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Global Weirding – Save Our Snow? What Snow?

January 18th, 2012

Alison at Silverton, CO - credit Sherri Harkin Photography

As a World Freeskiing Champion, the founder of the Save Our Snow Foundation, and award-winning global cooling consultant, I’m often asked about my viewpoints on climate change in regard to snow droughts, like we are experiencing this year.

I found that people couldn’t relate to “climate change” and that the term “global warming” left people confused, so I switched to “global weirding.” That term more accurately describes what is happening — while the planet is warming, the actual result is extreme weather. Global temperature increases result in really strange local weather — record low temperatures, record heat waves, more windy weather, record droughts, and yes, even record snowstorms. As the air warms, it can hold more moisture, so in the short-term we can have larger snowfalls. In the long term, more of those storms will fall as rain.

Today in Colorado, we are seeing record dust storms that are assisting in extremely early snowmelt — up to 40 days earlier than historic records. I don’t think anyone has to be a rocket scientist to see that the weather is a bit weirder than usual. The extremes are just so much more pronounced. It’s January, and I’m going for a bike ride. How strange is that? In Pakistan, I saw glaciers advancing in 2005 due to increased snowfall, and then watched them retreat up to 50 percent by 2007. On one ski expedition it was raining at 17,500 feet — something I have never seen in my lifetime. In Bolivia, I skied the highest ski area in the world at 18,000-plus feet, but that glacier disappeared forever in 2009.

Folks ask me about a critical tipping point.  In my opinion, we have already passed a critical point in the concentrations of carbon dioxide on our planet. But I’m an optimist and I believe we have the ability to change.

I started the Save Our Snow Foundation in 2006, when I realized there was a need to spread the word nationally that solutions to save our snow could be cost-effective and improve quality of life. I had started a local non-profit The Office For Resource Efficiency in 2004, working to calculate and reduce the community’s carbon footprint and energy use, with much success, and wanted to take the message worldwide.

Alison Gannett with her Osprey Pack - credit Sherri Harkin Photography

In the end, I don’t care if you believe in climate change. What my personal experience has shown is that it is quite easy to make simple changes in my life that have saved me money and reduced my energy use in half — getting LED lightbulbs, carpooling, riding my bike or taking public transit, combining work and vacation trips, buying greener products that have lifetime guarantees and generally consuming less crap. Every day we eat, drink, travel or live we are presented with some choices to make, and I just try to do the very best I can.

My most recent effort is to grow and raise all my own food, which has been an intensely rewarding experience, plus I can ski right off the farm. This Christmas was not kind to us, as the BLM announced over 30,000 acres for oil and gas drilling bordering and surrounding our farm, and containing all of our water. All those years fighting to save our snow by using less energy and clean energy now hit home more than ever, and I’m stoked that I got off dirty natural gas over 2 years ago. If anyone wants to help, you can help us Save Our Farm by WRITING THE BLM, or even easier, please sign our PETITION to protect our farm from potential drilling. Learn more on MY BLOG.

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