Ski Resorts Should Ban Climate Deniers

The snow is falling in the mountains, and that means ski season. With the start of of this new season, I think ski should start implementing entrance exams.

I’m not talking about anything complicated or time consuming, just two simple questions when you walk up to the ticket window.  One, Do you believe in climate change? Two, have you ever voted for a politician who doesn’t believe in climate change?

A wrong answer to the first question and you should be turned away on the spot. If you don’t believe in climate change, you don’t get to ski. It’s that simple.

If you answer the second question wrong – by say, believing in climate change but voting for Donald Trump – you can still get a lift pass, but at double the price. Think of it as a kind of ‘price on pollution’ (like a carbon tax) but designed reduce the pollution that climate denying politicians can wreck on politics. Just add a line or two that “denying the existence of climate change will result in the loss of lift pass privileges” to that blurb in size four font on the back of a lift ticket and you’re set. I mean, since those disclaimers basically give a resort dictatorial powers anyways, it can’t be that hard.

And, skiing could be just the beginning. We could double the price of snowshoes in electoral districts represented by a climate denier, put a 50% tax on all snowmobile purchases unless the buyer affirms their belief that humans are causing average global temperatures to rise and implement a sweeping policy that bans the sale of winter tires to anyone who argues that cold weather and snow disprove the existence of climate change.

Why do all this? Because electing politicians who don’t believe in climate change is, at this point, fucking ridiculous. It's particularly fucking ridiculous for people who ski or snowboard to vote for politicians who deny climate change, since both of those activities literally depend on winter.

And, while the impact of climate change on winter outdoor recreation is low on a list that includes wildfires, floods, drought, mass displacement and loss of life, it is one impact that I, and people like me, actually will feel in our lifetime. Having the luxury to play outside also means that we often have the ability to avoid the kinds of climate impacts that would threaten to disrupt or derail our daily lives. This ability to escape impact is part of why there has been an aversion to politics among not only skiers and snowboarders, but also climbers, hikers and the outdoor community as whole. But, when climate change is chipping away at the iconic rock walls of Yosemite National Park, shortening the lifespan of glaciers from generations to decades, and threatening to cut the ski season in parts of North America in half, we can’t afford to avoid the politics of going outside any longer.

Though I understand the reluctance to pollute pristine places with the toxic partisanship of modern politics, these politics, be it they related to climate change or land use, have an impact on us. And, if we continue to avoid politics, the risks are higher than we may know. We need to get political because the places we love are at risk, and when we accept that, it opens the door to understand that our fights are a reflection, albeit a more superficial one, of the fights for survival being waged by so many to protect the places that they not only love, but depend on to live.

Maybe a “deny climate change, don’t ski” policy is a bit far fetched, but the sentiment is exactly the kind of thing we need, because if ‘wilderness truly is a necessity of your human spirit’, it’s incumbent on you to defend it. In fact, if you climb, ski, hike or just like taking selfies in the woods and you support politicians who attack wild places and deny climate change, it’s time to retire your climbing gear, hang up your Gore-Tex and put your skis on Craigslist. Because, even if my dream of ski resort entrance exams never comes true, if we don’t change course, there’s still a decent chance you wont be needing that gear for that much longer.


Cameron Fenton