Vermont Law hosted a panel discussion about how climate change continues to jeopardize the winter sports industry both globally and in New England. The symposium on “Brown Slopes, Bare Trails” included a climate scientist as well as ski operators and snowmakers from New England. The negative economic impact of climate change on winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor recreation that depend on snow has become an industry-wide concern.

In light of the opening day celebrations in Sochi, it is interesting to note that according to a report published this month, only 11 of the past 19 Olympic host cities will be “climate reliable” by mid-century, and Sochi will not be an option by 2050 (“The Future of the Winter Olympics in a Warmer World,” University of Waterloo, Management Center Innsbruck, and Interdisciplinary Centre).

Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report detailing “radically divergent weather patterns” and how “unpredictability and lack of snow can translate into a precipitous fall in revenue, an early economic indicator of what climate change looks like.” This is grim news for many U.S. states where winter tourism is big business, threatening an estimated $12.2 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

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