If you are reading this article, I can assume that you are passionate about skiing and snowboarding and love it as much as we do. If my assumption is correct, let me introduce you to an organization that is very dear to our hearts – Protect Our Winters. POW is a group of hardworking individuals whose mission is to mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change; focusing on educational initiatives, advocacy and supporting community-based projects. They have been actively working to empower the snowsports community at large to leverage politicians and lawmakers to make meaningful actions to slow climate change.
With continuing record breaking temperatures and politicians who are choosing to turn a blind eye, they need our help now more than ever! You have the power to make a difference and can help fight for what you love. It’s hard for one person or organization to have a considerable voice, but if we stand together we can and will be heard. Read on to find out why and how to get involved!
WHY GET INVOLVED?
FACE THE FACTS
Climate change is real. It’s not a bad dream or a hypothetical idea that is just thrown around for shits and giggles. This past year, 2016, was the hottest year on record, and our three hottest years on the planet have been the last three years: 2016, 2015, and 2014. According to NASA, Earth’s average temperature has increased about one degree Fahrenheit during the 20th century. Now, one degree may not sound like a threat but small changes in temperature can correspond to vast changes in the environment. Scientists predict that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning of fossil fuels. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. We have already dug ourselves a hole and we have to stop digging that hole.
FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU LOVE
If you are anything like us, I think you can agree that snowsports are more than just a hobby, it is a way of life. It’s true – our World would not be the same without the simple joy of sliding on snow. That simple joy, is now at stake for our generation and future generations to come because of the Earth’s rising temperature. Here are some facts from the founder of Protect Our Winter’s, Jeremy Jones:
- The last decade has been the hottest on record. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before it, with each one setting a new and significant record for the highest global temperature.
- In the Lake Tahoe area, spring arrives two weeks earlier now than it did in 1961.
- In the Northeast, by 2039, the average ski season will be less than 100 days and the probability of being open for Christmas will decline below 75%.
The effects of climate change desperately hit home for the ski and snowboard community. According to one study, resorts in Massachusetts or Connecticut are not likely to survive the next 30 years and Park City, Utah may have no snowpack left by the end of the century. We are one of the first groups who currently are and will be faced with the consequences of rising temperatures. Our sport and economy have everything to lose from a shorter winter and a less predictable snowfall and snowpack.
FOR THE KIDS
When I’m in my 70s and 80s, I don’t want to be talking to my grandchildren about the tit’s deep powder days depicting it as if it was a fairy tale. We owe it to them to experience, firsthand, the love for snow and skiing as we do. It would be a shame if we didn’t work towards a positive change that will secure the same lifestyle and quality of life for the future generations. This idea is spotlighted well in Marie France Roy’s film, “The Little Things”, featured above!
OUR PLANET NEEDS YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER
President Donald Trump promised he would run this country as if it were a business and is sticking true to his word without any regard for the protection of our environment. The President is a climate-change denier and may be the biggest threat to our environment that we have ever faced. In 2012, he tweeted:
Our Republican-ran, climate-change denying government is dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency and is working to set us back decades of progress in environmental standards and regulations. In an interview with “Fox News Sunday”, President Trump states the “Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations. They’re making it impossible.” Then when asked who would protect the environment, he replied, “We’ll be fine with the environment. … We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
He has already made decisions that will work to negatively affect the Earth’s state:
- Trump vowed to back out of the Paris Agreement, which was signed by President Obama along with the leaders of 175 other countries. This landmark agreement aims to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial-age levels.
- The Trump administration has prioritized repealing the Clean Power Plan, which is a set of rules that was placed by the EPA aimed at limiting the carbon pollution from power plants.
- Trump describes himself as an “environmentalist”, yet in his first week in office, he signed orders to advance the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. These projects were halted by the Obama administration due to the impact they would have on greenhouse gas emissions, water quality of the communities in their wake, damage to sacred Native American lands, and the endangerment of animals.
- The House overturned the Methane Waste Rule, which removes excess methane (a greenhouse gas that is 25x more potent than CO2) from the atmosphere by not allowing oil companies to vent methane from wells.
The environmental and climate decisions that the President and the Republican-controlled Congress make will be critical for the future generations. We need to stand up for our well being and quality of life and we must act NOW.
IT'S BIGGER THAN THE POWDER DAYS
In mountain communities that bank on winter tourism, the effects we will face from climate change are catastrophic. The reality of shorter and warmer winters translates to a shorter season and an immense financial blow for local economies that depend on snowsports. With that being said, the local devastation could have a national economic impact:
- Outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion annually and supports 6.1 million jobs (Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Report)
- The snowsports industry contributes $62 billion annually and supports 965,000 jobs (Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Report)
- Loss in low snowfall years for winter tourism is $1.07 billion (Natural Resources Defense Council x POW Report on Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States)
Climate risks produce economic risks. Let’s look at the bigger picture – Global warming means glaciers will start to melt, sea levels will continue to rise, crops will inevitably fail, and our planet’s water availability will decrease. The Earth’s water quality and air pollution will continue to go to shit, creating more illnesses and causing more insurance claims, health complications and trips to the hospital. While some regions will face extreme heat and wildfires, others will be affected by an increase in hurricanes and extreme storms. Coastal areas and eventually entire nations could disappear into the sea. These effects would undoubtedly cause global social and economic chaos.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
JOIN POW AND STAY INFORMED
Only YOU can make a difference, take action now! Getting involved with Protect Our Winter is easy! Join the movement and submit your email address here. They will give you the knowledge and opportunities to make a difference!
TAKE THE POW SEVEN PLEDGE
Protect Our Winters has made it easy for you! They have compiled a list of the best and most effective actions for you to tackle. The POW SEVEN is simple and effective. Be aware – Reduce your personal carbon footprint and understand your impact on the environment. Educate yourself and speak up! Be up on the issues, especially during election time. Pledge to do the POW SEVEN once a month and you’ll make a difference!
TARGET OUR YOUTH
We need to make our youth fall in love with nature. Help expand opportunities for young people to learn how to ski, snowboard, hike and camp! By inspiring them to experience the outdoors, we will build an army for the future. They will start to appreciate and protect what they love! Are you involved in a school? Schedule to host a Hot Planets, Cool Athletes assembly sponsored by Protect Our Winters! These programs are led by pro athletes and are focused on educating young students and inspiring them to become the next generation of environmental leaders.
PHONE IT IN!
Take action and phone it in! Making a call to your elected officials is the most effective way to have your voice heard. POW makes it easy for you by having scripts available and a list of numbers for you to call. If you want to make an IMPORTANT call now, phone in your Senator and tell them that eliminating the Methane Rule is a step backwards in fighting climate change.
PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
Make your voice heard and join us for the People’s Climate March on April 29, 2017. POW will be leading a march in Washington, DC and also organizing sister marches in our mountain communities! Sign up and get involved!