These are challenging times for all of us. And for those of us who live in the West, the last few months have been devastating. The summer of 2020 was the hottest on record in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to drought conditions all across the West. And as if on cue, wildfires of historic proportion have now burned over four million acres across ten states and counting. Clearly, as California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “the hots are getting hotter, and the dries are getting drier.”
These events are not hundred-year events anymore, they’re happening every year. The science has warned us that this would happen, and the signals are everywhere. Climate change is here and it became very real this year.
And unlike the pandemic that we continue to live through, there is no vaccine on the way to help us get back to normal. Climate change isn’t going away that easily. Long after this summer’s fires have been extinguished, those images should be lasting reminders that we have met a formidable force (of our own creation) and that we need to prepare for the next big existential threat coming our way.
I don’t have to remind anyone that our $76 billion industry is particularly vulnerable. Spring snowpack has already been reduced by a million square miles and if we don’t move quickly, the snow season in the Sierra Nevada could shorten by over two months, eliminating it at lower elevations. In Park City, the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics and home to SIA, snowpack could be reduced to zero by 2100.
But I have hope that this difficult year has created an acknowledgment that there are threats bigger than ourselves, and that we need to have the collective resolve and the will to proactively address them, ensuring that generations after us have that same sense of security and health, and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as we have had. I have hope that this awakening and urgency will create a movement throughout our industry that will drive the progress that we need to see on climate change.
With that, 2020 begins a new decade of climate action. Science tells us that we have a decade to significantly reduce our emissions, and achieve net-zero by 2050. While that’s a big mountain to climb, we can do this. Our businesses are intimately connected to the health of the planet, so not only does our industry have a moral imperative to lead on this, we have a business imperative too. And our consumers, who want their brands to align with their values, are asking us all to recognize the opportunity and the ability we have to drive change. As leaders, we need to listen and act.
Next month, SIA will be launching ClimateUnited, a platform to unite the winter outdoor industry around meaningful climate action – making a collective, industry-wide statement and providing a proven roadmap for every brand large or small, to lead on climate. And in doing so, we’ll unite and seize the opportunity we have to build a healthier, more equitable, stronger and more resilient industry, and leave a snowy future for our kids.
The stakes are too high for anything less. I hope you’ll join us.
Snowsports Industries America