A Skier Looks At Earth Day (again)

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 04/22/14 •  4 min read

This is funny, but in a black humor sort of way. Because its premise is real: there are still people who don’t take global warming seriously. Sure, we’ve had record cold this winter here in Vermont. But for some, that’s enough to prove that global warming is a myth. Like just because it’s cold in one place means it’s cold everywhere.

With a winter like this, it’s hard to remember that global warming isn’t steady. It’s a trend. And over time, the trend is definitely toward warmer global temperatures. Take a look at this, from the National Climatic Data Center:

Climate Change

Scary, isn’t it?

I could go on all day. But right now, with Earth Day upon us, I really want to talk about what we, as skiers, can do to help.  With global warming threatening to eliminate winter — and our favorite sport along with it — environmental consciousness is something we really need to get behind.

It’s not all about skiing, either. Snow and ice are critical habitats for a wide range of animals. They provide a substantial amount of the planet’s drinking water. And polar ice melt could sink islands and flood coastlines.

How can we help? I’m sure you’ve heard the same thing over and over again: we need to reduce our carbon footprint. But that’s not easy, especially since snowmaking, ski lifts,and  just getting to and from the slopes require huge amounts of energy. So what are we supposed to do?

Glad you asked. I have a few ideas right here:

Carpool. Or use public transit to get to your favorite ski areas. It’s amazing how foreign this simple idea is to many people, though high gas prices might make it more appealing. Seriously, though. Buddy up, people. It’ll help the planet. It’ll save you money. And it’ll make your trip easier, too. If you’re having trouble finding someone to ride with, check out MountainRideshare.com, which works to hook up people who are traveling to ski resorts.

• Support resorts that use renewable energy resources. According to Patrick Thorne, editor of the Green Ski Resort Guide, 60% of the world’s leading 250 ski resorts get at least some of their power from wind, solar, or water (hydro).  Vail, for example, is the second largest purchaser of renewable energy in North America. And Jiminy Peak (Massachusetts) and Burke Mountain (Vermont) even have wind turbines on site. An interesting one to watch: Mountain Riders Alliance. This organization (I blogged about them here), has the stated goal of  developing values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that have a positive impact in the local community. So far they’ve opened a prototype ski area, Mount Abram, in Maine, and they’re working to re-open Antelope Butte Ski Area in Wyoming and Manitoba Mountain Ski Area in Alaska. Also, be sure to check out the National Ski Areas Association’s Climate Change Challenge, a report of what many resorts are doing to reduce greenhouse gases. Let them know if you support what they’re doing. It really does help.

• Buy from green companies. Another thing I’ve discussed before (go here). In brief, there are a growing number of gear companies that produce outstanding skis and apparel from recycled material. Many also support 1% For The Planet, giving at least one percent of their sales to environmental groups around the world. And some are involved in the Conservation Alliance, a consortium of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitats. Founded in 1989 by REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, the Alliance has more than 180 member companies, and has contributed more than $13 million to conservation projects throughout North America.

• Support environmental causes like Protect Our Winters, which was founded by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones, after witnessing first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains. You might also want to check out Climate Solutions, which is working to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming,  C2ES (the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions), and US Climate Action Network.

Of course, there’s a lot we can do in our daily lives, too. Turn off lights when not in use. Use energy saver appliances. Walk or bike when you can. Recycle. Use re-usable shopping bags. Plant trees. Support causes that are working for environmental change.

After all, for skiers, every day should be Earth Day. Celebrate today.


Related Posts