I’m likely not the only person that is tired of winter this year. At the same time, I’m intimately aware that this season has been incredibly mild throughout much of the western United States. Any skier can tell you that, here in Utah, we should have had more snow this winter. As much as many of us would like to see spring arrive, there are going to be serious problems in the coming summer if a decent snowpack has not developed. This worrisome pattern has been occurring across the country for some time now; winters have generally been getting warmer, which means less snow.
As much as I understand how large of a hassle it is to dig your vehicle out, or how uncomfortable it is to have wet shoes from trudging through drifts, places such as Salt Lake City that annually receive snow need it to maintain a stable ecosystem. Snowpack on mountains store water to be melted later in the warmer, dry months of summer. Without this store of water, the already very dry conditions in Utah become even worse, which could contribute to a horrific fire season larger even than last year. All of this is not even taking into account economic issues associated with decreasing snowpack.
Utah is well known for its snow, and is also well known for the fun that can be found by strapping various things to feet when in the snow (aka skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.). Snowbird, Alta, and Park City are only three examples of the many ski resorts that depend on people traveling from all over the country to experience the adrenaline inducing runs scattered around Utah mountainsides. However, in order for people to be drawn to these resorts, there must be snow.
Many resorts have been searching for ways to limit their own contribution to a warming winter, as documented in the film Saving Snow. As part of a larger series from Citizens’ Climate Lobby that focuses on the issue of climate change, Saving Snow explains the struggles faced by companies and events that depend on snow, and how very real climate change is to those that face loss of winter employment. Ski resorts from around the US (including Park City!) along with events that rely on winter are highlighted to show the effects of a decreasing snowpack, and how those communities are working to lessen their impacts on climate change. Some of these measures are incredibly basic, such as installing a door between a heated garage and the outside air, and others involve a complete overhaul in how a resort obtains electricity, all in the name of reversing climate change.
Climate change affects all parts of the world, sometimes in unpredictable ways. The amount of snowfall is just one of the many ways to feel its effects, but it is one that can easily be seen close to home. We can all do some part to counter its effects. This could be starting small, like turning off lights in rooms that are not in use, and can grow into larger measures. Just remember, every little bit counts. Climate change impacts us all in some way, and for some their livelihood is at stake. However, the Earth has checks in place that want the climate to remain more or less stable; we just need to help it by decreasing our contribution to the problem.