12/21/2014

I'm not dreaming of a white Christmas

With 2014 being almost certainly the hottest year on record, ski resorts are having to think of ways to keep clients happy.


The very many flights bringing skiers to Geneva started in early December and will continue for three months. However, most ardent skiers will be greatly disappointed to find the worst Christmas skiing conditions for many years. Many of the lower ski resorts are not open at all, whilst even a lot of the higher ones have a limited number of lifts and ski runs open: many have only opened just before Christmas. It might also be good to use hired skis, just in case the minimal snow cover causes damage to the skis.

A headline in the Sunday Times of today, December 20 2014, says the following :-

Bare Alpine slopes mean skiers should guard against ending up high and dry.

The suggestion in the article is that skiers should have a travel insurance which includes cover for lack of snow, and should read the small print quite carefully.

As was explained in the television news a few days ago, 2014 is almost certain to be the warmest year on record world-wide, with catastrophic floods in some places and unbroken droughts in others. All of this matches the forecasts of the effects of the warming, in particular the rise in ocean temperatures.

On a more regional level, the forecast for the period up until Christmas is of blue skies and unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures well above zero at 2000 metres (spring ski conditions!). Down at lake (Geneva) level there were pictures of blossoming flowering cherry trees in Neuchatel, at least six weeks ahead of normal.

There are numerous articles that consider that aviation is becoming a major factor in global warming. One particular environmental organisation states that

"Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity."

This impact is set to keep growing, since the passenger air traffic continues to grow apace, be it Geneva, Switzerland, Europe or the world. Geneva has just proudly announced that it has gone past 15 million passengers this year.

One small hopeful note is that, at least for skiers from England, there is now the possibility of getting from London to Geneva by high speed rail, with a single change of train in Lille. However, the built-in tax advantages that the airline industry continues to have will make this only a minor overall change.

And if, in a few years, European winters without snow become more frequent, no doubt the airlines will be offering low-cost flights to places further afield and higher. Anyone for the Rockies?

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