Even in ski states

EVEN IN SKI STATES…. Given the potential catastrophic international consequences of global warming, it’s hard to put “future of ski resorts” right up there with droughts, pandemics, and rising sea levels.

But as a political matter, you’d think conservative Republicans in ski states would be a little more sensible. (thanks to reader T.D. for the heads-up)

Ski resorts across the country are using the Thanksgiving weekend to jump start their winter seasons, but with every passing year comes a frightening realization: If global temperatures continue to rise, fewer and fewer resorts will be able to open for the traditional beginning of ski season.

Warmer temperatures at night are making it more difficult to make snow and the snow that falls naturally is melting earlier in the spring.

In few places is this a bigger concern than the American West, where skiing is one of the most lucrative segments of the tourism industry and often the only reason many people visit cash-strapped states like Utah during winter.

But even as world leaders descend on Copenhagen next month to figure out a way to reduce carbon emissions blamed in global warming, the industry is still grappling with leaders in some of their own ski-crazy states who refuse to concede that humans have any impact on climate change.

Take Utah, for example, which has an economy that relies on tourism revenue, but which wouldn’t draw a lot of visitors were it not for the state’s skiing industry.

And yet Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) don’t trust the evidence and think “the jury is out” on whether human activity is related to warming temperatures.

In other words, by embracing the far-right line, Utah’s leaders are willing to gamble their state’s future on the notion that scientific evidence should be rejected.

”That’s just kind of raging ignorance,” said Auden Schendler, executive director of sustainability for Aspen (Colo.) Skiing Co. ”We’re not environmentalists, we’re business people. We have studied the hell out of the climate science. To have a neighboring governor not believe it … It’s absurd.”

POWDR Corp., which owns several ski resorts, is part of a coalition hoping to educate public officials in ski states.

Brent Giles, POWDR Corp.’s director of environmental affairs, says regardless of what anyone believes about global warming, it makes good business sense for everyone to become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

”All you can do is give them what science you’ve got and show how easy it is to make some of these changes and tell them they’re going to save money,” Giles said. ”Why can’t we just do it because it makes sense?”

It’s a good question.