French ski resort is using helicopters to move snow

“No justification can be possible for this nonsense.”

When it comes to carbon emissions, there’s almost nothing worse than a helicopter on a CO2 per km traveled basis; it’s five times as high as a car. And of course, CO2 is what’s causing it to get warmer out there.

So it seems somewhat contradictory that, at the Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort in the French Pyrenees, they are using a helicopter to transport 50 tonnes of snow to cover the bunny hills and keep the resort open. Because jobs are more important than a little carbon, right? According to Hervé Pounau, the director of the local council, quoted in the Guardian:

Keeping the station open safeguarded 50 to 80 jobs, including lift operators, ski school teachers, childminders, ski equipment rental shop staff and restaurant owners, he added. “We’re not going to cover the entire ski station in snow, but without it we would have had to close a huge part of the ski domain, and it’s during the holidays that we have the most activity for beginners and the ski schools,” Pounau said.

© Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

He also admits that it’s not very ecological, but that “it’s really exceptional and we won’t be doing it again. This time we didn’t have a choice.”

As if this won’t likely happen again, as the climate continues to warm. Green Party types complain that this is nuts.

Instead of adapting to global warming we’re going to end up with a double problem: something that costs a lot of energy, that contributes heavily to global warming and that in addition is only for an elite group of people who can afford it. It is the world upside down.

A lot of people are outraged, including a former city councillor who has an interesting analogy: “No justification can be possible for this nonsense. ​At the time of global warming, some people empty their boat with a spoon as a tsunami approaches!”

This is a problem at ski resorts everywhere; Vail Resorts has been trying to go Net Zero by 2030 and is running its new high efficiency snow guns on wind power, but you can’t make snow when it’s 50°F out. According to research published in Geophysical Research Letters, the amount of snow mass in the USA had dropped 41 percent since 1980 and the snow season has shrunk by 34 days.

My last snowboard trip, 2016My last snowboard trip, 2016/ Emma Alter/CC BY 2.0

I used to love my snowboard, but came to realize that driving two hours to get electrically hauled up a hill to fly down a clearcut trail on artificial snow is not exactly TreeHugger correct. The last year I bought a season’s pass, the snow was so bad that I only used it once in horrible conditions, fell on the ice and hurt my knee; I have not used it since.

Last winter I bought cross-country skis that I could use in the nearby ravines; I have used them only once this year as there has been almost no snow. Winters as we have known them are disappearing, and helicopters won’t help.

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