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.