WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 13, 2019) – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, participated in a hearing titled, “The Fight to Save Winter: Pro Athletes for Climate Action.” The committee heard from professional winter athletes about the impact the climate crisis is having on winter sports, jobs, and the tourism industry. Senator Heinrich met with a number of the witnesses and volunteers with Protect Our Winters (POW)? in his office following the hearing.
Senator Heinrich discussed the nexus between protecting public lands and growing the outdoor recreation economy, the impact of the climate crisis on the West, and the dire consequences of inaction. He also thanked the athletes for fighting for meaningful action and said their voices are key to tackling the crisis and powering us into a clean energy future.
VIDEO: Heinrich Addresses Impact of Climate Change on Outdoor Industry, Winter Sports
PHOTO: Senator Heinrich meets with professional athletes with Protect Our Winters (POW) visiting Capitol Hill to discuss the effects of the climate crisis on the winter sports industry
Snow sports tourism, which contributes $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy, will have to contend with shorter seasons and reduced snow cover. The industry is already feeling the impacts: the Fourth National Climate Assessment found, “Increasing air temperatures have substantially reduced the fraction of winter precipitation falling as snow, particularly over the western United States,” and recent research suggests the U.S. snow season has shortened by 34 days since the 1980s.
Roughly 20 million people participate in downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the United States annually. Climate change will reduce participation in those sports and thereby threaten the roughly 190,000 jobs and $7 billion in wages generated by the winter tourism industry.
Witnesses at the hearing included Mike Richter, President of Brightcore Energy and Hall of Fame goaltender for the New York Rangers; Jeremy Jones, Founder of Protect Our Winters and professional snowboarder; Caroline Gleich, professional ski mountaineer and adventurer; Tommy Caldwell, professional climber.