President’s Ski Tracks, January 2015
It’s mid-December as I’m writing this article, and there’s still no significant snowpack on Mt. Hood. Meadows Ski Area is closed. Only Palmer is open for skiing at Timberline. Teacup Nordic is not being groomed. Next week the forecast for snow looks more optimistic, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope not to be disappointed.
Winter sports enthusiasts are first-hand witnesses to global climate change. Every year it seems the ski season starts later. According to an article in the New York Times, “The End of Snow,” by Porter Fox, Feb. 7, 2014, “the ski season in parts of British Columbia is four to five weeks shorter than it was 50 years ago, and in eastern Canada, the season is predicted to drop to less than two months by mid-century. At Lake Tahoe spring now arrives two and a half weeks earlier, and some computer models predict that the Pacific Northwest will receive 40 to 70 percent less snow by 2050.” This data does not bode well for ski resorts or snow sport related businesses, which contribute “$66 billion annually to the nation’s economy and support more than 960,000 jobs across 38 states.”
Even though the winter sports community waits anxiously for that first big, belated snow fall, we have not taken seriously dramatic action to counteract climate change. One group, however, is doing so. Protect Our Winters, was founded in 2007 by a professional snowboarder after he recognized that many of the slopes he had once ridden no longer had adequate snow coverage. The mission of POW is to “engage and mobilize the winter sports community in the fight against climate change” through education, advocacy, and alliances. I encourage ONC-PDX members to check out POW’s website.
I’m sure many ONC-PDX members have already made changes in their lives like cutting back on driving, walking or biking more, buying local produce, switching light bulbs, installing solar panels, using reusable water bottles, calling and writing to legislators, and staying educated on climate issues. I do believe there’s power in numbers; 21 million winter sports enthusiasts in this country can make a difference. Let’s open up the discussion about how ONC-PDX can be a part of this struggle against climate change.