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No. 421; Climate and Snow.
Please, click the picture below, and watch the film to get my point;
As some of you may know, one of the things close to my heart in addition to whisky is skiing. I have been skiing since I was about four years old, and for the past four years I have been working in a ski resort, though more or less irregularly thanks to my studies. Skiing has always been close to me, and so far from the end of every season till the beginning of every next season I have kept waiting to get to ski and kept dreaming about skiing throughout offseason. For me, skiing is the very epitome of winter.
When it comes to having a discussion about climate change and global warming, I am full-heartedly engaged in the discussion or debate at hand. However, I approach the matter very carefully, and I believe that this post in fact is the first time I discuss the matter on fancycvinhorizon. The discussion is at times controversial, and in my opinion it needs to be approached with open ears; you have to acknowledge what the person next to you is saying, and appreciate the individual opinions while still being critical and holding on to your own opinion. The matter is, after all, global, hence it concerns everyone.
And while it is true that when some regions get warmer, some other regions get colder, the ratio between these two has been changing over the last decades. The proportion of the area of regions getting warmer to the proportion of the area of the regions getting colder is, and has for some time been increasing.
So when I hear someone mentioning the term “climate change” or “global warming”, I do not thing about areas becoming too hot for farming or about polar caps melting in specific either. I just think about snow. I think about the decrease in the amount of snowfall. I think about the melting glaciers of skiers’ or snowboarders’ paradises. I think about how much shorter the next season could be.
“Although the Earth’s climate has changed many times throughout its history, the rapid warming seen today cannot be explained by natural processes alone. What is clear is that the Earth’s temperature and atmospheric carbon are linked: when one is high, so is the other.
Since the Industrial Revolution – in about the last 150 years – humans have impacted this natural rhythm. We’ve done this primarily by digging up long-buried carbon in the form of coal, oil and natural gas, and burning these fossil fuels – releasing this eons-old carbon into the atmosphere. Also, as our population has increased, methane from waste and agriculture has also increased dramatically. The result is that we have increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to the point where we are warming the globe faster than ever before and causing our climate to change. It’s important to note that the warming of the planet is not in question by the scientific community. And the cause–human combustion of fossil fuels–is accepted by 98% of climatologists and every independent scientific body on the planet.
Heat-trapping greenhouse gases are now at record-high levels in the atmosphere compared with the recent and distant past. (EPA, 2011)
So What Does This Mean For Us?
A particular year can experience record-breaking highs and lows in any given location, but, as a whole, the global climate continues to warm, following a 30-year-plus trend. And the ratio of record highs to record lows has increased from 1:1 (without warming) to 2:1 between 2000 and 2010, to 3:1 in 2011, meaning the dice are loaded for warmer weather events.
Overall, we’ll see shorter winter seasons with more precipitation in some regions, but unfortunately, with warmer temperatures, that precipitation will most likely be rain, especially at lower elevations. Skiing, as we know it is on borrowed time.
If the climate continues to warm and more moisture is deposited in the atmosphere, we’ll steadily see more loading of the dice, resulting in more extreme storms in all seasons. We’re already seeing more above normal weather events: tornadoes, rain, floods, fires, wind and snow. Extreme weather events are unavoidable, but a warmer climate–with more energy and more moisture in the atmosphere–means that many of these events will be more severe–the new “normal” in many areas of the globe.”
So when the skiing seasons get shorter, my wait from the end of the season till the beginning of the next season gets longer. This, really, sucks. When you live quite up here in the north, you know that the winter is long and that there will be snow for several months every year. You get a clear distinction between summer and winter. With this distinction you will end up having things that you do more or only during the winter, and things you do more or only during the summer. You will have a balance between cold and hot every year, and you learn to love the things associated with the winter in specific and the things associated with the summer in specific.
The moment you realise that this season is going to be shorter than the last one, you feel that something is taken away from you. You know that you have been skiing for about five months (in my case) every last season, but this season you will have less time to ski. Something great you get to do almost every weekend during the season is being slowly torn away from you, and there is little you can do but just feel defeated. The time lost from the beginnings and the ends of the seasons has been meant to be spent on wintery things, not summery things, so you end up feeling that you have lost something important every season.
And the shorter and shorter the seasons get, the more and more you miss.
This is one of the reasons why global warming is an important issue to me. Skiing is not only an important thing to me, but also an important part of me. Quite naturally, global warming affects everything, but for me its effect on skiing in a way is the way climate change affects me the most. Over the years skiing has become a defining part of me, of who I am and who I think I am. Climate change affects what I do; every day, of every month, of every year.
So what I want you to do is to try and reduce your emissions through using less natural resources and using resources more efficiently. Not an immensely hard thing to do, but it is really the only choice thinking about the future. The mankind is currently using natural resources in a way as we would be living on one and a half Earths (WWF), hence in a manner of overconsumption. The Earth cannot support this high proportion of consumption, as it cannot produce enough resources for our usage. As the term “overconsumption” hints, our resource use is not sustainable, and will definitely have consequences in the future if actions are not taken as soon as possible.
So turn off and plug out lights and appliance when you don’t need them, dress up warmer and turn down the thermostat, carpool to avoid using your car with only you inside, fill fridge with water bottles to prevent temperature changes inside the fridge when you take something out… You’ll find loads of stuff when you just put the effort into searching for greener solutions. But there are two things I want to explain which are often forgotten or ignored; the concept of needs and wants, and being more efficient altogether instead of just using less energy.
First of all, the things we actually need are very few compared to what we want. In theory we only need a place to sleep in and food, everything else is extra. But when we consider this we need a few more things to live, but still we can have a pretty clear distinction between what we need and what we want. For example, keeping the heat up at 22 degrees (Celsius) might be nice when it’s 12 degrees outside, but why not just keep the heating at 18 degrees, use less energy through changes in heating and just wear a hoodie when you feel cold?
Second, being efficient instead of just using less energy. What I mean is that you should think more about the ecological footprint of the product during its entire lifetime instead of just thinking about how much less energy it uses when you use it. I cannot recite the name of the documentary from which this example is from, but for example some of the modern high-tech eco-friendly homes leave a greater ecological footprint during their construction than an average home does during it’s entire lifetime. Such a high-tech house would use less energy yearly than an average house, but the materials and resources that were used to construct it can make it the worst choice out of the two.
Continuing a bit further, like Patrick Rhone of MinimalMac said: “It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it,” it is not necessary for you to buy something that would use less energy if you just want it instead of really needing it. If you end up buying, for example, a nicer looking pair of walking shoes you never end up using because they feel worse than your current pair, you just use natural resources for nothing. If you can recognise what you don’t only want but what you actually “need”, great. If you can recognise a way to use them more efficiently or find something that is produced in a more efficient way, even better. Efficiency is sexy; sustainability is sexy.
Progressing our way of living towards sustainability is a matter in which everyone needs to participate. Climate change affects everything, so we need to work together for a better future. For a future we can accept. For me the effect of global warming on skiing is what affects me personally and what is enough to get me going, so I intend to do my best in this collaborative effort. The changes you make will not really complicate your way of living, they will instead give you basic guide on living and even streamline your daily life; instead of “how should I handle this?” you will have “this is the ecological way of doing this”.
The changes you make do not necessarily have to be enormous, but instead they can be just small tweaks in your daily life. And when everyone makes these tiny changes to be more efficient and to use less energy, the effect of the collaborative effort is enormous. Maybe even one that would eventually extend the skiing season by a few days.
Teton Gravity Research releases trailer for Re:Session
Teton Gravity Research released the trailer for their upcoming film Re:Session last week. It looks like it’s chosen a somewhat similar focus to Matchstick Productions’ In Deep - it’s about camaraderie, and just doing what you love all winter. While it doesn’t have any Revelstoke-specific footage, it’s still a reminder of we love about snow. Here’s the teaser… those of us in the Pacific Northwest could certainly use a cooling down from the heat wave we’re stuck in! Who else is keeping cool by watching snowy vids?