SNOWMASS VILLAGE - The ski industry should take a leadership role in the battle against climate change by enlisting its customers to pressure their representatives in Congress, a featured speaker told the audience at the Mountain Travel Symposium in Snowmass Village last week.
Erik Blachford, a venture partner who is credited for having a knack for "the next big thing," credited ski resorts such as Aspen Skiing Co. for taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse cases they produce. Those gases contribute to climate change.
But if ski resorts really want to make a difference in the debate over what humans should do to ease climate change, Blachford said they must engage in the legislative process. Ski resorts should bring the issue to the attention of their customers and harness their lobbying power, he said. Ski areas across the country are expected to log about 5 million skier visits this season.
"Fundamentally it's a problem that needs legislative action. There's no other way around it. It needs international legislative action," Blachford told an audience that included ski resort executives. An estimated 1,200 people attended the conference over the course of the week.
"People aren't connecting the dots," Blachford said. "You guys could do the world a great service by connecting the dots (by saying), 'If you love skiing, it doesn't take a lot.' Just tell your congressperson, 'Yeah, I love skiing, and I want to ski with my kids for a long time.'"
Skiers and snowboarders need to urge the representatives to support legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
"It's really as simple as that. I'm not going to say that everybody needs to put in microturbines. That's awesome, but what's really important is to get people to connect the dots," Blachford said.
Organizers of the Mountain Travel Symposium recruited Blachford as a speaker to offer an outsider's view on the ski industry and ski-travel industry marketing efforts and use of social media. He was a founding team member and a former CEO of Expedia, which helped revolutionize online travel bookings. The climate-change question was raised during a Q-and-A session by Christian Knapp, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of marketing.
Climate change is an important issue to Skico, Knapp said. It is trying to convince more of the ski industry to get involved.
"We can't do it alone. We need to mobilize," Knapp said.
Before providing his answer, Blachford noted he is the chairman of a carbon-trading company, so he is taking an active interest in battling climate change.
Skico is using its position as a high-profile company to try to draw interest to the climate issue. It joined such heavyweights as eBay, Nike, IKEA, L'Oreal, the North Face and the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team in signing a climate declaration that urges federal policy makers to take action. All told, 33 companies signed the declaration Wednesday.
More about that effort is available at climatedeclaration.us.