Aspen officials worry global warming will destroy ski industry
posted by: Dan Werner (Web producer)
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - Officials of the Aspen Skiing Co. fear global warming
could destroy the industry by the year 2050.
"Things look bleak," said Auden Schendler, the company's director of
environmental affairs. He said unless greenhouse emissions are
controlled, the ski industry could be "Gone in 2050 . . . Maybe -- good
case scenario -- gone by 2100," he told the Rocky Mountain News.
Several climate-change studies have predicted declining mountain
snowpacks as the West warms, as well as a change in the timing of the
"Most analyses project a decline, if not total demise, of downhill skiing
by the mid or latter part of the 21st century," proclaims the federally
funded Rocky Mountain/Great Basin Regional Climate-Change Assessment, a
240-page study produced by more than 125 researchers.
"Climate change is a potential risk in our industry. It's on all our
radar screens," said Bill Jensen, senior vice president and chief
operating officer for Vail Resorts. "But I'm not as pessimistic as
Auden," he said. "I think we'll be able to adapt." Jensen can imagine
scenarios in which the state's ski resorts could benefit from a few
degrees of warming.
Possible effects on Colorado's ski industry would include a shorter ski
season and increased reliance on artificial snowmaking. But if
temperatures are too high they could impede snowmaking.
Jensen said the higher elevations of many Colorado ski resorts could act
as a temporary buffer against the damaging effects of climate warming.
Lower-lying resorts would lose their snowpacks long before Colorado.
Warming or not, the Aspen Skiing Co. is moving ahead with plans for a
$400 million revamping of the Base Village at Snowmass, which suggests
the resort's owners remain upbeat about the future of Colorado skiing.