I had just finished reading a headline in the May 15 New York Times online, “Scientists Back Off Theory of a Colder Europe in a Warming World,” when I picked High Country News out of my mailbox and read the column about “climate-change denial” written by the director of environmental affairs for Aspen Ski Company (HCN, 5/14/07).
According to the scientists in the NYT article, the science of climate change is not settled. Yet Schendler claims that the science is so certain that only a person with a personality defect could question it. He uses an ad hominem attack on so-called skeptics of global warming by comparing them to ignorant medieval prelates and racists but did not write a word to refute any of their arguments.
Aspen Ski Company, for which Schendler works, earns its living as a company by attracting tens of thousands of customers who travel from around the world to stay in well-heated hotel rooms in the middle of a Rocky Mountain winter. This uses a lot of fossil fuels and produces a lot of CO2. These customers then pay Aspen Ski Company to carry them up mountains using electrically powered heavy machinery so they can ski down on snow that is groomed by diesel-consuming, CO2-spewing, heavy tractors. No matter how many so-called green actions the company takes, it will only ameliorate a small part of its huge carbon footprint. The ski company’s own Web site brags about having replaced 30 percent of 90 two-stroke snowmobiles since 2004. Thus this multimillion dollar corporation isn’t even environmentally committed enough to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to get rid of the remaining 63 or so machines that are still using some of the dirtiest internal combustion engines that exist.
Schendler’s column is a classic case of seeing the mote in someone’s else’s eye while ignoring the beam in his employer’s. If Schendler is right about global warming and its cause and if Aspen Ski Company is truly serious about fighting global warming, the most responsible, and least hypocritical, thing for it to do is close down.
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