Snowsports are Good for the Environment

Worth A Look, Environment, Frontier Centre

In a new study released recently H. C. Anderson, a renowned climatologist reports that skiing and snowboarding reduce global warming. His estimates are that by the end of the century, the average global temperature will be lower by .004359 degrees Celsius than it would be without these sports.

Skiing and snowboarding lowers global temperatures by supporting the operation of mountain resorts that increase the size and depth of the snow covers on their facilities. The snow reflects back into space the rays of the sun that otherwise would heat up the ground, air and water. The size and thickness of the snow cover in these resorts is enhanced through artificial snowmaking used to extend the season for the sports.

More important is the effect of skiers and snowboarders on the crystalline structure of the snow. With the help of electronic microscopes it was discovered that the pounding snow takes from the skis and boards increases the density of the crystals, which in turn raises the extent to which they reflect rather than absorb the sun’s rays.

The effects of skiing and boarding on snow covers can often be seen on TV, showing racers on snow while the mountains in the background are barren.

Astronauts have also seen the effects from space.

Anderson is on the faculty of the University of Banff, which is closely linked to the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. It was created in response to demand from skiers and snowboarders who wanted to continue their studies on days that inclement weather prevented them pursuing their sports.

These students have been very motivated and have performed well above the Canadian average on standardized test scores.

A colleague of Anderson, Dr. George Duck, has discovered another important benefits of skiing and snowboarding. The average weight of persons engaged in these sports around Canada have 30 percent lower body fat than other Canadians of the same age and gender. Since weight and health are closely related, the costs on Canada’s universal health care system are reduced by 3.04 percent annually, which adds up to substantial sums over the lifetime of skiers and snowboarders.

The environmental and economic benefits of skiing and snowboarding have led to demands for the government to reward these activities financially. Such rewards would not only be fair, but they would encourage the expansion of the favourable activities and thus lead to less spending on health care and projects aimed at preventing global warming.

The rewards should be given directly to skiers and snowboarders through the tax system, following the process proposed by the new Conservative government in Ottawa for reimbursing parents for the costs of registering their children in sports activities. Skiers and snowboarders would attach their lift ticket receipts to their income tax returns and would receive checks equal to the amount they spent on tickets.

To make sure that the tax system continues in its role of equalizing Canadians incomes, the refund checks should be made equal to the full amount spent on tickets for those with incomes below $5,000 (the average income skiers and snowboarders in 2003) and become a decreasing proportion the higher the person’s income is. Reimbursements should become zero for persons with incomes above $1 million, which would properly exclude the super rich that have driven up the cost housing for the poor at Whistler and Banff. Foreign skiers would be issued specially marked tickets ineligible for payment since it makes no sense for Canadian taxpayers to subsidize foreigners.

H. C. Anderson is a direct descendant of the famous Danish writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Anderson. Dr. George Duck, an ardent skier and physician practicing occasionally in Banff has recently been exonerated by a court from the accusation of being a quack.

Herbert Leburg, Environmentalist, Tax Specialist who often skis at Whistler