Letters: Celebrating Whiteout series, Earth Day
April 19, 2017
RE: "Hidden Figures" by Kevin Fixler
Kudos to Kevin Fixler for a great three-part series on ski accidents. It was a sad and sobering experience to see six pages of pictures and accounts of 137 people who died in the past 10 years.
Although Kevin's main concern was with ski fatalities, a closely related issue is the one of serious injuries caused by collisions with other skiers/snowboarders. While a ski fatality is usually reported promptly in the media, serious injuries and collisions are a closely guarded secret by ski resorts. They consider non-fatal injuries as "proprietary information," and statistics are virtually impossible to obtain.
A skier or snowboarder fatality is tragic, and with 4.3 million skiers a year, it's surprising there aren't more fatal accidents than the average of 12. But based on information I've collected since suffering a serious injury by another person from a hit-and-run collision, I feel certain that collision-related injuries number in the hundreds, if not thousands every year. Since no one knows the exact number — or even the approximate number — the title of Kevin's first segment "Hidden Figures" is very appropriate.
Based on the excellent reporting and information gathered by Kevin, the question that must be answered is: "Why are ski resorts still allowed to keep injury information private?" Most ski resorts operate by permit in national forests, which by definition are public property. Anything that happens on them should be public information. It is time the Forest Service or our elected officials require that ski resorts make all accident information available to the public. Doing so would allow anyone to see which resorts appear to be safest for skiing or snowboarding. If injury information were available to the public, ski resorts might be motivated to do more to prevent collisions.
Celebrating Earth Day
As thousands across the U.S. get ready to protest environmental budget cuts, each of us can also help with our driving, our recycling and our diet.
Yes, our diet. A 2010 United Nations report blames animal agriculture for 70 percent of global freshwater use, 38 percent of land use, and 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by fossil fuel combustion to operate farm machinery, trucks, factory farms and slaughterhouses. The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.
Moreover, meat and dairy production dumps more animal waste, crop debris, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined. It is the driving force in wildlife habitat destruction.
In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products in our diet must be replaced by vegetables, fruits and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.
On this Earth Day and every day, let's cherish our environment with eco-friendly plant-based eating. Our next trip to the supermarket is a great starting point.
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