4/19/2022 0 Comments
Dysbiosis to Pluriversebiosis #2
Louise Boyle's article The Winter Olympics and the true cost of fake snow dominating the slopes raises many of the problems associated with artificial snow. 'It takes 200,000 gallons of water to cover an acre with a foot of snow', which is a major issue in the water-scarce American West where many ski resorts reside. Luckily about 80% of the water returns to the watershed when the snow melts.
Boyle mentions the financial cost of snowmaking but this is only a problem for the smallest and most local ski areas. The cost of '$500,000 - $3.5 million each season to make snow' would be afterthought to Vail Resorts, which had $2.27 billion in revenue in 2019. In fact only 0.9 - 6.2% of revenue would be taken up for snowmaking on the 40 ski resorts owned by Vail Resorts when using Boyle's figure.
The real impact is in the propagation of the myth of a normal ski season. Although it may be obvious in the Olympics that snowmaking is used, there is no natural snow, in the US many people won't realize the extent of snowmaking. Even if the snow season is terrible, most ski resorts will be open for Thanksgiving due to the power of snowmaking and significant financial backing. This can make many visitors to ski resorts not see the true impacts of drought and climate change. Why would they when the ski runs are open (albeit artificial snow)? Ski resorts make money selling the facade and idea of a 'winter wonderland' and they will always deliver it, at the expense of the environment and by misleading their customers.
"DYSBIOSIS TO PLURIVERSEBIOSIS"
The article, Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teaching of Grass focused on a scientist, Laurie, who wanted to research the effects of indigenous people harvesting sweet grass. Her proposal was belittled by men in her department and deemed a “waste of time”. Determined to prove them wrong, Laurie continued with her experiment and in the end concluded that harvesting of the sweet grass yielded more sweet grass than not harvesting did. The inspiration of Laurie’s study came from the philosophies of the indigenous people which state “...never take the first plant that you see”, “take only what you need”, and “if we use a plant respectfully it will stay with us and flourish. If we ignore it, it will go away. If you don’t give it respect it will leave us.”
Everyone comes from a different background and is primarily shaped by the environment around them. Some bits of knowledge are taken for granted; they are assumed as common knowledge. For instance, someone from the east (John Henry) may know how to tie sailing knots and think everyone knows this but they may not know what wind is, where someone from the west (Trevor Phillip) is well versed on the nuances of the wind and take that knowledge for granted. The scientists that belittled Laurie’s proposal could have been more helpful and not eaten their words in the end had they been open to disciplines outside of their own. The transdisciplinary approach could potentially yield the same results for each individual because “experiments are not about discovery but about listening and translating the knowledge of other beings.” For instance, an anthropologist would be interested to see how the indigenous people would harvest the sweet grass and how it was used ceremoniously, and a modern scientist would be interested in how it is harvested now along with all the climate impacts and implications. The results would be similar, just different interpretations and methods.
- M.J. Williams
Madison Tinker and others of the University of Wyoming Ski Team
All Featured Skier Learning Community UW/SUS Partnership