Protect Our Winters (POW) Takes on Climate Change

By David Schissler (January 2015) If you have any doubt climate change is real, check out this video from NASA. It’s a representation of Earth’s surface temperature from 1880 to 2013. The first time I saw it I was amazed. I knew from news reports the last decade had been the warmest on record but watching the world […]

By David Schissler

(January 2015) If you have any doubt climate change is real, check out this video from NASA. It’s a representation of Earth’s surface temperature from 1880 to 2013. The first time I saw it I was amazed. I knew from news reports the last decade had been the warmest on record but watching the world turn so red so quickly was quite dramatic (see this and the supporting data at http://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/28/

I was first shown this clip at a Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) media briefing. Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of Protect Our Winters was making his pitch to ski industry executives in the room. His mission? “Engage and mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Our focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects”.

POW was founded by renowned professional rider Jeremy Jones. Jeremy has drawn some other very talented people to the cause such as Chris D

avenport, Gretchen Bieler, Steven Nyman and a number of luminaries from other winter sports. Since they spend nearly every day in the mountains, they see the negative effects of climate change on the snowpack first hand. Their concern has gained the attention and financial support of winter sports companies such as The North Face, Aspen Snowmass, Cliff Bar, Jones Snowboards, Snowsports Industries of America, Teton Gravity Research, New Era, Outside Television, and others willing to contribute to learning and implementing what can be done to slow and reverse the effects of global warming on winter sports.

POW has the science to support its position. Dr. Anne Nolin is a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University where she heads the Mountain Hydro Climatology Research Group. Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University. Here are a few disturbing facts from the POW website:

٭ The last decade has been the hottest on record. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before it, with each one setting a new and significant record for the highest global temperature (NOAA).
٭ In the Lake Tahoe area, spring arrives two weeks earlier now than it did in 1961 (NASA)
٭ In the Northeast, by 2039, the average ski season will be less than 100 days and the probability of being open for Christmas will decline below 75% (Burakowski, 2008).
٭ Snow-based recreation in the United States was estimated to contribute $67 billion annually to the US economy and support over 600,000 jobs. So when we look at the cost of inaction, it’s serious business.
٭ Even though the winter of 2011 was above average in the US in terms of snowfall, it was a below average winter temperature-wise throughout the northern hemisphere, the eighth below average winter in a row. The climate trend is one of warming. (NOAA, 2011).

POW is a call to action for all winter sports enthusiasts. For information on how to join and how you or your organization can participate in protecting our winters please visit www.protectourwinters.org