How Climate Change is Affecting Colorado

Could the End of Skiing in Colorado be Near?

Ski area in CloradoAccording to an article from the Colorodoan, Colorado has been experiencing warmer weather than usual this year, adversely affecting their ski season. Contrary to the belief of public figures in our country and a large portion of the United States of America, climate change is here and it is affecting our country on a year to year basis. While we have been pushing off the issue as a nation, the increasing temperatures are affecting snowfall in states that are known for their long ski seasons. Even if the temperature increase seems slight, it affects the weather, the amount of snowfall, and if the smaller mountains can make their own snow.

Colorado’s snowpack is the lowest it has been in nearly 30 years. Studies show that mountain snowpack has decreased at most 20%-60% since the 1950s. While many people think that climate change will not affect us for another 50 years, they are wrong, it is affecting us now. Climate change will continue to warm the planet until we band together as one and fight this problem. The problems do not stop there, 2016 was Colorado’s second warmest year ever. The annual average temperature increased 2 degrees. Colorado Ski Country USA, which owns a number of resorts in the area, reported that there was a 13% drop in skiers from opening day to December 31st, in comparison to last year. Auden Schendler, Vice President of Sustainability for Aspen Snowpass, stated that this was the “worst opening season in 20 years.” Even more bad news for the Colorado ski seasons is the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study. The study revealed that Colorado ski season could see a 10%-50% decrease in ski seasons by 2050. This can affect resorts by shortening their seasons by a range of two weeks to three months.

Arapahoe Basin is one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado. Due to the mountains location and 13,000+ foot summit, they have been the least affected by the lack of snowfall. Arapahoe Basin’s average ski season dating back to the 2010-2011 season has lasted 227 days. Although Arapahoe Basin has not been affected by the lack of snowfall, they are one of the biggest advocates of environmental protection in the area. The resort is one of two ski areas that have partnered up with the Protect Our Winters (POW) foundation. They have even dedicated employees to the cause. One of the employees, Sha Miklas, stated “If Arapahoe Basin survives but everyone down the road doesn’t, that doesn’t do much for us. We need to help the industry as a whole.” Arapahoe has taken steps towards protecting the climate and making citizens aware of what is at stake if nothing is done.

Another resort that has taken steps towards protecting the climate is Vail Resorts. The resort chain has three ski areas in Colorado including Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail. The company has taken a set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030 and divert all of their waste from landfills.

Climate change is happening every day. The greenhouse gas emissions are destroying the layer of the atmosphere that protects us, causing the planet to heat up as a whole. It is time for the REI’s 6 million members to take a stand and wield their power. The time for change is now before it is too late.