We know what industries should do to keep snow on winter slopes. Stop burning coal, start using renewable energy. Stop supporting climate-change deniers, start cutting out carbon.
We know what states and cities should do. Defy the federal government and sign and implement the Paris Agreement. Punish polluters. Reward climate protectors. Plan seriously ahead, not just for the next 48 hours.
We know what ski resorts should do. Switch to renewable energy, insulate base lodges, create a transportation system that doesn’t rely entirely on cars. Educate visitors on the connections between the way they live and the survival of their favorite sport.
We know all that. We’re good at knowing what others should do. The harder question —what should we do? We snow sliders, we winter lovers, we Earthlings. I had some ideas of my own, but first, I turned to three wise men.
When I asked Everett Potter, founder/publisher of Everett Potter’s Travel Report and a consummate, worldwide skier, he shook his head. “Very tough question.”
“It’s a tough issue. What do you advise?”
Potter thought for a long minute. “OK, two words: “vote” and “give.”
“A little more detail, please.”
“Vote in every election. They all matter, as we plainly know by now. Give to a charity or a fund that is actively doing something about global warming.”
Auden Schendler has a daunting title: Senior Vice President of Sustainability for the Aspen Skiing Company. He’s on the front line, leading the charge for skiing in the battle against global warming. I asked for his thoughts.
“What won’t help — or at least won’t help nearly enough — are individual actions that won’t scale.”
“Like changing lightbulbs and driving a Prius?”
“I’m afraid so. Unless you’re getting others to follow suit, it’s like heating the ocean with a teapot.”
“Auden, are you saying we shouldn’t bother with doing good things? That it’s fine to drive a gas hog and leave the lights on, day and night?”
“No, I’m not. All those individual actions are important. I’m saying that we can’t stop there, and that too many people are.”
“Then, what should we do?”
“Frankly, I would get a map and follow it.”
“A map, Auden?”
“The Climate Activist’s Roadmap from Protect Our Winters. It’s a great tool that focuses on high-leverage solutions.”
“Like finding your own biggest lever — and it will be a different one if you own a business than if you’re a scientist or a student. Support companies that put the environment first. Write an op-ed about the need to act on climate change. Talk to classmates. Run for public office. And a lot more.”
Mark Menlove, Executive Director of the Winter Wildlands Alliance, is also a fan of the Roadmap. He further suggests, “And maybe team up with big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones and his merry band, and join Protect Our Winters.”
“Mark, your Winter Wildlands Alliance is all about human-powered snowsports, so—”
“Oh, for sure. Choose cross-country skiing over snowmobiling. Snowshoe to the post office rather than put chains on the car. Introduce your kids to the backcountry rather than yet another trip to Disney.”
As for me, my views on what we can do to save our snow can be summarized in three words — “What those guys said.”
Plus, extra emphasis on doing things that don’t scale but serve as models for others to emulate. When enough of us do change the bulbs and take public transport and walk instead of ride, then it will scale. And our magical winter pastime will still be there for ourselves and our progeny.
I’m also keen on powering chores by hand, not juice. Using a snow scoop — much better for your back than a snow shovel — plow your own driveway. Using a rake, not a leaf blower, tidy your own walk. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Walk, don’t ride, to work.
Here’s something else. Join Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps “to learn about what’s happening to our planet and how you can use social media, powerful storytelling, and personal outreach to inspire audiences to take action. Give us three days. We’ll give you the tools to change the world.”
And finally, I urge you to vote like our sport, our country, our planet depend on it. ‘Cause, dude — they do. Now, more than ever before.
Jules Older’s ski-book e-book is SKIING THE EDGE: Humor, Humiliation, Holiness and Heart.