The sad news that Hemlock Resort has given up any hope of opening for this ski season, and the seemingly endless string of “pineapple expresses,” are warnings of the kind of events we can expect as a consequence of climate change.
While it is true that any particular weather event cannot be ascribed to global warming, it is becoming clearer that human activity has caused the weather dice to become loaded in favour of extreme weather events and changing patterns.
We have done this by burning fossil fuels and changing the composition of our atmosphere.
At 400 ppm, CO2 the greenhouse effect is now stronger than it has been for millions of years. Even if we were able to turn off all fossil fuel burning tomorrow, global warming would continue until CO2 levels returned to a more typical 250-300 ppm which would take decades.
The most hard-core environmentalists recognize that an immediate shutdown of fossil fuel consumption is neither practical nor desirable, but they would be right to question why we continue to invest in expanding our fossil fuel infrastructure rather than building our renewable capacity.
With our understanding of the harm we are doing and the cost of adaptation to a changing climate, it seems irrational that we would invest in new sources of fossil fuels and the infrastructure needed so we can burn it.
Typewriter manufacturers in the early years of computers didn’t build more typewriter factories, they changed to products appropriate for the computer age or went out of business.
As the heirs to the Rockefeller fortune, built on Standard Oil, have been able to divest from fossil fuel, surely it is time for the fossil fuel corporations to change their business model and move into renewables.
If this were to happen maybe there would still be some hope for the climate, and Hemlock as a ski resort.