Climate change: How bad could it be? |

Climate change: How bad could it be?

Alex Miller
Bret Hartman/Daily file photoA climate change report says warmer weather sports like golf may be the future for tourism in the Rocky Mountains.

The effects of global warming are already being observed in places around the globe.

The disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro in Africa have joined the vanishing glaciers of Glacier National Park and other receding snowfields and glaciers in northern Europe.

In the Arctic Ocean, diminishing ice is making possible ” possibly within the next decade ” a northwest passage that would allow ships to skip the Panama Canal and travel through Canada and past Alaska instead.

While warming may be good for shipping companies, it’s not welcome news to the snow sports industry. But the resorts of Colorado will have something of an edge in the future due to the higher altitude, according to Vail Mountain President Bill Jensen, quoted in the according to the State of the Rockies 2006 Report Card.

The report also notes, though, that many people learn to ski at smaller areas at lower altitudes, and that those areas likely can’t afford the snowmaking they’d need to remain viable in a warmed world.

Even if there’s not 400-plus inches of snow over the course of the winter ” as there was this season at Vail Mountain ” do we need that much to have a good skiing experience? No, but less snow typically translates into a shorter ski season.

Aspen Ski Company chief executive Patrick O’Donnell, also quoted in the report, said Aspen is open for about 140 days and doesn’t start to break even until after day 100. O’Donnell called a shortened ski season an “economic disaster,” saying that if the season is compressed by a few dozen days, then the resort becomes unprofitable.

Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism