Last weekend, while we celebrated our winter sports heritage on Lincoln Avenue and cheered on our Olympic athletes in Sochi, Russia, the United Nations confirmed that 2013 was the sixth-warmest year on record. In fact, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000.
Sadly for winter sports fans, the Earth is becoming a warmer place, and its snowpack is disappearing.
In 2009, the Park City Foundation commissioned a study of the economic impacts of warmer temperatures and less snow on Park City, Utah (roughly the same elevation as Steamboat). The forecasts are grim. Among the study’s conclusions, “By 2050, the potential impacts range from $160.4 million in lost output, $27.2 million in lost earnings and 1,520 lost jobs (low emissions scenario) to $392.3 million in lost output, $66.6 million in lost earnings and 3,717 lost jobs (high emissions scenario).” (www.parkcitymountain.com/site/mountain-info/learn/environment/ParkCityClimateChangeAssessment9-29-2009.pdf).
It’s time for us as a community to start thinking about what Steamboat’s economic and social future looks like with a whole lot less snow and a whole lot more rain.