A new kind of code for Vail skiers
Vail, CO Colorado
2008 marked the first commercial voyage through an ice-free Northwest Passage. Yes, the infamous Northwest Passage, north of Canada, formerly filled with impassable floes of pack ice. Well, much of the ice melted and with it goes the power behind Canadian cold fronts. Skiers and snowboarders know that when cold fronts sweep down from Canada, they turn rain to snow. A winter without Canadian cold fronts blanketing the mountains with snow is a terrible and real possibility.
During the 2007-08 season, over 12.2 million of us skied and boarded across the U.S., with many more people around the world participating, as well. We are a large and resourceful group. We have been informed about climate change, and, frankly, we are out of excuses for inaction. We cannot continue to wait for ski areas, gear manufacturers or anyone else to change to sustainable products and operations. The time for action is now, so I propose a Skier’s and Snowboarder’s Climate Responsibility Code.
As skiers and snowboarders, we all know the Responsibility Code. “Your Responsibility Code” is that list of seven safety rules printed on lift tickets and trail maps at ski areas nationwide. It is also a code of ethics designed to ensure a safe and fun day of skiing and snowboarding for everyone.
Today, snow sports face a much greater threat than any out-of-control skier. Global warming and climate change now threaten the very existence of winter and snow sports. It is time for skiers and snowboarders to learn a new code and become responsible for our CO2 emissions and the survival of our sport.
Your Climate Responsibility Code
Because I love winter and sliding on snow covered mountains:
1. I will do everything I can to stop climate change and preserve snowy winters.
2. I am responsible for my use of fossil fuels and their effect on the environment.
3. I will reduce my net CO2 emissions towards zero.
4. I will use energy-efficient transportation when I travel.
5. I will encourage my friends and family to reduce their CO2 emissions.
6. I will urge the ski areas I visit and gear manufacturers to operate sustainably.
7. I will tell other skiers and snowboarders about Your Climate Responsibility Code.
What should we do? First, think about how you get to the slopes. Every gallon of gas we burn adds 19.564 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere, which adds to global warming. So, take the most efficient form of transportation available to the ski hill. If there is a shuttle bus, a ski train or mass transit, take that. If you drive, carpool with your ski and snowboarding friends. When you drive, take the car that gets the best gas mileage. If you fly, choose the most direct flights, which burn less fuel than flights with multiple stops. If you live in a ski town, you could even walk or ride a bike to the slopes!
Traveling more efficiently to the mountain is a good place for skiers and snowboarders to start reducing our CO2 emissions. From there, we need to think about how we use fossil fuels and find more ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Changing to carbon-neutral living won’t be easy, but it definitely isn’t a sacrifice. The real sacrifice would be losing our winters and snow sports to global warming.
Know your Climate Responsibility Code, and let’s stop global warming cold!
Tim Fowler is from Santa Fe, N.M. E-mail him at email@example.com