From CBS Denver (Alan Gionet):
The news in the blockbuster IPCC Climate Change report has the head of the United Nations calling it “A code red for humanity,” with grim and wide ranging predictions. In Colorado, climate science has been talked about for decades with effects being felt in the colder altitudes and warmer cities.
It’s been tangible in recent summers with poor air quality caused by fires which experts say are being worsened by climate change…
In the mountains, there’s a very visible effect at times.
“Climate change is the biggest force that’s going to affect our business and it’s an existential threat,” said Auden Schendler, senior vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company. “We’ve lost a month of winter since 1980. This is just measured on the ground here.”
As averages rise so do extremes. More record heat and more problematic drought. A warmer atmosphere evaporates more moisture. Drier mountains mean more forest fire danger.
“Right now people can’t get to Aspen because Glenwood Canyon is closed because of fires which the climate scientists told us would happen and then floods and runoff which the scientists told us would follow,” said Schendler. “The thesis historically was that people will, in a climate change world, would want to escape, say Denver where it’s 100 degrees, to come to the mountains, but last night I woke up choking because of that dense smoke here.”
“The fixes to these problems are not impossible, we know how to solve climate we’ve got the technology we’ve got the policies on the shelf, we can deploy them it’s going to be way, way cheaper to do that than to continue to see the kinds of catastrophes we’re seeing.”
The ski industry itself profits from people travelling great distances, for the most part using fossil fuels.
“Skiers didn’t say, ‘Hey get me to the ski resort in the most damaging way possible,’” he said. “The answer is this isn’t your fault, because you drive an SUV, the answer is there’s a systems problem and we’re going to fix it systematically and we have the technology to do it.”