Islands of artificial snow surrounded by green grass – the prevailing image for the recent European heatwave came from the Ski World Cup in Adelboden, Switzerland. The climate crisis means a snow crisis: snow is one of the clearest indicators of climate change.
We are witnessing a business-as-usual adaptation measure to this crisis: artificial snow, shot with cannons, and transported by trucks or helicopters to ski slopes. The point is that we are in a +1.2°C warmer world.
Yet nobody is telling us how mountain communities will adapt to a +2.8°C warmer world where the current global energy policies are driving us. At this point in the history of global warming, artificial snow is costly and disillusional. An average ski slope needs 20k cubic meters of water on average to function.
The only way to save mountain communities and ecosystems is to give up fossil fuels: this is not what is happening. Meanwhile, the UAE has appointed Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as president for COP28, the next round of the UN talks on climate change. A leading figure from an oil superpower will lead negotiations to give up oil, coal and gas.
The outcome of COP27 was the triumph of the energy status quo: no new mitigation commitments were agreed, and it’s hard to be hopeful about the next summit, hosted by a petrostate and chaired by a Big Oil CEO.
Don’t be fooled by the next few weeks of frosty weather: we are losing ground to the climate crisis. Artificial snow will buy us some time, but this is a big crisis which needs a big response: quickly reducing carbon emissions. There’s no other way.