When President Obama mentioned the need for increased action on climate change during his inaugural address on Monday, most people probably weren’t thinking about skiing. Hurricanes such as Sandy and Katrina, Midwestern tornadoes, and Plains states droughts are the weather catastrophes most often associated with this issue.

Although Colorado isn’t immune from drought or twisters, where our state probably feels the most impact from climate change is in the mountains. On Tuesday, a report released by Colorado Ski Country USA said that through December 31, 2012, skier visits statewide were down 11.5 percent from last year. The company says Colorado typically earns about $3 billion per year from its ski industry, so an 11.5 percent dip, were it to hold for a full season, obviously would severely hurt our state’s economic engine.

Maybe this won’t happen this year. Maybe we’ll get a ton of snow in February or March, even though the temperature outside right now is hovering around 60.

Even if we do get a few blizzards, so what? When was the last time Colorado experienced two or three great ski seasons in a row? Citizens and politicians alike have expended all kinds of angst and energy on trying to resolve America’s long-term debt problems, vague and unpredictable as they may be, bandying about grave terms like “fiscal cliff.” But climate change is happening now. It’s costing us money, and while there may be differing opinions about how to address it, anyone who questions its existence should not be taken seriously. If we don’t begin to address this issue in a sensible but comprehensive way—and is it really that objectionable to suggest that we all pollute a little less?—it may not be long before anyone who wants to ski off a Colorado cliff will be doing so without any snow to cushion their fall.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.