Climate change effect on winter sports

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Canada's Alex Harvey, left, competes in a men's cross country 4x10km relay, at the Nordic ski World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Canada’s Alex Harvey, left, competes in a men’s cross country 4x10km relay, at the Nordic ski World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Winter, especially in Storrs, Connecticut, can be a brutally painful time of year for lots of people. It’s dark for longer than it’s light, it’s too cold to even want to get out of bed and the wind feels powerful enough to carry you all the way from Gampel to Towers. It’s not everyone’s favorite season, but there are a select few who look forward to the snow and the bitter cold. Those of us who have a passion for skiing or snowboarding welcome the winter season with open arms, anxiously waiting to hear the weather report say one word: Snow. But with our planet’s condition deteriorating at the speed that it is, it’s extremely possible that winter sports will become completely obsolete in the near future.   

Winter sports, especially skiing and snowboarding, are considered very important to people all over the country. It’s a pastime that has been enjoyed by many for more than 50 years, and not only is it a fun activity but it promotes a sense of teamwork for those who participate as part of a program. The sports also have a habit of bringing families and friends closer together overall through a shared passion that many begin learning before they turn 10. It may seem like a small loss to those who don’t participate, but isn’t it unbelievable that entire sports will completely disappear in the near future due to this daunting environmental disaster?  

Climate change has been our unfortunate reality for the past 100 years, and it gets worse and worse every year. According to a study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if air pollution continues the way it’s going, the atmosphere’s temperature will increase up to 2.7 degrees above the global average by the year 2040, according to the New York Times. This could not only mean devastation for the ski industry and all who enjoy its benefits, but also for the global climate at large. We should all be concerned with the rate our planet is deteriorating at or we risk losing the natural benefits we enjoy on a daily basis, including snow and much more.   

Winter resorts in states like Vermont and New Hampshire require two things to not only have a successful ski season but to just stay in business. One is the likelihood of snowfall between New Year’s and Christmas, and the other is the ability to stay open and operate for the majority of the winter season (around 100 days). The decreasing snow levels and increasing temperatures caused by climate change are impacting resorts all over the nation and their ability to meet these criteria. According to research by Powder Magazine, in as little as 70 years, the ski season will considerably decrease in duration due to climate change, no matter the efforts to stop it in the near future. Resorts will not be able to open on time because there will be no snow, and they’ll have to close early because whatever snow they do get will melt too quickly. This will impact ticket sales and eventually cause these programs to shut down completely. Many resorts do their part for the cause by decreasing their mountain’s carbon footprint as much as possible, but is it enough?  

Resorts and many companies outside of the ski industry are doing great work to combat this environmental crisis, but according to Powder Magazine it’s going to take a lot more to reverse the effects, “After running 300,000 years of climate model simulations, with data by the hour, the study concluded that ‘virtually’ all ski areas in the United States will not have the snow to operate like they do today.” It’s inconceivable to think about this; the climate is deteriorating so rapidly that skiing could disappear completely. Anything within our control that would help this issue may seem too small to make an impact, but it’s the small things that add up to make a big difference. 

A loss of the ski industry is something that I don’t think anybody would miss until it was gone, and there are so many other impacts of climate change that would cause the loss of natural privileges that we take advantage of. The reality of our situation is that the earth is dying as a result of humans taking our home for granted. The damage we’re causing is allowing the things we love and enjoy to slowly shrivel and disappear in front of our eyes, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to climate change and its effects as early as possible. LED light bulbs, carpooling and using environmentally friendly products such as electric cars are all small things that you can do to help keep winter sports like skiing alive for future generations.  


Zoey Day is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at zoeann.day@uconn.edu.

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