Back in 1997, Washington state environmental researcher John Ryan called British Columbians "world-class polluters, generating their own body weight in greenhouse gases every day".
In an interview with the Georgia Straight at the time, the author of Over Our Heads: A Local Look At Global Climate, spelled out some dreadful consequences for the region if emissions weren't curtailed.
This included worse winter floods as a result of more rain and less snow. He predicted more frequent forest fires because snowpacks would melt earlier. There would also be lower river flows, which would reduce power generation and the availability of water for irrigation.
Ryan also mused that ski resorts could be bankrupted by a lack of snow.
Two years later, a Seattle-based group called Climate Solutions issued a report outlining some horrible scenarios for this region leading up to 2040, which it characterized as "scientifically credible scenarios".
Among them were more frequent flooding and mudslides and snowpacks shrinking by half, which would shorten ski seasons. The greatest danger, according to this report, was a disrupted water cycle, which would lead to more rain and less snow.
“Most ski areas are located near current snowlines where snowpack losses are expected to be highest,” author Patrick Mazzo wrote. “Among the most vulnerable are resorts on Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, on Vancouver’s north shore in British Columbia, and in Oregon’s Blue Mountains.”
This week, Hemlock Resort announced that it has shut down for the remainder of this year's ski and snowboard season.
The ski hill, which is a two-hour drive from Vancouver, has eight centimetres at its base and zero centimetres of new snow over the past seven days.
Meanwhile, Cypress Mountain is hoping to have snow at its upper elevations from a "significant storm moving in over the next few days".
The Nordic Area—including cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and the tube park—are closed until the West Vancouver Mountain receives more snow. Cypress has had five centimetres of snow in the last seven days.
Another North Shore ski hill, Mount Seymour, has no runs open.
Its website states: "While Mt. Seymour waits for more snow, we will be on standby Monday to Friday and scheduled to be open Saturday, Sunday & Family Day with the Bear Bowl, Tobogganing and the Goldie Magic Carpet."
Grouse Mountain has announced that its 24 Hours of Winter event scheduled for this weekend has "regretfully been postponed due to unprecedented weather conditions".
Grouse Mountain's skyride and mountaintop skating pond are open, but everything else is on standby except for the sleigh ride, which is closed.
Last December, the world experienced its hottest average land and ocean temperatures in recorded history, according to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center.
The average temperature for last year was 0.69°C above the average for the entire 20th century, making 2014 the hottest year since records began being kept in 1880.
In the 1990s, I interviewed campaigners with several organizations—West Coast Environmental Law, the David Suzuki Foundation, Climate Solutions, Northwest Environment Watch, Greenpeace, and the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, to name a few—who were raising an early alarm to what might happen if the world didn't reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Nobody in positions of real authority took serious action at the time to address their concerns.
Now, it appears that employees of local ski hills are paying the price of those warnings being ignored.