Expository Essay Example on Climate Change and Winter Tourism

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Vanderbilt University
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There has been a significant change in regional and global climate patterns since the onset of the 20th century due to amplified levels of GHGs. It is now clear that climate change is taking a toll on earth hence presenting a great danger to all life forms relying on its resources for survival. Since then, there has been an upsurge of the number of global awareness campaigns in response to the terrific pace at which climate change and global warming are impacting on the environment, peoples health and economic activities. Climate change has economic, social and environmental impacts. One of the sectors that suffers the most from climate change is tourism industry since the sector relies on atmospheric conditions which are among leading tourist attraction resources. Furthermore, tourism is one of the vital elements of economies of many nations and the worldwide economy, the chief funding instrument of the MDGs. Swiss economy, for instance, relies heavily on winter tourism.

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However, climate change are threatening the existence of winter tourism due to high temperatures that melt snow. In the mid-1990s, 85% of the ski areas in Switzerland were snow-reliable, but presently, the percentage of snow-reliable areas is 63% due to an estimated rise of atmospheric temperatures by 20 Celcius. Climate change causes an increase in sea levels leading to the destruction of tourism infrastructure, increase in temperatures which reduce the lengths of winter seasons and variations in biodiversity which impacts negatively on eco-tourism. The concept of climate change is of particular interest to tourism and hospitality industry because the sector is among the principal contributors of GHGs with the scientists projecting emissions from the sector to rise by 130% in 2035 (Koenig & Abegg, 2010). Since tourism industry is directly and indirectly exposed to the effects of climate change, there is a need for exploration and research to recommend appropriate measures for reducing the menace.

Climate Change

As an issue that is attracting global attention, there are numerous studies conducted to explore the theme of climate change. The significant contributors to the climate change literature are scientific communities, environment and climate-related institutions such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Environmental Protection Agency, and different scholars. Most of the authors agree with the definition of climate change as significant variations in weather patterns and other affiliated changes in ice sheets, land surfaces, oceans and atmospheric conditions (Steiger, 2010; Damm, Koberl, & Prettenthaler, 2012). Other scholars such as Elsasser and Messerli (2012) use the concepts of global warming and climate change interchangeably to refer to an upswing in the average atmospheric temperature. Scientific communities such as NASA define the concept of climate change in statistical perspective saying that it represents the variations in the climate systems analytical elements like extremes, variability, and averages of climatic conditions for as long as 30 years (NASA, 2016).

However, the significant difference in previous literature is the extent to which authors concentrate on the causes of climate change. Some authors such as Duglio and Beltramo (2016) attribute the occurrence of climate change largely to human activities. Human activities such as industrialization, fossil fuel burning, and poor farming practices contribute to aerosols, GHGs, and carbon dioxide gas. Putz, et al. (2011) attest that from the onset of the industrial period in the 1750s, the influence of the human activities on climate became the leading contributor to global warming. Damm, Koberl, and Prettenthaler (2012) suggest that 70% of GHGs accrue from human activities which alter the thermal and solar radiation. As a result of the aerosols and GHGs from human activities altering the properties and composition of atmospheric abundance, it leads to global warming. On the other hand, sources from scientific communities such as NASA and EPA attribute the occurrence of climate change to natural events (NASA, 2016). While they do not completely out-shadow the role of human influences, attention is accorded to natural progressions over the years such as climate systems internal variability, volcanic eruptions and Suns radiations (POW, 2015). IPCC organization (2016) develops a scientific consensus to support the fact that climate change occurs primarily due to human activities which increase the levels of GHGs and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming occurs as a result of the trapped gasses that increase heat concentrations in the air.

According to IPCC (2016), there is a compelling evidence showing that climate changes are affecting the Earth. Scientific research through the application of technologically advanced earth-orbiting satellites shows that our planet is slowly succumbing to the impacts of global warming. For instance, NASA (2016) report shows that 2016 registered the highest global temperature index of 0.99 0 C since 1884. Other bodies of data from previous research indicate the signs of disastrous changes in climate. NASA (2016) flew special tools for determining the capacity of the trapped heat and infrared energy to affect the atmosphere, and the results of the research showed that GHGs at increased levels have the capability of warming the Earth. Climate change has diverse effects on the ecosystems such as severe weather conditions and events, wildfires, rise in the levels of water bodies and encroachment of droughts and desert-like conditions (Duglio & Beltramo, 2016). One of the visible impacts of climate change is fluctuations in climatic conditions such as the alteration in lengths of summer and winter periods. In a study conducted by Steiger (2010) in Austrias high-altitude regions, increase temperature, and solar radiation leads to melting of ice and snow, violent storms, flooding and intense summer heats.

Scientific evidence for the excessive drying of ice and snow sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is NASA (2016) report that shows the sea levels globally has risen since the previous decade by 6.7 inches. Global warming reduces the lengths of the winter seasons and trigger snow scarcity which consequently affect the winter tourism sector. According to Koenig and Abegg (2010), the alterations of reliability and availability of natural snow impacts on winter tourism such that the workers in ski areas encounter difficulties in the technical production of snow to enhance continuation of ski sporting. Recent studies such as the once conducted by Damm, Koberl, and Prettenthaler (2012) has its focus on the analysis of the economic impacts of producing snow using technical means. In an attempt to avert the negative consequences of climate change, snow production is one of the latest adaptation strategies presented in many research studies. However, various studies have challenged the economic and environmental viability of the artificial production of snow to sustain ski sports and entire winter tourism. For example, IPCC (2016) report proposes concentration of other mitigation and adaptation tactics to climate change instead of investing on artificial snow. In econometric analysis study by Pickering and Buckley (2010) in Australian resorts, the artificial production of snow to support winter sports and tourism has resulted in a considerable increase in ticket prices for ski sports and related events which reduce the number of tourists. Therefore, it calls for exploration of the primary contributors to global warming and climate change to comprehend measure for reducing their contribution through adaptive and mitigation strategies (Duglio & Beltramo, 2016). Furthermore, global warming reduces water resources which are closely tied to tourism components such as ecosystems and biodiversity, human health and well-being, and food supply.

Winter Tourism

Tourism is an act of moving or traveling to new places for relaxation or business purposes. Winter tourism, on the other hand, is a type of tourism that occur during the winter period, between late December and April, where people travel to areas where cold weather promote exciting activities such as skiing and snow-shoeing and other related sports. One of the countries that benefit the most from winter tourism is Switzerland due to location and Mediterranean climate what make it a favorable tourism spot during the winter as landscapes and the Alpine climate draw a huge number of visitors (Putz, et al., 2011). The major tourists attraction activities include winter sports such as mountaineering, snowshoe trekking, and skiing. The Swiss government has been keen on maintaining the reputation as the desirable winter destination which by 2011 alone was already accounting for approximately 3% of Switzerlands GDP (Koenig & Abegg, 2010). At the heart of Swiss Alps are Lake Geneva, Luzern and Bern whose sceneries contribute to the Swiss famous tourism attraction sites from serene lakes, steep valleys, and high peaks that glaciers and snow fill during winter are hence facilitating world-class winter activities. In a research conducted by Elsasser and Messerli (2012) at snowmobiling and ski resorts in Braunwald, Scuol, and Davos region in Swiss Alps that are the leading tourist's sites, there were approximately 23 million visitors who took part in sporting activities during their winter stay between 2007 and 2010. An implication of the research is that winter tourism in Switzerland has significant economic value as the activities associated with winter leisure generate revenues through visitors spending in ski sporting events and resorts (Koenig & Abegg, 2010).

However, the success of winter tourism in Swiss Alps is dependent heavily on the snow which is the reason behind the universal concept of snow-dependent summers (Laternser & Schneebeli, 2003). In the recent past, Swiss Alps has been experiencing shorter, and warmer winters and the attribute has affected winter tourism significantly. According to Steiger (2010) winter tourism and sports, sectors are heavily reliant on the steady, substantial and predictable snowfall. As a proof that snow reliability is affecting the Swiss winter tourism industry, the government has, in the recent past, invested heavily on the technical making of snow as a measure to avert the reduction in snow, ice, and glaciers due to increasing atmospheric temperatures. Elsasser and Messerli (2012) in their study discovered that in future, Swiss Alps region would not satisfy the principle of the 100-day reliability of snow. The rule states that for the quantity of natural snow to be reliable, it should rise by 30 cm which is the minimum favorable condition to serve skiing and snow sports activities. Furthermore, in regions such as Braunwald, Scuol and Davos are continuously adopting technical strategies of making snow to sustain tourism activities and serve as insurance for the unreliable presence of natural snow. A similar study on the US winter tourism by the Protect Our Winters (POW) in 2015 details historical variations in winter seasons and adverse changes in the winter tourists statistics hence revealing the uncertainty in the future of winter tourism (POW, 2015). Th...

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