climate change

Grass Skis! - a short climate change film by Carbondale students

"Colorado, a beautiful place of wonder and enchantment... and now you can enjoy the warm winters with GRASS SKIS!" 

This short film was created by Carbondale students as a part of the Lens on Climate Change (LOCC) program.  LOCC is a project run by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), that helps Colorado middle and high school students tell the stories of climate changes' impacts on their lives and communities through film.

The students who made this film chose to illustrate the very real threat that climate change poses to the future of skiing and snowboarding - an essential part of their Colorado mountain town lifestyle. They begin with a spoof advertisement for "Grass Skis" - no snow, no problem, just strap on some grass skis this winter!

Then some local experts share some pretty alarming data on climate change in Colorado: "The climate science that looks at this particular region will tell you that in 100 years the climate of Aspen will resemble the climate of Amarillo, TX" - Matthew Hamilton, Sustainability Director for Aspen Ski Co.

We hope that grass skis will not have to become a reality... and that butter won't be replacing ski wax any time soon!

Colorado Olympians join us in Call for Renewable Energy

Published on May 16, 2018 in The Gazette

Warmer Winters Threaten Colorado's Winter Sports

In January, the New York Times published a report detailing the existential threat faced by winter sports around the globe. The study determined that of the 21 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympic Games, nine will no longer have reliably freezing temperatures by as early as mid-century due to climate change. In other words, winter is slowly disappearing.

As Winter Olympians who rely on consistent snow and freezing temperatures to pursue our respective disciplines, we have seen firsthand the impacts of climate change in Colorado and around the world. We must speak up and speak out to save Colorado’s winter sports and way of life.

The list of events cancelled or disrupted by warm winters and lack of snow grows each year, including those that were held consistently for decades.

Last season, Wisconsin’s famed American Birkebeiner nordic ski race was cancelled for only the second time in its 45-year history. Both the men’s Lake Louise World Cup, in Alberta, Canada, and the Beaver Creek Bird of Prey World Cup here in Colorado were cancelled last year because there wasn’t enough natural snow, and it was too warm to make enough snow. The year before that, Squaw Valley in California cancelled its Ski and Snowboard Cross World Cup event due to lack of snow. 

Even the casual skier or snowboarder can attest to this trend.

Colorado is closing out one of its worst ski seasons in a decade, with statewide snowpack totals less than 70 percent of normal. The southwest corner of the state experienced a particularly snowless winter, dealing a heavy blow to small resorts such as Hesperus Ski Area in Durango, which was forced to close at the beginning of March. These event cancellations and reduced snowfall foreshadow something alarming: Our historic winter wonderlands may soon run out of consistent snow entirely.

We refuse to watch our winters melt away. That’s why, as winter athletes, we believe that our communities can and must take steps to combat climate change.

Global warming is caused by carbon pollution. To stop global temperature rise, we must cut our carbon emissions. Corporations and local governments can help by committing to using 100 percent renewable energy sources in the future. 

This transition is both essential and possible. Companies including Apple and Coca-Cola, and mountain communities like Avon and Breckenridge have already committed to 100 percent renewable energy. Aspen has already succeeded! Nationally, wind and solar energy has increased 700 percent and 4,300 percent respectively over the last decade. Renewable energy is also becoming more affordable and accessible for all Americans, as the cost of production and storage drops.

A renewable future is attainable in Colorado, but it won’t happen on its own. The share of wind and solar is growing, but still only accounts for 19 percent of our statewide electricity consumption.

As Winter Olympians, we are calling for swift action and commonsense policies that cut carbon pollution and transition us to a clean energy future. This is the only way to protect the future of our sports, the outdoor lifestyle we cherish, and the planet we inhabit. Our communities must be leaders in the fight against climate change by committing to a clean energy future and protecting the future of winter sports, and our Colorado way of life, for generations to come.

Casey Andringa
Olympic Freestyle Skier, 2018
Boulder, CO

Mick Dierdorff
Olympic Snowboard Cross Athlete, 2018
Steamboat Springs, CO

Jasper Good
Olympic Nordic Combined Athlete, 2018
Steamboat Springs, CO

Noah Hoffman
Olympic Cross Country Skier, 2014, 2018
Evergreen, CO

Jaelin Kauf
Olympic Freestyle Skier, 2018
Vail, CO

Keaton McCargo
Olympic Freestyle Skier, 2018
Telluride, CO

Paul Casey Puckett
Olympic Alpine and Freestyle Skier, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010
Aspen, CO

Joanne Firesteel Reid
Olympic Biathlete, 2018
Boulder, CO

Lucie Coleman
Snowriders International


Sign on to Snowriders' letter in support of a transition to a 100% renewable future!

Powder, Not Power Plants

"I have been skiing to both North and south Poles for over 20 years and I personally have witnessed a deterioration of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean." - Doug Stoup, Artic Explorer and Guide

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Doug Stoup, President and Founder, Ice Axe Expeditions

“There is no operation manual for Spaceship Earth. The technology age or new industrial revolution with bio-technology, smartphones, 3-D Printing, Artificial Intelligence and autonomous vehicles will affect the quality of our existence for hundreds of years. I have been skiing to both North and south Poles for over 20 years and I personally have witnessed a deterioration of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean. This is truly an early warning sign that we need to shift to 100 percent renewable energy NOW! We need to move to cleaner energy to have a sustainable vision for our collective future. There is no resupply for Spaceship Earth. There are no passengers, we are all crew and cannot afford to procrastinate. We need to mobilize for immediate action through agile governance, technology and protection for us to survive.”

We don’t want to watch our winters melt away! That’s why Snowriders International is dedicated to fighting for a 100% renewable energy economy.

A 100% Renewable energy economy is essential to cutting global warming pollution and ensuring snowy winters for generations to come!

It's clear that as a society we must take urgent and decisive action to reduce emissions in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.  However, currently, good climate policies like the Clean Power Plan, clean car standards, and the Paris Agreement, are under attack in Washington. And the Department of Interior's plans to open up hundreds of miles of protected land and coastline to drilling and fracking operations threatens to reverse our clean energy progress. Fortunately, visionaries on the local, state and national level are stepping up and continuing to lead the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. As part of the Voices for 100% Renewables campaign, we are amplifying the voices of these leaders.

This winter, Snowriders is delighted to welcome polar pioneer Doug Stoup to the Voices for 100% Renewables campaign.

 

Hundreds of leaders - from mayors of major cities, to scientific authorities - had contributed their voices to this campaign so far, demonstrating the broad effort to transition away from dirty energy towards a renewable future NOW.

With so many visionaries from across the world working on this problem, a 100% Renewable world is not only essential, but it is within our reach.

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Ethan Strimling, Mayor, Portland, Maine

“Here in Portland, Maine we’re moving city operations toward a 100% Clean Energy by 2040 goal. Protecting our long term environmental health will take hard work, collaboration, foresight and creativity. It will also mean never taking ‘no’ for an answer because when it comes to ensuring a sustainable future for all of Portland, it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.”

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Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org

“Aside from the small bonus of not destroying the planet, renewable energy comes with many other benefits as well. Coal, oil, and gas; which we power our world with now, are found in a few places around the world. The people who happen to live on top of these places get enormous power because of the money and political influence they gain. Think about Saudi Arabia, think about the Koch brothers in our country, the biggest oil and gas barons and the biggest political players in our corrupted system. If we are all generating our own power: from the sun that falls on our shingles or the wind that blows through our streets, then we won’t need the Saudis anymore, we won’t need the Koch brothers anymore. We will be able to have not just clean power but a much cleaner democracy.”

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Wenonah Hauter, Founder and Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

“We know that we have the renewables technology and together we can organize the political will to create a clean energy future.

Renewables are ready today. We have the technical know how to build out 100% renewable energy systems. Not only is this a critical step forward for cleaning up our environment and protecting our global climate – it will also create jobs and be a boon to the economy. The only thing that has stood in our way is the lack of political will. But, because of the growing movement for a clean energy revolution, the political winds are shifting.

People are taking action to change our energy future in unprecedented numbers. They see that progress has been stunted at the federal level and so they are working at the state and local level to stop dirty energy projects and to support clean energy solutions. Recently, Maryland joined New York and Vermont in banning fracking and Pueblo City, Colorado joined 22 other cities in committing to going 100% renewable.

We are so excited about the tremendous number of people who are fired up to make the changes we need to survive. To help capture the enthusiasm, we are launching a new volunteer-led effort called Off Fossil Fuels to give activists the ability to run local campaigns across the country to keep fossil fuels in the ground, stop pipelines and other risky infrastructure projects, and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035.”


As Citizens Testify, EPA's Clean Car Standards At Stake

For Immediate Release: September 6, 2017
Contact: 
Lucie Coleman, Organizer, Snowriders International, lucie@snowridersinternational.org,914.417.1454



NEWS RELEASE: CITIZENS TESTIFY, EPA’S CLEAN CAR STANDARDS AT STAKE
 

Today in Washington DC, concerned citizens, advocates and decision makers are gathering at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing urging them to strengthen, not weaken their clean car standards. The hearing is a result of the Trump Administration’s announcement that it was reopening the EPA’s midterm evaluation of clean car standards.  This decision withdraws the final emission standards for 2022-2025 that the EPA released in 2012.

Snowriders International is an organization of skiers, snowboarders and mountain recreation enthusiasts dedicated to the promotion of winter sports and the protection of the environment across the globe. Snowriders organizer Lucie Coleman issued the following statement:

“The fact is, the vast majority of us still rely on our personal cars to get us to the slopes, the river or the hiking trail. We believe a trip to the mountains shouldn’t endanger the natural spaces we love, and the EPA’s clean car standards are an essential part of making our vision a reality. We cannot yet depend on public or shared transportation to access our outdoor recreation activities, so in the meantime it’s crucial that conscientious outdoors-people advocate for strong emission standards for vehicles.

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“People want cleaner cars, and today the EPA will hear how much. With transportation now the single largest source of carbon emissions in the country, we need to strengthen clean car standards not weaken them.  Curbing carbon emissions from transportation through these common-sense standards is essential if we want to continue to have access to the beautiful places and recreation activities we love while still taking meaningful and responsible action to combat climate change.

“We fear that reopening the evaluation process will lead to weaker standards. With 2016 now the hottest year on record, skiers and boarders well know that we need to get serious about cutting carbon emissions, not roll back the effective tools we already have in place. The current clean car standards would, when fully phased in, reduce America’s oil use by 12 billion barrels, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billions metric tons.  The clean car standards are the single most important tool now in place on the federal level to avert the worst impacts of climate change; we cannot afford to weaken them.”

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Carbon Pricing in Vermont

To protect Vermont skiing from the worst impacts of climate change, the state must continue its legacy of climate leadership and implement carbon pricing for all carbon emissions.

 

As skiers and snowboarders, we know that Vermont’s natural beauty is one of the state’s greatest assets, and that snowsports are a vital part of the Vermont way-of-life.

 

And yet,  Vermont is already feeling the impacts of climate change:

  • The average annual temperature in our state has risen 1.3°F since 1960.

  • Our annual freezing period has shorted by 4 days every decade.

  • By the end of the century, ski resorts like Stratton, Killington and Sugarbush could be facing ‘Tennessee-like’ winters

 

With President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, state and regional climate action are more important than ever!

Vermont is already a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the highly successful cap and trade program for carbon emissions from power plants, that has slashed global warming pollution from power plants in half within its nine member-states.

 

If Vermont extends carbon pricing to include emissions from heating and transportation, it could cut carbon pollution by an additional one-third!

 

From Vermont? We need your help!

Sign our letter telling Governor Scott to support carbon pricing in Vermont to protect a healthy environment and snowy winters in Vermont for many generations to come.

Still In.

Last week, President Trump took distressing action and abandoned the US's Paris climate promise. Like environmentalists around the world, we were devastated by this news.  In a single day Trump undid everything we worked for in the 'Ascent to Paris' in 2015 and silenced the 193,000+ individuals worldwide, including ski areas, Olympians, elected officials, businesses, and organizations that joined us in calling for strong action in Paris. But we’re not giving up.

Snowriders, like millions of Americans, still believes in the commitment the US made in Paris a year and a half ago.  

We know that carbon emissions must be reduced and reduced quickly.  Snowriders has long held that in order to confront climate change and protect the future of snow sports, transitioning to a 100% renewable energy economy is essential. The good news is that across the country, cities, businesses, educational insitutions and individuals are refusing the take climate change lightly and stepping up to commit to aggressive carbon reductions on their own, even if the federal government won’t.  In fact, cities from Portland to Pittsburg are going beyond the commitments of the Paris agreement to pledge to reach 100% renewable energy in the next 20 or 30 years! The goal is more important and more attainable than ever. Solar and wind energy are both growing rapidly nationwide, and renewable energy now employs more people than oil and coal!  Major cities like San Diego, San Antonio, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis are leading the country in expanding their solar capacity and installations.

Join thousands of others in raising your voice for 100% renewable energy!  

Raise your voice!


Voices for 100% Renewable Energy

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Javier Gonzales, Mayor, Sante Fe, New Mexico

“As the head of a city that is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040, I’m seeing firsthand the challenges a big promise like that brings with it – but I’m also seeing the opportunities it creates, and they are far, far to the benefit of our people, our economy, and our future…” Read More…

 

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Steve Skadron, Mayor, Aspen, Colorado

“The City of Aspen set a goal to reach 100% renewable by 2015, and we are proud that we achieved this goal. It’s through a lot of hard work, strong leadership, a commitment to a long-term goal, and having a vision that allowed us to get here. In addition to providing clean electricity to our town, we are also able to offer some of the lowest rates for electricity in the state of Colorado.”

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Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions

“In 1955 the Paley Commission called for an immediate transition to renewable energy, as a matter of urgent national security. Had we listened, we would, today, be 100% renewably powered, have stopped climate chaos short, and be living in a world of secure, abundant, affordable energy. We still have the option of achieving such energy...” Read More...


Find more Voices for 100% Renewable Energy here.

Tell us why you support a renewable future!

Snowriders for 100% Renewables

Snow and mountain communities know better than most what’s at stake in the face of climate change.  We can see snow and our way of life threatened by irregular weather and freezing patterns, warming winters, and earlier and earlier springs each year.


We don’t want to watch our winters melt away! That’s why Snowriders International is dedicated to fighting for a 100% renewable energy economy.


A 100% renewable energy economy is essential to cutting global warming pollution and ensuring snowy winters for generations to come.


We must take urgent and decisive action to reduce emissions to the levels that science tells us are necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.  Snowriders believes transitioning to 100% renewables is a necessary step in curtailing our carbon emissions and protecting our planet. The 100% renewables goal is both possible and vitally important to protecting the future of snowsports in North America.


Renewable energy is good for mountains and mountain communities.


Renewable energy is also clean energy. Wind and solar power keeps our mountain air clear of pollution and alpine views free of smog.


We need to act now before it’s too late!


The good news is that the goal of 100% renewable energy is closer than ever. Solar and wind energy are both growing rapidly nationwide, and renewable energy now employs more people than oil and coal!


Snowriders International has fought towards this goal for years in our work on the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Climate Agreements and more. Today, we thinks it’s more important ever to reaffirm our goals and redoubling our climate efforts. If we are going to confront change and protect the future of snow sports, transitioning to a 100% renewable energy economy is essential.

Weird Winters

The winter of 2016/17 has been a weird one.  From record-breaking snowpacks in some regions to early resort closures in others, skiers and snowboarders have experienced erratic and unusual weather across the country.

This unusual winter weather is another side effect of climate change.  As the climate warms, precipitation and weather patterns are changing in complicated and unpredictable ways, causing both unseasonably warm spells, and enormous destructive storms in turn. In fact, scientists believe the warming and changing climate is causing more storms of greater intensity each year, even in places where total snowpack is depleting.

 A look back at the past winter alone shows the destabilizing effect that climate change is having on our weather.  Here are just a few highlights:

A Winter of Weird Weather

In early December 2016, Beaver Creek resort was forced to cancel their annual mens world cup event due to unseasonably warm weather. 

By Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In early February, Jackson Hole Resort had to close for several days due to power outages caused by an enormous snow storm - “ a very unusual event” according to a Jackson Hole Spokesperson.  The same storm closed roads across Wyoming for almost a week.

By Torstein Frogner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Torstein Frogner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Also in February, the American Birkebeiner - the largest cross country ski race in North America - was cancelled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures in Wisconsin.  This is only the second time in its 45 year history that the race has been cancelled.

By Michael (originally posted to Flickr as Emerald Bay) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Michael (originally posted to Flickr as Emerald Bay) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In April, several California resorts announced they would be open into the summer, due to the size of their snowpack. The Lake Tahoe region received over 700 inches of snow this year, 250 over average.

This past weekend, Mount Washington in New Hampshire received a record breaking 30 inches of snow, while most New England ski mountains have been closed for weeks due to spring temperatures.

Finally, over all, it was an extremely warm winter - the second mildest on record in fact. And it’s no fluke; according to the New York Times winters are warming and spring is coming earlier and earlier each year. It’s “moved [up], on average, a full two weeks” in the last 50 years.

 

Climate Action is Essential to the Future of Snow Sports

While we can all appreciate skiing on the Fourth of July, we would prefer healthy stable winters for decades to come.  It’s important to recognize that the erratic and extreme winter weather we are experiencing, even the positive side effects, are visible symptoms of climate change. And without rapid meaningful action to combat climate change, the future of snow sports is very uncertain.

Help Snowriders act on climate by joining Snowriders today!

Guide to Car-Free Skiing in Tahoe

Car-Free Skiing in Tahoe: Accessing Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area without Driving a Personal Car

 

For Immediate Release:

March 29, 2017

New guide from Snowriders International and Environment California Research and Policy Center shows fifteen public and shared transit options for skiers and boarders trying to get from the Bay Area to ski in Lake Tahoe without driving their personal car. The report highlights that public transit options to Tahoe from the Bay Area are limited, and advocates for greater investment and improved options by the beginning of next ski season. Find the guide here.

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Why Skiers should Care About RGGI

Right now, on the East Coast, nine states are in the process of deciding the fate of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”). If you are a skier concerned about the future of our snowy winters, particularly in the rapidly-warming Northeast, you should be paying close attention to these decisions.

Climate change is the greatest threat faced today by snow sports.  

Rising temperatures across the globe are causing shorter seasons, unpredictable storms, and troubling predictions for future winters. We need effective tools to quickly combat climate change and protect the future of skiing. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is just such a tool. Implemented in 2009, RGGI is a highly successful cap and trade program entered into by nine northeastern and mid-atlantic states in order to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. The program establishes a carbon cap and reduces it by 2.5% each year.  The revenue from the sales of the carbon allowances are invested in the clean energy economy. In this way, RGGI both reduces carbon emissions in the region and invests capital into clean energy alternatives.

Since its initiation, RGGI has successfully:

  • Slashed global warming pollution from power plants in HALF

  • Invested over $2.5 Billion in renewable energy

  • Created $5.7 Billion in health benefits including preventing 600 premature deaths, 9,000 asthma attacks and 43,000 missed days of work.

  • Created $3 Billion in economic benefits including creating more than 30,000 job years.

With 2016 reported as the hottest year on record, we need to strengthen and proliferate tools like RGGI and we can’t afford to see them weakened or rolled back.

 

Why Skiers need to Speak Up:

Among the nine member-states, are Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont - all big ski states, and states where skiers are feeling the impacts of climate change particularly acutely.  Folks who ski or board in the Northeast know that the changing climate has caused event cancellations, early closures, and warm winters punctuated by massive destructive storms in recent years.  Winters in this region are becoming even more fragile than most, but it’s not clear that all the governors involved have gotten the memo.

At the end of the review period, it will mostly be up to the governors’ offices to decide upon the new terms of the program - where to place the carbon cap and how quickly to reduce it - or to decide whether they wish to withdraw entirely.  With the exception of Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, who came out in August in favor of a strong RGGI, most governors are keeping their thoughts on the matter very close to the chest, and the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, has gone so far as to say he will consider pulling out of the program if other states are considering doing the same.

Skiers, snowboarders and the ski industry are a powerful voice in New Hampshire, and much of the region.  Ski industry business and seasonal tourism are important components in the regional economy and we know that clean air and snow-covered mountains are part of what makes this part of the country so special.  It’s important that we use our voices to advocate for the resources we value, so that is exactly what Snowriders is doing.

 

Here’s What We’re Doing to Support and Strengthen RGGI:

Snowriders is working with coalition partner, Environment New Hampshire, to highlight the widely shared benefits of the program and demonstrate its broad popular support throughout New Hampshire and the rest of the region. We are calling on the governors of many of the RGGI states to not only renew the program, but to support doubling RGGI’s strength through 2030 in order to scale back carbon emissions at an adequate rate to effectively combat climate change.  On February 22, the coalition released a letter with over 500 organization, elected officials, businesses, health professionals and academics urging governors to double the strength of RGGI through 2030 and address existing loopholes.  As the period of review stretches on, we are continuing to work with skiers and snowboarders in the region to demonstrate their support for a more robust RGGI in order to protect the winter resources that we value so highly.

Help support Snowriders’ work on RGGI, and beyond. Join Snowriders today!