Marolt: Skiing efficiently at 1.5 gallons per day | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Skiing efficiently at 1.5 gallons per day

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic

Roger Marolt

The planet would probably be better off without skiing. If so, would we be better off then? If the answer is too obvious, we can simply ignore the question. That's easy enough.

The facts are the stumbling block. According to Aspen Skiing Co.'s own environmental assessment, their operations released 23,035 tons of carbon into our atmosphere in 2017, a significant drop from previous years. Yet, for perspective, that's about what 4,500 automobiles will produce in a year's worth of driving. It's about what it takes to run 2,200 houses for 12 months. I don't think this load of carbon includes that from the thousands of skiers and area employees getting to and from the slopes everyday.

But, skiing is the reason we exist here. It provides a reliable livelihood. Besides, skiing is good for the soul. Recharging our outlook through such invigorating recreation makes us better people. We don't need to debate whether or not this is true. How are you going to prove it? Let's go with our gut – we are better because of skiing.

So, now we have turned this topic in the direction we wanted to steer it. If we are better people because of skiing, isn't the world better off because of it?

Let's get rid of golf instead! That sport is environmentally awful! It's no fun. It promotes foul language. If they want to make the argument that the world is better off because of golf, let them try. Ha! Everyone knows golf is only an excuse to cut out of work early and shirk household responsibilities on the weekends. Maybe I'm the only one who sees it this way, but I doubt it. Get rid of golf!

OK, OK, I didn't mean to make golfers angry. We can keep golf, even if it doesn't make any sense. You can't put a price tag on peace, especially local peace.

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And that's a long run around the barn. It's good to be back where we started; the status quo and all that. But, I feel like we really do have to do something about this climate change. … I know! Change begins elsewhere!

It must be other countries that are the problem. Oh, I understand that the good 'ol U.S.A. uses more energy per capita than any other nation, but we can't ignore the fact that we burn our fuel far more efficiently than most others.

Alright, I admit that might be an exaggeration. Maybe there are advanced nations that are more energy efficient than we are, but we are in the top 20, anyway. The point is that there are a lot of developing nations that burn oil and coal the way we did in the 1910s. We know from experience how bad that was for the planet. Now we have to make sure those nations don't repeat our mistakes. And, yes, this of course means that some parts of the world will have to slow down their progress towards industrialization, but they have to do it, for all of us; especially if we want to save skiing and golf.

Oh, man. That doesn't sound too good when I reread it out loud. It's not fair to stop third-world countries from developing just because it's environmentally the right thing to do. Wow, that doesn't sound any better. Let's just say they should have the same opportunities for creating a better quality of life as we had. We did our damage to the earth, they should be able to do theirs.

This makes my head hurt. The more I talk, the less sense it makes. Maybe it's the wrong approach to try to make other people behave environmentally better so that we can keep skiing. Instead, what if we have to earn our turns by giving up some other energy consumptive indulgences for every day we ski?

If 23,035 tons of carbon were produced by our ski area operations for the benefit of 1.5-million skier days on the slopes in 2017, that means every day of skiing here produced 31 pounds of carbon per skier. That's about the equivalent of 1.5 gallons of gasoline burned. This means that a day of skiing in Aspen-Snowmass is about as environmentally damaging as driving 40 miles in your car.

Is it fair, then, that we should try reducing our driving by 40 miles for each day we ski? Never mind. I'm sorry I brought that up. It's not a fair ask since skiing is so much more fun than driving.

My name is Roger and I am addicted to ruining the environment … err, skiing. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.

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