for National Geographic News
Skiers love white winters, but this year some of their favorite resorts are going "green."
Many ski areas nationwide are turning to wind power to reduce their environmental footprint.
Twenty-two resorts in seven states now use wind power credits to supply 100 percent of their electricity demands.
Together the areas purchase 305,074,498 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean electricity and keep about 372,383,234 pounds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas believed to be causing global warming, from entering the atmosphere.
The emissions-reduction effort is equivalent to planting almost 15 million trees or eliminating nearly 150,000 round-trip flights between New York and San Francisco.
It makes sense for the ski business to turn to cleaner sources of power, since it may be among the first industries to feel the heat from global warming.
The warm weather that is already cutting deeply into ski profits is projected to further threaten many traditional winter sports hotbeds.
And retreating glaciers and unreliable snowfall, particularly at lower altitudes, could force many resorts to close or relocate within decades. (Related: "Bears' Mountain Home to Host Next Winter Olympics' Skiiers" [March 15, 2006].)
"Absolutely, I think resorts recognize the impact that global warming could potentially have," said Troy Hawks, spokesperson for the National Ski Areas Association in Lakewood, Colorado.
"In recognizing that, they've taken an approach that begins with reducing their own impact on the environment through the purchase of renewable energy credits."
Wind and Snow
Today small operators as well as industry giants such as Aspen Skiing Company, Vail Resorts, and the American Skiing Company run wind-powered resorts.
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