Climate change poses an existential threat to the ski industry in Australia. A recent report commissioned by the Victorian government suggests that the end of natural snow could be as close as a couple of decades.
As noted by Adam Carey in The Age, without serious action to tackle climate change, ‘the likeliest outcome is that Victoria’s snow resorts will gradually close, until just one or two remain in business by mid-century, offering an increasingly rarefied experience’.
You would think that people who earn their living from snow would be paying attention to what is happening and perhaps even playing their part to reduce emissions.
Laurie Blampied, general manager of Buller Ski Lifts, is quoted in The Age story as saying that ‘technology had advanced to the point where snow could be made at any temperature’.
‘An increasing reliance on artificial snow would not make the industry less viable, he said’.
“If the product [snow] becomes less common, it will in turn become more valued and people are going to be prepared to pay more of a premium to enjoy a product if it’s scarce, a bit like a fine wine,” Mr Blampied said.
So, climate change isn’t a problem. We’ll just keep making snow, at ever greater cost, and it will be OK because rich people will pay for the privilege.
This simplistic approach is wrong on all sorts of levels and even if you ignore the selfishness of denying the problem, it doesn’t add up: is Laurie suggesting that all the runs on Mt Buller will have snow making technology installed? At what cost? If the whole area is not covered, there will be less skiable area in future, with obvious reduction in numbers of skiers (Mt Buller is often already very crowded, even with the runs it currently has), with obvious loss of jobs and business activity. How does someone in a leadership position in a business even think its ok to make hare brained statements like this?
As the report itself notes when discussing Mt Buller:
“A transition to more snow factories will be necessary to continue making enough snow to cover runs. But these require a much higher energy input than snow guns.
This could lead to loss of affordable snow.”
It is ludicrous to suggest that having highly expensive snow on some runs will keep the current enterprises on the mountain ‘viable’.
That sound you hear is me weeping and banging my head on the table …