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Sport, Sustainability, Uncategorized

But that’s not climate change, or is it?

It is the start of February and I may have just done my last cross country ski of the season. Grass was poking through everywhere. And the snow is so soft that I push through the track regularly. Don’t get me wrong, we have more cold days coming I’m sure. But increasing freeze thaw cycles is wreaking havoc on the snow base. This isn’t abnormal anymore either. Last year it seemed as though I was either skiing at -30°C or +5°C. And those skis were only days apart from each other.

As a result of tonight’s grassy ski, I started looking up the research on climate change and winter sports. One article in particular caught my eye. Rice, Cohen, and Scott (2022) studied perceptions of climate change risk in the ski industry in northern Sweden. What they found is quite interesting I think.

Previous research has indicated that northern Sweden might come out on top when it comes the European ski industry. The climate in Sweden is theorized to stay cold enough to support skiing, potentially making it a tourist haven for the sport. But, that doesn’t mean there are no impacts from climate change.

During a set of interviews, people working in the Swedish ski industry revealed that they didn’t connect the local changes or subsequent mitigation efforts to climate change. For example, they don’t see increases in snowmaking as a result of climate change, “it’s just good business sense.” This lack of acknowledgement has the potential to actually increase the risks to the area as mitigation efforts can fall short without a full acceptance of what is happening.

The researchers also revealed another potential issue. If Sweden does become a haven for ski tourism, it is likely to experience an increased number of flights in and out of the country. Increasing numbers of flights will, of course, increase the associated greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the ability of Sweden to reach net zero and reduce contributions to global climate change would also be threatened.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


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