The outdoor industry is big business: 57 million Americans engage in outdoor activities, generating an estimated $887 billion in revenue and creating about 7.6 million jobs.

Wind turbine at Jimmy Peak, MA

Snowsports, which account for about $20 billion in annual revenue in 38 states, rely on Mother Nature for cold and snow. A study conducted ten years ago by Protect Our Winters (POW), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and University of New Hampshire scientists, links specific climate data to projected business losses for the snow sports industry and the U.S. economy.

Porter Fox, author, and Columbia University professor, writes about climate change and snow sports. He draws a relationship between the decline of the number of annual ski days and the ski industry’s light support of advocacy efforts. He lists 13 national legislators from ski states (CA, OR, UT and WA) who have voted against proposed environmental climate legislation; half of them voting against all the bills.

According to one Aspen Skiing Company executive, “The industry hasn’t done a good job educating leaders on the raw science and hasn’t made enough of a public statement on climate.”

Solar panels at Mt Abram, ME

That said, many ski areas are addressing global warming by taking local action in the form of wind turbines and solar tracking systems. LED lighting is another investment reducing power use. More specifically, Aspen has LEED buildings, a coal methane capture facility, and solar and hydro energy. On the other side of the country, Killington is engaged in a program that purchases electricity generated by cow dung. The area also encourages use of electric vehicles by installing about 50 EV charging stations.

These are just a few of the many examples of ski areas taking action to address climate change and, frankly, do what they can to survive the warming conditions threatening their long-term survival.

Yes, it’s good for business. And it’s good for all of us who love to play in the snow. It’s also good for our future generations.

For a summary of how ski areas around the world are becoming sustainable, click here.

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