Louise Boyle’s article “The Winter Olympics and the true cost of fake snow dominating our slopes: ‘It’s more dangerous now’” raises some serious concerns on the future of skiing and man-made snow. A staggering “91 percent of US ski areas make artificial snow”. This statistic is indicative of climate change forcing ski resorts to find ways to supplement the lack of snowfall occurring each year. The solution for most ski areas seems to be snow-making, but this snow making is expensive and resource intensive, making it inaccessible to many small ski areas. The major problem of snow-making is that the power used is still mostly coming from fossil fuels, which in turn is changing the climate to produce less snow each year, making it quite the juxtaposition. However, some resorts have made the effort to make snow using renewable energy sources, which is great and headed in the right direction but not affordable for most.
Some research suggests “ ‘Within 50 years all ski resorts below 1,200m won’t have a chance and will go out of business,” Michel Revaz, of Liechtenstein-based Alpine conservation society Cipra, told The Independent back in 2006.” 1,200 meters is just shy of 4,000 feet. I am curious if this means ski areas above 1,200 meters with snow-making capabilities or if they think ski areas at that elevation will still have enough natural snow, although I assume it is the former. This will have a big impact on all ski towns as well as all towns in general. Many ski towns are already as big as they can get because they are enveloped in national forest and park land with nowhere to build. If these ski towns can no longer offer skiing, the ones that can will become even more exclusive and people will be required to travel further to access them. Skiing already has a high barrier to entry with the price of equipment, lift tickets, and lodging but the prices are only increasing as ski resorts have to make up the money lost when they open in the late season due to a lack of snowfall. Much needs to be done to remedy this situation, making snow may be an option but it needs to become more sustainable and environment friendly in order to be a viable long-term option.
- M.J. Williams