environment Politics: media irresponsibility timescales winter winter sports
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ASPEN — An opinion piece about climate change by the head of Vail Resorts has Aspen Skiing Co.’s point man on environmental issues scratching his head.
Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts Inc., wrote an opinion piece on climate change that appeared Friday in The Denver Post.
Katz criticizes the efforts of some unnamed folks to use last winter’s lack of snow and this winter’s slow start as proof of global warming. The head of the country’s largest ski-resort operator said the ski industry must play its part in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions for the right reasons — to save the planet for future generations.
“When the effects of climate change really show up, no one will care about skiing at Aspen and Vail,” Katz wrote. “They will be rightly focused on the wildlife, natural habitat and people of our planet, about the sea levels, flooding and natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.”
The opinion piece coincided with an advertisement Vail Resorts ran in The New York Times last week. The headline read, “The Climate HAS CHANGED.” It features shots of skiers and riders at the company’s various ski areas and trumpets the new snow they have received the prior week.
Auden Schendler, Aspen Skiing Co.’s vice president for sustainability, said Vail is playing with fire with the ad and sending a defeatist message with the opinion piece.
“The advertising piece struck me as taunting the gods. I’m not sure why they’d do that,” Schendler said. “I think it’s mocking the conversation” on climate change.
Everybody’s right. And Happy New Year. December 24:
For a seasonally-organized and essentially fashion-driven industry like a ski resort, it makes perfect sense to frame climate change in immediate terms. Winter sports enthusiasts are less likely to think in the long term, as advocated by Rob Katz in his recent op-ed, so making the case for an urgent response to the climate crisis may well be best accomplished by stating the obvious: no more skiing unless we act.
But Mr. Katz’ argument is just as powerful and just as correct. Our collective focus on the short term has been a major contributor to our present predicament. Our culture is fixated on instant consumer gratification, informed by hysterical news media on a 24-hour cycle of excitement and spectacle, and governed by politicians fixated on the next election cycle; only with a profound reorientation in our thinking towards multigenerational responsibility to the future can we accomplish the kind of thoughtful and reasoned planetary response demanded by an emergency of this magnitude.