Climate Change Striking Close to Home

By JOSIE MCCAULEY

  Friday, Sep. 20, marked the beginning of the Global Climate Strike, during which strikes have been and are currently being held in more than 150 countries across the globe. Colorado College students were spotted taking part in the strike not just in Colorado Springs, but as far away as Berlin.

Some students traveling for Block Break even made sure to find strikes near their locations, like Emily Dwyer ’22. While she was spending her Block Break in Keystone, Colo., Dwyer found there was a strike occurring in Breckenridge. While the event was smaller than others around the world, it was still an opportunity for community members to make their opinions on climate change heard.

Colorado mountains are attractive to many East Coasters who tell dismal tales of wildly unreliable and short ski seasons that are plagued by perpetually icy slopes. But what would it be like if our beloved powder days here in the West were no more? Undoubtedly, the tourism sector of Colorado’s economy would take a major hit, and the ski towns that now rely so heavily on the spending of vacationers would be forced to find new means for survival.

“There’s a lot of people that were there that were holding signs about the powder and skiing because Breckenridge is a huge ski town,” said Dwyer. Skiing and snowboarding are both popular at CC, so local climate issues regarding snowpack and sustainable recreation are poised to have a tangible impact on a large number of CC students.

CC draws on its location and culture surrounding skiing and snowboarding as a major selling point for those who enjoy outdoor recreation. Any impact climate change has on the Colorado ski industry, or even the ski conditions, could potentially decrease the appeal of coming to CC among such groups.

“Continued deterioration of the mountains and the outdoors that we love — the trails and everything — it’s just very scary,” Dwyer said.

We are already beginning to see changes in the biggest constant to our landscape: the mountains that were here tens of millions of years before humans’ evolution are feeling anthropogenic impact. Snowcapped peaks aren’t “snowcapped” for as long as they once were. Blame can be placed and accusations made, but none of it matters unless we are taking steps to prevent more climatic change.

Dwyer’s view on the changing climate focuses on much more than solely our slopes. “There’s a lot of serious implications that continued global warming will have on all of the world,” she said.

The potential effects of the changing climate are obviously much larger and more widespread than the consequences it may have on ski slopes, and on how many powder days one can expect next season. We’re already looking at projections from various agencies, including NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that global temperatures will only continue to rise, along with sea levels and the length of the frost-free season.

So what can be done? Recreating responsibility in our wilderness areas is essential for us to be able to enjoy them. Following Leave No Trace protocols and carpooling or riding the FUCC bus to get to the mountains are helpful in leaving lands untarnished and reducing CO2 emissions. “Voting with your wallet” also allows everyday consumer decisions to send a message to major corporations that environmentally unsustainable practices are not acceptable.

Concerned individuals can also make their voices heard through their voting habits, participating in events such as the Climate Strikes, and joining groups such as EnAct, Climate Reality Project, and the Sunrise Movement here at CC.

 

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