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Climate wintersport  fake snow  wildlife destruction | Upload Man-Made

Wintersport: Fake Snow, Wildlife Destruction

by: Marike Boonstra
wintersport  fake snow  wildlife destruction | Upload

Wintersport is an excellent way to be outdoors during winter. Nevertheless, ski resorts' impact on the environment is vast: they rely on complex and energy-demanding infrastructure, with scores of employees and heavy use of water. Wintersport: fake snow, wildlife destruction is this what we want?

Wintersport Impact: Fake Snow And Water Use

How do ski resorts make fake snow?
Snowmaking is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a "snow gun," also known as a "snow cannon." Snowmaking is mainly used at ski resorts to supplement natural snow. The production of snow requires low temperatures. The threshold temperature for snowmaking increases as humidity decreases.

While many ski-resort owners are switching to environmentally friendly practices such as renewable energy, recycling, and composting, some feel that these adjustments fail to mitigate the overall negative effect of ski areas on the environment. What is the solution?

people, snow, snow machine, building
'Making snow' in a warming world!

One of the problems is the excessive amount of water use in ski resorts. As a result of global climate change, most ski areas experience winters of increasingly shorter duration. If the snow base falls below a certain level, resort managers must use artificial snow-making systems. Fake snow is made by mixing large volumes of water and high-pressure air, so the process demands an abundance of water and energy. When the water is taken from the local rivers and streams, it harms the surrounding ecosystem.

Are there chemicals in artificial snow?
There are two main kinds of artificial snow: powders and spray-on aerosols. The powders that turn into artificial snow flakes when mixed with water are sometimes called instant snow. The mixture is almost entirely water (99%), but a very small amount is made out of a non-toxic polymer.


                                      Behind the Scenes - How Snowmaking at Ski Resorts Works
                                      Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts

Recommended: COP25: Can Paris Accord Signatories Beat The Fossil Industry

Wintersport And Wildlife Destruction

How bad is skiing for the environment?
The impact of skiing in mountainous environments is negative as trees need to be cut down to make way for the skiers and ski lifts. Not only is the lack of trees affecting the environment, but it is also affecting the animals that live in the trees. It can be said that skiing is bad for the environment in this sense.

Alpine habitats above the tree line are already threatened by global climate change, and skiers' disturbance is one more stressor. These disturbances can come from scaring wildlife or harming their habitat by damaging vegetation and compacting soils. An example: the black grouse population, a creature that lives in the Swiss Alps, is usually found at half its average density around ski areas.

2 Black Grouse fighting
Photo by: Mike Lane. Two Black Grouse fighting

Recommended: Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected

Wintersport Impact: Ski Trails Land Use Change

To create ski trails, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. To create ski trailers, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species.

To create new trailers, ski resorts have to remove woody vegetation. The fastest way to achieve that is with a bulldozer, graded to remove tree stumps and any slope irregularity. This process reduces topsoil depth and causes soil erosion. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality.

Recommended: Deforestation: No! Celebrate National Tree Day With WhatsOrb

Ski Resorts Environmental Impact: Fossil Fuel Energy

slider snow cannons, wintersport

Resort skiing is an energy-intensive operation, relying on fossil fuels, producing greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming. For example, ski lifts usually run on electricity, and operating a single ski lift for a month requires about the same energy needed to power 3.8 households for a year. Another one: to maintain the snow's surface on the ski runs, a resort deploys nightly a fleet of trail groomers, each operating on about 5 gallons of diesel per hour and producing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions. Wintersport: fake Snow, wildlife destruction results from our ever urge to want and ignore what nature can handle!

Recommended: Carbon-Negative Fuel Set: Burning The World To A Better Place

A complete estimate of the greenhouse gases emitted in association with resort skiing would need to include those produced by skiers driving or flying to the mountains. Ironically, climate change is affecting most ski regions. As global atmospheric temperatures go up, snowpacks are thinning, and the ski seasons are getting shorter.

The environmental costs associated with resort skiing come in multiple dimensions, and so do the solutions. Many ski resorts have made substantial efforts to minimize their environmental impacts. Solar panels, wind turbines, and small hydro turbines have been deployed to supply renewable energy. Improved waste management and composting programs have been implemented, just like green building technologies have been employed. Forest management efforts have been planned to improve wildlife habitat. But is this enough?

What did they use for snow in old movies?
And it wasn't the only film set to use asbestos in the 1930s. Over the years, filmmakers have used a number of other substances to create the illusion of snow: marble dust in Dr. Zhivago (1965), salt and flour in Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) and plain old salt in 1978's Superman.

The Wizard of Oz, where also asbestos was used
The Wizard of Oz, where asbestos was used to make 'fake snow.' 

Sustainability Wintersport Efforts: Initiatives You Can Take

Research, research, research: it is now possible for skiers to gather information about a resort’s sustainability efforts and make informed consumer decisions. An increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts seek snowy slopes by practicing lower-impact forms of skiing. These backcountry skiers and snowboarders use specialized equipment that allows them to make their way up the mountain on their power and then ski down natural terrain that has not been logged or groomed. These skiers have to be self-sufficient and able to mitigate a multitude of mountain-related safety risks. The learning curve is steep, but backcountry skiing has a lighter environmental impact than resort skiing.

Before you go!

Recommended: Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Wintersport: Fake Snow, Wildlife Destruction

Wintersport is an excellent way to be outdoors during winter. Nevertheless, ski resorts' impact on the environment is vast: they rely on complex and energy-demanding infrastructure, with scores of employees and heavy use of water. Wintersport: fake snow, wildlife destruction is this what we want? Wintersport Impact: Fake Snow And Water Use How do ski resorts make fake snow? Snowmaking is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a "snow gun," also known as a "snow cannon." Snowmaking is mainly used at ski resorts to supplement natural snow. The production of snow requires low temperatures. The threshold temperature for snowmaking increases as humidity decreases. While many ski-resort owners are switching to environmentally friendly practices such as renewable energy, recycling, and composting, some feel that these adjustments fail to mitigate the overall negative effect of ski areas on the environment. What is the solution? 'Making snow' in a warming world! One of the problems is the excessive amount of water use in ski resorts. As a result of global climate change, most ski areas experience winters of increasingly shorter duration. If the snow base falls below a certain level, resort managers must use artificial snow-making systems. Fake snow is made by mixing large volumes of water and high-pressure air, so the process demands an abundance of water and energy. When the water is taken from the local rivers and streams, it harms the surrounding ecosystem. Are there chemicals in artificial snow? There are two main kinds of artificial snow: powders and spray-on aerosols. The powders that turn into artificial snow flakes when mixed with water are sometimes called instant snow. The mixture is almost entirely water (99%), but a very small amount is made out of a non-toxic polymer. {youtube}                                       Behind the Scenes - How Snowmaking at Ski Resorts Works                                       Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts Recommended:  COP25: Can Paris Accord Signatories Beat The Fossil Industry Wintersport And Wildlife  Destruction How bad is skiing for the environment? The impact of skiing in mountainous environments is negative as trees need to be cut down to make way for the skiers and ski lifts. Not only is the lack of trees affecting the environment, but it is also affecting the animals that live in the trees. It can be said that skiing is bad for the environment in this sense. Alpine habitats above the tree line are already threatened by global climate change, and skiers' disturbance is one more stressor. These disturbances can come from scaring wildlife or harming their habitat by damaging vegetation and compacting soils. An example: the black grouse population, a creature that lives in the Swiss Alps, is usually found at half its average density around ski areas. Photo by: Mike Lane. Two Black Grouse fighting Recommended:  Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected Wintersport Impact: Ski Trails Land Use Change To create ski trails, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. To create ski trailers, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. To create new trailers, ski resorts have to remove woody vegetation. The fastest way to achieve that is with a bulldozer, graded to remove tree stumps and any slope irregularity. This process reduces topsoil depth and causes soil erosion. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. Recommended:  Deforestation: No! Celebrate National Tree Day With WhatsOrb Ski Resorts Environmental Impact: Fossil Fuel Energy Resort skiing is an energy-intensive operation, relying on fossil fuels, producing greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming. For example, ski lifts usually run on electricity, and operating a single ski lift for a month requires about the same energy needed to power 3.8 households for a year. Another one: to maintain the snow's surface on the ski runs, a resort deploys nightly a fleet of trail groomers, each operating on about 5 gallons of diesel per hour and producing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions. Wintersport: fake Snow, wildlife destruction results from our ever urge to want and ignore what nature can handle! Recommended:  Carbon-Negative Fuel Set: Burning The World To A Better Place A complete estimate of the greenhouse gases emitted in association with resort skiing would need to include those produced by skiers driving or flying to the mountains. Ironically, climate change is affecting most ski regions. As global atmospheric temperatures go up, snowpacks are thinning, and the ski seasons are getting shorter. The environmental costs associated with resort skiing come in multiple dimensions, and so do the solutions. Many ski resorts have made substantial efforts to minimize their environmental impacts. Solar panels, wind turbines, and small hydro turbines have been deployed to supply renewable energy. Improved waste management and composting programs have been implemented, just like green building technologies have been employed. Forest management efforts have been planned to improve wildlife habitat. But is this enough? What did they use for snow in old movies? And it wasn't the only film set to use asbestos in the 1930s. Over the years, filmmakers have used a number of other substances to create the illusion of snow: marble dust in Dr. Zhivago (1965), salt and flour in Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) and plain old salt in 1978's Superman. The Wizard of Oz, where asbestos was used to make 'fake snow.'  Sustainability Wintersport Efforts: Initiatives You Can Take Research, research, research: it is now possible for skiers to gather information about a resort’s sustainability efforts and make informed consumer decisions. An increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts seek snowy slopes by practicing lower-impact forms of skiing. These backcountry skiers and snowboarders use specialized equipment that allows them to make their way up the mountain on their power and then ski down natural terrain that has not been logged or groomed. These skiers have to be self-sufficient and able to mitigate a multitude of mountain-related safety risks. The learning curve is steep, but backcountry skiing has a lighter environmental impact than resort skiing. Before you go! Recommended:  Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope? Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about your winter sports experience? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
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