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Global warming puts skiers in dilemma
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While skiers are becoming more penny-pinching against the backdrop of international financial crisis, many have begun to criticize skiing resorts for threatening environment.

It is obvious that snow fall gets less, winter becomes shorter and temperature climbs higher.

"This is bad news for skiers. Snow to skiing is water to swimming," said an avid skier.

Meanwhile, with less natural snow, skiing resorts artificially produce snow to keep their business alive, which has been blamed by many environmentalists for creating possible pollution by disseminating chemicals in manufactured snow flakes.

In a recent skiing match in China's northeastern Jilin Province, which has earned the reputation as a heaven in China for skiing, several high-power snow-making machines were working in full gear to produce sufficient snow for skiing, despite a big fall on the first day of the competition, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.

Zhao Yinggang, an official of China's General Administration of Sport, said that the change in the snow is not only in quantity, but also in quality. The shape of snow has become irregular, falling far short of the quality of snow for skiing.

Man-made snow may have been a solution to the problem, but its high consumption of energy and the increasing dependence of the resorts are downsides.

In Beijing, China's capital where 16 million people live, the warming and shortening winter is hitting the city's skiing resorts hard. The business of Yang Hua, a resort owner, is shrinking. He said that skiers regard a low temperature as the benchmark to favorable skiing conditions. Because of the warmer and shorter winter, fewer and fewer visitors were going, he said.

In addition, the resorts' heavy dependence on man-made snow is not viable financially or environmentally.

According to Yang, some resorts in Beijing are seeing huge losses this winter and several have even closed.

Snow-making's huge cost in electricity would intensify global warming, for it means more release of greenhouse gases, environmentalists said.

The concerns over skiing are shared by professional skiers. Han Xiaopeng, China's first skiing Olympic gold medalist, said that the warming may cause a decline in the sport's popularity.

"Our beloved skiing is being threatened," said an written proposal by the world's prominent skiers. They made the appeal at the beginning of this month at a UN conference on climate change in Poland.

For the worried fans, Mr. Zhao's take of the current dilemma might be of some comfort. With the advancement of technologies, snowing-making will become environment-friendly, he said.

The China Youth Daily article said that as a victim of global warming, skiing should not be blamed for the rising temperature. The only hope lies in the global temperature returning to normal in the future.

(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2008)

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