Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Gail Carlson


Since its emergence in the late nineteenth century, cross country skiing in the United States has grown in popularity and is a recreational and competitive outlet for millions of participants today. Given its dependence on snow, however, the sport is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which have already taken place in the form of shortened seasons, canceled races, and an increased reliance on artificial snow making facilities. Recent research has begun to look at the psychological impacts of climate change, and this research assesses levels of climate anxiety among a nationwide sample of cross country skiers. 129 survey responses show that cross country skiers (1) tend to express having an intimate and valued relationship with nature and the outdoors in which cross country skiing plays a highly supportive role, (2) that many feel their participation in the sport has been negatively impacted by climate change, generally in the form of having less natural snow and/or having to increasingly rely on artificial snow, (3) that most cross country skiers are experiencing climate anxiety to at least some extent, (4) that their participation in cross country skiing tends to be related with these sentiments of climate anxiety, often because it heightens their awareness of climate change, and (5) that most are taking action to address climate change. There was also a strong association between awareness that the sport is being impacted by climate change and increased levels of climate anxiety. This demonstrates that climate anxiety is not only relevant to individuals who have experienced the impacts of climate change via catastrophic extreme weather events but is also relevant to individuals whose lives may be impacted more subtly but are still highly exposed to climate change. Therefore adequate adaptations to climate change must include measures to address its associated mental health impacts.


Climate anxiety, cross country skiing, outdoor recreation, climate change

Available for download on Saturday, January 25, 2025