Professional Winter Athletes to Testify on Climate Change Impacts

September 4, 2019, 12:27 PM HST · Updated September 4, 12:27 PM
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A Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis will convene for a hearing on Thursday in which professional athletes will testify on how climate change is impacting winter sports and outdoor recreation.

Testimony will also be shared on impacts to jobs and threats to the tourism industry.

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi, who serves as the chair of the committee said, “Climate change hurts our communities, our industries, and even our way of life. No one is spared.  I look forward to hearing from professional athletes from across the country who are feeling the impacts of climate change and are ready to take action.”

According to information provided by Sen. Schatz, snow sports tourism contributes $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy.  There’s also a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that suggests the U.S. snow season has shortened by 34 days since the 1980s.

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According to Sen. Schatz, the Fourth National Climate Assessment found, “Increasing air temperatures have substantially reduced the fraction of winter precipitation falling as snow, particularly over the western United States.”

“The Fight to Save Winter: Pro Athletes for Climate Action” hearing takes place on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 11:30 a.m. ET.  Organizers say it will help to address industry impacts of contending with shorter seasons and reduced snow cover.

Roughly 20 million people participate in downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the United States annually, according to information provided by Sen. Schatz. “Climate change will reduce participation in those sports and thereby threaten the roughly 190,000 jobs and $7 billion in wages generated by the winter tourism industry,” according to information released by Sen. Schatz’s office.

In addition to Schatz, members of the committee include U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

Witnesses include: Mike Richter, President of Brightcore Energy; Hall of Fame goaltender for the New York Rangers; Jeremy Jones, Founder of Protect Our Winters; professional snowboarder; Caroline Gleich, Professional ski mountaineer and adventurer; and Tommy Caldwell, Professional climber.

The hearing is open to the public. Witness testimony and a live video of the hearing will be available online.

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