You know what fantasy green washing is? Being convinced to buy an “efficient” vehicle that gets 35 mpg. Buying an energy star dishwasher. You know what actual mitigation is? Not driving a vehicle. Washing your own dishes. This is something we can all do, sacrifice, just like not eating banana’s or tomatoes in the winter, you’ll find that you don’t really miss em, and life has a lot more satisfaction when you’re not fighting reality.

  93. aemono December 12th, 2012 9:08 am

    That’s pretty much banging thuh nail on its big dirty head, Tim.

    It’s not that AGW isn’t a major problem to worry about..but the REALLY big problem is – as always i guess – human greed and ego.

  94. Peter B December 12th, 2012 10:05 am

    First off, it is usually a bad idea to make assumptions about other people’s habits based on one particular comment. You seem to be driven (pun intended) by the evil doings of cars and oil, and you assume I drive. Well, I do, but not to work. Not to most meetings…I live in a downtown neighborhood for this reason. I use my rig to get to the mountains. I haven’t found a battery truck that will tow my ski boat (don’t worry, it is old, I bought it used=recycling) and my UTV with tracks to access the backcountry skiing we have in my area. Unless you’re going to trudge up a damn logging road for 10+ miles before you get up to the skiing (where we leave the machine all day and tour), you need some sort of vehicle. (It also makes it easier to pick up trash on the way down as I am known to do.) Sorry, no “smart phone” either -just a dumb one.
    Look, I don’t want to make this a personal argument between any of us. We all have a common love of the outdoors, fresh air and water. Unless we want to go “all-Amish” we have to live with some imperfections in life.
    We should all do what we can to help the environment, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use it. Responsible use is the key. Personal responsibility, not responsibility dictated from a government. So many people think the government is going to solve their problems, but I think they cause far more than they solve. Financial mess caused by capitalism or government policy? I say the latter. Do we have capitalism today or corporatism? I say the latter.
    We all have different opinions on all issues, but I look for common ground. I just think we need to be careful throwing out “facts” that are not truly proven. Fact checking is now part of our daily lives if we want to stay on top of issues. Oil is part of everybody’s life even if they don’t own a car. It is in the plastic in your ski’s, the fertilizer you might put on your garden (we use compost, but…), you 2-way radios, etc.
    Lastly, to circle back around to Lou’s original focus -ski areas and their social responsibility to the environment – I say close them all. Wouldn’t bother me in the least. Now that won’t help thousands of employees, or tax revenues in those areas much, but it will won’t affect me, so …(tongue in cheek -or is that foot in mouth :~) Have a good day all. Happy turns.

  95. Mike K December 12th, 2012 4:11 pm

    I think certain resorts in Western Canada will benefit from warming. It’s crazy hearing about the slow starts in the US when Lake Louise and Revelstoke are off to a DEEP start. I think in the end the whole world is fucked and skiing will be something of a means of transportation rather then enjoyment. We are in a downward spiral and the world is doomed, I blame greed and people’s obsession with power and control.

  96. See December 12th, 2012 7:25 pm

    I hope Kelly wasn’t offended by my lame attempt at humor. I was just trying to suggest that I’d prefer a little more information, rather than a load of acronyms and being told to read up. It just seemed to me like an attempt to dazzle people with rhetoric, rather than a reasoned argument. Thanks for the clarification.

    And I meant TBPOV– the better part of valor.

    Also, people keep pointing out the obvious fact that electric cars are charged by electricity that is generated like all electricity. The real question is– how much carbon is produced per mile for an electric car vs. a conventional car? (Hint: electric car is less.)

  97. Tim December 12th, 2012 7:48 pm

    Hey Pete,

    Thanks for clearing things up, but I don’t think I ever made any assumptions about your mobility, I certainly didn’t mean to and couldn’t really find them in my comment. Either way, apologies if my words were misrepresentative of my thoughts, they often are. My only comment that was respective to yours was my appreciation that you mentioned the difference between mitigation vs adaptation, and how they’re related. The rest of my blather was more or less directed towards Lou and the general discussion.

    One of the things with these online discussions seems to be that words get easily misconstrued, things get taken personally, and so on. This wouldn’t happen if we were actually talking instead of typing but oh well…

    As for the rest of you’re comment, well, cheers to you for not driving every day. I find it pretty amusing that you thought I made some sort of assumption and accusation about your driving, and you do, only because I really didn’t, or didn’t intend to, and can’t help imagining you as a very defensive individual who could have just as easily misconstrued my words as assaulting you for being a New Yorker or something, and then it turns out you are… I’m sure that sounds stupid but it’s funny to me. But right you are about us all being friends, we all enjoy the mountains, and a healthy environment, and that’s the truth. Things can get ugly when we start debating about religion, politics, and the environment, which for us, is an ugly sort of combination of the two, being both sacred and practical at the same time.

    I’m well aware of the plastics and processes that go into all of my gear, my body, and generally infiltrate my life, and body. But the most effective way to curb my consumption of oil isn’t to ski wooden skis and bamboo poles, walk in hemp slippers and wear organic cotton, it’s to not drive. Just because there is oil all around us isn’t an excuse to use some more.

    You’re also right about responsible use being the key. But does that mean overcoming long approaches with a mechanized advantage, which by the way, is exactly what cars, planes, snowmachines and the like are all about. If that “damn logging road” is a real drag, why stop there, you use a truck to trailer your UTV into the mountains, 10+ miles into the backcountry, why not just sled up to the ridge and ghostride the whip back down? Personal responsibility means being accountable for your actions, which in my (personal) view means being able to put in the sweat equity to accomplish your means of mobility, even if that means a 10 mile approach to go skiing.

    I don’t put my trust in the government for anything, especially to not drive for me, I know I have to do that myself. I agree that there is some corporatism going on but it’s easy to be ignorant of how large and complex governing the lives, liberties, health, safety, and happiness of 300 million people can be. I do see the government as one of the best avenues we have available to harness the awesome and potentially positive power of humanity. If we are to make collective decisions, and changes, as a whole, it’s probably not going to happen by just talking about it at the bar and hi-fiving, unfortunately we’ll need to do some paperwork.

    Again, I hope you’ll all see my comments as more of a devil’s advocate then all else, but I know I’m not making many friends. I’ve learned to add some paragraphical breaks but you’ll still have to guess about where I’m grinning(grin). I embrace imperfections in my own life and the world, but I don’t think that means it needs to be at the cost of the environment.

    Pete, do you really think the Amish are free of imperfections? I understand they don’t ski and that’s kind of a bummer, but they are setting a pretty decent example otherwise. Life isn’t about being austere and cloaked in black, we live to be in the mountains, we love to climb, ski, drink, laugh and generally enjoy ourselves, I don’t think that not driving, or not owning a car means living a bland life of lameness. I think it means I’ll be super stoked when I make it happen and get out there, even if it’s only a couple of times a season and I’ve got to spend three hours shlepping 60lbs of camping gear 10 miles out some “damn logging road”, cause I know I’ll freeze my ass of in the tent, enjoy some turns, and be that much more satisfied with getting out there.

    As for shutting down the lifts, well, even though I work and live at a major resort, I’ve got to say, I’m with you. Pretty radical on your end to suggest and, well, I can’t really imagine you’d be putting it out there if you were seriously considering huffing that 10 mile approach next weekend. But I’m also for shutting down the pumps, because I imagine we could still find our way up to the slopes and make some turns.

    See you on the hill.


  98. Andrew December 13th, 2012 10:38 am

    Don’t worry Lou – I’ve heard some women find a guy with a huge carbon footprint to be very, very sexy. 🙂

    I have a hard time finding any sympathy for ski resorts and don’t think they should be expanding either outward, or especially upward. Their reaction to GW is to make more artificial snow, which requires huge amounts of power and water, which in turn just accelerates GW even more, not to mention using bacterial additives like SnowMax to make snow in warmer temps, which in turn destroys rivers and streams. Not only that, but with all of the resort consolidation, they are now mainly focused on the out-of-town visitor which involves flying in a plane, driving and lots of petrochemical preparation (grooming, highspeed lifts, heated driveways, etc.) all for what… two days and ten runs?

  99. Ryan December 13th, 2012 12:46 pm


    No Lou,

    We can’t “shift this discussion to how we can keep the resorts alive.”

  100. Kelly December 13th, 2012 3:13 pm

    See – no offense taken and good that you pointed out that acronyms are not helpful if not clear – my fault on that and apologies are in order. I also realize that it’s highly unlikely that people will want to spend their free time looking at climate data. It’s actually pretty boring, especially if you can be out skiing and celebrating winter with good friends, schnitzel and beer!

    You mentioned that you would have preferred a little more information. Not sure if you saw the video in my first post but it will address your concerns far better than my load of acronyms.

    Also – just for the fun of it, I’ve linked a video by Henrik Svensmark, a physicist that is looking at climate change from an entirely unique perspective. I’m posting here because you will likely not see this in mainstream media as apparently it’s not politically correct (yet…) This is a great short film – very well done, hopefully you will have a chance to see it. If Svensmark is right our concept of climate will change radically. His theory is currently being tested at CERN in Switzerland (CLOUD experiment).

    Hope you have a great ski season.

    Lou – apologies if you think this is off topic, but if these guys are correct we might not have to be concerned about saving our ski resorts due to global warming.

  101. Dustin December 14th, 2012 2:49 pm

    From a comment made by Chris (way up there): “I personally don’t care if all the resorts closed tomorrow. I really don’t use them much and I’m much more concerned about dwindling revenues to keep our local mountain roads plowed and back country access available. Hey, isn’t this site about back country skiing??”

    …reminded me of an argument I came across recently on a CBC Ideas podcast, which related to the notion of “adaptability” with respect to climate CHANGE. In contrast to GW, there is considerable evidence that solar activity could lead to global cooling. So, the point was, that the key to surviving global climate change is building energy and infrastructure systems that can accommodate change, in either direction! Notwithstanding the evidence for climate cooling, there is enough uncertainty about local effects of climate change that we can not, as a society, meaningfully predict and prepare ourselves for specific climate changes (precip, temperature, wind, etc).

    The answer? I think it needs to be adaptive, de-centralized systems with low capital investment costs, that can respond to climate variability. In the ski world, I think this means developing “light-footprint” local hills, with minimal (and portable??) infrastructure (think yurts instead of hotels). Short of that, I’ll just go backcountry skiing! $100 for an over-used hill with receding snow-loss problems, or $0, a map, and a sense of adventure for an experience that can’t be taken away? Easy.

  102. Kelly December 14th, 2012 5:40 pm

    Good or bad, adaptation is probably all that can feasibly be done from an economic standpoint. Can’t imagine getting permits for a new resort in the PNW unless it’s totally on private land. In reality, snow levels at local ski resorts have been pretty good around here – about the same as what I remember as a kid back in the 60’s.

    Here is Rutgers University Snow Lab’s 45 year trend in North American snow extent:

    Fall – Up
    Winter – Up
    Spring – Down

  103. See December 14th, 2012 7:31 pm

    As I see it, warming will happen. Indeed, it already has, so it would be unrealistic to believe we can preserve the natural world as we have come to know it.

    On the other hand, to advocate “adaptation” is, in my opinion, to surrender in a fight with astronomically high stakes.

    The big advantage to going the “adaptation” route is that it doesn’t require a shift away from the fossil fuel based model that has served many of us so well for so long.

    However, I would rather try and shift to alternative energy sources and practices in order to try and save what still can be saved of the natural world than admit defeat.

    Such a shift would have many other benefits (e.g. countries like the US are well positioned to provide the technology of the future, I’d rather live near solar than coal, electric cars are quiet and clean, etc.), but this change is obviously not favored by some extremely powerful and entrenched interests.

    And if any one is interested, I would suggest reading up on the claim that “Met Office… scientists are now telling us that there has been no statistical global warming in the last 16 year.”

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