With ski resorts from Scotland to Scandinavia and down to Italy once again reporting great snow conditions this winter I thought it might be worth taking a little look back at some predictions for the ski industry, as reported by the BBC.
5 November 1998:
As warm weather threatens to close some 200 Swiss ski resorts, British and Swiss scientists have begun a joint study to examine the impact of global warming on the Alps.
Their inquiry follows some unusually warm winter weather that has left many skiing resorts without fresh snow for weeks.
14 November 1998:
Some popular Italian ski resorts could be without snow by 2008 if winter temperatures continue to rise at their present rate, according to European scientists.
(From latest Ski Club of GB snow report, 31 December 2009: “Italy has some of the best conditions in the Alps this week. Lots of fresh snow has fallen in many places and impressive snow bases mean even where the snow hasn’t fallen there is still good skiing”)
17 November 2001:
Global warming may hit skiing
By the BBC’s James Cove, in the Swiss Alps.
Scientists are warning that global warming is melting Alpine glaciers at an unprecedented rate.
They claim that in 15 years time, many low level ski resorts could have no snow at all.
28 November 2003:
The closure of Glencoe ski resort has come as a blow to the winter tourism industry in Scotland…
The theory that global warming could be to blame for the difficulties at Glencoe is favoured by Professor Adam Watson from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
He said: “With temperatures rising at the speed they are, within 20 years, skiing in Scotland could be finished.”
(Ski Club of GB snow report 31 December 2009 – “Glencoe (30/50cm) is in superb shape thanks to the recent wintry weather that has brought fresh snow to all of our featured Scottish resorts.”)
Oddly enough, no mention of “global warming” or “climate change” in this report from 24 January 2005:
Alpine resorts hit by snow chaos
By James Cove
Huge snowstorms have hit the Alps over the past week, causing massive disruption and a number of deaths.
But even fresh snowfall couldn’t prevent the inevitable references cropping up again the following winter. 17 December 2005:
Relief as snow hits ski resorts
By James Cove
With a week to go until Christmas, ski resorts are breathing a collective sigh of relief as snow finally falls across many parts of the Alps.
However, low level resorts face a bleak future with scientists increasingly concerned about global warming.
And the winter after that. 11 November 2006:
James Cove, BBC News
Climate change has had a significant impact on the multi-million pound ski industry, and it is now becoming increasingly reliant on man-made snow pumped out on to the slops by snow cannons
13 December 2006:
Global warming could make some Alpine ski resorts unviable within decades, a study has warned.
17 December 2006:
James Cove reports from the Alps
Ski resorts across the European Alps are becoming increasingly worried as current bad snow conditions threaten the all important Christmas holiday period…
Many believe global warming is to blame for the lack of snow.
Two months later Mr Cove appeared to suffer a sudden bout of amnesia. 18 February 2007:
Fresh snow boosts Alpine ski industry
By James Cove
Some ski resorts in the Alps have had up to a metre of fresh snow which they now hope will signal an end to one of the poorest winters in recent years…
The snow has come at an ideal time with half-term holidays across Europe. The European ski industry hopes it will help salvage its tarnished image – some people are beginning to think of the Alps as having a problem with snow. [Where could they be getting that idea from? DB.]
Bad press, bad for business
“All the stories in the press earlier this winter about the poor snowfalls did damage to the ski industry as there is now a widespread perception there is no snow,” said Toby Mallock, the commercial director of the Verbier ski school, European Snowsport.
“Of course the conditions were bad in many resorts at the beginning of the season, but they are not now.”
There are many myths and misconceptions prompted by concerns about global warming and the effect it may have on the ski industry.
“It’s a little reported fact that last winter in the Alps, it was actually the coldest for over two decades. Everyone thinks the Alps are just getting warmer and warmer,” said Olivier Roduit, a Swiss mountain guide.
This Christmas, wide sections of the media reported on the poor snow conditions in the Alps, blaming it on high temperatures [Once again, who could that have been? DB]. Not true.
It was well below zero in many resorts but it simply did not snow. The temperature had little to do with it.
But a few months later it was business as usual for the BBC’s man in the Alps. 12 August 2007:
Ski resorts seek new summer image
By James Cove
Alpine ski resorts are making a special effort to attract tourists this summer, amid fears about climate change and the impact of warmer temperatures on winter snow.
And he was at it again a year ago, dutifully trotting out the alarmist line. 3 January 2009:
A lack of snow caused by global warming could be threatening the future of many ski resorts, according to scientists.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned of the eventual disappearance of some low-lying mountain resorts.
James Cove reports from the Swiss Alps.
(Swiss resorts had a bumper 2008/9 season, as did those across Europe: “Conditions in the Alps and Pyrenees are as good as they have been for 25 years, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain.”)
So, if you’re going skiing this year at one of the resorts which “scientists” told us should have closed by now, spare a thought for James Cove and his BBC colleagues; the poor sods must be wondering where their next “Ski industry doomed by global warming” articles are going to come from.
Update 18.20pm. James Cove appears to have taken some time off from his BBC employment to set up his own website, PlanetSKI. From his base in Verbier, Switzerland, he blogged the following on the 3 December, 2009:
As we approach 2010 it seems worth asking how the noughties have been for snowfall?
An analysis of the facts shows that in Verbier the snow level has been pretty similar on average throughout the last decade. I have looked through the details of every year and every month and quite frankly there isn’t much difference. There was more snow on average at the beginning of the decade, but not that much more. At 73-years old Hubert Cretton is the resort’s oldest working mountain guide, and has been a high mountain guide for almost 50 years. “Sometimes we get good winters and sometimes we can get bad ones,” he observes. “Overall things really haven’t changed that much. The winter of 1962/63 saw huge levels of snowfall and then 1 year later we had a very poor winter and many resorts had to close early due to a lack of snow.”
I get the impression that James is a decent Cove who just wants to ski, and as such has spent a decade giving BBC editors what they wanted to hear so he can carry on with his favourite pastime. I might have done the same thing given the chance. Anyway, I wish him well with his new venture.