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The big un-chill: Climate change damages winter tourism

By Jon Talton (The Seattle Times) - December 10, 2012

Add to the economic costs of climate change the $12 billion winter tourism industry. A new report from the nonprofit groups Protect Our Winters and the Natural Resources Defense Council indicates the sector has lost $1 billion and up to 27,000 jobs in 38 states over the last decade because of diminished snow fall.

In Washington, where more than 6,000 jobs are supported by winter tourism, the change in estimated number of skier visits between high and low snowfall years from November 1999 and April 2010 was down 28 percent. Oregon, with 5,565 jobs, saw a decline of 31 percent. Colorado, with 37,838 jobs, dropped nearly 8 percent. Nationally, an estimated 23 million people participated in winter sports in 2009-2010, generating $1.4 billion in state and local taxes and $1.7 billion in federal taxes.

“For those whose livelihood depends upon a predictable winter season, such unpredictability and lack of snow can translate into a precipitous fall in revenue, an early economic indicator of what climate change looks like,” Antonia Herzog, assistant director, Climate and Clean Air Program of the NRDC said in a prepared statement. “In order to protect winter — and the hundreds of thousands whose livelihoods depend upon a snow-filled season — we must act now to support policies that protect our climate, and in turn, our slopes.”

We’re doing nothing. Instead of exporting the advanced alternative energy plants to China from our (non-existent) Manhattan Project on clean tech, we’re exporting coal. But the costs of climate change will only grow. This is the tip of the faceplant our economy will do as a result of short-term thinking, denial and the very effective propaganda campaigns of the fossil fuels industry. Just wait for the climate refugees headed our way as the Southwest and South become increasingly uninhabitable.