Let's not be snow-blind to climate change

Let's not be snow-blind to climate change

Snow has fallen across parts of regional Australia, and for anyone who enjoys outdoor winter sports, that can only be good news.

Perisher ski resort in NSW received upwards of 15cm of snow last week, adding to the 75cm that fell the week before.

Snow also settled in the Blue Mountains and the Central Tablelands.

However, what is most surprising, and more significant, is that snow has fallen in Queensland for the first time in four years.

The snowfall season began early this year in May, on the back of Australia recording its warmest start to a year.

As someone whose life has revolved around mountains and with extensive experience in the snow and outdoor sports community, I see that the biggest impact of climate change has been erratic and unpredictable weather, with extremes becoming the norm.

Snow in Queensland is an extraordinary event and should sound alarm bells.

While this snowfall is a great start for the season, it is unknown what the rest of the season holds, and the long-range forecast is tipping a drier than usual winter.

Last season, we saw great snow-bearing weather systems multiple times, only to have warm and humid conditions follow.

It made skiing and riding heavy snow difficult and was a challenge for resorts trying to manage guests and expectations of what fresh snow should be.

The uncertainty of unpredictable weather patterns makes it precarious when you are running a snow industry business and trying to predict guest numbers or order products.

But don't just take it from me.

Recently, US Olympic gold medal winning skier, David Wise, gave a compelling insight.

"As a competitive skier I've watched over my 10-year career, and seen winters become more and more volatile.

"I've seen glaciers I visit year in and year out get smaller and smaller. We like to say in the action sports community we are the canaries in the mine.

"We are the ones who see the effects of climate change first hand," Wise said.

Like Wise, we must speak up about the changes we experience and the need to live more sustainably.

However, changes on a personal level aren't enough. It requires law makers to drive down carbon emissions by leading the switch to renewable energy.

It's not just positive in terms of climate, it's positive in terms of economics. If we don't, the pleasure we experience due to this week's snowfall may be very short-lived.

Josh Fletcher is the lead advocate for Protect Our Winters Australia