Let’s imagine for a second that we’re starting from scratch, completely rebuilding society and have all the modern energy systems to choose from. Would you for a second consider fossil fuels? Of course not, it’s an utterly ludicrous proposal that wouldn’t even get in the door for a commercial pitch; ‘yes what we do is mine or drill into the earth at great expense to harvest toxic materials that we then burn to create energy. Pollution? Yes, the burning does release harmful chemicals into the air, but they will only kill around 7 million people a year…’
Put that up against solar, wind, nuclear or hydro and you wouldn’t give it a second thought. Why pay vast sums to use something you can only burn once when you have multiple technologies available that, once you’ve built the infrastructure, is free and won’t kill millions of people with air pollution.
Yes, the technology is still developing, but just as we have seen with electric cars, the more money is invested, the faster the technology progresses. By doing this we can instantly begin to help salvage what’s left of the alpine environment we love and want to keep on visiting.
This is a huge issue that seems far too big for us as individuals to even begin to tackle. But we can make a difference. We live in a democracy and thus can call for change. We can also use our wallets. As consumers we have immense power to change the way companies do business; from ethical banks that refuse to fund fossil fuel ventures to renewable energy suppliers and supermarkets that commit to reducing plastic. As skiers and snowboarders, we can choose brands like Picture Organic Clothing and Patagonia that are committed to protecting the environment; and visit resorts that do the same, like Laax, with its ‘Greenstyle’ pledge or Pitzal and its glacial solar array.
I’ve worked with outdoor climate advocacy NGO, Protect Our Winters UK, for the last five years as they strive tirelessly to help people realise that these simple changes can collectively make a big difference. One area in which it was starting to focus its energy as the pandemic struck was in helping the European outdoor and adventure sports industry, including ski resorts, tidy up their act by launching the POW Pledge.