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The Future Of Snow And Skiing On Thursday's Access Utah

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In 2012, two skiers from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, noticed that snow was disappearing from the western U.S. and wondered how long it would be before it affected the mountains in their backyard. They called Porter Fox, a longtime Powder magazine editor and writer, and asked if he was interested in writing a book about climate change and snow.

In the resulting book, ”DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow” Fox notes that in the last 45 years, 1 million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Rocky Mountain spring snowpack is down by 20%, and Europe has lost half of its glacial ice. Winter warming in the U.S. has tripled since 1970, and warming in the European Alps is now three times the global average. By mid-century, climatologists predict that more than half of the Northeast's 103 ski resorts will have to close due to rising temperatures. Two-thirds of Europe's ski resorts will likely no longer be snow-reliable in 50-70 years. The Western U.S. could lose anywhere from 25-100% of its snowpack by 2100, effectively ending skiing at resorts like Park City and relegating ski operations at Aspen to the top quarter of the mountain. And that's just the beginning...

Following a campaign led by the National Ski Area Association Fox says people asked him, “Why save skiing when there are more pressing consequences of climate change to worry about?” The answer, he says, is this is not about skiing. It is about snow, a vital component of earth’s climate system and water cycle. When it disappears, what follows is a dangerous chain reaction of catastrophes like forest fires, drought, mountain pine beetle infestation, degraded river habitat, loss of hydroelectric power, dried-up aquifers and shifting weather patterns. And the 5-11 degrees Fahrenheit of additional warming predicted by 2100 will not only end skiing and winter as we know it, it will affect more than 1 billion people downstream of the mountains (70 million in the western United States) who depend on snowmelt for their water supply. As it turns out, efforts to save snow and ice might end up saving the world.

Porter Fox will be speaking on the future of snow during the USU Common Hour on November 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the TSC Auditorium. A book signing will follow. The presentation is sponsored by the USU Sustainability Council, Quinney College of Natural Resources, Center of Civic Engagement and Service Learning, and the Department of Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. The presentation is a part of Science Week at Utah State University.

Mr. Fox will speak at a community presentation also November 5 from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church Brunner Hall (200 West Center Street in Logan). Intermountain Bioneers is sponsoring this event.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Porter Fox was born in New York and raised on the coast of Maine. He lives, writes, teaches and edits the literary travel writing journal, Nowhere, (nowheremag.com) in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated with an MFA in fiction from The New School in 2004. His fiction, essays and nonfiction have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Powder, Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Salon.com, Narrative, The Literary Review, Northwest Review, Third Coast and Conjunctions, among others. He has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, recognized by Best American Essays, nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and was a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize. He recently completed his first collection of short stories and is working on a travel narrative set on the coast of Maine and an anthology of short fiction with poet, Larry Fagin. He has edited and written screenplays for Roger Corman and is a member of the Miss Rockaway Armada and Swimming Cities art collectives. He collaborated on installations on the Mississippi and Hudson Rivers, Venice Biennale (2009), Mass MoCA (2008), New York City's Anonymous Gallery (2009) and the Ganges River (2011).

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.