The Greater Impact of the California Drought

If you are struggling to convince a climate change denier of the imminent state of the environment, just point them to images of ski hills in California. The ski industry in California is being hit hard by climate change and the impact of the California drought has led to early hill closures across the state.

But the lack of snow goes beyond impacting the ski economy in a frightening way. California’s snow melt accounts for 30% of the state’s water supply and a whopping 60% of water captured in state reservoirs comes from snow melt. To add to this bleak picture, in March the state’s snowpack was recorded at 19% of its historic monthly average. This lack of snow poses a very real threat to California’s overall water supply.

What this mean for the ski industry in California is a question that many industry folks have been grappling with. The number of jobs and tourism dollars that the ski industry draws is a significant contributor to California’s economy, leaving the livelihoods of many Americans at risk under present conditions. According to resorts such as Aspen have been advocating for climate action and are integrating ‘sustainability’ into their operating platforms. Meanwhile, hundreds of ski resorts in California have signed the Climate Declaration, urging business leaders and policymakers to recognize the economic importance of tackling climate change and to act on it. While these are laudable actions, policy changes and new business practices are just one slice of the pie. All participants in the ski industry --skiers and snowboarders, tourists and life operators-- need to be included in the conversation about how their participation can contribute to tackling changing climate.

According to Bloomberg, over the next decade approximately 300 of the 470 ski resort in the US may be forced to close down. What this means for the state of skiing in North American is unknown. Being passive consumers of a dying industry just won’t cut it. Rather than leaving the fate of the sport up to the tourist market and private industry interests, it’s up to the public to start taking action on how we envision the state of skiing in a future where climate change is certain to transform weather patterns drastically.

By AI Blog contributor: Lucy Lynch