Sunday, February 09, 2014

The End of Snow?

Excuse the pun, but this is a chilling read.  

It IS amazing that there is not more reaction against the workings behind these shifts.  The writer makes the point that while the large oil companies are easy to blame, a lack of reaction is reducible to ignorance and complacency.

The truth is, it is too late for all of that. Greening the ski industry is commendable, but it isn’t nearly enough. Nothing besides a national policy shift on how we create and consume energy will keep our mountains white in the winter — and slow global warming to a safe level.
This is no longer a scientific debate. It is scientific fact. The greatest fear of most climate scientists is continued complacency that leads to a series of natural climatic feedbacks — like the melting of the methane-rich permafrost of Arctic Canada.

This is certainly a challenge that the next generation will have to tackle much better than we have managed to do in ours.  

Wouldn't it be amazing if our educational systems embraced a kind of critical and social justice STEM approach that would graduate cadres upon cadres of youth that can take on this multi-faceted problem?  

Of course, we need our teachers to be well prepared to teach this, as well, so this is also a responsibility that should be equally shouldered by our teacher preparation programs of all types.

Surely, there are places within our K-12 system where this is occurring, but this really needs to be a new default in science-based instruction that is itself interdisciplinary and policy oriented.

Short of this, our descendants are destined to a world without snow—and all that attaches to that, as well.


P.S.  Check out this equally concerning NYTimes piece with respect to  the significant drought in California's Central Valley  Titled, "The Dust Bowl Returns."

SundayReview | Opinion

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Slopes were closed last month at Fichtelberg mountain in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. Jan Woitas/European Pressphoto Agency

OVER the next two weeks, hundreds of millions of people will watch Americans like Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin ski for gold on the downhill alpine course. Television crews will pan across epic vistas of the rugged Caucasus Mountains, draped with brilliant white ski slopes. What viewers might not see is the 16 million cubic feet of snow that was stored under insulated blankets last year to make sure those slopes remained white, or the hundreds of snow-making guns that have been running around the clock to keep them that way.

Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.

The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.

Porter Fox is the features editor at Powder magazine and the author of “Deep: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow.”

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