Skiing and Climate Change

While mild winters may be welcomed by some people, its safe to say that skiers and snowboarders are certainly not among them.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that as winters continue to warm due to the effects of man made global climate change, the entire skiing industry would be one that suffers as a result.  The combination of a lack of natural snow with warming temperatures, thus making it more difficult to make snow, has created significant challenges to an industry that is perhaps one of the many that need winter and winter like conditions to exist.

And make no mistake – skiing, snowboarding and all related elements combine to have a pretty hefty economic impact.  Globally, it is estimated that the ski/snowboard industry is worth about $9 Billion dollars annually.  Here in Canada, the 250+ resorts are estimated to generate approximately $840 Million dollars into the economy.  There are thousands of jobs in Canada tied to the industry and with the continued difficulties being experienced, there is also a growing level of anxiety amongst those tied to it.

As with all climate change initiatives, raising awareness is a critical step towards evoking change.  Change never comes easy and often we need to make it personal to stir up the fires within us that are needed to take the critical first steps.  The good news is that skiers/snowboarders and the entire industry are starting to raise awareness, and a good example of this is taking place during the March Break.

On Thursday, March 15th Blue Moutain Resort, near Collingwood, Ontario will be holding their 9th Annual “Keep Winter Cool” event.  Keep Winter Cool aims to raise awareness about the potential effects of climate change and encourages skiers and snowboarders to start taking steps to reduce their own environmental impact.

Taking  place in the beautiful Blue Mountain Village Events Plaza, this year’s event aligns with March Break and features educational, fun programs for the whole family. Meet members of McMaster University’s Solar Car Project team with one of their solar racing cars; hang out with Animal Ambassadors from the Earth Rangers team; listen to your favourite tunes powered entirely by solar energy through the Collus Renewable Energy Trailer; test out your power on the bicycle and hand-crank generators with Elephant Thoughts; and write, paint or draw on our Keep Winter Cool art mural. Representatives from the Environment Network, Bullfrog Power, Free Spirit Gardens, and the Town of Blue Mountains will also be on site so attendees can learn more about how to Keep Winter Cool!

In addition, a special screening of the  highly acclaimed ski film All.I.Can will take place that evening at the Blue Mountain Inn.  The movie is the winner of the best feature-length mountain film at the 2011 Banff Film Festival and is the first of its kind to integrate discussion on climate change and sustainability into a ski film. Shot on six continents over two years, the world’s best skiers deliver inspirational performances while ground-breaking cinematography expands our vision of the natural world.

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I will be on hand to speak briefly before the screening of the film and will also act as MC.  Tickets for the event are only $10 and all proceeds from the event will be donated to The Environment Network, a local charitable group which suppies funding to a variety of local environmental initiatives.  The event begins at 8PM and tickets will be available at the Blue Mountain Inn, all Blue Mountain Guest Services locations and the offices of the Environment Network in downtown Collingwood.

Through events like this, one hopes that those passionate about winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding will find the personal motivation within themselves to become more active in our collective fight to stop man made climate change.  The day long event promises to be both enjoyable and informative and a great way to spend part of the March Break.

I’d encourage everyone with the ability to attend to join me at Blue Mountain on March 15th and I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.