Skiing brings out a sense of pureness. Skiing is a way to connect people, places, the environment and people. This purity could be a distant memory we will one day share with future generations. One thing can point to this impending doom: climate change and its consequences. Global warming and climate change are often misunderstood. Global warming is the increase in earth’s temperature, climate change and other aspects related to warming. You will see melting glaciers, increased temperatures, extreme weather and, of course, the detrimental effect on skiing season, winter, and other symptoms. All of these symptoms can be indicative of one thing: us.

The misuse of our planet and human activity are the main drivers of climate change. The long-running debate over climate change has ended. Climate change is real and it is affecting our world. “Home” is the place one calls home. Only one planet can be our home. Colorado has been my home all of my adult life. There is no worry when I’m skiing. I don’t think about school deadlines or other responsibilities. It’s me, the mountain. Climate change is not something that I want to worry about. Only worry I have is about the next run and finding powder. Climate change is a serious issue. These trends include extreme heat, drought, wildfires or flooding. Climate scientists have predicted them for decades and they now exist. The International Union of Geological Sciences (“IUGS”), the professional organization responsible in defining Earth’s timeline, has officially declared that we are in the Holocene (“entirely modern”) epoch. (Stromberg). Do we have left enough of an impact on the world to make it worthwhile to say goodbye to the Holocene period? Anthropocene: Geoscientists, biologists and geoscientists have reflected on the effects of human activity on the world.

Anthropocene is an era in which human activity is the principal driver of Earth-related changes. It will serve as another reminder to the public that human activity is having unavoidable effects on the environment, at all scales of the planet. This is why a new geological age has begun (Stromberg). Climate change is a dynamic phenomenon. Because we are dependent upon ecosystem services for food, water, and air, it is no surprise that climate change is dynamic. Water is an essential component of human life. Many states, especially in the western region of the United States depend on the Colorado River to provide water. Without snow, there is no skiing. Many states are limited in their water supply. Warmer winters may be more likely than a cool one. That is because there are more snow melts and less snow. “It’s expected that warming will continue, and the negative effects on water year UCRB streamflow (upper Colorado River basin) will become more evident. 1-14).

The snow runoff has been limited due to low snowfall in the past couple of years. The Colorado River is dependent on snow runoff for water. With warming temperatures and drought, this water source is decreasing. More heat is generated by less snow and ice. The northern hemisphere is cooled by the snow and ice cover. “Global Warming: The Impact of Receding Ice and Snow on Scientists” The earth’s ability to reflect light back into space and cool the climate is affected by the decline in snowfall as well as the rise of snowmelt and ice. Albedo refers to a surface’s ability reflect light. It is like flipping an electrical switch. Global warming is occurring because you absorb the sun instead of reflecting it. The sea level is rising. Sea levels worldwide are increasing by 3.4 millimeters each year. The ocean could rise 1.3 meters (4.3ft) in 80 years. The melting of Antarctic ice and Greenland glaciers is responsible for the rapid rise in sea level. This rise in sea levels is difficult to comprehend, especially for Coloradoans who are located one mile above sealevel in the Rocky Mountains. We also live 1,000 miles away from any ocean. However, there are places like Miami and New Orleans that are lower than others, such as Amsterdam, New Orleans, and Miami. These areas are already feeling the effects. This problem will only get worse in the coming decades. Half the world’s people live within 60km (37 miles), of a coast. So, why is the sea-level rising?

Rising sea levels is one of many visible effects of human-made climate changes. Sea level would have risen by only about one inch if it weren’t for the excess of greenhouse gases and CO2 in the atmosphere. Sea level rose by 14 cm (5.5 inches) in the period 1900 to 2000 due to high CO2 levels. This was the largest sea level rise in 27 century and is only increasing. Two ice sheet that cover about 99% all of the world’s freshwater are located in Antarctica (one in Greenland). If CO2 levels continue to rise rapidly, both ice sheets will likely melt. “Sea Levels have naturally risen over time, but they haven’t risen as fast in modern history. They’ve also never received so much human aid.” (McLendon).

Global warming could lead to more snow. This is a silly statement. It’s obvious that snow will melt if the temperature rises. Temperature is the only thing that determines how much snow falls. Warmer temperatures hold more moisture. Too cold air will not hold enough moisture to produce heavy snowfalls. The air should not be warmer than 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degrees Celsius) to allow precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow. (Hagenstad Burakowski, Hill). The United States has seen records in snowfall and temperatures over the past few years. Without limiting heat and trapping CO2 in the atmosphere, the world will face irreversible changes. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has identified 1997 as the decade with the most record-breaking temperatures. The last decade has seen the greatest increase in temperature. 2016 was the warmest year and 2017 was no different.

According to NOAA, the last decade has been the warmest since approximately 1000AD. Climate can’t be predicted by focusing on one day, season or year. It’s not about short-term trends. In a warmer climate, larger snowfall events may be more likely. However, warmer temperatures can lead to a decrease in snowfall because of the increased precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. Colorado is seeing snowfall decline as winter gets warmer. Colorado’s ski industry plays a key role in generating significant economic activity and driving state visitoration. Ski tourism is the primary source of income in Colorado’s mountain communities. Colorado’s winter sport industry alone generates $3.4B annually. “The annual winter sports tourism industry brings in $12.2 billion. 23 million Americans take part in winter sports every year. Climate change is affecting the winter season and resulting in a decline in snow-making revenue of approximately $1.07Billion over the last ten years” (Hagenstad Burakowski & Hill).

Nationally, the snowsport industry employed 191,000 people and earned $6.9 million in wages in 2016. Many resorts were unable to start the season due to warm temperatures. It’s too hot to make snow. Openings of ski areas are delayed and there is a drop in visitors. Many ski resorts open before the holiday season, which is vital for their financial viability and continued success. Make your snow before the resort opens. The minimum amount of snowmaking required to meet the holiday opening goal is 450 hours. Many resorts at lower elevations won’t be able to reach the 450 hour mark by 2050, and some will not reach it by 2090. “Operators at Aspen Skiing Company say that temperatures are so high that their snowmaking equipment is operating at maximum capacity. If they had to operate at a higher temperature, it would be impossible for them to produce the required amount of snow.

Snow is often made within one degree (or one-and-a-half degrees) of making it. “If we don’t have snow, it is a problem” (Motavalli. Eighty-nine% of ski resorts utilize snowmaking. Some resorts resorts also resort to snow harvesting for extended seasons or to increase their snow quality. Breckenridge had the challenge of clearing snow from their parking lots and moving it up to the mountain for the past season. Many resorts plan to have a year-round business model. Unchecked heat is a danger to the industry of winter snow sports. Skier visits and snow quality have a relationship. Colorado could suffer economic losses if snow quality is affected. Because there are many outcomes to climate change, each Colorado resort and surrounding communities will need to adapt. Colorado’s winter jump-starts fire season if there isn’t enough snow.

The fire’s behavior is affected by three factors: weather, topography, and fuels. The winter snowpack is a factor that affects the fuel sources and vegetation used for firewood. The best time of the year to focus on snowpack is early spring. A fuel source that should have snow isn’t. Many trees have been felled by the Colorado pine flytle. The temperature and rainfall are crucial factors for the pine beetle’s survival and growth. These beetles have thrived in Colorado because of warmer winters. Colorado now has one of fourteen dead trees. Colorado’s forests pine beetle epidemic has destroyed trees on 3.4 Million acres. More than 800 million dead trees are a potential fuel source for wildfires. “The Roosevelt National Forest and Arapahoe both use spraying and tree removal to address the issue in high quality recreation areas.” The forest and mountains require colder climates, lower temperatures and constant snowfall. Smoky Bear said it best, “Only You can prevent forestfires.” But you can’t prevent forestfires right now without a good cold freeze winter.

What can we do to prevent such a dramatic change from happening? It is essential that climate change be addressed at all levels, from the local to the global. Breckenridge is committing to renewable energy 100 percent by 2025, according to a recent initiative. Breckenridge is a part the High-Country Conservation Center. It is an organization that works on waste reduction and energy efficiency. To reduce carbon dioxide from personal cars and their transit vehicles, the town invested $4 million.” (Hagenstad Burakowski & Hill). These changes have been made public by more ski resorts than 75%. The National Ski Areas Association is a pioneer in promoting environmental sustainability in ski resorts. We cannot believe that individuals’ actions or those of businesses alone can change the course of these global problems. “Snowsports participants must examine the source of their power, vote with their dollars, and hold businesses accountable for their activism. This economic power can be used to build a social movement that influences legislative action.” (Hagenstad Burakowski, Hill).

People who are able to enjoy winter’s benefits should not be the only ones speaking up. It would stabilize atmospheric levels at 450 parts/million to increase the chance of keeping temperature increases below 2°C. Global emissions can be cut by 80 percent. It is not only essential to ski, but it is also crucial for the natural way that snow stores water. It is crucial that resorts consider how water use affects their bottom line, as well as the environmental impact. Vail Resorts is the owner and operator of five of Colorado’s most renowned ski resorts, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge. Vail Resorts has installed low-flow and water-less appliances at each resort. This saves approximately 200,000 gallons each year. It has resulted in a 27% decrease in water consumption by replacing public sinks. Vail Resorts needs to be emulated by more organizations and companies.

The Paris Accord is a global agreement that 200 world leaders and representatives of various countries created in 2015. The agreement aims to maintain global temperatures below 2°C. Limit the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted from human activities. Each country’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be reviewed and increased every five years. Developed rich countries can also help poorer countries by providing Climate Finance and adapting to climate change. While the Paris accord will not stop rising temperatures, its purpose is to encourage countries to make voluntary efforts to lower rising temperatures. This is a good step forward for humanity to combat climate change. The United States pulled out of the agreement by President Trump. “This agreement does not concern climate but rather other countries’ financial advantages over the United States.

So, we’re getting out. However, we will be starting to negotiate. If not, that’s OK.” (Trump). It is alarming to have a president who doesn’t see the larger picture in relation to climate change. He speaks of a deal that is fair for Americans but not what’s right for the whole world. What is fair for everyone who calls this planet home? Climate change affects us all. Climate change has already begun. If we continue to ignore it, the results will be devastating. Temperatures are rising because of an increase in CO2 emissions and melting of snow cover. The sea level rising could put millions of people at risk. Colorado is seeing a decrease in ski season. This is leading to huge economic losses. There are some people fighting for change. But our president isn’t among them. We must immediately reduce our CO2 emission, reduce our carbon footprint and save the winter. Now is the time to be concerned about the effects of climate change on the world. Now, we have the option to make a difference and help to mitigate the effects, as well as to prepare for the inevitable. We won’t worry about the next few years if we do nothing. Our environment, jobs and economy will be our main concerns. Already winter is being affected by climate change

Works cited:

“Bark Bettle: About the Epidemic.” Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands – Buffalo Gap National Grassland,

Climate Change Evidence: What Can We Do? 4 Apr. 2018, Global Warming.

Crutzen, Paul J. “Geology and Mankind,” Nature, vol. 415, no. 6867, 2002, pp. 23-23., doi:10.1038/415023a.

DiCaprio, Leonardo. Crisis. 21 Oct. 2016, EpicPromise,

Scientists are surprised by Global Warming’s Impact on Receding Ice. 19 Jan. 2011,

Hagenstad, Marca, et al. “The Economic Conributions of Winter Sports in a Changing Climate .” Protect Our Winter, 2018,

“Home.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

Mccabe, Gregory J., et al. “Evidence that recent warming is reducing Upper Colorado River flows.” Earth Interactions. vol. 21, no. 10, 2017, pp. 1-14., doi:10.1175/ei-d-17-0007.1.

McLendon, Russell. 11 Alarming facts about sea-level rise 13 Feb. 2018, The Northern Hemisphere is warming up with melting snow and ice


  • paulwallace

    Paul Wallace is a 44-year-old anthropology professor and blogger. He has been writing about anthropology and other topics for over a decade. He has also taught anthropology at the college level for over a decade.

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