It’s almost mid October and there’s still plenty of snow out there. The end of the season seems to go on and on. It’s been one of those amazing winters we will talk about for years.
On my local community facebook page, the climate deniers are banging on about how it’s been cold so that ‘proves’ climate change isn’t real, etc. But standing here in mid spring we’re clearly looking to a long hot summer. There are already fires in NSW and Gippsland, and in Queensland consumers are being warned not to set their air conditioners too low for fear of triggering blackouts if we crank up the air con during the expected heatwaves. The Bureau of Meteorology cautions that the dry weather that is happening across much of the continent is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
A good winter always feels like a dream. Where there is no drought, no fire, just the endless hope that the next storm front will be better than the last, and that urgent need to get out amongst it. Spring brings home the reality of our warming earth. Yes, fire and drought have long been a feature of our landscape (well at least for the last 65 million years or so). But when the Europeans arrived in the headwaters of the Australian Alps there was regular winter snow in places like Harrietville. Already, in a century or so, snow is a fleeting visitor in the sub alpine valleys.
The fact is the world is warming up, and the best available science says humans are the cause of it. So, to truly love our winter landscapes we need to turn that love into visible work: we need to do everything in our power to slow climate change if we are to have a hope of avoiding the worst of what’s coming (of course we have already locked in decades, if not centuries of warming and changed weather but it’s not too late to act).
As a campaigner with an environmental group, I spend much of my time working on climate change and I know so many inspiring people in the movement. As a skier, climber, hiker and very part time MTB rider, I often feel like there are very few inspirations in the Australian outdoor scene who are doing the same work. Sure there are some people who use their profile for the greater good (rugby player David Pocock comes to mind) and some fantastic skiers who do the same – especially local women Nat Segal and Anna Segal.
But generally you have to look overseas for further inspiration. Forrest Shearer is one of those who is really stepping up and putting his shoulder to the campaign wheel (while still getting in 200 days of riding a year!)
This comes from Patagonia, I highly recommend their Cleanest Line blog for a regular does of activism and inspiration.
Step One: Show Up
Forrest Shearer | May 3, 2017
As a snowboarder who spends more than 200 days in the mountains each year, I’ve developed an intimate relationship with the sacred spaces I call home and I’m in the unique and unfortunate position of seeing the impacts of climate change firsthand. I’ve witnessed a drastic change in snow and weather trends. Our world is getting hotter and I’ve committed myself to using the platform I have as an athlete to fight against climate change.
Just this fall, we were feeling confident about the progress we’d made on climate initiatives: The Clean Power Plan was in place and the Paris Agreement was signed, both of which committed to reducing carbon emissions significantly. But then, on November 8, things changed and now we’re facing an Administration that’s threatening to wipe out the Environmental Protection Agency, rescind our commitment to the Paris Agreement and drill on our public lands. The new cabinet is literally a who’s who of climate deniers.
But as grim as things are right now, what makes me excited is the climate movement that’s afoot. People are stepping off the sidelines and using their voices to let it be known that inaction on climate is unacceptable. It’s time for all of us to lead with our actions and voices because if we don’t, apparently nobody will. We all need to be setting good examples for others by doing what’s right and standing up for the issues we care about, now more than ever.
This is the new face of activism.
Recently, I showed up with fellow Patagonia ambassadors to a town hall meeting with Rep. Jason Chaffetz to express our furor over the public lands issue. As many of you may know, Utah’s elected leaders have threatened to sell our public lands to fossil fuel companies wanting to drill. I don’t have to explain how bad of an idea this is, and Utah’s $13 billion outdoor recreation community has already sent a clear message. Just a year ago, attending such events would have been something that only the hard-core environmentalists would do. But people are starting to show up by the hundreds.
In a new age of citizenry, this is the hard work that needs to be done. Showing up, being part of the political process and leveraging the democratic platform we have to solve the issues we all care so deeply about.
On April 29, I joined Patagonia, Protect Our Winters and over 200,000 people from all walks of life in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March. One of the goals of the march was to demonstrate our opposition to Trump’s anti-environment agenda on his 100th day in office. The resistance is working together, getting stronger, and as long as we have a president who wants to reverse all the progress we’ve made with climate and energy initiatives, the resistance is here to stay.