I am pro-snow (and anti-climate change)
Like many Australians in this country, I moved to Canada for the winters and the skiing. Let’s face it; we’re not leaving our country of sandy beaches and scorching hot summers because we prefer lukewarm weather and rocks in our sandals.
Snow is magical for me and it always has been – as a teenager visiting family in Canada, my brother and I would always be waiting and hoping for snow and excitedly offering to shovel the driveway when it did snow, much to the amusement of our Canadian family.
I love skiing and I love snow. Which means I really don’t love that climate change is slowly melting the snow. The increase in temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels has meant that winters have warmed faster than summers. This change is less noticeable for most people and a relief for many who don’t like the cold or the constant driveway shoveling (hey, it’s still a novelty for me) but it’s a big deal for people like me who love winter as well as ski resorts who depend on it for their livelihoods.
Skiing in Australia – yes it’s still possible! (photo: Amy Huva)
There are lots of impacts that warmer winters have that are not only bad, but pretty dangerous. Melting and refreezing snow increases avalanche risk and caused the worst season for avalanche risk in 20 years on the North Shore Mountains here in Vancouver as well as closing the Coquihalla highway last winter.
Further north, warmer winters in the Yukon lead to unsafe roads that are normally frozen and safe to drive on, and in Alaska the melting permafrost underneath house foundations is forcing evacuations.
So I was excited at the recent Climate Leadership Training in Chicago with the Climate Reality Project to hear about their ‘I Am Pro Snow’ campaign (and super excited to win a toque as well). I heard from adventurers and Olympians about their work to spread the message that winter is in trouble, and suggestions on how to have a conversation about climate change on a chairlift.
I really could have used this advice last winter when I ended up on a chairlift at Whistler with some jovial Texans who were telling me about how climate change wasn’t real and Obama was a socialist. Thankfully, though, they didn't seem the type to convince anyone.
Stuck in powder at Big White (photo: Amy Huva)
There’s lots of exciting things happening at different ski resorts to try and protect the winter we all rely on. More than 100 ski areas in the US have signed on to a climate declaration, and Aspen Snowmass is leading the way in ski resort sustainability with programs like solar power, methane capture for electricity, LEED certified buildings and locavore restaurants. They encourage people to take the POW pledge (that stands for "Protect Our Winters", of course) and act on climate change.
Recently, the Climate Reality Project teamed up with the famous Warren Miller for his 63rd annual feature film ‘Flow State’ and they’re going to do it again this year with Miller’s next film ‘Ticket to Ride’ which features climate ambassador, big mountain skier and Olympian Kaylin Richardson.
As the film rolls out across the globe this coming winter, the Climate Reality Project and the I Am Pro Snow campaign will be there to talk to people who love snow about the risks of climate change.
Climate Ambassadors Kaylin Richardson and Doug Stoup in Park City (I Am Pro Snow facebook page)
So if you also love winter and getting out in the snow, get on board with being Pro Snow. Come to a Warren Miller screening and chat with people, like the facebook page. Together, people can all protect their winter for years to come.
East Peak, Big White (photo: Amy Huva)