Can you dig it? Davos 'Masters of the Universe' bogged down under avalanche alert
For the 2,500 wealthy movers and shakers who ascended on the scenic valley town in Switzerland, the primary issue on their minds was suddenly no different from that of an underpaid, overworked plantation worker toiling in the fields all day for peanuts: the weather.
For almost a week, Davos has been buffeted by heavy snowfall with up to six feet of wet hardpack - ideal conditions for hitting the slopes, but less so when it comes to shuttling billionaires from their private jets to the conference center.
Here is how the New York Times described the scene in Davos, where the residents of some areas had to be evacuated due to the risk of avalanches.
"Head-high snow drifts quickly piled up along the roads, leaving no place for street plows to push more snow. Sidewalks completely disappeared. Pedestrians slipped and slid in traffic between huge trucks and luxury minivans on streets carpeted with compacted ice several inches thick."
According to a report by Reuters, the SLF Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos issued a Level 5 avalanche warning, the highest on its one-to-five scale.
“Fresh snow and snow drift accumulations are prone to triggering (avalanches). Until late in the night a large number of natural avalanches are to be expected,” it said, while adding that transportation routes could be made impassable.
To add insult to injury, even the town's helicopter pad – ideal for whisking attendees around the forum – was forced to close due to inclement weather conditions.
Linda P. Fried, dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, was 30 minutes late for her presentation, which - ironically enough - focused on health risks associated with climate change.
When asked about her scheduled performance to speak about a heating planet in the middle of a major snowstorm, she responded: "It isn’t accurate, people just don’t understand, that’s not the metric,” according to The Times.
In any event, she admitted, “I’ve been coming for eight years and this is the worst I’ve seen it."
Given the extremely cold temperatures that have gripped much of the world this winter, not least of all in the United States and Europe, President Trump may take advantage of the cold conditions to dismiss the claims of the climate-change activists, who predict dangerous changes to Earth's temperature over the next several decades.
In December, amid a particularly frigid cold snap, Trump took delight in tweeting:
"In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013. firstname.lastname@example.org