Originally Posted by JoeUT
Sorry, probably more than you cared about, but I spent a couple hours looking at this yesterday.
No, not more than I cared about actually-- I find this interesting (this has nothing to do with anything I'm working on, but I happen to be a journalist who writes about science, travel, culture, and the environment... so it's right up my alley). I mean, I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that many (the majority?) of skiers have some sort of outdoors-connection (in a greater sense than the fact that our sport takes place there)-- cares about the environment, or worries about climate change, or enjoys being in nature as unspoiled as possible. But at the same time, everything I read says that ski operations have a significant negative impact on environment, from carbon output to local environmental issues associated with development and land management.
It's difficult to square these competing ideas, at times.
Anyway, there are few issues discussed here that garner broad interest from me. It's always difficult to provide a single-axis score for something so vague/potentially meaningless as "green" (actually, I was a guest on NPR a few years ago for my media criticism of the vagueness of the term "green-collar" jobs.). But one would hope that a breakdown would include some kind of per-skier measures, whether that's carbon per skier-hour, or energy use, or density of development vs number of folks using that infrastructure.
Even that, though, raises questions like you raised: Is it better (from an environmental standpoint) to have a very dense, very crowded ski area catering to a high number of patrons-- or five smaller, more spread out ski areas? Or perhaps there are multiple thresholds-- below a certain density, the impact on local wildlife is minimal, say, but once you go over that density of infrastructure, perhaps it becomes more advantages to go all the way to the highest possible density and largest size?
I guess an analogue is cities vs urban vs rural development, where I think you'd see similar parallels. Take NYC: Living there is considered, from a carbon production perspective, incredibly efficient (far better, per capita, than rural/urban living). Also, given the high density, you make a trade-off that includes near obliteration of wildlife/nature in a small area-- potentially sparing a much larger area when you consider what that same number of people would consumer if spread out in urban or even rural communities.
Now that... is probably more than YOU were interested in hearing. I'm just intrigued by all this (and I may have just injured myself, so I've got too much time staring at my skis and sitting at home... thinking about stuff is better than suffering knowing how f#@$$ epic the dumping is right now in Tyrol...).