In Austria, as in much of Northern Europe, the ski industry is big business, worth billions of Euros and many small villages depend on the long ski-season for their livelihoods. And yet, predictions say that within the next 40 years only the highest resorts such as Tignes, France will have sufficient snowfall to enable skiing.
Looking outside on Christmas Eve, Lech’s small side streets are struggling to stop the retreating snow. I can barely find a patch big enough to write out my usual ‘Happy New Year’ greeting….I think the scientists may well be onto something!
I have to be honest. I haven’t thought about this before. For a would be ‘greenie’, I am shocked at my own blinkered thinking. I want to see snow! So I come to find it. I want to ski, without thinking of the electricity used to run chairlifts, or energy used by the night-time piste bashers or the running of the snow cannons. But the cost is immense, not only to the environment but to the natural habitats of the animals who have no choice where they live.
Being human sometimes feels like an unwinnable game. Though governments try to agree on commitments to slow the rate of climate change, people living their daily lives do not seem to want to change readily. We want what we have; we are reluctant to give up those things we have achieved – our near on 24 hour lifestyle, our cars, our global travel. Yet we all know by now that if we do not make changes, we will soon find the earth will give up on us.
It’s already February 2016. Daffodils have been in bloom since December, the warmest December on record. I don’t want to give up travel but I know that I need to think about the travelling I do and the choices I make.
This year, I vow to think green. I am not perfect or self-sacrificing but I want to make conscious choices and make the best conscious choices. If I make one change…..but which one?